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African American Air Force veteran is Haiku master

  • Published
  • By Laura McGowan
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – As a child, Mervyn Seivwright, a manpower analyst with the 88th Force Support Squadron here, developed a love for poetry while traveling from base to base with his mother and stepfather.

“I was born in Dulwich, in South London, and lived there until I was 10 years-old,” said Seivwright. “My family then moved from England to Iowa, and the move was a culture shock for me, and I felt very lonely.”

“After all, I was the young Black kid with the British accent,” he said. “Writing poetry became an outlet for me and a great resource of balance.”

He said that he wasn’t introduced to Haiku poetry until he was in a 10th grade creative writing class.

“However, I did not truly understand Haiku until I PCS’d to Misawa, Japan, as an Airman in 2008,” said Seivwright. “It was there that I came to understand the history of Haiku and how it originated in China.”

Seivwright’s wife, Stephanie, enjoys writing, but not writing poetry. However, his two daughters, Lanceri, 23, and Andrelli, 19, both love reading and writing poetry, and Andrelli also writes songs. He also has a 7 year-old son, Sioni, who is excellent in math.

“Haiku poetry isn’t only the three lines consisting of 17 syllables, but it is also the poem’s ties to nature and reality. But it was [Japanese] writers like Yosa Buson and Matsuo Basho [who made Haiku popular in Japan],” he said.

Seivwright did extensive research into the heritage and symbolism behind the Haiku style, and that research culminated in his fourth published book of poetry titled, “Kaleidoscope Paintbrush.”

Here’s an example of one of his Haiku poems:

Our imperfections
Is what makes us beautiful
Strange coloured sunset

“This Haiku only speaks to our individuality,” he said. “We are made perfect with imperfections leading to what our story is supposed to learn, live, influence, understand and share. It is the composition of these things mentally, spiritually and physically that make us beautiful. I used the UK version of “coloured” to tie into my English birth.”

He served 22 years in the Air Force, retiring at the rank of master sergeant in the military personnel career field. During his off-duty time in the military, he was able to perform his poetry in 11 different countries and a 12-city tour in the U.S. while on “use or lose” leave.

Since April 2015, Seivwright has worked as an Air Force civilian with the 88th Air Base Wing Manpower office. He manages the human capital requirements and consults process improvements to the Air Base Wing leadership and teaches bullet-writing style classes for the base.

In addition to his full-time job, he is working on a Master of Fine Arts degree through Spalding University, and one of his goals is to write an autobiography in poetic form.

Seivwright will read a poetry presentation during the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Black History Month luncheon scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 23 at the base club.

Seivwright personifies the global reach of the Air Force, having a positive and symbiotic relationship within countries around the world and resulting in positive and impacting effects on military dependents.