Report of Bindii meeting October 26, 2019

Five of us met at the State Library for a two-hour discussion and critique session. Members present were Julia Wakefield, Maeve Archibald, Dawn Colsey, Steve Wigg and Stella Damarjati. We had a apologies from, Marilyn Linn, Jill Gower, Lynette Arden and Athena Zaknic.

Our haiku theme was the one that Echidna Tracks is currently calling for (deadline in 3 days!), that is, previously unpublished haiku and senryu about recreation, relaxation, holidays, sport, hobbies and pastimes.

Before we critiqued each other’s work, Julia circulated a summary of findings from a paper that she had been sent by the website ‘Academia’, which if you join it will send you links to articles that relate to the subject you are researching. The paper is titled From 5-7-5 to 8-8-8: An Investigation of Japanese Haiku Metrics and Implications for English Haiku by RICHARD GILBERT and JUDY YONEOKA and can be found on the Academia website. What was intriguing about this study was its assertion after extensive research that traditional Japanese haiku exhibit a regular and consistent rhythm, or meter, conforming to 8 beats in all three sections of the poem.  However, if the middle section, or second line as we would write it in English, contains 7 morae (a mora in Japanese is a counter of linguistic rhythm and therefore not equivalent to an English syllable), it still obeys the 8 beat convention, and thereby is felt to be the same length as the other two sections of 5 morae.  The implication of this research for English haiku is that rhythm is perhaps a factor that we should be more aware of, even though the 5-7-5 syllable count is no longer a rigid requirement.

The general comment from the group was that none of us had read any literature on English language haiku that drew attention to the rhythm in this way. We looked at some of the examples of prize-winning English language haiku that the paper provided and tested them out for rhythm. Most of them could be fitted into a 2/2 or 4/4 beat, and reading them with the beat in mind served to slow our reading down at times that seemed appropriate. We then applied the rhythm test to our own efforts, as well as looking at ways to reduce the number of words and/or clarify the ideas in the poems.  Listening to the rhythm helped us to experiment with using different words or parts of words (such as when to use the gerund effectively).  We all agreed that the extended critique time (over an hour) was well spent.

Our next meeting will be at the end of January 2020.  Topic and group leader TBA.

Julia Wakefield

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