Haiku or Die: One Year of Haiku-y Goodness

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T h e T e c h n i q u e o f U s i n g a Simile—Usually, in English, you know a simile is coming when you spot the words "as" and "like. Basically the unspoken rule is that you can use simile, which the rule-sayers also warned us against, if you are smart enough to simply drop the "as" and "like. T h e T e c h n i q u e o f the Sketch or Shiki's Shasei— T h o u g h this technique is often given Shiki's term shasei sketch from life or shajitsu reality , it has been in use since the beginning of poetry in the Orient.

The poetic principle is "to depict the thing just as it is. Shiki was, by nature it seemed, against whatever was the status quo—a true rebel. This was followed until someone else got tired of it and suggested something new. This seems to be the way poetry styles go in and out of fashion. Thus, Shiki hated associations, contrasts, comparisons, wordplays, puns, and riddles—all the things you are learning here!

H e favored the quiet simplicity of just stating what he saw without anything else happening in the haiku. He found the greatest beauty in the common sight, simply reported exactly as it was seen, and ninety-nine percent of his haiku were written in his style. Many p e o ple still feel he was right. There are some moments that are perhaps best said as simply as possible in his way. Yet, Shiki himself realized in , after writing very many haiku in this style, that used too much, even his new idea could become lackluster.

So the method is an answer, but never the complete answer of how to write a haiku. T h e Technique o f D o u b l e Entendre or D o u b l e Meanings —Anyone who has read translations of Japanese poetry has seen how much poets delighted in saying one thing and meaning something else. Often only translators knew the secret language and got the jokes that may or may not be explained in footnotes. In some cases the pun was to cover up a sexual reference by speaking of something ordinary in such a way that its hidden meaning could be found by the initiated.

But we have the same devices in English also, and haiku can use them in the very same way. W e have the very same opportunities in English, but we haiku writers may not be as well-versed as the Japanese in using them because there have been periods of Western literary history when this overworked skill has been looked down upon. And even though the hai of haiku means "joke, or fun, or unusual," there are still writers whose faces freeze into a frown when encountering a pun in three lines.

T h e T e c h n i q u e o f Wordplay—Again, we have to admit the Japanese do this best. Still, we also have many words with multiple meanings, and there is no reason we cannot learn to explore our own language. A good look at many of our cities' names could give new inspiration: Oak-land, Anchor Bay, Ox-ford, Cam-bridge. Especially the descriptive names of plants, animals, and things have opportunity for haiku in them. In English we have many words which function as both verbs and nouns. You can use this technique to say things that are not allowed in haiku.

For instance, one would not be admired for saying that "the willow tree strings raindrops" because it makes a personification of a thing of nature, but one can get away with making it sound as if the strings of willow are really the spring rain manifested in raindrops. This is one of those cases where the reader has to decide which permissible stance the writer has taken. T h e T e c h n i q u e o f Close Linkage—Basically this could come as a subtopic to the techniques of association, but since it also works with contrast and comparison, I like to give it its own rubric. In making any connection between the two parts of a haiku, the leap can be a small one, and even a well-known one.

Usually beginners are easily impressed with close linkage and experiment first with the most easily understood examples of this form. They understand it and feel comfortable using the technique. T h e T e c h n i q u e o f Leap Linkage—Then as a writer's skills increase, and as he or she reads many haiku, either their own or others, such easy leaps quickly fade in excitement.

Being human animals, we seem destined to seek the next level of difficulty and to find new thrills. So the writer begins to attempt leaps that a reader new to haiku may not follow and therefore judge to be nonsense. I think the important point in creating with this technique is that the writer should always be totally aware of his or her truth.

Poets of the surrealistic often make leaps which simply seem impossible to follow—an example would be the work of Paul Celan, where the reader simply has to go on faith that the author knew what he was writing about. This is rare in haiku. Usually, if you think about the words long enough and deeply enough, you can find the author's truth. As you know, haiku are praised for getting rid of authors, authors' opinions, and authors' actions. O n e way to sneak this in is to use the gerund suffix "ing" added to a verb combined with an action that seems sensible for both a human and for the things in nature to do.

Very often, when I use a gerund in a haiku, I am using shorthand to refer to an action that I have taken. This device minimizes the impact of the author's person but allows an interaction between humanity and nature. T h e T e c h n i q u e o f Sabi SAH-BEE —I almost hesitate to bring up this idea as a technique because the word sabi has taken on so many meanings over the innumerable years it has been in Japan, and now that it comes to the English language it is undergoing even more mutations.

As fascinated as Westerners have become with the word, the Japanese have maintained for centuries that no one can really, truly comprehend what sabi really is, and thus they change its definition according to their moods. Some call sabi—beauty with a sense of loneliness in time, akin to, but deeper than, nostalgia. Suzuki maintains that sabi is "loneliness" or "solitude," but that it can also be "miserable," "insignificant," "pitiable," "asymmetry," and "poverty.

A split-rail fence sagging with overgrown vines has sabi; a freshly painted picket fence does not. That is how I think of it. As a technique, one puts together images and verbs which create this desired atmosphere. Often in English this hallowed state is sought by using the word "old" and by writing of cemeteries and grandmas. These English tricks wear thin quickly. The Technique o f Wabi WAH-BEE —This is the twin brother of sabi, which has just as many personas, that can be defined as poverty or beauty judged to be the result of living simply. Thus one can argue that the above haiku samples are really more wabi than sabi—and suddenly one understands the big debate.

However, I offer one more haiku that I think is more wabi than sabi because it offers a scene of austere beauty and poignancy. But since deciding which haiku exemplifies this quality is a judgmental decision, there is rarely consent over which verse has it and which does not. O n e could say a woman's face half-hidden behind a fan has yugen. The same face half-covered with pink goo while getting a facial, h o w ever, does not. But still, haiku writers do use the atmosphere as defined by yugen to make their words be a good haiku by forcing their readers to think and to delve into the everyday sacredness of common things.

