I decided to try the Writing 201 Poetry at WordPress Blogging U. The first assignment is haiku and the topic is water. I love haiku. I think Ben Huberman did a good job for introducing the basics of haiku (though simile is maybe not the best device to introduce with haiku) but this simple formula is deceptively deep.
Haiku is not just about the 5-7-5 syllable structure.
Haiku is about:
- the is-ness of now, NOT past tense
- finding the perfect season word to express your idea
- having two images that juxtapose each other but complement each other, making them richer
- Not using metaphor or simile (or at least obvious ones)
The Haiku Society of America explains this very well if you would like more depth.
What I like about haiku is the opportunity it offers to connect to the present by intensely observing a fleeting moment then distilling the essence of that moment into words. It forces the poet to immerse herself in the fleeting now. Our observations connect us to nature but the act of observing imposes our interpretations on it. I guess this is how poetry is like physics. The act of observing influences what we see. I feel there’s a Schrodinger’s cat analogy here, but actually making it stretches just beyond me.
If you want to deal with human nature and it’s foibles and frailties then you’re really writing senryu. This is haiku’s sibling. Senryu also doesn’t need a seasonal world. Senryu is considered lower class which I think is unfair given that humanity is as richly textured as nature or even just an extension of it.
While I support looser interpretations of the structure in favor of creating mood, I still like the challenge of meeting stricter criteria. There comes a point when a piece strays too far from the structure of haiku. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a beautiful poem and it doesn’t mean that such a poem isn’t in its perfect form that was meant to be. I think it’s perfectly fine to have a poem inspired by haiku without calling it haiku. I guess it feels disrespectful to both the tradition and a unique work if you shoehorn it into a label. This idea I have isn’t meant to dissuade anyone from writing. These are simply the lofty goals of haiku. The most important point is to write and enjoy writing and not worry so much about labeling. God knows, my effort is not perfection. At any rate, here it is:
slimy dark puddles—
the splendid universes
you would never drink
I like this first effort, but I edited since I did the image. I felt micro universes didn’t work. This edit gives it a bit more juxtaposition. Maybe not the most amazing haiku in the world. Given my intro in this post, not sure if I would label this Haiku or a poem inspired by one. Ultimately, I’m happy I wrote a poem today.