The Wonder of Haiku: Quendryth Young

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 9.55.35 pm_2I write haiku because I must. Since childhood there has been a progression through scribbled jingles, ballads, bush verse and free verse, until I discovered haiku.

This is how it happened: in 2004 I won a voucher in the Lismore City Council’s writing competition which I exchanged for my choice at a local bookstore. Among volumes about mysticism, charms and crystals I came upon Haiku, Ancient and Modern, compiled by Jackie Hardy. Within its pages is a haiku by Elizabeth St Jacques that entranced me.

first snow
the neglected yard
now perfect

Such a concept in so few words! My yearning to explore the genre received a response of encouragement and guidance from John Bird, a co-founder of the AHS, whom I met at FAW. Joined by Nathalie Buckland, we workshopped together regularly and posted haiku on-line as Wollumbin Haiku Workshop 2006–2009. Involvement in the 4th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference, held in Australia in 2009, and the 2010 ‘In The Footsteps of Basho’ tour of Japan with other haiku enthusiasts and Beverley George as leader, escalated my increasing passion.

Haiku has opened my senses to myriad images to which I was previously unresponsive. For instance, my daily walk often takes me down an alley between houses. For a few days a dead rat lay there, rotting. This engendered five haiku, one of which was published in the Austrian journal Chrysanthemum #18 in 2015.

My greatest joy is finding the exact words to encapsulate a moment of observation now perceived with a new clarity and resonance. Elton John said that writing a new song is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. That sort of thing!

How rich my life has become by bonding with like-minded poets throughout Australia, internationally, and especially in this region’s Cloudcatcher group. Spending time together outdoors (much of it in silence at a ginko), pondering first drafts of a shared haiku experience and exchanging comments through the subsequent email ‘round robin’ have brought a deep sense of fellowship. There is also a special fulfilment for me in guiding a novice into the ‘wonder’ of haiku.

Haiku ancient and modern! Reading the works of the old masters, reading the haiku of poets today … I discern so much in common. There is an acute awareness of daily surroundings, an awakening to stimuli that have previously been denied the power to arouse sensitivity, a harmony with the environment and, for me, there is gratitude that I am a part of it all.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxQuendryth Young, 2017

Haiku Ancient and Modern, MQ Publications, London, 2002
FAW: Northern Rivers Branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers