Enter at your own risk!
Somehow, our place has been transformed into some kind of poetry laboratory. While I’ve always been the undisputed Poet-In-Residence, all of a sudden, a young poet is emerging, finding and expressing his own voice.
You see, now that our son has started high school, he is having to write poetry for his English assignments. Being Mum of Little Faith, I wondered how on earth he was going to do it but like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the lad has delivered.
Here’s last week’s poem: Through My Window.
This week’s assignment involves writing a Haiku. It’s a form I haven’t really explored at length but that’s more due to unfamiliarity than disinterest. Basically, a Haiku comprises of three lines with 5 syllables and the first and third lines and 7 syllables in the second.
However, just because I haven’t explored Haiku myself, that doesn’t mean that I’m not armed and dangerous. I have some works by Beverley George, a local Australian writer of Japanese poetic forms, whose works have even been translated into Japanese. That speaks volumes to me! By the way, I met Beverley at a local author-illustrator event and she was lovely and so enthusiastic.
This is how we ended up having Haiku & Mash for dinner. Chicken schnitzel, mash and a smattering of frozen peas with a side serve of Beverly George along with a ubiquitous notebook and pen. For me, a notebook is still paper..of course!
However, as our modern Australian family was playing around with words putting together our Haiku, little did we know, that we were tapping into the great Japanese tradition of renga, albeit, dare I say, in a somewhat mutated form.
As early as the 12th Century, a group of poets in Japan — sometimes more than a dozen — would gather under the supervision of a renga master, or sōshō. Each poet contributed a stanza in turn, with the sōshō guiding composition by mandating the use of particular words or the exploration of certain topics. In one renga session, the poets might produce as many as 100 linked stanzas, which mutate over time to take the renga through different movements. The first verse of the renga, called a hokku, is identical to a modern haiku (1).
Being the great Haiku Master myself (choke), I set the pace with this:
Sunbaking on the beach
Snow is falling.
Well, the rest of the family scoffed at that. Apparently, the connection between an eternal Summer and snow on the beach was too obscure, even random. I tried explaining that when you’re caught up in Summer, it feels like it’s going to last forever but all too soon it’s Winter. With this, I was also thinking about how people are seemingly complaining about the heat or the cold when the seasons are so transient. It’s not forever.
Moreover, I was also thinking about while it’s Summer here, it’s Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. So, while I’m melting in the heat, they’re freezing in the snow. I find these polar opposite during Summer/Winter quite intriguing…that tension between yin and yang!
Anyway, in response to my “random” Haiku, my husband penned a haiku of his own which had the rest of the family in hysterics. While it’s not strictly a Haiku, it certainly generated some laughs:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Look! There’s a kookaburra!
Yet, as much as I protest, I know I can get a bit sidetracked. Dare I say…distracted! (Hello blog. Goodbye cleaning!)
So, to please my critics, my Haiku has now become:
sunbaking on the beach
rain is falling.
I have read and re-read this. I have a lousy sense of rhythm and couldn’t really be sure of the number of syllables. I had the rest of the family clapping things out while I tried to hide my confusion. I am more of a play by ear musician, than a counter. You could even say that I’m a bit of a Frank Sinatra type: I Did It My Way. I know. You don’t need to tell me such individuality isn’t always appreciated.
Inspired by a Haiku by Beverley George, I also came up with this one:
Crossing Hawkesbury River Bridge
Nose glued to the screen
The golden river sun shines.
Another train trip done.
Stay turned for Mr J’s Haiku.
Have you explored Haiku at all? Any thoughts? I sense we’re only at the beginning of this journey!