Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Haiku Moments

     The idea of writing haiku came to me purely by accident.  Several years ago, I began a nature journal.  It's purpose was to chronicle the changing seasons, the bloom times of the plants and trees in my garden and the wild life, mostly birds, that visited my yard and "my" preserve.

 I found a ten year journal to use which was perfect.  I could see how things varied (or didn't) from year to year.  It had about four or five lines for each date, for each of ten years.  After a while, I found I had to sharpen my writing and choose my words carefully in order to capture the flavor of a particular day or describe an incident worth recording.

     Around the same time,  I received a book called 'The Essential Haiku- Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa' as a  Christmas gift.   Soon I was challenging myself to  write  haiku for my  journal entries.  It was great fun!

   Haiku  is an ancient poetic form that originated in Japan.  It is a three line poem that attempts to capture the details  of a particular moment in time by describing what the writer saw, or heard, or smelled etc. The intention is to  evoke the same  feelings in the reader that the incident evoked in the writer.

   Many writing teachers, especially in grammar schools, instruct students to use the traditional 5-7-5 form, used in Japanese haiku.  However, syllables in English are not quite the same as Japanese syllables, called onji.  I often take liberties with the word/syllable count because of this and have found  it easier to write haiku  in the 2-3-2 or the 4-5-4  form.

   Most, but not all, Japanese haiku suggest a season and incorporate observations about nature.  Haiku is an effort to compare, contrast and surprise the reader with a description and hopefully allow the reader to glimpse the feelings experienced by the writer when she had the "haiku moment."

    The Zen quality of haiku, with its  goal to capture a particular moment in time and try to share it with a reader,  drew me to it.   It was perfect for my nature journal.  I was hooked!

   Here's an example of a haiku I wrote a few days ago.  I was sitting at my east-facing window watching the sun rise, when  I saw and heard

                                     Honking geese
                                     head north -
                                     ahead of summer.

   My favorite book about the craft of writing haiku is called 'The Haiku Handbook- How to Write, Teach, and Appreciate Haiku' by William J. Higginson and Penny Harter.

Today's take-away -  Reading and writing haiku keeps me in the moment
and brings delight.

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