Using a paradox will engage interest and give the reader something to ponder after the last word. Again, one cannot use nonsense but has to construct a true, connected-to-reality paradox. It is not easy to come up with new ones or good ones, but when it happens, one should not be afraid of using it in a haiku. T h e Technique o f the Improbable World—This is very close to paradox but has a slight difference. Again, this is an old Japanese tool which is often used to make the poet sound simple and childlike.

It demonstrates a distorted view of science—one we know is not true, but always has the possibility of being true—as in quantum physics. The Technique o f Using Humor—This is the dangerous stuff. Because one has no way of judging another person's tolerance for wisecracks, jokes, slurs, bathroom and bedroom terminology, one should enter the territory of humor as if it is strewn with landmines.

And yet, if one is reading before a live audience, nothing draws in the admiration and applause like a few humorous haiku. Very often the gentle humor of a haiku comes from citing the honest reactions of humankind. So choose your terms carefully, add to your situation with appropriate leaps, and may the haiku gods smile on you. T h e T e c h n i q u e o f "As Is A b o v e : Is B e l o w " — Though it seems to be using a religious precept, this technique is only working to make the tiny haiku a wellrounded thought.

Simply said: the first line and the third line exhibit a connectedness or a completeness. Some say one should be able to read the first line and the third line to find it makes a complete thought. Sometimes one does not know in which order to place the images in a haiku. W h e n the images in the first and third lines have the strongest relationship, the haiku usually feels balanced.

As an exercise, take any haiku and switch the lines around to see how this factor works. Try reading the following haiku without the second line. See how "straight d o w n " applies both to the rain and the horse's head. A writer will make a perfectly ordinary and accurate statement about common things, but due to the combination of images and ideas and what happens between them, a truth will be revealed about the Divine.

Since we all have various ideas about what the Divine is, two readers of the same haiku may not find the same truth or revelation in it. Here, again, the reader becomes a writer to find a greater truth behind the words. So you stare at the wall and the pristine paper and nothing comes to mind? Here is an easy method of attaching training wheels to your haiku mind.

You simply start with a haiku someone else has written. Find one you really like, one that speaks to you, one that has an aspect you admire. Even if you already have written some haiku of your own, but admire a technique someone else is using, you can learn that method by trying this process. O r you can pick a haiku you feel is not quite right and needs some correcting or editing. Everyone loves to revise someone else's work!

Go for it. At the left edge, near the top corner, write in bold print the first line of the haiku with which you have picked to work. In the center of the left margin, write the second line. Near the bottom of the sheet, above the lower left-hand corner, write the third line. N o w working one line at a time, see how many ways you can rewrite the information it contains by substituting other verbs and nouns.

Write down whatever comes to your mind without thinking of whether your idea is good or not, relevant or not, fitting or not. Just let your inner self play with the words. If nothing happens, that is okay. Go to the next line of the original haiku. Have you ever seen or experienced something similar? Can you write about this in a better way? Here you give yourself the satisfaction of scratching the itch to change what others have written.

Enjoy it! Indulge yourself.


Sometime before the page is filled with the shine of your pencil, take a look at the last line of the original haiku. Does it fit with anything you have written? O r have you already found a better third line than this for one of your best ideas? D o you think that changing the last line of the original haiku could make it better? If so, write down the possibilities. Then on a clean sheet of paper write your own haiku formed out of the sets of three lines as you have discovered them by thinking up your variations to the original haiku.

Haiku or Die: One Year of Haiku-y Goodness

Be sure that out of this assortment of possibilities you have your own haiku hiding somewhere on the page. Try out all the combinations. Pick a second line, from your many attempts, or if the idea comes to you, make up a new one. Listening to your inner self is the most vital thing you can do at this stage. The haiku is there, you have already written it. You simply have to listen to your own directions in order to put it together the way it was inside of you.

D o take the time to write down all the possible combinations of lines—even if that loudmouthed inner critic tries to tell you not to. Because you are not yet done with this haiku. Save these worksheets because days or months later, when you look at them again, I can almost guarantee that some idea, phrase, or image will be the starting point for another of your haiku.

This exercise is too rich to waste. In studying the existing works of Basho, one can see that before he wrote his now-famous "old pond" poem, he had used that last line—"the sound of water"—in two other verses in the previous months. In both of these cases the phrase was used in its usual sense. But still, something in him must have told him that there was more to be found in the line.

Poems and stuff from a mostly carbon dude.

So do not give up. And think of trying this exercise again with another haiku. Anytime you are feeling blocked or want to write a haiku but have no moment of inspiration or ideas, this exercise will get your juices flowing. Precisely because haiku written in this manner do not come with the marvelous charge of inspiration, it is easier to test them, change them, rub out and polish them anew.

The results of such an exercise are called desk haiku by some persons because they are not written in response to a moment of inspiration. Then, technically, your desk haiku no longer deserves that name because it is the result of a delayed m o m e n t of inspiration. Learn to split frog hairs. Defend yourself. A Checklist For Revising Haiku While learning to write haiku it can be helpful to have a list so you can quickly check the new work for common errors.

Until you make up your own list, you might want to borrow this one; it is the one I use for my work. Along with the points are included ways of making corrections. Can you clearly see or hear the two distinct parts? Does the haiku read like a sentence? By changing either the order of the words or the verb structure you can usually solve this problem. What is the shape of the haiku? If you are counting syllables, are you sure you have the right numbers in each of the lines? If the first or last line is the longest, could it fit better in the middle so the haiku has the shape you wish for it to have?

Are there pronouns in it? D o you really need them or can they be written out? Are all the verbs in the present tense? H o w many gerunds, or words ending in "ing," have you used? Are there adverbs in the haiku? Is there any word that could be removed without losing the sense of the verse? Is there any word that could have another word substituted for it? There are so many similar words that one must be certain to use the one and only one that makes the haiku. Wiggle every word.

