Why do I read and write haiku?
Like so many people, I guess, I’ve always been intrigued by what I can only call the mystery of life. What are we? Questions, questions, questions . . . In younger and more certain days I looked for answers and followed many trails only to end up with even more questions. Now, in my ageing and more mellow days I’ve come to accept questions for just what they are – questions. At last I allow mystery to be mystery. And this is where haiku fits in.
For me, haiku is a way of capturing the fleeting nature of nature. No other poetic form seems suited so well to bringing the delicateness of the world to the page, and to illuminating the way things balance before they fall over or take flight. Or something close to both, as in this one by Issa (maybe my favourite of all haijin), translated by R.H.Blyth:
Hobart haikuists had planned to meet on the last Sunday of winter for a walk in St David’s Park. The previous night brought bitter weather preceding the State’s coldest August day, with snow at low levels on Kunanyi/Mount Wellington. Rather than face the icy winds we postponed until the following Sunday when we enjoyed a window of sunny calm and the company of two members who had been unable to attend the week before.
St David’s Park is on the site of Hobart’s first cemetery. Buried there are many of the First Fleeters and early settlers. When the cemetery fell into disuse and was made into a place of recreation some of the original headstones were embedded in sandstone walls that form a memorial walk. Stone seats built into the wall are sunny spaces out of the wind. We met near the rotunda and then dispersed to walk silently through the English-style gardens, then came together again in the shelter of the memorial wall. Here we shared our writing and observations, giving comment and feedback to each other before adjourning to a nearby café in Salamanca Place for coffee and further conversation.
We go back a long way. I love them, I trust them, I embrace them and i turn to them for joy, inspiration, comfort and reassurance. Haiku are for staying in touch with, for visiting time and time again, for remembering, for bringing alive old friends, including those that are no longer with us. Haiku speak to me and they touch me. As through John Knight’s
at the airport wrapped in that last kiss the still blue sky
Here John, who loved love, captures the essence of great haiku – conveying insight into a special moment best summed up by the early American haiku poet, J W Hackett:
Lifefulness, not beauty, is the real quality of haiku.
July is a busy month for haiku submissions. Here is a list of places seeking haiku submissions that all have deadlines of 31st July. Please be sure to check the details and guidelines on the sites before sending your work. So brush up those haiku, senryu, haibun and tanka and get your entries in. And the best of luck to you! Continue reading “A Week to go! Closing 31 July.”
A collaboration between Vanessa Proctor and Gregory Piko, Blowing up Balloons, is a collection of 90 haiku and senryu about the experience of becoming and being a parent. The moments shared relate to the stages in a child’s life from the first hint of pregnancy:
distracted the curve of a new moon
to the early years of childhood:
bathtime / they re-enact the sinking/ of the titanic
walking home from ballet/ my daughter pirouettes/ through the blossom
These sensitive and tender poems evoke a sense of wonder and amazement that bringing a new life into the world gives rise to, and of the joy that can be found in the presence of these little human beings entrusted to our care. The opening haiku perfectly encapsulates this: Continue reading “Blowing up Balloons – review”
On the 24th March, in the beautiful surrounds of the Allport Library in Hobart, I had the honour of launching Ron Moss’s recent book, Bushfire Moon, with the following words:
I first met Ron about seventeen years ago when his friend Ross Coward brought him along to a meeting of the then recently formed haiku group, Watersmeet. I remember sitting around the long table in the Salamanca Arts Centre meeting room. We had each brought along an object from nature as a prompt for writing, and when it came to sharing our jottings I was struck by the detailed observation and insight in the pieces Ron read out. I can still see the trail of tiny black ants Continue reading “Launch of Bushfire Moon”
Capture and record a moment from nature through haiku and mark making to create a visual expression of a sensory experience. Join poet Lyn Reeves and local artist Desiree Fitzgibbon for walking and observation in the stunning environment of Okines Beach.
At the end of this workshop we will have uncovered the features of the brief nature poem and composed our own haiku and brush work images depicting a special moment in time on a handmade paper scroll. Continue reading “Marking the Moment – workshop”