Tuesday, 8 October 2013
HAIKU AND HOW WE WRITE IT (PART 1) on the 8th of Octorber, 2013
HAIKU AND HOW WE WRITE IT. (PART ONE)
compiled by: MOSES S. ROTIMI
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(1) Know the sound structure of Haiku.
Japanese Haiku traditionally consist of 17 on, or sounds, divided into three phrases: 5 sounds, 7 sounds, and 5 sounds. English poets interpreted on as syllables. Haiku poetry has evolved over time, and most poets no longer adhere to this structure, in either Japanese or English; modern Haiku may have more than 17 sounds or as few as one.
When you're deciding how many sounds or syllables to use in your Haiku, refer to the Japanese idea that the Haiku should be able to be expressed in one breath. In English, that usually means the poem will be 10 to 14 syllables long.
(2) Use Haiku to juxtapose two ideas.
The Japanese word kiru, which means "cutting," expresses the notion that Haiku should always contain two juxtaposed ideas. The two parts are grammatically independent, and they are usually imagistically distinct as well.
• Japanese haiku are commonly written on one straight line, with juxtaposed ideas separated by a kireji, or cutting word, that helps define the ideas in relation to each other. The kireji usually appears at the end of one of the sound phrases. There is no direct English translation of the kireji, so it is often translated as a dash. Note the two separate ideas in this Japanese haiku by Bashō: “how cool the feeling of a wall against the feet — siesta”.
• English haiku are most often written as three lines. The juxtaposed ideas (of which there should only be two) are "cut" by a line break, punctuation, or simply a space. This poem is by American poet Lee Gurga:
the labrador's muzzle
deeper into snow
CHOOSE A SUBJECT
(3) Distill a poignant experience.
Haiku is traditionally focused on details of one's environment that relate to the human condition.
• Japanese poets traditionally used haiku to capture and distill a fleeting natural image, such as a frog jumping into a pond, rain falling onto leaves, or a flower bending in the wind. Many people go for walks just to find new inspiration for their poetry, known in Japan as ginkgo walks.
• Contemporary haiku may stray from nature as a subject. Urban environments, emotions, relationships and even humorous topics may be haiku subjects.
(4) Include a seasonal reference.
A reference to the season or changing of the seasons, referred to in Japanese as kigo, is an essential element of haiku. The reference may be obvious, as in using a word like "spring" or "autumn" to indicate the season, or it might be subtler. Example: poem by Fukuda Chiyo-ni:
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water
(5) Create a subject shift.
In keeping with the idea that haiku should contain two juxtaposed ideas, shift the perspective on your chosen subject so that your poem has two parts. For example, you could focus on the detail of an ant crawling on a log, then juxtapose that image with an expansive view of the whole forest, or the season the ant is currently inhabiting. The juxtaposition gives the poem a deeper metaphorical meaning than it would have if it were a simple, single-planed description.
Sample Nature Haiku
• An afternoon breeze
expels cold air, along with
the fallen brown leaves.
• Cherry blossoms bloom,
softly falling from the tree,
explode into night.
• The warmth on my skin.
Fire falls beneath the trees.
I see the sun set.
• Summer here again.
Music plays sweetly, drifting.
And life is renewed.
• A winter blanket
covers the Earth in repose
but only a dream
• An ocean voyage.
As waves break over the bow,
the sea welcomes me.
Compiled by: MOSES S. ROTIMI