Poetry comes from exactitude. This means that instead of writing "tree" the author tells whether the tree is an oak or a pine tree. Appreciate the additional information that comes from associations of certain names —for example, "oak" suggests strength and endurance, and "pine" can also mean "to yearn for or long for"— and use these opportunities to enrich the haiku. Does the haiku work on more than one level? Is it at once describing a scene and also a state of mind or being or a philosophy?

Can others understand your poem? If you are not sure, this is the time to show your haiku to others to see if they can understand it. Have you read this haiku somewhere else? Have you unconsciously taken someone else's haiku for your own? Does the haiku sing to you?

D o you love repeating it to yourself? Does it totally delight you? If not, if something bothers you about it, go back to the moment of inspiration, when you were given the idea for the haiku. Look around the scene to see if you have missed any vital details that need to be in your poem. Does the reworked poem still express your original feeling or idea? Should this idea be expressed in a haiku? Should there be a series of haiku on the subject? Could the idea or inspiration be better expressed in a tanka or another from of poetry?

Essays by Takiguchi Susumu - Terebess Asia Online (TAO)

Can it be stated in other ways? Take the time to write up all the variations that you think of. Save and honor them all. Believe It or N o t — M o r e Rules If you are still looking for more haiku rules to follow, here is a list of many that have come and gone over the years as well as the ones already discussed above.

As you read them over, you will see how much you have already learned. Write syllables in the three lines. Write lines of any length but have only seventeen syllables in the whole haiku. Write seventeen syllables in one line. Write seventeen syllables in a vertical flush left or centered configuration with one word on each line.

This method makes one read the work more slowly because the eyes must travel back and forth so often. Use less than seventeen syllables written in three horizontal lines as short, long, short. Use less than seventeen syllables written in three vertical lines as short, long, short.

Write what can be said in one breath. Use a season word kigo or seasonal reference. Use a caesura at the end of either the first or second line, but not at both line ends. Never have all three lines make a complete or run-on sentence. Have two images that are only comparative when illuminated by the third image. Have two images that are only associative when illuminated by the third image.

Have two images that are only in contrast when illuminated by the third image. Always write in the present tense of here and now. Make limited use, or non-use, of personal pronouns. Use personal pronouns written in the lower case. Example: i am a. Eliminate all the possible uses of gerunds "ing" endings on verbs. Study and check the articles.

D o you use too many of the words " t h e " or "a," or too few? Are they all the same in one p o e m or are they varied? Use common sentence syntax in both the phrase and the fragment. Use three sentence fragments. Study the order in which the images are presented e. Save the "punch line" for the end line. W o r k to find the most fascinating and eye-catching first lines.

Write about ordinary things in an ordinary way using ordinary language. Study Zen and let your haiku express the wordless way of making images. Study any religion or philosophy and let this echo in the background of your haiku. Use only concrete images. Invent lyrical expressions for the image. Attempt to have levels of meaning in the haiku.

O n the surface it is a set of simple images; underneath, a philosophy or lesson of life. Use images that evoke simple rustic seclusion or accepted poverty, sabi Use images that evoke classical, elegant separateness. Use images that evoke nostalgic, romantic images of austere beauty, wabi Use images that evoke a mysterious aloneness. Use a paradox. Use puns and wordplays. Write of the impossible in an ordinary way. Use only lofty or uplifting images—no war, blatant sex, crime, or local news. Tell it as it is in the real world around us.

Use only images from nature with no mention of humanity. Mix subjects of humans and nature. Designate humans as non-nature and give all these non-nature haiku another name, such as senryvi. Avoid all reference to yourself. Refer to yourself obliquely as the poet, this old man, or with a personal pronoun. Use no punctuation for ambiguity. Use all normal sentence punctuation. Capitalize the first word of every line. Capitalize the first word only.

Capitalize proper names according to English rules. All words in lower case. All words in upper case. Rewrite any rhymes. R h y m e last words in the first and third lines. Use rhymes in other places within the haiku. Use alliteration—repetition of sounds—that relates to the subject matter in order to increase a certain feeling. Use the words that you hear in your head only. Always end the haiku with a noun. Write haiku only from an "aha" moment. Use any inspiration as a starting point to develop and write haiku. Avoid too many, or nearly all, verbs. Cut out prepositions in, on, at, among, between whenever possible, especially in the fragment.

Eliminate adverbs. D o n ' t use more than one modifier per noun. Their use should be limited to the absolute sense of the haiku. Share your haiku by adding one at the close of your letters. Treat your haiku like poetry; it's not a greeting card verse. Write down every haiku that comes to you. Even the so-called bad ones. It may inspire the next one, which will surely be better. Basho had a motto: "Learn the rules; and then forget them. The smallness of haiku makes a workable arrangement even more imperative.


N o t h i n g is more frustrating than to know you wrote a certain haiku about a specific event and n o w be unable to recall the verse exactly or even find where it was written down. It is even more frustrating to work on a haiku in your head, get it perfectly right and then, by neglecting to write it down, have it lost forever.

Like dreams, haiku have a way of vanishing; especially those thought of in the dark of night. So the first rule of haiku is to always have paper and pencil close at hand. For some of us this means a pouch hangs from the mattress with pen, flashlight, and assorted papers. Clothes with pockets should be equipped with at least a folded sheet of paper and the stub of a pencil. Many persons devise tiny notebooks—stapled sheets of leftover paper into a covered booklet that best fits your pocket.

O r you can make a science of finding the perfect companion for your haiku. I have had all possibilities happen. Once I ended up writing down a haiku with a bit of charcoal from a beach fire on a piece of driftwood. Another time I was reduced to writing the haiku on smooth rocks, and photographing them because the camera was working and the pen was not. I have also sharpened broken pencils on a rough rock, and have written haiku on my arm in ink when there was no paper. The process of rewriting and the completely realistic danger of the little pocket notebook going through the laundry usually forces writers to also keep a more permanent record of their haiku.

