My Writing Practice: Dawn Bruce

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photo: Lyn Reeves

The discipline of haiku guides me to appreciate the ‘now’ of my day. How wonderful it is to jot down images and tiny events that show the extraordinary in the ordinary.

My haiku are not made up of seventeen syllables but usually far fewer. However, I try to keep to the short/long/short format unless I feel the haiku should be a one-liner. I have also written a few two-liners when that is the way they fell.

Though I often use the visual sense in my haiku I also try to catch the other senses of sound, taste, smell and touch. The seasons are used to good effect in most haiku and I too follow this course. I find now I’m older many of my haiku use the autumn season to express thoughts and moments.

The core of the haiku is that light touch and simplicity which shines on the spirit of the poem…that certain something that is almost impossible to explain…maybe wabi sabi.

My favourite haiku is the text of a sensitive haiga by Ron Moss. I admire its lightness and achingly beautiful simplicity:

 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx winter twilight–
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxa wave breaks white
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxon a long grey shore

This is how I wish I could write.

Each morning I have my coffee by the computer and see what has happened during the night on the haiku internet forum, Inkstone Poetry, as the northern hemisphere folk have critiqued my work or added their new poems for me to do the same. This is a beautiful way to start my day and an important aspect of haiku. I feel letting peers look at your work and allowing them to criticise before work is ‘sent out’ for publication is vital.

I am fortunate to belong to Vanessa Proctor’s Red Dragonflies haiku group where she sets stimulating exercises. These always tip me out of my comfort zone and set my haiku antennae working.

My own group, Ozku, meets monthly. Here, I am the one who sets the exercises and prepares papers on haiku subjects. This is an exciting learning process for me. Constructive criticisms are offered and received gratefully.

Teaching haiku workshops is a two-sided asset. The preparation is a learning experience, as is the giving and receiving during the session. Often books are bought and exchanged. There is nothing like holding and reading someone’s treasured book of haiku in the quiet of an evening.

I admire the four great poets, Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa and Masaoka Shiki and find reading the translations satisfying and inspirational.

I’ll finish with one of my mentors, Jane Reichhold. My favourite haiku of hers is:
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxcoming home
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxflower
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxby flower

 

Dawn Bruce, 2017

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wave breaks white