Julia, Stella, Steve, Lynette, Maeve and Kaarin met together on Zoom. We discussed the possibility of attending the upcoming Zoom meeting on International Haiku Day, April 17.
As previously arranged, we all brought examples of classic haiku and/or some of our favourites from the Snapshot Press collections. We also attempted our own haiku that evoked similar moods to the examples. Steve began with a haiku by Boncho, a student of Basho.
the dyeing tubs
Steve explained that crickets are associated with Autumn, which is when indigo dyeing takes place. In the original Japanese the cutting word translates as ‘happened to notice’, or ‘lo!’ We are asked to notice the absence of dripping, which enables us to hear the crickets. This depth of meaning contrasts with ‘shopping list haiku’, which is a habit that Western haiku poets can fall into.
Stella and Maeve gave two examples by Shiki, which expressed both the brevity of life and the tedium of finding no solution to a problem.
How much longer
is my life?
A brief night….
Walking along the river
with no bridge to cross
the day is long
Maeve compared Kristen Lindquist’s modern haiku, also on a river theme:
The river reflecting
All my moods
She wrote her own response to this haiku, and we all agreed it was a useful exercise.
Lynette drew our attention to the Shasei style, or ‘sketch from life’:
Matsuo Basho advises his disciples
Learn from the Pine!
To do that you must leave behind you all subjective prejudice.
Otherwise you will force your own self onto the object
and can learn nothing from it.
Your poem will well-up of its own accord
when you and the object become one,
when you dive deep enough into the object,
to discover something of its hidden glimmer.
The word “shasei” has not yet been invented at the time of Basho, but the idea was here.
The idea is that a haiku should be descriptive of a scene rather than be about abstractions or thoughts on the scene. Furthermore, to be true to a scene, most haiku should be written from actual experiences directly experienced as opposed to imagined scenes.
Haiku should also be written while directly observing a scene and not generally from memory (which may distort an element of the scene). Thus, it may be considered inappropriate to write a “summer” haiku during the winter, since you couldn’t possibly have been viewing a summer scene at that time.
Kaarin is new to our group, but she is quickly learning the principles of composing haiku. We all agreed that this simple definition sums up what makes an effective haiku:
- Shifting viewpoint
- Poetic devices
- Inner depth.
We have arranged to meet again on Sunday April 3, at 3 pm.
We will use the theme of Autumn and each bring a traditional and modern haiku on this theme, in addition to a haiku or our own.