Some people use index cards with one haiku per card. In this way all the versions of one haiku can be saved on a card or they can be separated onto individual cards. These cards need a system of numbering and of organization by subject or time so you can find the one haiku you are looking for later. You can organize your poems by the five seasons. Each season is then divided into the categories of the season or its attributes: celestial—all the haiku about skies, weather, stars, planets; terrestrial—references to parts of the landscape; livelihood—human activities common to a certain season, including holiday activities; animals—ones associated with a certain season; and plants—ones that reflect the season.

Within these seven categories one can arrange the subjects alphabetically. Thus, if you remember writing that great haiku last August at the beach, you only need to flip back to August's cache of haiku. Some persons use readymade journals to make a small book of their haiku written on a trip or around a special event.

The use of computers is an excellent way of organizing haiku. It is possible to create a database so you can search for the haiku by subject, first word, or date. Lacking those skills, one can always type up the haiku in series, title them, and save them under various descriptive headings. Typing up a haiku on a computer while using the copy and paste features makes it easy to revise while keeping the original version and still experimenting with new words from the thesaurus. Just don't get carried away by big words. For those who are into journaling, nothing adds spice to the recounting of the day's activities like a haiku adding insight in the middle of the page.

This is an excellent method of detailing in prose the background to the haiku material. You never know when you will begin to write haibun and need all of this information that you might have otherwise forgotten. This talk about organizing your haiku cannot be complete without mentioning the ultimate way of organizing haiku—making your own book of haiku. If you can decipher the tone of your friend's voice, or the poignant silence at the other end of the line, here is instant help to know whether the verse works or not, and if not, where the problem lies. This is a walk that is usually planned in a special place—a garden or area of scenic beauty—for the purpose of being inspired with haiku.

As the group strolls along, people recite the haiku that come to mind. For many Westerners, particularly the shy, it is easier to write down the haiku and then when the group settles down for a rest or cup of tea afterwards, to read the fresh new haiku to them.

H o w often, as the group shares what they have written, has there been the thought, " N o w I saw that same p h e n o m e n o n and never realized the possible haiku in it. Here, everyone has already honed their ability to hear and understand a haiku, so even the biggest leaps can be quickly and accurately understood and appreciated. The ultimate experience of sharing your haiku verbally is to take part in a poetry reading.

This is very different from sharing your haiku with a group of like-minded aficionados who understand how haiku work. W h e n it comes to planning for the big night of the local poetry reading, you could perhaps use some professional advice. Here are some suggestions given by P r o fessor Jerome J. Cushman, a theatre director, actor, dancer, and recently retired professor from the Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, as put forth in his paper "Presenting Haiku: Considerations for the Oral Interpretation of Haiku. Using large print with notations in different colors makes for easy reference if a word or idea slips the mind.

R e m e m b e r , whether presenting one haiku or several haiku as part of a longer lecture, these techniques can still be utilized. Know the meanings of all the words in the poem and h o w to say them correctly.

14 thoughts on “Haiku and Watercolor Fun”

Say each part of every word clearly. Allow each sound to fully develop in the chest, head and mouth. This experience is not like 'one on one' conversation, so think of projecting the voice out to the audience. The variation of pitch is the intonation and inflection in the voice. It is the song or highness and lowness of the tone. Monotone is boring. A sing song pattern is also boring. Variation of pitch is important for the audience's interest, understanding and emotional involvement. The presenter already has the ideas clearly in his or her mind.

The audience needs the time to go through four steps for the effective communication of the poem. Each member of the audience needs to be able to 1 hear, 2 think, 3 react or feel, and 4 understand. If a presenter keeps this four-step process in mind then the audience will have time to appreciate the poem. Again, variety of the tempo is interesting.

As the audience warms to the process, you can skip this on the easily understood or comprehended verses, especially those in a sequence where the sense of one verse easily leads to the next one. These also help put the emphasis on the important words and the subordination of the less important words.

Allowing proper pauses creates the phrasing and timing. Because haiku are short, take time to orally present each image appropriately. This always impresses audiences who think haiku are simple. Moderate emphasis with one line. Perpendicular lines between words denote pauses. T w o for a longer pause, one for shorter. With wavy lines the presenter can show upward or downward inflection. Vashti and The Writer Next Door. Thank goodness, or I would never end up writing. Florence from Meanings and Musings writes Climax.

She has a refreshed view of life after a trip of destiny. I guess some of you may have noticed I am everywhere lately. I have posts across other blogs promoting my book. Then I am trying to do my normal blogging. I guess you realize if I am wearing the gloves then the hands have gotten worse. I love writing. I love blogging. I host challenges and put out reviews, both of which I like. The problem is. I never knew the Haiku Challenge would ever get as big as it has.

I am working on a way to maybe include all the links of all the entries just not in the format we have now. This may be temporary. Other than my hands and overall health issues, I also want to get back to being creative again. If an author does not have a comment, as do the entries, that means they did not have an entry this week, but I left their place here.

Is it for the benefit of advertising their work? No, it is for the ease of my formatting their next entry in the challenge. And maybe there is a little heart felt type thing I have for authors. One of my favorite themes running this week. I used write alot when I was younger but as life got more hectic and busy I stopped doing it however the ideas never stopped coming. In fact, they still are. I have set myself the challenge of writing at least one piece a week, be it a short story, drabble, poem or whatever and post here… [ Click to Read More ].

Emma Major: Yum! AND has a cool name. A smart message delivered. You have to think that how we got to exist in the first place. Was writing lens at Squidoo for nearly four years until their closure September Nice first entry. Love the image of the Haiku itself. Very well done. Something about me: To be honest mine is a very boring story.

