|Posted on January 14, 2020 at 12:05 AM||comments (47)|
What is haiku?
Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan. It focuses on a brief moment in time, and a sense of enlightenment. A traditional* haiku is composed of seventeen syllables in three short lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second line seven syllables, and the third line five syllables. A haiku is usually written in the present tense, with a pause at the end of the first or second line. This pause divides the poem into two parts. Haiku don’t rhyme. Contemporary or free format haiku, especially in English, are not bound to the 5-7-5 syllable structure but it is a good place to start writing haiku. Many of us started there.
Haiku is closely related to nature and the change of seasons and how that relates to human nature and awareness (think Zen). Haiku poetry captures a moment in time objectively, sharing the joy or sadness that can lead to a profound emotional experience. Seasonal words are often used in haiku and they are taken very seriously in Japan.
One of the ways to approach haiku is to think of a camera and what you see through the lens. Open your senses. You can zoom in or out and capture a moment. Haiku doesn’t tell, it shows. Don’t tell us how you feel, describe what causes the feeling.
The following haiku popped to mind while writing this post. It is in the 5-7-5 format:
beneath a dead branch
the entrance to a fox den—
the owl sees it too
debaixo de um galho seco
a entrada da cova da raposa—
a coruja também a vê
Portuguese Translation: Esperança Dickman
In May, fox pups (kits) are playful and vocal and will leave their dens for longer periods of time. Big owls can catch and eat fox pups. The combination of the dead branch with the fox den, the latter which we can imagine to house pups, deepens the haiku and adds balance. It highlights the circle of life, which includes death. The owl’s presence further enhances this and adds tension. In this poem the poet hasn’t used a traditional season word but we know it’s probably May because of the owl’s interest in the den. Has the owl seen a pup? Will it catch one? How does that make us feel? Did you notice the two parts? There is a pause after the second line. The third line gives us a new image and a new thought.
Here is another example, but in free format. This haiku was commended in the Little Iris Haiku Contest, Croatia 2018 (judged by Jim Kacian).
in a passing hearse
We know it is autumn because of the leaves scattered in the street (leaf-strewn is a season word for autumn). Autumn means the end of a life cycle. It invites us to let go. It can be associated with illness, death or old age. But the narrator (poet) doesn’t tell us she is old or ill or dying. All she says is that she sees her reflection in (the tinted windows of) a passing hearse. The use of the word “reflection” in this haiku leads to multiple layers of interpretation. Perhaps she has suddenly become aware of her own mortality? Perhaps she is happy to be alive? The reader is invited to finish the poem in his or her own mind. This poem has space beyond the words leading to further thought.
A good haiku has silent space (think of a lot of white space on a canvas). A space where each individual can dwell and finish the haiku (art) in his or her own mind. In other words, don’t show all. Leave something to the imagination.
Remember, there can’t be a valley without a mountain (yin-yang). A good way to familiarize yourself with haiku is to read it. Another way is to go on a nature walk and write down what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
Examples and further reading:
Next time we will learn more about seasonal words, known as kigo in Japan.
*Traditional haiku in Japanese is written in 17 sounds (not the same as syllables) in a single vertical line. Three lines with 17 syllables is a Western interpretation. There is much debate about the correct structure of haiku in English and other languages other than Japanese. Some adhere to the 5-7-5 structure whereas others practice a free format (less than 17 syllables in English). The most important factor is the essence of the poem.
|Posted on October 29, 2019 at 6:35 PM||comments (49)|
Yay! It’s time for the 9TH ANNUAL HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!
“Everyone deserves a chance to fly”
Corine Timmer (100 words)
“What’s wrong?” Rat shrieked.
“I’m dying!” Witch groaned. “I added snakeroot instead of snail saliva.”
“Where’s your Potions Bible?” Rat sputtered.
Witch pointed at the bookcase.
Rat raced through the pages.
“Spider paste!” he shouted. “You need spider paste!”
Spider shrunk with fear. Her legs trembled.
They shook so hard her cobweb bounced up and down.
Without warning, she was catapulted into the air.
“Rat! Mortar and pestle!” Witch cheered, as she caught Spider.
While lowering the arachnid into the mortar a grin grew on Witch’s face.
“Trick!” Witch chuckled.
“Happy Halloween!” Rat roared.
“And now a treat,” Spider sneered.
To read all the other entries please click on the link. Happy Halloween!
|Posted on March 24, 2019 at 10:15 AM||comments (12680)|
There are not many bookstores in the Algarve and those that exist have a limited English section. So I tend to read children’s picture books in Portuguese. While shopping this morning a bright yellow cover grabbed my attention. Papa das pernas longas ( Daddy Long Legs). Yellow always works well. Here is my review in English.
When Matthew’s father’s car has trouble starting, Matthew thinks they may never get to kindergarten. Worse still, what if they get there but the car won’t work in the afternoon? How will his father pick him up? Matthew is so worried that his father won’t be able to fetch him that he keeps asking him questions to reassure himself. The patient father’s answers get more and more imaginative until Matthew is satisfied. One thing is clear, nothing will stop Matthew’s father from fetching his son. The quaint illustrations depict the father’s rich imagination and the fresh colour palette enhances the positive mood of the story. A comforting father and son story suitable for any young child with separation anxiety.
Daddy Long Legs
Written by Nadine Brun-Cosme
Illustrated by Aurélie Guillerey
Ages: 2 to 6
First published by Nathan (Paris) in 2015
Published in Portugal in 2019
Edição ou reimpressão: 02-2019
Dimensões: 219 x 271 x 9 mm
Encadernação: Capa dura
|Posted on January 27, 2019 at 7:45 AM||comments (66)|
When I read the Haiku Foundation’s post about The Haiku Music Challenge, I was intrigued. As a result of my curiosity I decided to give it a go myself. The GarageBand app on my computer had been idle for some years. Last week I composed my first creation. This is my second one. There’s much to learn, but it’s SUCH FUN. Madhuri Pillai’s haiku inspired me to participate again in the Naviar Records Haiku Music Challenge. Here is her wonderful haiku:
the bush comes alive
with dreamtime stories
Here is my music: