Monday, 10 January 2011

Monday One Stop Poetry Form - Haiku Guest poet Shashidhar Sharma

Welcome to a New Year and a new feature for One Stop Poetry. On One Stop Form, we seek to introduce you to the elements of poetic form. There are many styles that fit into form; style being like an individual signature. The form is the structure preceding the style. We all have our favorite form which we often adopt because it is what we feel comfortable with. We would love to encourage you to explore different poetry forms over the weeks and months to come. We will spend the first "session" describing the poetic form and the second week will be a time for the individual poet to do exercises with the form. Please have fun as we learn together!

I'm Moondustwriter ~we are going to look at Haiku today with the help of my very humble friend Shashidir. We are looking at what sets Haiku apart. What is the best way to learn a poetic form? You can sit in a lecture hall and have someone write out all the rules or you can learn by reading the work of others and hopefully be inspired by their work. 

Join Shashi and One Stop Poetry as he looks with us at Haiku

Haiku – The essence of a poetic moment

Look at that warbler –
He’s wiping his muddy feet
All over plum blossom
- Issa 1762 – 1826

Now close your eyes and look at that warbler…

The above poem by Kobayashi Issa expresses an almost brutal comic contrast and describes a poetic moment so vividly that one could almost see it through Issa’s eyes even after centuries have passed.

In this feature, I would like take you on to a journey of exploring the world of Haiku and hope that it excites you enough to read, write and explore more of this form. No, I am not going to give you the rules, the traditional Haiku writing method or even tell you how to write Haiku. My dear friend Gerald in the previous post of “One stop Form” has so beautifully explained it all. But I am going to take you along with me on a journey…

The Journey
My journey started with the two Haiku below in 80’s… the first one is, one of the most celebrated Haiku.

Old Pond
A frog jumps in.
The sound of water
- Basho (1644-94)

Suicide's Note
The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.
- Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

These two Haiku are still etched in my mind. It touched me so deeply that I started exploring more and more… from then onwards; it was a journey to know Haiku and in turn, to know my inner self. Haiku is something that distills my thoughts, puts that thought in visual perspective and leave it in my mind to contemplate later – consciously or sub-consciously.

The Path

The natural beauty forms much of the early Japanese poetry influenced by Shinto religion with its focus on spirituality as the essence of nature. Probably, below is the first of the poem by Prince Shiki, that lead to Haiku in present form.

Bracken sprouts
Above the stream that
Rushes over rocks.
Spring is here!
- Prince Shiki (668 – 716 CE)

There after, on to a tradition of personal expressions like this one below from a famously beautiful and proud 9th century woman poet Ono no Komachi

No one minded that
The flowers’ beauty faded.
And I saw myself in the world grow old
As the rain went on falling.
- Komachi

Its interesting to note how some of the images that are portrayed thousands of years ago, can almost be the same as some of the later poets portrayed

I come home to our room
On the far side of our bed
Lies her wooden head-rest.
- Hitomaro (8th Centuary)

It pierces my heel
As I walk in the bedroom:
My late wife’s comb.
- Buson (1716 – 83)

The classical poems were known as Waka meaning ‘Japanese poem or song’ in the 9th century which were mainly of two types – a long form called Choka and a short form known as Tanka. This short form became Japan’s most popular and aristocratic form. Governing syllable length and subject matter, classical poetic conventions dictated the language of Tanka. Slowly the poets began to introduce common language like ordinary speech, Chinese, street talk, slang, Buddhist terminology and even obscenity into collectively written verses known as Renga. In this form, the separate stanzas in Renga were 31 syllable Tanka, the first and second parts of which comprised 17 and 14 syllable. A typical Renga session might last for hours with small group of men (usually men) gathered around an experienced poet and collectively write poems, some times hundred verses long. These separate verses were linked by a subject, emotions or imagery. Here is one such example of the start of Renga session, jointly composed by Basho and his disciples.

Even the hawk’s feathers
Have been smothered by a passing shower
Of early winter rain
- Kyorai
Ruffled by a gust of wind
Dead leaves come to rest again.
- Basho
… and so on

The opening 17 syllable stanza was known as Hokku which, later19th Century poet, Shiki gave the name as Haiku (which denotes a free standing autonomous Hokku poem).

