Wordsmith Wednesday: More About Haiku

Basho by Basho by Sugiyama Sanpû (1647-1732)

Image via Wikipedia

“In this mortal frame of mine…there is something called a wind-swept spirit, for it is much like thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind.” Basho, 1687

Last week when I had limited Internet access I had time to read Jane Hirschfield’s informative and beautifully written book on Haiku: “The Heart of Haiku.” Focused on the life and works of the 17th Century Japanese word artist (and I would say, mystic) Basho, Hirschfield peppers her exposition with elegant examples and succinct instruction.

Most of the time, after I’ve completed reading a book on Kindle, I send it to the archives at Amazon and then recall it if there’s something I want to rehash. This book, however, will reside on my device both as a source of instruction and inspiration.

Here are a few brief points that I would like to share with you about the art of Haiku:

  • Unless something is seen with a fresh eye, it is not worth writing down. (after Basho)
  • While English Haiku is written using the 5-7-5 syllable line structure, Japanese poetry is based on sounds.
  • Haiku always evokes a season, either by name or association.
  • Haiku offers the chance to make emotional, spiritual and psychological discoveries.
  • Haiku seeks to eliminate the space between the poet and the object of his poem. This allows the poet to truly perceive the object.
  • The new perception becomes the basis for an inner response on the part of the poet and reader.
  • The five-line Tanka (or Waka) preceded the Haiku. The syllable count for Tanka is 5-7-5-7-7.
  • Another poetic form called Renga consists of 3 and 2 line stanzas that build on one another. This form lends itself to collaborative poetry.
  • Basho taught: “If you have three or four, or even five or seven extra syllables, but the poem still sounds good, don’t worry about it.”

I strongly recommend “The Heart of Haiku” to anyone who loves this poetic form, has an interest in Zen Buddhism, or just wants to write poetry in which every word resounds.

For this weeks conversation, I am posting a Haiku that I wrote and would love to see you build on it in a collaborative effort. So when you visit this post, read all the comments and use the last Haiku posted as a prompt for your own that you will then add to the comments. I hope there will be enough of a response that I can compile them into a separate post. Of course, you will be acknowledged for your contribution.

Here’s the introductory Haiku:

Morning sun wakens

Arouses a ruddy sky

With his tender touch.

For more information on the Haiku form, you may want to visit my previous post: “True Haiku” written in June of this year: https://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/wordsmith-wednesday-true-haiku/

And this, my friends, is my 500th post! Thank you for all your encouragement.

Spring Muse

Tulips

Spring Muse
in response to the July Challenge offered by Blaga at http://brokensparkles.wordpress.com/  for which we are asked to showcase our favorites for each season of the year.

This QUOTE by Canadian author Margaret Atwood reminds me that one of the joys of Spring reentering the world of gardening—close to the Earth Mother we watch new life emerge in an array of color.

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~Margaret Atwood

Out of so many POEMS inspired by Spring, I chose this one by Katherine Mansfield because of her descriptions and personifications.

Very Early Spring
by Katherine Mansfield

The fields are snowbound no longer;
There are little blue lakes and flags of tenderest green.
The snow has been caught up into the sky–
So many white clouds–and the blue of the sky is cold.
Now the sun walks in the forest,
He touches the bows and stems with his golden fingers;
They shiver, and wake from slumber.
Over the barren branches he shakes his yellow curls.
Yet is the forest full of the sound of tears….
A wind dances over the fields.
Shrill and clear the sound of her waking laughter,
Yet the little blue lakes tremble
And the flags of tenderest green bend and quiver.

My husband and I love to watch classic MOVIES. Singing in the Rain, featuring the song and dance of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds is one of our favorites. To me, the WORD rebirth sums up the spirit of the season. These two favorites joined to inspire this haiku.

Singing in the Rain
celebrate rebirth with joy
song dance love stories.

I turn to nature to find my favorite SONG and it is that of birds: mockingbirds, tanagers, mourning doves, all varieties of song birds. Another haiku:

Mockingbird rejoice
sun’s gentle rays awaken
greet morning with song.

I can’t resist an opportunity to promote my upcoming BOOK, Winter is Past, that celebrates hope and joy that follows a season of loss.

Chilling winter winds
give way to hope and new life
when Winter is Past.

There are so many ANIMALS that return from warmer climates, that waken after a winter hibernation, or give birth to their young during spring. Out of these, I have chosen the lamb. One year I was making an eight-day silent retreat in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in a monastery planted in the heart of farm country. This is what happened:

On rolling hillsides
pregnant ewes give birth to lambs
dabs of white on green.

I’ve lived in many places and each TOWN, or city or rural area has their own beauty during Spring. I could write about Paris’ enchantment, Richmond’s (Virginia) azaleas, Washington D.C.’s cherry blossoms, Michigan’s tulips or Reno’s fickle spring that, some years, lasts only a few days. What I’ve come to realize is that my favorite place to be in spring is wherever I happen to be.

Stay in the moment
spring offers beauty to you
wherever you are.

In my tradition, spring is the season in which we celebrate Easter…a feast of rebirth, new life, resurrection. After the deprivation of Lent, the penitential season the helps one to prepare for this day, everyone looks forward to their favorite FOODS. For many, that’s candy.