The prompts she did rhyme, in order to be sublime. Also entered last week but on a participantes blog, Haiku title- Pretty gal. What i said is… I have been penning down for years now.. But, I just found a new way to store it all.. My blog is the way that entices all in this digital world.. Annette Rochelle Aben. She used a word you never thought you would see in a Haiku. Purest may take issue with this one. Just like it should be. Very interesting.

I loved learning something today. Go check it out! I need one of these. And information about the challenge in her post. Okay, great Haiku and an amazing learning lesson. Also nice to see where she took the photograph. Love these. Story of parenting and children. Wow, I had no idea. Ode to Antecedent. Imagery filled, as we come to expect, and a great use of the words in their original prompt form. Bill Engleson Author : Winter Gem. A heart felt offering inspired by terrible real life events. Mauldin Author : Warning! Bit of storytelling in this one.

All you men read and heed. Nagrij or Greg Pierce. You can check out the list of books on Amazon by clicking the Author link above. Why would she not write about the two things that define her? Vashti has a nice pair this week. Enjoyed by all her fans. Go see. Very nice imagery supported by some great photography. Love the scene in that top photo. I may have to save it to write about one day. Click the Author link for Sue at Amazo n and her many books. Steven S. My mouth is kind of tingling with the idea. A good story with this one. Excellently done. She has one nice looking blog.

Love it. Goodchild Author : Folksong and Fantasy. Goodchild is found on Amazon as Harriet Goodchild, yes, we have another author joining us. Click the Author link above to go to her Amazon Author page. An outlook on the New Year. Check out her book at the Author link above. One I keep trying to find the time to read. Check her author page and books out on Smashwords by clicking the Author link above. Can you imagine, Colleen wrote about fairies? No way! Judy: Smooth Operator? Judy gives a taste of the English culture with this one, I think.

Pun intended. Nice poem. Good advice as well. Nato wrote a Freku this week. Not sure what that is? Nicely done. Good rhyming and of course, Romance and Love. Okay, the Haiku is good, but the reason behind it is even better. Go and congratulate the old geezer. The Haiku is in the comments, and his blog is the other link. Return to Top. Willow: Love Along the Way Willowdot Two I combined into one title. Both great and stand alone. Milk it, baby!

Then the second one could fit the title as well. Very nice. Geetha: Like milk and honey. Did you know you can listen to the reading of her poetry on her post? Three this week. Janice: Even sun stars die Ontheland. Two this week, with the second using milk as I was wondering if people would. He wrote Five Haiku.

I had no idea what else to call them. I think I just gave him a name for his new Rock Band. Hmm, makes you think. Very good selections with a nice family picture shared. This must be a thing. Another tasty treat for you to partake of. Two Haiku. Smooth operator advice. Interesting images fitting so well with each Haiku. The Aran Artisan. I am so misleading you this week. Elusive: Accounts Receivable Elusive Trope.

Sad to say. Florence: Smooth Transition Meanings and Musings. Florence goes headlines with her Haiku this week. Kim M. Russell: Embers Writing in North Northfolk. Ah, a different take. Good one. My title may be misleading, but not for long. Great Haiku. Interesting photo to go with it.

An odd photo in a way, not a bad way, more an interesting way. These truths are often revealed in a relationship between the human subject and nature. Nature on its own is neither good nor bad; the interiority of the seer defines what is seen, When there is a conflict between the natural subject and the culture it sometimes suggests that certain members of this culture are being exploited by their culture and are made unnatural by the culture and its demands of the subject, such as women exploited for labor and sex. His natural world discloses women and young girls suffering exposure to natural elements like rain and snow rather than learning from them, pondering them or enjoying them.

What one sees is made possible because the culture provides the means, or lack thereof, for one to see it or not. The theme of human nature causing women to suffer natural elements because of cultural demands is clearly presented in this haiku. Note that it is a drizzling rain and not a torrential downpour. The drizzling rain suggests a slow, steady, experience of suffering rather than a quick or sudden death or injury. However, culture exploits nature both inside and outside the flower shop. Instead of being in nature and permitted their own natural experiences of life, the flowers are cut and sold in order to fulfill human cultural desires.

Upon crunching snow, Childless mothers are searching For cash customers. Being a mother is not, for these women, a part of this sexual economy of exploitation. Unfortunately, Wright is aware of far too many women who are represented by the plights of the women in the haiku above. He can only watch as they lose the innocence Wright expresses in haiku number A little girl stares, Dewy eyes round with wonder, At morning glories.

During their youth, young girls wait patiently for some unknown good to touch their lives. As this promise of hope turns into a dream deferred, the girls become victims of cultural demands who are made to suffer while they are waiting. From these warm spring days, I can still see her sad face In its last autumn. The focus here is on the juxtapositions of seasons. The speaker is calling to mind an old memory during warm spring days. Because spring represents growth, renewal, and rebirth and autumn represents decay, death, and the onset of old age, this haiku suggests that the speaker may not be in tune with nature because he recalls her sad face during these warm spring days.

While his fiction and nonfiction works explicitly advocate his position, he is only able to express this indirectly in his haiku. The primal outlook on life for which Wright gives witness coincides with his belief that there is a preeminence of intuition over knowledge in the search for truth. This is what leads Wright to call into question the basic assumptions of existence, that is, questioning the life one is socially and politically taught to live. In his haiku, as in all of his works, Wright admonishes us, that for us to see ourselves truly as human beings, we must give our utmost attention to comprehending the relationship between humanity and nature.

Austin State University. Yoshinobu Hakutani Hakutani, Yoshinobu. In: Richard Wright and Racial Discourse, pp. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, In , less than a year before his death, Wright selected, under the title This Other World: Projections in the Haiku Manner, out of the about four thousand haiku he had composed since the summer of the previous year. Blyth, a well-detailed study of the genre and a commentary on the works of classic and some modern Japanese haiku poets. Above all, his fine pieces of poetry show, as do classic Japanese haiku, the unity and harmony of all things, the sensibility that man and nature are one and inseparable.

