Haiku & Mash.

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:

Eternal Summer

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.


“The Sunbaker” – Max DUPAIN 1911-1992, Australia.

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:

Eternal Summer

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.

By the way, if you’re interested in Haiku, perhaps you should try Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge. I also strongly recommend this interview with  Beverley George.

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!

xx Rowena






16 thoughts on “Haiku & Mash.

  1. merrildsmith

    I love that your family dinner turned into a poetry session. We’ve had family dinners like that, too, discussing poetry and literature. I love it!

  2. Pingback: Haiku…Roses Aren’t Blue. | beyondtheflow

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much, Merril. I could very much see your family doing this too. We’ve played Scrabble and Boggle together before but this dinner really took things to a new level and I’m looking forward to more of this. I just posted the Haiku Mister put together. It really intrigues me and I’d be interested to get your take on it. Anyway, it’s after midnight here and I have a big day of driving tomorrow so I need to be alert…caffeine required I suspect! xx Rowena

  4. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Kat. I am getting quite into it now.
    By the way, knowing how you like to dance by moonlight, thought you’d be interested to know that I bought my son a Himalayan rock salt lamp for his birthday. We turned it on tonight and it looks fantastic. It’s supposed to purify the air or something. I bought it as he loves rocks and my friend was giving him Lego so I was trying to think outside the box. Also bought him a thunder egg. So beautiful. He loved them.

  5. New Journey

    Very nice….thunder eggs are wonderful gifts…they last a life time…the Humalayan lamps are wonderful…one of my favorite salts….fun to think out of the box for gifts…bet he was surprised….give happy birthdays from Arizona…..kat

  6. roweeee Post author

    I sure will. I think my Dad uses that Himalayan salt.
    By the way, the light from the lamp was amazing for photos. Almost like a candlelight.
    The day ended up being a bit of a disaster with arguments throughout and tears. Finally, at the end of the night we sang Happy Birthday to him at Scouts and all was well. I also noted when I dropped him at scouts there was a huge rainbow, which we can only hope is a good omen of forgiveness and forgetting xx Rowena

  7. New Journey

    Oh yes the hormones of a young boy on his way to manhood…I think my son was more prone to spontaneous crying than my daughter…LOL love the boys for sure….

  8. Minuscule Moments

    Really enjoyed reading this post and can imagine your gorgeous creative family sitting around the table creating fun poetry. How cool is that. Your first haiku I simply thought the same. That it is winter somewhere else. I have been wishing for the cooler weather Rowena but now its here I’m thinking oh no! Not so fast, from hot to a cold snap. Where is the beautiful in-between? Keep up the poetry session very precious.

  9. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Kath. I’m with you about this cold snap. It’s really caught me out and the blankets are up in the roof and I haven’t bought my daughter a school jacket yet. With fussing about the birthday party and the rain, I forgot I’d put that expense off at the start of the year. Grr! Hopefully, we haven’t missed the inbetween. That’s my favourite time of year! Hope you’ve had a great weekend xx Rowena

  10. Pingback: Snailing Up the Mountain. | beyondtheflow

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