The Haiku is generally divided into two parts standing in contrast or reversal to each other. A poem might start with a traditional image such as cherry blossom, full moon or dew and then re-focus to a lower perhaps clashing image. A seasonal word (Kigo) was another prescriptive component of Haiku. Other rules underlined the subtler aspects of Haiku. If classical correctness could be ‘lowered’ to let in descriptions of ordinary life, it was, said Basho, important to ‘correct’ the ordinary, imbuing it with poetic exaltation (Fuga). In turn Fuga has to be used to express important ideas: the spiritual wealth within modest and simple things (Wabi); beauty, mystery and elegance (Yugen) as in the example below

Stillness and solitude –
Sinking into stones,
The trill of cicadas
- Basho

And melancholy sadness and tranquility (Sabi and Shori)

On a withered branch
A crow has settled.
Nightfall in autumn.
- Basho

Or in the spirit of poetic madness (Fukyo)

Let me show you,
You market people,
This hat filled with snow.
- Basho

And sometimes in shockingly comic ‘lightness’ (Karumi)

A bush warbler
Leaves its droppings on the rice cake
At the edge of the veranda.

The Milestones…
After Basho, there have been many great poets who took Haiku to the greater heights …

The bite of my axe.
Sudden revelation –
There is life in this tree!

... Buson accepts his death quietly in this farewell poem

White plum blossoms,
Night turns to dawn –
The time has come

Kobayashi Issa
This mushroom is
Deadly. And, of course,
It’s also pretty

Masaoka Shiki
A river in summer
There’s a bridge here, but
My horse prefers water

With useless authority
The great horned owl
Sits moon-eyed in daylight

I envy the tomcat:
How easily he lets go of
Love’s pain and longing

The child cries at her breast.
And the mosquito also bites
The sleeping mother

With ink-stained lips,
The boy leaves his poem
For the cool outdoors

The Travelers on the Path…
In my long experience with the form I have come across many beautiful poets and it will be great to explore them but here I would like to give some examples from our friends here at One Stop Poetry…

The moon hears your words
Breeze brushing against me
Speaking to my heart
 - Leslie Moon

Clouds veil summer light
The sound of rain distant rise
Shadowed flames leaking.
-Chris Galford

Snowflakes tumble down
Dancing like girls in blue skirts
Frosted with wonder
- Claudia Schoenfeld

Tiger cloud eats light
Then races across the sky
Leaving sun behind
- Gay Cannon

Each one beautifully portraying a poetic moment as a complete thought, image or emotion. Basho - acknowledged as the supreme master of Haiku, said to his Zen Teacher “Haiku are description of what is happening at a particular ‘haiku moment’. Creating vivid images, each haiku paints a unique and dramatic scene that expresses emotions and some times, a philosophical thought to be contemplated upon, from the natural or social world. Basho also emphasized sincerity and seriousness – the poetic truth of words, pointing to higher reality.

I am not a Haiku expert or even claim to be a Haiku writer but I firmly believe that everything that comes from the heart in a flash of insight is Haiku. Holding on to that seed and then putting words around it in order to paint a picture; to make it a complete thought that makes readers to reflect upon it, is what I feel is ‘writing’ Haiku.

I hope this feature has given you an urge to explore more. Hold on to your thoughts and insight that gets manifested in your heart by nature, or moment in the present, or an emotional experience and then write few words around it and see if you can paint a picture with words.

I sign off with my words around the seed “From consciousness to supreme consciousness”

Under my feet
Road disappeared
Am I the destination? 
- Shashi

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

Thanks to  my  friend Shashi for a personal look at Haiku.
Our challenge to you is to create a Haiku in one or both forms. If you want to take a shot at the classic form be our guest. You may feel more comfortable writing in the  more individual style. Where ever  you are comfortable we want you to feel free to practice your haiku writing and share here through Mr. Linky. I'm going to take a shot at the more classic it's been decades since I tried.

Next Monday we will be striking out on another path of poetic form. Hope you have enjoyed the intro to Haiku.

For more information check out our Feature of Shashidhar Sharma and or go to his Blog you can also find him on twitter @verseeveryday

Sources: Classic Haiku, Wikipedia
Frog  by  Peter Harrison

Path by  Sol Young 
Comb by Veronika Brazdova
 The last three photos belonging to Moondustwriter  were shot with an iphone


One Stop - The Place For Poets, Writers and Artists said...

