Writing Contest Assignments

https://digitalcitizen.ca/category/writing/Since I officially started my two year journey for writing on January 1st (2021), I had been looking out for writing contests to enter so as to have some goals, get some feedback, and see how my writing compared to the winning entries. I feel good about my writing skills, but not disillusioned to think I would win starting out. I am not well read for literary writing to know what qualifies high calibre writing outside of the classics. To use an analogy, I have no idea what times are good for a recreational 10 km race or a marathon, say, only what are good for national, world, or Olympic races. I’m sure the time gap isn’t huge, if any, for recreational races that are big enough, but what about the local or regional ones, or ones that didn’t include participants who have had acclaim and/or won big prize money. What’s “good” then? A question even harder to answer with something artistic as writing rather than something quite directly measurable as race time.

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Haiku Collection about Return to Viet Nam Completed

I have a separate blog where I write poetry, with annotations to some poems to give either context or full story to them. I just finished annotating a collection of poems from an epic trip I had over 4 years ago to visit my home country of Viet Nam for the first time since I left as a child in 1980, and I wanted to share it for any readers here who might care for such writings.


Just over 4 years ago, in 2015, I returned to Viet Nam to visit for the first time since escaping the country as a young child in 1980. During this trip, I did a lot of reflection, as well as took notes on people, sights, events, etc. It was an overwhelming amount of information to retell, but I tried to summarize a rough version of it in a collection of 64 haiku formed poems, with annotations, I called Tales of an Expat Tourist. The poems are haiku formed because they are only haiku in form of 3 lines and some order of 5-7-5 total of 17 syllable lines, not following other requirements like lack of use of similes. I generally only write haiku for form, anyway, punctuating with dashes like Emily Dickinson.

I had completed the collection a few years back, writing annotations afterward that took longer. Unfortunately, I forgot about finishing it along the way, thinking I had finished annotations and postings. A search for something in one of those poems showed most had still been in draft posts, never published because I had not annotated them. After a marathon session today, I’m happy to say I have completed them and wanted to share news of that in this post. That’s because to get the poems ordered the way I wanted, I had to artificially back date them in a certain way that was set up a few years back, so they would not appear in the general feed for many readers.

If you care for such poems, thoughts, reflections, etc. I hope you’ll give them a glance or read, and I hope you’ll like some of them. Thank you.

Tales of an Expat Tourist

My Big Lift Ferry Poems

I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where one of our mile long suspension bridges is undergoing a redecking in an operation called The Big Lift. They are essentially replacing the bridge piece by piece at night and some weekends. It began last June and will continue until at least December 2016.

In redecking the bridge, the running lane across the bridge that I often use was also taken away. I’m also not a fan of taking the ferry compared to the buses because it is more inconvenient and time consuming. But life is what you make of it, right? So instead of just putting up with all this, I decided to do something to make the best of it.

Last September, I came up with an idea that any time I had to take the ferry to go between Halifax and Dartmouth that the bridge connects, I would commit the ferry time to compose poetry. Not going much during winter, I figured I wasn’t going to get more than 99 written, so I numbered them with two digits. So far, it seems that was a bad decision has I have already written 23, averaging between two and three per trip as they tend to be short poems. At that rate, next summer alone should see a couple hundred written! I’ll have to figure out what to do with this number, like renumbering while I still can correct past posts. Most poems written so far are haiku , with the rest being tanka and general one stanza poems with some rhyme scheme involved. They are rarely about the Big Lift operation itself, though. If they were, I wouldn’t bother telling you about it. 🙂

If you like short poetry, including those forced by circumstance, please do head over to see my Big Lift Ferry Poems collection. I don’t think anybody else is doing such a thing. Too bad most people in the area don’t know much about it, either. I don’t promote my poetry much so it’s like one of those hidden anonymous poetry collections. I’m quite OK with that, but sometimes, I don’t mind writing something about it that gets me excited. 🙂

My Haiku Collection about my Trip to Viet Nam

I have just started to the haiku collection I wrote mostly in March 2015, during my life changing return to Viet Nam, 35 years after fleeing as a child refugee. It is called Tales of an Expat Tourist.

This is the backgrounder to the collection on my poetry blog. It has a link to the first of 62 haiku in the collection, with notes to give more information on its subject matter, as will be done with all subsequent haiku in the collection.

If you like poetry, very personal travelogue style writings, Viet Nam and/or Vietnamese culture, I hope you will give it a read. Thank you.

Haiku Facebook Status Idea and Challenge

I have a friend living in Japan who has only updated her Facebook status this year with that most famous of engaging Japanese poetry forms, the haiku. From her first haiku update this year, Sarah Jane Blenkhorn, originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, declared that she intended to keep this up all through 2011.

What a really neat idea! It’s something I can see being on CNN or other sites which posts neat Internet undertakings, especially after a decent body of work might have been done. I would say about 200 haiku status updates should be enough, or about half way through the year, to get the world watching the rest of the year.

I’m sharing this idea because aside from it being neat, I think it’d be a great challenge for those of you out there looking for interesting ways to liven your Facebook status updates. You don’t have to use haikus, although they are easily engaging, or do it for a year. Maybe just do some poetry for a certain time, like National Poetry Month in April. I’m considering that as I am writing. I have a lot of visitors who come to this site for the Facebook tagging memes I’ve created, as well as Facebook safety and advice. I hope some of you will take up this challenge. I think it should be a national movement in Japan!

In practicing good Facebook behaviour, Sarah Jane’s status updates are not publicly available. I have encouraged Sarah Jane to hook up her Facebook status updates to a micro-blog, much the way one can hook up Twitter feeds to WordPress micro-blogs, so the world can share in her entertaining and thoughtful Facebook status updates. Nothing has become of it so far, but she did give me permission to share what she has written so far.

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