Monday, 8 June 2009

I can write; haiku?

nodding pansies pose
brightly dressed with smiling faces-
summer wind smacks cheeks


English-language haiku consist of "three content categories":

  • Nature haiku / Human haiku (senryu) / Human plus nature haiku (hybrids).
(see: E. St Jacques for more examples)

in construction:
  • three lines with 17 or fewer "on" (not syllables) in total.
  • tend to be about nature
  • include a kigo, or season word
  • serious
  • written in the present tense
  • relates a moment of discovery/surprise (the "aha!" moment):
  • includes a kireji (cutting word*)
*Kireji (切れ字 cutting word) is the term for words used in Japanese traditional poetry. It is regarded as a requirement in traditional haiku.

I have been introduced to another haiku family:

Human Haiku or Senryū

A Japanese form of short poetry with the same structure as haiku.
  • include only references to some aspect of human nature (physical or psychological)
  • or to human artifacts
  • possesses no references to the natural world
  • has no season words
  • subject: foibles
  • darkly humorous
  • often cynical
Senryū Karai (柄井川柳, 1718-1790) (see Haiku)
A typical example from the collection:
泥棒を dorobō wo
捕えてみれば toraete mireba
我が子なり wagako nari
The robber,
when I catch,
my own son
Is that not fantastic? I enjoy the discussion regarding how this Japanese tradition can be translated into English. I doubt it can - but it, like language, can evolve and encourage us to play with words and images. It is cognitive gymnastics in a pure, abstract, intellectual form.
Also, check out PoetryDances for some examples.

1 comment:

sam said...

Lovely little piece! Love how you captured the wind in these quick words. (And thanks for your kind words over at my blog)