The inspiration for this book came to me from the hundreds of haiku, senryu, and tanka I have read,
as well as from the hours I have spent reading Zen, Hindu, Asian, and Persian poetry. There is
something spiritual for me in these types of poems and the only way I can describe it is that they whisper
to me. In these whispers I feel the poem is asking me to see more than what they are presenting. They
help me stretch my imagination not just with words but with their feeling.
Imagine you are a child sitting at the dinner table picking at your food. Your mother sees you doing
this and she comes up behind you and taps you on the back of your head. She tells you to stop playing
with your food and eat.
This is an actual scene from my childhood, where my mother would sometimes tap me, or my sister or
brother, on the back of the head when she thought we were not eating fast enough and would tell us to
Well for some reason this memory long forgotten suddenly popped into my head and I think it is what
set the stage for this book. It gave me the title for this book. My siblings and I have reminisced about that
moment and we have teased my mother saying she used to torture us at dinnertime by, POW, hitting us
on the back of the head. We also used to say, “Better hurry up and eat or mom is going to POW you on
the back of your head.”
It was a term we learned from comic books this POW, when the good guys would fight with the bad
guys and it was, Pow! Bang! Zing! Crunch! Thud! etc. So, POW is what we called my mother’s tap on
the back of our heads. So, I used this POW. Think of POW as that epiphany, that realization, that idea at
the back of your head which comes to the forefront and makes you think of something you had not
thought of before. The Eureka! moment. The light bulb that turns on at the right moment.
Taking this one step further, I thought what my mother was trying to say to us was to make our chins
move and finish eating. With that thought came my epiphany for: Pow Chin Chew. It was also going to
be the persona for my book.
The title makes sense at least to me. We often say things like, “Chew on that,” “Let’s chew the fat,”
or “Taking it on the chin.” It had nothing to do with the Asian names Chin or Chiu, although, because of
the Asian sounding name of Pow Chin Chew, which I guess I could change to Pau Chin Chiu, I could
make the transition to a human persona, and I thought of doing that. Until I searched for a picture to use
on the cover of my book and I saw the tree which I finally used for my book cover. We have dog
whisperers, horse whisperers, so why not a tree whisperer? In this case, why not a tree that whispers?
Now, what do you say in a whisper? This is easy. Anything you would say in a haiku, senryu, or
tanka can be said in a whisper. You can take as many lines to say it from the three-line haiku to the
seven-line tanka or use all three forms in a single poem or as many lines as would fit on the page used
in a 6x9 book of poetry, broken up into any form you want.
In Japan a haiku is written as one line which has seventeen syllables. The first five syllables present
an image of nature while the next seven syllables give an image of time, and the last five syllables may
present a link between the first two images, or creates an entirely different image. In English haiku, we
use three lines in order to make it easier to present the three images presented in a poem written in
In short, write anything you would write in any of the forms I have discussed. Meld them together,
use them separately, use one and not the others, use them all except one, there is no wrong way to use
them. If you want to create your own whisper, let’s say using a cat as your persona, then you would write
your poems as if the cat were speaking to you. Or you can use a dog as your persona, or an Orangutan if
When you read these poems, you will see that almost all of the titles to the poems are one-word
titles. This is intentional. Haiku, senryu, and tanka are usually presented with no titles. I decided to use
one-word titles because one word is the closest you can get to having no title, and a one syllable word
would make the most ideal title. I also wanted to use the title as part of the whisper.
Look at the title of each poem in this book and think of what other word or words could be associated
with that one word. For example, if I use the title Range, you might think of a stove, or home on the range,
or open range. If I use the title Red, you might think Blood Red, or Red Blooded, or Red Tape, etc. The
title may or may not seem to have anything to do with the poem, but even a title that doesn’t seem to
belong to the poem may actually be hinting at the opposite of what the poem is saying.
As for the meanings of the poems, I can’t help you with that. Like the haiku, senryu, or tanka, the
author presents you with the words, the images, and leaves you, the reader, to put it all together as you
see fit. You must make the connections for yourself. However, a good discussion of the poem might
reveal other connections. Sounds to me like something worthwhile doing.
Also, there are no punctuation marks or contractions in a whisper. Although there are no question or
quotation marks either, you will have no problem knowing where they go. As for the Dauphin font, it
seemed to me to be appropriate for the whisper.
Oh, one last thing. Your whispers must not come from any human being. However, if you want to
use an inanimate object you can. Now, let us listen to the whispers.