Checking In: Paul David Mena

Someone who keeps at writing for 30 years or so are ones to watch. I came across Paul David Mena’s work on twitter and became a fan and eventually asked, please, pretty please could I publish some? The result was Morning Becomes Azaleas/, le matin devient azalées (phafours, 2019) with translations to French by myself and Julie Hamel. Copies still available.

Paul David Mena has been writing haiku and senryu for nearly 30 years. He is the author of the chapbooks “tenement landscapes” (1995), “trainsongs” (1997), “the brewpub chronicles” (1999), and “the morning becomes azaleas” (2019) and has had his poetry published in Brussels Sprout,The Heron’s Nest, Frogpond, Modern Haiku and numerous other journals over the years. He spends quite a bit of time on social media, providing mostly unsolicited commentary in a haiku format. He lives on Cape Cod in Massachusetts with his wife and dog and works as a Software Engineer at a prominent marine research facility.

haiku and senryu by Paul David Mena. haïkus and senryûs par Paul David Mena

PP: What have you read lately that lit you up? 

PDM: I recently read “Platero and I” by Juan Ramón Jiménez and found it breathtakingly beautiful. It took me a long time to finish it because I kept rereading each poem. Naturally I read a lot of haiku, most recently “The Awakened One, edited by Adjei Agyei-Baah and Gabriel Rosenstock. At the moment I’m reading a collection of novellas by Jim Harrison and have a number of other books queued up.

PP: What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise? 

PDM: I try to write every day, and probably haven’t missed a day in about 10 years. Beyond that, I’m still working full-time but am within a year or two of retiring. I’ve probably spent more time that I’d like to admit watching the Red Sox when I could have been reading or writing. I’m trying to remain happy and healthy so that I can enjoy my golden years while I can. I’m also trying to learn Spanish so that my wife and I can spend more time in Mexico.

PP: What is underway or forthcoming? Anything you can tell? 

PDM: No projects are in the works at the moment, but I have a database of over 32,000 haiku that I can tap should motivation strike me. This is what happens when a techie writes poetry.

PP: What work can people read? 

PDM: I self-published “the brewpub chronicles” and had to print a minimum of over 200 copies. I still have many of them and will happily give them away to anyone who asks. The bilingual edition of “tenement landscapes” is still available from Amazon. I post a great deal of haiku on Twitter as “Extra Special Bitter” and on several Facebook groups.

PP: Any author site, social media urls or things you’d like to plug? 

PDM: My favorite authors these days are Luis Alberto Urrea and Javier Cercas. “The Heron’s Nest” remains a wonderful haiku quarterly after 20 years, and the brand new “Trash Panda” is also quite good.

At the beginning of the pandemic I ordered a number of haiku books from Snapshot Press in the U.K. and was particularly impressed by the work of Hamish Ironside. Sadly, I only discovered the single-line haiku of Stuart Quine a few months after he passed away.

Anything by Paul Miller (a.k.a. “paul m.”) is pure gold. Jeff Winke is a master of haiku and senryu and a good friend. I envy poets who could say so much with such an economy of language.

PP: Thanks, Paul. Let me reiterate, make a book, book, book…