Across the Haikuverse, No. 14: Abridged Edition

Everyone have a nice Valentine’s Day? Looking forward to warmer weather? (Or cooler, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere?) Great. Glad to hear it.

Okay, got the chitchat out of the way. No time. Must be fast. Short. Abbreviated. Abridged. Yes, that’s it. This is the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books of haiku columns. Don’t let that put you off, though. It’s just my boring words that are abridged, not the haiku.

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Haiku (Etc.) of the Week

(Poems I found and liked the last couple of weeks.)

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I am giving pride of place this week to Amy Claire Rose Smith, the 13-year-old winner of the youth haiku contest at The Secret Lives of Poets. This haiku is not just “good for a thirteen-year-old.” I would be proud of having written it. Amy is the co-proprietor of The Spider Tribe Blog and Skimming the Water along with her mother, Claire Everett, also a fine haiku and tanka poet (I mean, she’s okay for a grownup, you know?) who has been featured in this space previously.

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listening
to the brook’s riddles
a moorhen and I
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– Amy Claire Rose Smith

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From Haiku Bandit Society:

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pearl diver
a full breath,
a full moon

– el coyote

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From Crows & Daisies:

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sleet shower
plum blossoms
on flickr

– Polona Oblak

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From Via Negativa:

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moon in eclipse
I remember every place
I’ve seen that ember

– Dave Bonta

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(The first line links to a spectacular photo by Dave, take a look.)

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From Morden Haiku:

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stretching out
the peloton
a hint of spring

– Matt Morden

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From scented dust:

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still winter -
a heavy book about
nutritional supplements

– Johannes S.H. Bjerg

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(Johannes has also been writing a lengthy series of haiku about penguins that are delighting my son and me. A few of them are at his blog, linked above, and he’s also been tweeting a lot of them (@jshb32). Both in English and in Danish, because I asked nicely. :) Thanks, Johannes.)

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the auld fushwife
sits steekin -
her siller needle dertin
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the old fishwife
sits sewing -
her silver needle darting
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– John McDonald

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From Yay words! :

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late winter cold
I suckle
a honey drop

– Aubrie Cox

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From The Haiku Diary:

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Ripeness Is All

In the produce section:
A very pregnant woman,
smelling a grapefruit.

– Elissa

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From a handful of stones:

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Joyfulness Keeps Pushing Through

I’m reading
T. S. Eliot

Goethe
and the Old Testament

But I can’t help it

– Carl-Henrik Björck

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From haiku-usa:

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returning spring
in the dawn light she looks like
my first love

– Bill Kenney

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(Bill’s comment: “Line 1 may be a bit optimistic, but it is warming up, and, in my personal saijiki, spring begins on Valentine’s Day, regardless of the weather.”)
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have you thought
of your effect on us?
full moon
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– Stella Pierides
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(Stella’s note about the genesis of this haiku: “I wrote this haiku trying to understand aspects of (by skirting close to) Issa’s poem, posted as an epigraph on the Red Dragonfly blog.” I found this interesting because I, too, have been thinking about my epigraph lately, after having kind of pushed it to the back of my mind for some time. And loving moon haiku as I do, I really liked Stella’s take on it.)
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a bit of parade
from the sparrow …
first flakes, last snow
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– Ricky Barnes
/
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まどろむの活用形に春の雪   小川楓子
madoromu no katsuyôkei ni haru no yuki
.
conjugation
of ‘doze’
spring snow
.
– Fuko Ogawa, translated by Fay Aoyagi
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how many haiku
must I write…
waiting for you
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– Miriam Sagan
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(The person Miriam was waiting for in this haiku was the great Natalie Goldberg — check out the link for a wonderful story by Natalie about an evening she and Miriam spent together.)
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my gate–
just six radishes
remain in supply
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four, five, nine years
always the first to bloom…
cherry tree
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– Issa, translated by David Lanoue
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(Does everyone know that you can get one of Issa’s haiku emailed to you daily if you ask nicely? These are a couple that landed in my inbox this week, and of course after confessing my love of number haiku I had to include them here.)
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“Class Warfare in Wisconsin: 10 Things You Should Know” (Tikkun Daily)

a long day…
field laborers
fasten stars
to the under belly of
a snail shaped moon
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– Robert D. Wilson
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(Normally I try to keep this blog a politics-free zone, but can I help it if Robert wrote a great tanka and Haiku News connected it to a headline about the protests in my state against the governor’s budget bill? I’m all for art for art’s sake, but if art happens to intersect with politics in an artistically pleasing way, I’m all for that too.)