Celebrate Easter
choc’late eggs and jelly beans
savoring sweetness.

One of my greatest joys is to see FLOWERS begin to blossom or break through the frozen soil. Among my favorite are tulips in all their many colors.

Break out of hiding
in an array of color
paint our world in joy

How can anyone summarize spring in a single IMAGE?

Feast for our senses
Sun returns to warm spirits
invites us outdoors.

The Heart of Haiku–Jane Hirschfield

The poet Dainagon sees an apparition

Image via Wikipedia

I just ordered a Kindle Single by Jane Hirschfield entitled “The Heart of Haiku.” She is a poet but also a preeminent translator of Japanese poetry. With so many Haiku lovers out there, I thought I’d call your attention to this new book. I feel confident in recommending it even before reading it as her writing and knowledge is superb. I don’t know if it’s available elsewhere, but I suspect it will be on most e-readers. It retailed for $.99 on Kindle!

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Writing the Mundane

Traubensaft Schaum 1

Image via Wikipedia

For today’s prompt I’d like to invite you to write a poem or short prose about some aspect of your everyday life: laundry, vacuuming, struggling with the photocopier at work, walking the dogs, or cooking for example. Try to make it rich in sensory detail.

This challenge invites us to awareness, an attribute that promises to enrich us as writers.

Here’s my effort–a Haiku

Washing Dishes

sun pierces window

creates rainbows in bubbles

caressing my hands

I Am Haiku–Response to Monday Morning Writing Prompt

Branch of Flowering White Jasmine

Image via Wikipedia

For the Monday Morning Writing Prompt I challenged us to write a poem that personified an object. Then on Wordsmith Wednesday, we reflected on Haiku. That post submerged me once again in Jane Hirschfield’s exquisite book on poetry: Nine Gates–Entering the Mind of Poetry. And so follows my response.

I Am Haiku

I am your poem
holding this moment in time
jasmine’s sweet fragrance

If you haven’t already read Wednesday’s post, perhaps you will find it useful. If nothing else, may it tempt you to read Hirschfield’s book.

Here’s a short quote from the chapter The Myriad Leaves of Words: “…(haiku’s) brevity reminds us of the nature of time and our relationship to it, but their strong roots in the particular clarify that our fleeting lives do not simply happen and vanish, they take place in the physical world; take place in the current of lived events; take place within a consciousness of interconnected being that is deeply Buddhist and within a sense of permeating aliveness fundamentally Shinto. ” Jane Hirschfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry 

Summer Haiku–One Shot Wednesday

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

Image by Larry Meade via Flickr

i
Purple bruises bleed
into summer’s sky
sun sighs and succumbs

ii
Summer dilemma
green can’t decide what to wear
too many choices.

iii
Blue heron descends
splashes in cobalt water
revels in June warmth

Linked to One Shot Wednesday: http://onestoppoetry.com

Wordsmith Wednesday–True Haiku

The poetess Ukon

Image via Wikipedia

Many of us enjoy writing 17 syllable poems that we call “Haiku.” These are divided into 3 lines of 5-7-5 syllables each. To be honest, we often take liberties with this centuries-old Japanese form, which is okay. As former poet Ted Kooser says in his wonderful book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, “Don’t worry about rules.”

There’s another poet who is known for her translations of Japanese poets. In her stunning book Nine Gates, Entering the Mind of Poetry, Jane Hirshfield presents details of Haiku and other Asian forms. She presents such masters as Basho, Shikibu and Ono no Komachi.

A key element of Haiku (and similar forms) is its focus on the natural world. Using concrete sensory images–tactile, visual–these word artists create a subjective interpretation of objective reality. To me, this Zen-like experience is an example of the poet’s power to observe and translate the mundane into the sublime.

Another aspect of true Haiku is that the poem should always evoke one of the four seasons–either directly or obliquely through description.

In no way do I want to discourage Haiku that adheres only to syllable count. Rather, I invite you to take it a step further and try to compose a Haiku while turning to nature for inspiration and incorporating a seasonal reference.

I strongly suggest adding Hirschfield’s book, as well as Kooser’s to your library. You won’t be disappointed.

This week I will be posting three Haiku on One Shot Wednesday: http://onestoppoetry.com that observe the form as developed by the Japanese poets.

Connearthection–NaPoWriMo Day 4

Quercus pyrenaica seedling 20090813

Image via Wikipedia

Written for NaPoWriMo, Day 4: http://www.napowrimo.net/

Connearthection

care for our Mother
for to her we shall return
when our spirit’s freed

she tends to our needs
but often we ignore her
fragile caregiver

walk in mindfulness
listen to her whisperings
embrace her beauty

Here’s the prompt the NaPoWriMo gave, but my word inspired a bit of haiku to follow:

Because April is National Poetry Month, there are a lot of poetry-related things going on besides NaPoWriMo. One I thought people might be interested in is InterNaPwoWriMo, or International Pwoemrd Writing Month, a project sponsored by visual poet Geof Huth. What’s a pwoermd, you ask? It’s a one-word poem! Sometimes they are made by shoving two words together to form an interesting new word, but there are a lot of ways of going about it.

Today, if you’re looking for a challenge, why not try your hand at a pwoemrd? They might look easy, but it’s actually pretty hard to come up with an interesting one – something that works visually and also makes some kind of sense.