In his prose work, despite the social and racial conflicts described, he had an insatiable desire to find peace and harmony in society. Bigger Thomas's muted protest before execution and Cross Damon's last message to his fellow human beings as he lies dying are meant to unite division in human life.

Only when Fred Daniels in "The Man Who Lived Underground" achieves Zen-like enlightenment, his peace of mind with the world, is he shot dead by police. It is in another country that Fishbelly Tucker's quest for manhood, his dream of happiness and love, can be fulfilled. Although Wright wanted to belong to two cultures, American and African, as Black Power demonstrates, he was at times torn between the two worlds and remained an exile in Europe.

His haiku, on the other hand, poignantly express a desire to transcend social and racial differences and a need to find union and harmony with nature. While his prose exhibits a predilection for a rational world created by human beings out of their narcissistic image of themselves, the humanism expressed in his haiku goes beyond a fellowship of human beings. It means an awareness of what human beings share with all living things.

The human images in his haiku represent life at its deepest level. The genesis of Wright's poetic sensibility is clearly stated in "Blueprint for Negro Writing," even though his theory is Marxist and hence political rather than literary.

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An African American writer's perspective, Wright defines, "is that part of a poem, novel, or play which a writer never puts directly upon paper. It is that fixed point in intellectual space where a writer stands to view the struggles, hopes, and sufferings of his people. Yet he consciously created a poetic vision through and against which racial conflict could be depicted. The first chapter contains a long series of images from nature:. There was the delight I caught in seeing long straight rows of red and green vegetables stretching away in the sun to the bright horizon.

There was the faint, cool kiss of sensuality when dew came on to my cheeks and shins as I ran down the wet green garden paths in the early morning. There was the vague sense of the infinite as I looked down upon the yellow, dreaming waters of the Mississippi River from the verdant bluffs of Natchez. There were the echoes of nostalgia I heard in the crying strings of wild geese winging south against a bleak, autumn sky.

There was the tantalizing melancholy in the tingling scent of burning hickory wood. There was the teasing and impossible desire to imitate the petty pride of sparrows wallowing and flouncing in the red dust of country roads. There was the yearning for identification loosed in me by the sight of a solitary ant carrying a burden upon a mysterious journey. There was the disdain that filled me as I tortured a delicate, blue-pink crawfish that huddled fearfully in the mudsill of a rusty tin can. There was the languor I felt when I heard green leaves rustling with a rainlike sound.

There was the experience of feeling death without dying that came from watching a chicken leap about blindly after its neck had been snapped by a quick twist of my father's wrist. There was the thirst I had when I watched clear, sweet juice trickle from sugar cane being crushed. There was the speechless astonishment of seeing a hog stabbed through the heart, dipped into boiling water, scraped, split open, gutted, and strung up gaping and bloody. There was the love I had for the mute regality of tall, moss-clad oaks.

There was the saliva that formed in my mouth whenever I smelt clay dust potted with fresh rain. There was the cloudy notion of hunger when I breathed the odor of new-cut, bleeding grass. And there was the quiet terror that suffused my senses when vast hazes of gold washed earthward from star-heavy skies on silent nights. BB [Black Boy], Two kinds of natural images are intermingled. Unlike the first series, this one predominantly consists of images from nature that generate feelings of joy and happiness, a sense of harmony between man and nature.

Each experience had a sharp meaning of its own" BB, Even the two sentences that contain images of unfriendly nature basically differ from those in the first series that contain images of society and conflict. The second series includes the following: "There was the fear and awe I felt when Grandpa took me to a sawmill to watch the giant whirring steel blades whine and scream as they bit into wet green logs. There was the morning when I thought I would fall dead from fear after I had stepped with my bare feet upon a bright little green garden snake" BB, But in these passages his feelings of anxiety have little to do with nature itself, since nature is not to blame for such feelings.

Indeed, the poetic passages in Black Boy signify Wright's incipient interest in the exaltation of nature and the usefulness of natural images for his poetic sensibility. The primacy of the spirit of nature over the strife of man is further pronounced in his later work, especially Black Power. In "Blueprint," one of the theoretical principles calls for the African American writer to explore universal humanism, what is common among all cultures. The truth is that the question of how much of Africa has survived in the New World is misnamed when termed "African survivals.

BP [Black Power], Wright's exploration of the Ashanti convinced him that the defense of African culture meant renewal of Africans' faith in themselves. He realized for the first time that African culture was buttressed by universal human values, such as awe of nature, family kinship and love, faith in religion, and honor, that had made the African survival possible.

This primal outlook on life that he witnessed in Africa had a singular influence on his poetic vision. Before discussing Ashanti culture, he quotes a passage from Edmund Husserl's Ideas that suggests that the world of nature is preeminent over the scientific vision of that world, that intuition is preeminent over knowledge in the search for truth. This relationship of human beings to their world is somewhat remindful of Emerson, who emphasizes the preeminence of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical.

As Emerson urges his readers to realize their world rather than to attain material things, Wright defines the primal vision in African culture as the preeminence of spirit over matter. Similarly, Wright's interpretation of African philosophy recalls a teaching in Zen Buddhism. Unlike the other sects of Buddhism, Zen teaches that every individual possesses Buddhahood and all he or she must do is realize it. One must purge one's mind and heart of any materialistic thoughts or feelings and appreciate the wonder of the world here and now. Zen is a way of self-discipline and self-reliance.

Its emphasis on self is derived from the prophetic admonishment Gautama Buddha is said to have given to his disciples: "Seek within, you are the Buddha. But there are differences between Zen and Emerson. Fascinated by the mysticism of the East, Emerson adapted to his own poetical use many allusions to Eastern religions. From time to time, however, one is surprised to find in his essays an aversion to Buddhism.