Looking forward to seeing what people create in Haiku today. Also, we would love it if you would vote for One Stop Poetry and the Shorty Award - button on the right side of our blog.

Thanks and Happy Monday


Beachanny said...

Shashi what a beautiful and comprehensive discourse you've given us on haiku. I became enchanted with the form in my twenties and have written many through the years. When I first moved here to the Gulf I used them as a diary to comment on the weather and the wildlife particularly the birds which are diverse and beautiful here. Your discussion gave me an even deeper insight into the form and for that I thank you and am most grateful.
Gay @beachanny

Shashi said...

Thanks One Stop Poetry team and Leslie for the honor of guest writer on your great blog. I have really enjoyed being here... and it gives me valuable insights by reading varied styles and forms from the talented subscribers of this blog. I am grateful to be part of this community.

Dear Gay
Thanks for your appreciation and I am happy that my thoughts have given you more insight into the form.

Since I was on pilgrimage for some time from the end of the last year to the first week of this year, I think its apt to link one of my earlier posts.

Here in this post, I have put some of the haiku that I have had created using my particular spiritual moments (at many of the great temples, mosques across India) as a seed.

Hope you all will like it.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

Anonymous said...

Namaste Shashi, what a lovely way to start the day, and an extremely comprehensive haiku discussion.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Namaste Shashi, what a lovely way to start the day, and an extremely comprehensive haiku discussion.

Thank you!

Kenia Cris said...

Again I take the challenge, but I'm pretty convinced I don't have the required eyes to write Haiku. At least I like today's more than last week's.

Thanks for such lovely Haiku classes, looking forward to what comes next.


Mama Zen said...

Thank you for this. I love the purity of expression that one can achieve with haiku.

Brian Miller said...

this is a fabulous post and thoroughly thought through and presented...very nice...will try to make my way around an see everyone beauty today..

lizziviggi said...

Thank you Shashi, and everyone else at One Stop Poetry. I've explored Haiku in the past but let it slip away. Now is the perfect time for it to be reintroduced into my life-- haiku brings not only a sense of peace, but also shines a light on the clarity of a moment. Haiku reminds me to revel in those small, perfect moments.

Anonymous said...

This has been most enlightening. I love this form. I have since high school though I've never given it justice I think.
Thank you :)

Natasha said...

Hoping to become more involved! Love this and appreciate it much :)

Shewriting said...

I enjoy writing in Haiku form because it forces me to cut out the philosophical, metaphorical, and debateable fluff I often use in my poetry.

It forces me to focus on what is true, basic, and simple, thus, bringing those attributes into my consciousness, which for me is a guaranteed path to spritual peace.

And then I get all intellectual again and lose that peace (now I see why some of you write Haikus daily...hmmm... I may have to try that :)

Thanks, Sashi, for the wonderful presentation of Haiku.

Adam White - Poet said...

Brilliant article on the proponents of the Haiku. This blog gets better and better.

Asobime said...

Shashi! That was lovely ...and complete!

The study of haiku is an evocative world. Dropping into it transports the soul. Enriches it and makes necessity of deeper thought.

Thank you for a wonderful presentation.

Lady Nyo

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Anonymous said...

Too late, I discovered that I had been incredibly presumptive in naming my blog haiku love songs. I didn't realize the history and true definition of haiku. All I know now is that I know nothing. Thank you for the poetry form series.

Shashi said...

Hi all

Thanks for great appreciation on the post and I am grateful for such beautiful words...

@HaikuLoveSongs - Dont worry, anything that comes from heart is great haiku. And it can be love song to, as the heart knows how to sing... in love.

I am also happy and thrilled to see that every one of my friends have posted great haiku and today i am going to read them and enjoy with my cup of Darjeeling tea.

I usually don't comment critically, but this time I am atleast going to see your posts on Haiku and see if I can in any way suggest some minor things that will make your Haiku beautiful and better. I thought this will be a good way to share some more insights in terms of the individual haiku. I think this is the reason we are discussing forms here. If I can share a little bit more of my experience with this form, it will give me more pleasure.

But one request to you all, please don't mind if I suggest something to your individual creations and pardon me for it. If you find anything wrong in that, please let me know or you are free to delete such comment.

I am grateful for the appreciation all of you have given for this post. I am honored to be part of this community.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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