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A Story, A Story

At jornales, Alegria Imperial recently recounted a wonderful story (originally written for the Vancouver Haiku Group) about meeting a Japanese woman who critiqued her haiku in a way that seems to me very reminiscent of the way that Momoko critiques Abigail Freedman’s haiku in The Haiku Apprentice, something I wrote about not so long ago. The point of both Momoko and Mutsumi, Alegria’s mentor, is that haiku must come from the heart, must not just be a linguistic or intellectual exercise but must express something fundamental about what the poet is feeling.
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I think you should really go over and read the whole story yourself, but I’ll quote a few choice passages to give you an idea of what it’s all about.
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The white gold moon: A Japanese haiku experience
Or how a hole in the sky turned into a pair of wings in my heart

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Mutsumi and I did meet over spare egg sandwiches and coconut muffins at the 411 Seniors Centre Cafeteria. … I laid the printed sheets out on the table, two pages of ten haiku. I had noticed her wince as she read them and then, she pushed the pages away.

… She pointed to one of them and asked me, or to my mind, accused me, “Where is your heart?”

The haiku she had her forefinger on is this:

hole in dark sky?
but
the white moon

… “When you wrote this how did you feel?”

“Well, in the dark night sky on a full moon, I looked up and there was the moon like a white hole in the sky.”

“So…”

“Seeing a hole although it was bright sort of scared me but it also delighted me because I realized it is but the moon.”

“And so…”

“That’s it.”

“That’s why, it can’t be a haiku. It cannot stop there. It has to stop right here,” she tapped her chest with her hand and to mine, finally a gesture which uplifted me, “in the heart, your heart.”

We plumbed the idea deeper. She focused on my delight to see the moon. What did I want to do about it? And how would I have wanted to reach the moon. I said the only I could would be “to fly”. She began to smile and latched on to the image, to the idea of flying. She asked how I would have wanted to fly. And I said with wings, of course.

“But you can’t have wings. Still you can fly with your thoughts, your thoughts of happiness,” she said. “Think of where these come from,” she urged me on.

“In my heart, of course!”

“There you are! There is your haiku!”

She took the piece of paper from my hand and began writing in Japanese, translating the characters into this:

gin-iro* tsuki no hikari*
kurai yoru watashi no kokoro
tsubasa

I asked what each word meant and the haiku flowed:

white gold moon
on a dark night in my heart
a pair of wings

– Alegria Imperial


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Dead Tree News: Journaled

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Frogpond, the venerable journal of the Haiku Society of America, edited by George Swede, came in the mail last week. First I clasped it to my heart and carried it around with me everywhere for a few days. Then I started making the difficult decisions about which tiny portion of the contents I could share with you guys. Here’s what I came up with:

First of all, I’ll mention right off the bat that there was an essay by Randy Brooks called “Where Do Haiku Come From?” that I am going to have to write a separate post about because I can’t do it justice here. So remind me about that if I haven’t come through in, say, a couple of months.

There were also a couple of interesting and related essays by Ruth Yarrow and David Grayson about bringing current events and economic realities into the writing of haiku. Ruth wrote about the recent/current financial crisis and David about homelessness. Both discussed the importance of not neglecting this aspect of our reality when we look for haiku material; David also discussed how to avoid the pitfalls of sentimentality and cliche when dealing with topics that start out with such strong emotional associations. I tend to think that the reality of the urban environment and the modern political and economic climate are seriously neglected in haiku (and I am as guilty as anyone else of neglecting them), so I was happy to see these essays here.

