When many people hear the word ‘haiku’, their immediate response is, ‘That’s a Japanese poem written in seventeen syllables – 5-7-5’. While it’s true that traditional Japanese haiku is written in this form, haiku in English, because of the very nature of the English language, doesn’t conform to the 5-7-5 pattern.
Martina Taeker, RR for SA, recently conducted a ginko in the Art Gallery of SA and based on her experiences offers some thoughts on how a winter ginko might be conducted indoors.
Are you and your haiku feeling a little tired, cold, or stale? Have you thought about taking a ginko, but put it off because it’s winter and you’re still coughing from the last flu you caught?
Try taking a ginko indoors, at your local art gallery.
Don’t know anything about art? It doesn’t matter. After all you are not intending to write a thesis. You want to enjoy some art, be inspired and invigorated by it, and use this experience to create art by writing haiku.
Artists have been inspiring each other for centuries. It is useful for artists to be exposed to the work of others. You can see what subjects they choose and how different artists tackle a particular subject in different ways.
Remember to observe the people around you in the gallery, but discreetly. People respond to the same piece of art in individual ways and that too is grist for the artistic mill of your pen.
If this is your first visit to a gallery, begin by wandering slowly through it. Notice which art works catches your eye, but don’t stop. Get an overview before focusing in on one area. You might even find that this is more than enough material for one day. In which case you can return for another ginko in a few weeks.
This article was first published in Five Bells: Australian Poetry, Summer 2006 Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry, is becoming increasingly popular in the West. English-language haiku has been described as ‘one of today’s most exciting literary developments.’
To mention haiku is to elicit one of two responses among those who are not current readers or writers of the form. Either they have never heard of it, or they remember it (and may even teach or study it) as a three-line Japanese poem, consisting of seventeen syllables and having something to do with nature. While this description may suit past translations and attempts at writing haiku in English, many changes have taken place, not only in the way we write haiku, but also in our understanding of the genre.