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Archive for the ‘Haiku’ Category

I will be presenting a session called Capturing a Haiku Moment tomorrow for the International Ikebana Society. I’m reminded of  a similar session I did some years ago. Here’s hoping for a successful afternoon even if the children won’t be there.

Scheduled to “teach” a Haiku Poetry Workshop at the Asian Pacific  Heritage Celebration at the  Foster City Library, I prepped the room by taping haiku poems by Basho, Shiki and Shosan on the walls

Imagine my jolt when I walked into the room and saw children and adults. I was expecting an adult only audience. I took a deep breath and said, “I’m going to direct the next hour to the children, so adults, I hope you’ll be able to rise to their level.”  Laughter.

It was the children who responded, disregarding the age differences in the room.  They turned into artists and described each of the images created by the poems on the wall.  “Isn’t it amazing?” I asked, “that you are able to get such clear images in your head through three lines of words, 17 syllables. ”

We wrote a group haiku so they would experience the mental and creative process of writing a haiku.

The image was the most important, not the 17 syllables. Let’s get the image down first.

The lst draft had the following syllables 4-6-4. We returned to the draft and edited until we had the 5-7-5.  We had agreed to go for the 5-7-5 form.

The children gave the lst two lines and one adult male added the 3rd.

His line read: Sound of a truck.

A youngster added, “How about changing truck to “engine.” And so the discussion began between children and adults.

I quoted Basho’s “Learn of the pine from the pine.” Everyone wrote one or more haiku.

They understood Basho…capturing the ah-ness of the moment without metaphorical language.

They understood the preservation of a haiku moment by using words without personification.

They understood how we learn of the pine from the pine.

When I left, a 9 year old boy was sitting alone, working on his 3rd haiku. An adult, whose eyes had shone like the children, plan to form a haiku group.

The workshop supported my stance on writing and reading. Why do we attach age or grade level to reading? One never hears of  a 20 year old reader.  Yet, we say, he is reading at the 4th grade level. Why do we attach age to literature? Why do we call them children’s books?

Do we speak of a book for 30 year olds?

I’m often asked about the age level of my Wordsworth books. I merely say, “I’ve signed these books for unborn children to adults.”

In that room, there was no age.

( The latest study speak of  our congressmen and women conversing at the 10th grade level. Tenth graders, ask for an apology for  this insult.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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morikami bridge

The sound of my shoes

Breaks the silence of the fog.

Forgive my entrance.

 

The trees move slowly

Against the cold morning skies…

Or is it the fog?

 

The sound of geta…

A Samurai’s swinging sword..

A  silence, broken.

 

 

Haiku inspired by photo: frances kakugawa

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“There is no poetry for the practical man. There is poetry only for the mankind of the man who spends a certain amount of his life turning the mechanical wheel. But let him spend too much of his life at the mechanics of practicality and either he must become something less than a man, or his very mechanical efficiency will become impaired by the frustrations stored up in his irrational human personality.
An ulcer, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking its revenge for having been jilted. It is an unwritten poem, a neglected music, an unpainted water color, an undanced dance. It is a declaration from the mankind of the man that a clear spring of joy has not been tapped, and that it must break through, muddily, on its own.”
– John Ciardi

 

“Poems are not written to sing of the moon and flowers; they must speak of our hearts in response to the moon and flowers. We must never forget that in our hearts are the seeds of our poems. If we merely speak of the moon and flowers, poems become simply poetical forms, whatever the human heart may be. If these things become a part of ourselves, then we may admire them in verse.”
– Okuman Kotomichi
19th century

 

“A haiku . . . is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature. It is a way in which the cold winter rain, the swallows of evening, even the very day in its hotness, and the length of the night become truly alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and expressive language.”

— R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 1, page 243

 

 

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This was taken from my niece’s backyard where I’ll be staying in Hilo.

Ah – Mauna Kea.

Beautiful Mauna Kea

Awaits my return.

t's backyard

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hibiscus 1

 

Hawaiian style morn

Seven blooms on the 5th day.

If only twas May.

8-5-17

Sacramento, CA

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Papaya haiku

chameleon-papaya

 

Ah Chameleon

You turn the ordinary

Into a haiku.

 

How can a lizard

Create such pure elegance

On  a papaya?

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There will be no haiku poems on Trump for the next four years in respect for Basho, Issa, and all the Japanese haiku poets who found beauty, elegance, inspiration, meaning and simple joy in nature, people and our universe and who sought and found the most select language ever available to share this with us. But…I will still write non-haiku, loosely written verses:

Trump

The gigantic kite soars

Toward the hot orange sun

Deaf to voices from Icarus’ flight,

He hurtles down and buries

The country in black ash.

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