NaHaiWriMo

National (or international) Haiku Writing Month

February is just such a month! And I intend to get my ‘ku’ on so to speak. The idea is to write a haiku a day for the month of February. But just to note, this is Haiku writing, as opposed to low-ku writing, I like writing both, but there is a difference. Low-ku (for lack of a better term) are 5-7-5 syllable scheme poems that are usually designed to be snide, funny, sarcastic, insulting, punny, smart-assical, or just plain stupid. As you can see, I like low-ku!

Steve the snake-charmer
was good with snakes, but people
would always bite him

This is a low-ku. Haiku, are different. For more details on those differences try: https://sites.google.com/site/nahaiwrimo/

Traditionally haiku are written in Japanese, which is not a syllabic language so although the 5-7-5 is correct in Japanese, it does not translate to English. The sounds that are being measured in Japanese are much shorter than English syllables, and when you consider that Basho and Issa and other creators of the Haiku form/genre themselves did not always follow a strict 5-7-5 format, the 5-7-5 syllable scheme becomes even less relevant.

So what is relevant? Good question! I’m glad I asked. The juxtaposition of two seemingly unrelated but subtly connected images/subjects matters. Capturing a single fleeting moment and crystalizing it in time matters. Vivid multi-sensory and evocative language matters. Traditionally Haiku are not so much nature poems as they are season poems, so being able to identify which season it is matters. The feeling of immediateness matters, and being able to condense the language and still convey a great deal of information in an objective way matters. Remember, as Michael Dylan Welsh says, Haiku are not as short as possible, they are as short as necessary.

So, juxtaposition of two images, this refers to the two part structure of haiku. This is where you create that ‘aha’ moment (often called the haiku moment) of a haiku. If I were to talk about my socks (or maybe for the season reference say two socks for each foot) and then say that wires stretch for miles, what the hell do wires and socks have in common?!? Nothing at first glance, but haiku are not about first glances, my socks keep my feet warm and telephone wires are full of electricity and therefore warm, birds roost on wires to stay warm, to keep their feet warm. Haiku are about looking deeper, yes there should be something nice on the surface to look at, but the ‘aha’ is found below. The juxtaposition of two images is about finding two images that seem not to connect, and then showing that they are indeed connected.

Enough for now. I will be participating in NaHaiWriMo and I will post some endeavors periodically. I hope you too will join in, all you have to do is try. Happy NaHaiWriMo!

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