Searius Addishin finds comfort in the middle ground with ‘100 Ways to Say I Love You’

The Ohio-born poet recently challenged himself to write 100 haikus in 24 hours, all centered on the subject of love

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Searius Addishin

Ohio poet Searius Addishin recently challenged himself to write 100 haikus in 24 hours, each centered on the concept of love.

Initially, the poems arrived quickly, Addishin breezing through dozens of haikus in a matter of hours. Gradually, though, the words slowed to a drip, forcing the writer to dig deeper beneath the surface as he worked, moving from poems shaped by beauty and lust to pieces that explored subjects such as the bond between parent and child and the comforting love that can exist unspoken between longtime partners. 

“She laid on the bed/And I laid right next to her/ We both went to sleep,” Addishin writes matter-of-factly in one of the poems collected in 100 Ways to Say I Love You.

“When I got to [poem] 50, 60, 70, then the challenge really kicked in,” Addishin said, and laughed. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised by the direction [the haikus took], because at the end of the day I was driving the literary vehicle, if you will. … But I will say I challenged myself to write more pieces where I wasn't dealing with extremes, because I tend to [write] when I’m either really, really happy or really, really sad, and we spend a majority of our time in that middle.”

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Growing up, Addishin said he embraced writing as a means of sorting out these complex feelings. But since enrolling in a poetry course through the University of Southern California, he’s learned to write more confidently while existing in that space between, tapping into the highs and lows of previous experiences when he needs a boost of inspiration. “And because of that, I can write more when I’m not in a particular space, where I don’t have that emotion present,” said Addishin, who will host the Return of High-Ku at Wild Goose Creative on Sunday, Feb. 20.

As part of this continuing evolution, Addishin has also challenged himself to write from different perspectives, as well, which he said has made him more empathetic as both a poet and a person.

“If I’m writing about love and relationships, it could be from a guy’s perspective. But then I’ll write from a woman’s perspective, or maybe from a dude cheated on by a girl, or a girl cheated on by a dude. Or it could be from a guy with a girl, but he has kids," said Addishin, who was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and lived for stretches in Columbus and Los Angeles, California, before landing most recently in Cleveland. “A younger me was a jerk, man, and even when I used to write, I would feel like a jerk, because I wrote with jerk intentions in mind. Now there’s so much more consideration when I write, and I have more consideration as a person. … I’m more empathetic to people and the state they’re in, with what they’re going through.”

Addishin said he grew up harboring a fascination for language, which first exhibited itself in third grade when he recited a speech as part of a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. oratorical contest. In fifth grade, he discovered hip-hop, drawn in by the wordplay and the sense of rhetorical freedom exhibited by practitioners of the form. A similar thrill coincided with the poet’s first viewing of the 1998 film “Slam,” starring Saul Williams, which led Addishin soon after to the spoken word stage, a place that has existed equal parts as a creative outlet and a refuge in the years since.

Indeed, Addishin, who said he grew up poor, raised by family members who occasionally circumvented the law as a means of survival, has long embraced the written word as a means of escape, disappearing into books that offered him access to a world far from the physical space he occupied as a child.

“My uncle, who I grew up with, in large part, went back to school in his 30s after a career of quote-unquote ‘hustling.' So, coming up with him, we were always around books,” Addishin said. “And because I grew up with so many books, and with so much expectation to be intellectually progressive, that did influence my personality and my writing. … I saw a power in [words], as far as the ability to cause an effect. To use a buzzword, there’s something magical about being in a roomful of strangers, where they may not know anything about you, but they can relate with you when you’re speaking and performing. That’s awesome, and it's something I love doing.”