On two consecutive Sunday afternoons, April 19 and 26, we assembled and experimented with holding an online meeting. Attendees on the first occasion were Julia Wakefield, Steve Wigg, Maeve Archibald, Lynette Arden, Dawn Colsey and Margaret Dingle. We decided to have a second meeting as Stella Damarjati couldn’t attend the first one, and we also needed to practise with the technology.
The first meeting was only a forty minute one as we didn’t have access to the unlimited plan. Steve Wigg said he would host the second one as he was signing up to the unlimited plan for other reasons. We looked at the topic that Steve had suggested, which was the concept of ‘zooming in and out’, i.e. moving from the micro to the macro or vice versa. He sent some examples, including the famous Basho haiku:
sticking on the mushroom
of some unknown tree
and some of us sent other examples, as well as attempts of our own that addressed the theme. The overall conclusion at the end of the meeting was that this was a challenging topic and not something that anyone could compose instantly, without the risk of creating a ‘clever’ image with no inner depth. We were glad to have another week in which to research the topic further, and we also agreed to bring other haiku of our own to the next meeting that didn’t address the topic.
Stella joined us for the second meeting. During the week in between we exchanged emails and Maeve sent us three compelling published examples that addressed the topic. We agreed that these haiku all displayed emotional content, and in one case, the switch from the universal to the particular was quite disturbing:
the fisherman’s hands
gutting the mullet
Julia Wakefield found three lovely examples in Echidna Tracks and the AHS archive. Margaret Dingle showed us a Jack Kerouac poem that was called a haiku, but it didn’t obey the basic rules, so we agreed that it was an effective imagist poem but not a successful haiku. This article explains how only a small proportion of Kerouac’s ‘pops’, or ‘short pomes’ really work as haiku: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/13/opinion/appreciations-jack-kerouac-s-haiku.html
We looked at each other’s efforts that didn’t necessarily address the topic, and one interesting discovery was that using abstract terms such as ‘not yet 5 o’clock’ and ‘fifteen degrees’ did not add anything – they in fact detracted from the imagery and emotional content.
Lynette Arden showed us three haiku she had written on the theme of Solitude, and this drew attention to the effectiveness of a haiku sequence. We all noticed how the use of alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhythm in Lyn’s poems increased the impact.
We will have the next Zoom meeting on May 24. We will work in the meantime on the topic of ‘Winter’, possibly attempting some haiku sequences, and we might try a haiku string exercise during the meeting.