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:
Haiku brings me joy. It brings me joy when I experience a moment of inspiration and it brings me joy when I am able to translate that moment into poetry. Writing haiku encourages us to be present, to look, really look at the world in which we live to see things with a fresh perspective. When we stop and take time to observe, we experience our surroundings fully with all our senses. We truly live in the moment.
I enjoy trying to capture in words the unique and distinctly Australian character of my local area, noticing the changes in seasons, the plants, birds and animals. I also enjoy thinking about how people interact with each other and with their landscape. Filling my notebook with poems gives me great satisfaction. There is a sense of solitary joy, but joy also comes from reading the work of others, especially when I read a brilliant haiku and it continues to resonate with me in what Wordsworth described as ‘that inward eye’.
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.
The following thoughts first appeared on the HaikuOz website in 2001, originally posted by John Bird.
It comes as no surprise that when Janice Bostok visited Bob Jones, they spent a morning talking about haiku. Bob raised the subject of “karumi” and explained that karumi is the mood of lightness which informs much of Basho’s late-life poetry and that few western poets seem to have engaged it in their haiku. Bob gave this example of Basho’s karumi:
so cool the wall against my feet a noonday nap~
When editing submissions to FAHA (First Australian Haiku Anthology), Janice Bostok and I noted a leaning towards profundity, and we thought Bob’s comments might provide counterpoise. With the permission of all concerned, I quote from a letter Bob subsequently sent to Janice, and in which Bob returns to his theme. ……….. John Bird.
“A couple of important issues were raised that we didn’t have enough time to explore. One of them concerned the mood of karumi, which has been a chief interest of mine over the years, particularly in relation to my own haiku. You asked for my understanding of it and I couldn’t easily come up with an explanation. I think most serious students of haiku have a hard time coming to terms with Basho’s later works. In many respects the poems seem bland and a little bit thin. Basho himself likens karumi to shallow water over a sandy bed, which certainly seems to go against any sense of mystery or depth. However I think the main thing to get from this likeness is the idea of transparency. Nothing’s hidden, or even hideable, in the mood of karumi. Everything’s out there, plainly shown. Everything’s part of the open secret. Continue reading “Karumi – Bob Jones on lightness in haiku”
John’s careful investigations to date are greatly appreciated; as are the descriptions by haiku writers, published over 16 weeks. The study is not an easy one but I believe it is worthwhile.
Australian Haiku Society
Defining (?) Haiku – Thoughts from a Study in Progress
….. John Bird, May 2009
In August 2007 the President of AHS asked me to advise the Society on definition(s) of English-language haiku (ELH). I’m still bumbling along on that task. The recent, ‘What is haiku?’ exercise was an offshoot of my study and prompted discussion on points I’ve been thinking about. At President Beverley’s invitation I here share some of my thoughts and tentative conclusions. I’d really like to get your reactions. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
[ Now, this is my bus and nobody else is allowed to drive it!]