This "remorseless Buddhism," he wrote in his Journals, "lies all around, every enterprise, every sentiment, has its ruin in this horrid Infinite which circles us and awaits on dropping into it. For Emerson, the association of this Buddhistic enlightenment with an undisciplined state of oblivion to the self and the world is uncongenial to his stoicism and self-reliance. The African primal outlook upon existence, in which a person's consciousness, as Wright explains, corresponds to the spirit of nature, has a closer resemblance to the concept of enlightenment in Zen than it does to Emersonian transcendentalism.

To the African mind and to Zen, divinity exists in nature only if the person is intuitively conscious of divinity in the self. To Emerson and Whitman, for example, God exists in nature regardless of whether the person is capable of such intuition. Just as, in Zen, a tree contains satori only when the viewer can see it through his or her enlightened eyes, Wright saw in African life a closer relationship between human beings and nature than between human beings and their social and political environment: Africa, with its high rain forest, with its stifling heat and lush vegetation, might well be mankind's queerest laboratory.

Here instinct ruled and flowered without being concerned with the nature of the physical structure of the world; man lived without too much effort; there was nothing to distract him from concentrating upon the currents and countercurrents of his heart. He was thus free to project out of himself what he thought he was. Man has lived here in a waking dream, and, to some extent, he still lives here in that dream. BP, Wright thus created an image of the noble black man: Africa evokes in one "a total attitude toward life, calling into question the basic assumptions of existence," just as Zen teaches one a way of life completely independent of what one has been socially and politically conditioned to lead.

As if echoing the enlightenment of Zen, Wright says: "Africa is the world of man; if you are wild, Africa's wild; if you are empty, so's Africa" BP, Wright's discussion of the African concept of life is also suggestive of Zen's emphasis on transcending the dualism of life and death.

Just as Zen master Dogen taught that life and death are beyond human control and not separate, the funeral service Wright saw in an Ashanti tribe showed him that "the 'dead' live side by side with the living; they eat, breathe, laugh, hate, love, and continue doing in the world of ghostly shadows exactly what they had been doing in the world of flesh and blood" BP, , a portrayal of life and death reminiscent of Philip Freneau's "Indian Burial.

He thus observed: The pre-Christian African was impressed with the littleness of himself and he walked the earth warily, lest he disturb the presence of invisible gods. When he wanted to disrupt the terrible majesty of the ocean in order to fish, he first made sacrifices to its crashing and rolling waves; he dared not cut down a tree without first propitiating its spirit so that it would not haunt him; he loved his fragile life and he was convinced that the tree loved its life also.

The concept of unity, continuity, and infinity underlying life and death is what the Akan religion and Buddhism share. If my writing has any aim, it is to try to reveal that which is human on both sides, to affirm the essential unity of man on earth. Indeed, his reading of the African mind conforms to both religions in their common belief that mankind is not at the center of the universe. It is this revelatory and emulating relationship between nature and human beings that makes the African primal outlook upon life akin to Zen Buddhism.

Like transcendentalists such as Emerson and Whitman, Japanese haiku poets were inspired by nature, especially its beautiful scenes and seasonal changes. Where they came from is unknown, but they must have adapted their living to the ways of nature. Many were farmers; others were hunters, fishermen, and warriors. While they often confronted nature, they always tried to live in harmony with it: Buddhism and Shintoism constantly taught them that the soul existed in them as well as in nature, the animate and the inanimate alike, and that nature must be preserved as much as possible.

Interestingly, haiku traditionally avoided such subjects as earthquakes, floods, illnesses, and eroticism-ugly aspects of nature. Instead haiku poets were attracted to such objects as flowers, trees, birds, sunsets, the moon, and genuine love. Those who earned their livelihood by labor had to battle with the negative aspects of nature, but noblemen, priests, writers, singers, and artists found beauty and pleasure in natural phenomena. Since the latter group of people had the time to idealize or romanticize nature and impose a philosophy on it, they became an elite group of Japanese culture.

Basho was an essayist, Buson was a painter, and Issa was a Buddhist priest, and each of them was also an accomplished haiku poet. The genesis of haiku can be seen in the waka, or Japanese song, the oldest verse form of thirty-one syllables in five lines As an amusement at the court one person would compose the first three lines of a waka and another person was challenged to provide the last two lines to complete the verse.

The haiku form, a verse of seventeen syllables arranged , with such exceptions as and , thus corresponds to the first three lines of the waka. Hyakunin Isshu One hundred poems by one hundred poets , a waka anthology compiled in by Fujiwara no Sadaiye, contains haikulike verses, such as Sadaiye's "Chiru Hana wo" The Falling Blossoms :. Chiru hana wo Oikakete yuku Arashi kana.

The falling blossoms: Look at them, it is the storm That is chasing them. The focus of this verse is the poet's observation of a natural object, the falling blossoms. To a beautiful picture Sadaiye adds his feeling about this phenomenon: it looks as though a storm is pursuing the falling flower petals. This seventeen-syllable verse form was preserved by noblemen, courtiers, and high-ranked samurai for more than two centuries after the publication of Hyakunin Isshu. Around the beginning of the sixteenth century, however, the verse form became popular among the poets.

It constituted a dominant element of another popular verse form calledrenga, or linked song. A renga consisted of a continuous chain of verses of fourteen and seventeen syllables, each independently composed, but connected as one poem. The first collection of renga, Chikuba Kyogin Shu, contains over two hundred tsukeku adding verses linked with the first verses of another poet. As the title of thisrenga collection suggests, the salient characteristic of renga was a display of ingenuity and coarse humor. Chikuba Kyogin Shu also collected twenty hokku starting verses.

Because the hokku was considered the most important verse of a renga series, it was usually composed by the senior poet attending a renga session. The fact that this collection included fewer hokku in proportion to tsukeku indicates the poets' interest in the comic nature of the renga. Basho's poem was totally different from most of the haikai poems written by his predecessors: it was the creation of a new perception and not merely an ingenious play on words. As most scholars observe, the changes and innovations brought about in haikaipoetry were not accomplished by a single poet.

