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Poetry Friday -- Haiku 17
Today's Friday, April 17th.
I am more than half-way through my month of daily haiku.
I can tell already that I'll be loathe to give it up.

It is the loveliest meditation, not unlike breathing.

The things I have paid attention to in the past 17 days include tree branches, migrating birds, ants, baby eagles and my sweet ol' dog. (By the way, in case you've wondered, the ants are still going strong -- safely ensconced in their little plastic box and tunneling as if their lives depended on it. Which I guess they do. And the eaglets? All three have hatched and I watched a very vigorous feeding session this morning...)

Since the start of this month, I've found myself sitting stiller for longer than I might have otherwise.
Listening a bit more carefully.
Watching silently.

I have found myself thinking through my days as if they were made up of small, crystalline moments.
Which I guess they are.

But still, underneath the rather Zen practice, there is the form.
Haiku has its parameters and while I'm no expert, I am trying to attend to them.

Interestingly, what we think of immediately are the syllabics (three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables, respectively) but these are really just a poorly-translated Japanese construct. A lovely and more intutive way to talk about it is to agree that haiku are spare -- they are written to be read in a single breath.

(This month, I'm keeping to the 5-7-5 structure, but only because I'm finding deep pleasure working within it, not because Basho or Issu says I must...)

More important is the content. Specifically, haiku lives in time and space. Each haiku is meant to refer to the season -- not directly, perhaps, but through imagery of snow or cherry blossoms, bare branches or new leaves. This reference is called a kigo and I've tried to stay true to it in my poems. (There is a cousin of the haiku, called a senryu, that allows you to forego the natural and seasonal, and  muse instead on human nature.)

The other guiding principal of haiku is the kireji -- the cutting word. This provides a point of transition, at the end of either the first or second line -- a shift in syntax or imagery or perspective. For me, the kireji is the heart of most haiku, a moment of emotional weight created by the interesting rub of the two bits of the poem against each other.

If I were more of a scholar, I'd go on -- the nuances within this tiny form are endless. But for today, my basic grasp will have to be enough. It's time I get back to listening to the torrents of rain falling on my roof and the thunder behind it...

Haiku 17

the road fills with rain
the black sky bellows and roars --
family, come home

-- Liz Garton Scanlon

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I've been loving all your haiku this month! Your words in this post are such a gift, too. "They are written to be read in a single breath." Gorgeous.

I wish I could have done it along with you. It's just so hard because of the dang day job. It sounds like it's been a wonderful experience. Yay you!

As always, the road paved to your lovely haiku is filled with terrific wisdom. I am loving this practice too and plan to continue it past April. I wish I could manage to get mind done before 11pm but oh well.

The kireji - ah - that is what I am missing in mine. I had the memory of the structure wrong and was thinking of the last line as the one that sets it off, slightly askew from the rest. This will help me in my revisions. Thanks! Would love to see you go through your previous ones and comment on the kireji in some of them.

"For me, the kireji is the heart of most haiku, a moment of emotional weight created by the interesting rub of the two bits of the poem against each other." Yes exactly! You've gotten to the part many folks miss. I am enjoying your haiku meditations very much!

I love your haikus, Liz. They seem to hit the mark exactly. What would you write about this Colorado spring snowstorm, ie, a forecast of TWO FEET today and tonight!?!

Home again home again

jiggety jig. That's how I felt this afternoon when all came home and hunkered with me. And now delightfully all our weekend plans were canceled. Hurray!

Loving your haikus


I'm just starting to love Tai Chi for some of the same reasons you're loving haiku -- the form, the movement, the shifts of balance, the way it slows me down and becomes its own meditation. Hmm. I feel some haiku writing coming on!

I loved reading this! I've been thinking about haiku since attending a reading and discussion earlier this week. Your notes on the form are also appreciated!

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