Second of all, here are the titles of some haibun you might want to take a look at if a copy of Frogpond falls into your path (which it will do if you join the Haiku Society of America, hint hint):

Little Changes, by Peter Newton; The First Cold Nights, by Theresa Williams; Not Amused, by Ray Rasmussen; Marry Me, by Genie Nakano; Gail, by Lynn Edge; This Strange Summer, by Aurora Antonovic; Home, by John Stevenson; Looking Back, by Roberta Beary; Koln, by David Grayson.

And lastly … the haiku. Those that particularly struck me for whatever reason:

sunset
warmth from within
the egg

— Johnette Downing

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high beams visit
a small bedroom
my thin cotton life

— Dan Schwerin

 

coffee house babble
among all the voices
my conscience

— Robert Moyer

 

pruning
the bonsai…
my knotty life

— Charlotte DiGregorio

 

if only she had been buried wild crimson cyclamen

— Clare McCotter

 

Christmas tree
wrong from every angle
trial separation

— Marsh Muirhead

 

morning obituaries …
there i am
between the lines

— Don Korobkin

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full moon —
all night the howling
of snowmobiles

— John Soules

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the cumulonimbus
full of faces
hiroshima day

— Sheila Windsor

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leaves changing…
the river
………….lets me be who I am

— Francine Banwarth

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Done! Okay, for me, that really wasn’t bad.

Just wanted to say that I will probably not have another Haikuverse update for at least 3 weeks, possibly 4, since in March I will be contending vigorously with midterms, family visits, a new job, and oh, yeah, this haijinx column gig. (Send me news!) I’ll miss droning endlessly on at you guys but at least this will give you a chance to catch up with all the old columns.

22 thoughts on “Across the Haikuverse, No. 14: Abridged Edition

  1. Wonderful, wonderful ku … thanks…

    As to indenting – did you try to use a random character (I use dashes) in front of the line till you get to the placement spot and then change the color of the character to “white?” I used to do that in Blogger, perhaps it would work in wp also.

    best,
    Don

    • Oh…duh! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this considering I used this technique liberally in this very post to achieve all the white space. Going back to correct now … thanks, Don. :)

  2. What an honor, Melissa! As if it’s the first time you’ve tossed me up your haikuverse, always. This time, the full moon I pulled down to my lines has flown up back to the sky, thanks to you for giving life to its wings!

    An abridged edition? I don’t think so. Well… what’s missing is your gurgling stream of of commentaries on the haiku or sites you cite (ooops pun!). But indeed, you have to get on with what’s waggling hands are crying out for your atention. I hope wrestling away from what I call, the ‘power’ of haiku (which by the way has gripped me I’m no longer the same me!), will not be as ‘messy’ as I suppose mine would be.

    But whatever you can drop along the way, I’ll watch out for it. And, yes, I’ll watch out for what I can send you for your ‘column gig’. By the way, I’m not sure if my Correspondent’s Report for Canada will appear in the next Sketchbook issue, or what Karina Klesko had asked from here late last year but I had sent my first.

    Till next meeting then on your firmament and whatever star you pick out for us to gaze at in between…

  3. Yikes!!! Sorry for the mistakes from fingers that dashed slower than my excitement —’what’ not ‘what’s waggling hands…’/’sent’ not ‘had sent my first…’ (a yike-y double past perfect). Thanks so much again!

  4. Wow, Melissa, this is terrific! I’m a new reader to Red Dragonfly, so this Haikuverse was a most welcome surprise. Thanks for all the links and for expanding my own haikuverse. A great collection of poems you chose, too.

    • Thanks, Jill! I’m glad to have a new reader … and now that I have checked out your blog, you definitely have a new reader too! I’m really impressed by your haiku. I especially like “harsh words,” “the tremble of the clothesline,” and “widower” … wow.

  5. eventually finding fish
    me
    and Einsteins penguins

    —-
    Hi Melissa,
    thanks again for a delightful tour through the haikuverse. I’m fishing stars every time I’m lead here. And thanks again for mentioning my haiku in such a fine assembly of haijins.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. There were so many sparkling haiku, I cannot pick out a favorite. Best of all, I am challenged to improve my own writing by their examples and by the “A Story, A Story” section. Thank you for all of this.

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