The haiku, then, was a unique poetic genre that was short but could offer more than wit or humor: a haiku late in the seventeenth century became a crystallized expression of one's vision and sensibility. Furu ike ya Kawazu tobi komu Mizu no oto. The old pond! A frog leapt into- List, the water sound!

One may think a frog an absurd poetic subject, but Basho focused his vision on a scene of desolation, an image of nature. The pond was perhaps situated on the premises of an ancient temple whose silence was suddenly broken by a frog plunging into the deep water.

As Noguchi conceived the experience, Basho, a Zen Buddhist, was "supposed to awaken into enlightenment now when he heard the voice bursting out of voicelessness, and the conception that life and death were mere change of condition was deepened into faith. He was describing the sensation of hearing the sound bursting out of soundlessness. A haiku is not a representation of goodness, truth, or beauty; there is nothing particularly good, true, or beautiful about a frog's leaping into the water.

It seems as though Basho, in writing the poem, carried nature within him and brought himself to the deepest level of nature where all sounds lapse into the world of silence and infinity. Although his vision is based upon reality, it transcends time and space. What a Zen poet like Basho is showing is that man can do enough naturally, enjoy doing it, and achieve his peace of mind.

This fusion of man and nature is called spontaneity in Zen. The best haiku, because of their linguistic limitations, are inwardly extensive and outwardly infinite. A severe constraint imposed on one aspect of haiku must be balanced by a spontaneous, boundless freedom on the other. From a Zen point of view, such a vision is devoid of intellectualism and emotionalism. Since Zen is the most important philosophical tradition influencing Japanese haiku, the haiku poet aims at understanding the spirit of nature. Basho thus recognizes little division between man and nature, the subjective and the objective; he is never concerned with the problems of good and evil.

The satori that the Zen poet seeks is defined as the state of mu, nothingness, which is absolutely free of any thought or emotion; it is so completely free that such a state corresponds to that of nature. For a Zen-inspired poet, nature is a mirror of the enlightened self; one must see and hear things as they really are by making one's consciousness pure and clear.

Classic haiku poets like Basho, Buson, and Issa avoided expressions of good and evil, love and hate, individual feeling and collective myth; their haiku indeed shun such sentiments altogether. Their poetry is strictly concerned with the portrayal of nature-mountains, trees, flowers, birds, waterfalls, nights, days, seasons. For the Japanese haiku poet, nature reflects the enlightened self; the poet must always make his or her consciousness pure, natural, and unemotional. This characteristic can be shown even by one of Basho's lesser-known haiku:.

Hiya hiya to Kabe wo fumaete Hirune kana How cool it is, Putting the feet on the wall: An afternoon nap. Basho was interested in expressing how his feet, anyone's feet, would feel when placed on a wall in the house on a warm summer afternoon. His subject was none other than this direct sensation. He did not want to convey any emotion, any thought, any beauty; there remained only poetry, only nature.

Because of their brevity and condensation, haiku seldom provide details. The haiku poet delineates only an outline or a highly selective image, and the reader must complete the vision. Above all, a classic haiku, as opposed to a modern one, is required to include a clear reference to one of the four seasons. In Basho's "The Old Pond," said to be written in the spring of , a seasonal reference to spring is made by the frog in the second line: the plunging of a single frog into the deep water suddenly breaks the deadly quiet. It is also imperative that a haiku be primarily concerned with nature; if a haiku deals with man's life, that life must be viewed in the context of nature rather than of society.

The predilection to portray man's life in association with nature means that the poet is more interested in genuinely human sentiments than in moral, ethical, or political problems. That haiku thrives upon the affinity between man and nature can be illustrated by this famous haiku by Kaga no Chiyo , a foremost woman poet in her age:. Asagao ni Tsurube torarete Morai mizu A morning glory Has taken the well bucket: I'll borrow water.

Since a fresh, beautiful morning glory has grown on her well bucket overnight, Chiyo does not mind going to her neighbor to borrow water. Not only does her action show a desire to preserve nature, but the poem also conveys a natural and tender feeling for nature. A classic haiku, while it shuns human-centered emotions, thrives upon such a nature-centered feeling as Chiyo's. Nor can this sensibility be explained by logic or reason. Longer poems are often filled with intellectualized or moralized reasoning, but haiku avoid such language.

Because the haiku is limited in its length, it must achieve its effect through an internal unity and harmony. Feelings of unity and harmony, indicative of Zen philosophy, are motivated by a desire to perceive every instant in nature and life: an intuition that nothing is alone, nothing is out of the ordinary. One of Basho's later haiku displays this sense of unity and relatedness:. Aki fukaki Tonari wa nani wo Suru hito zo Autumn is deepening: What does the neighbor do For a living?

Although a serious poet, Basho was enormously interested in the commonplace and in common people. As autumn approaches winter and he nears the end of his life, he takes a deeper interest in his fellow human beings.

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His observations of the season and his neighbor, a total stranger, are separate, yet they intensify each other. His vision, as it is unified, evokes a deeply felt sentiment. In haiku, two entirely different things are joined in sameness: spirit and matter, present and future, doer and deed, word and thing, meaning and sensation. Basho's oft-quoted "A Crow" depicts a crow perching on a withered branch, a moment of reality:.

Kare eda ni Karasu no tomari taruya Aki no kure A crow Perched on a withered tree In the autumn evening. This image of the crow is followed by the coming of an autumn nightfall, a feeling of future. Present and future, thing and feeling, man and nature, each defining the other, are thus unified. The unity of sentiment in haiku is further intensified by the poet's expression of the senses.

Basho's "Sunset on the Sea," for instance, shows the unity and relatedness of the senses:. Umi kurete Kamo no koe Honoka ni shiroshi Sunset on the sea: The voices of the ducks Are faintly white. The voices of the ducks under the darkened sky are delineated both as white and as faint. Interestingly, the chilled wind after dark evokes the whiteness associated with coldness.