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A Poetic Look At: Haiku

Kaleidoscope

(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

So…why haiku this time?

Because they are popular, and I love them. Additionally, they are an interesting example of how other languages handle and organize sounds and words into poetry. In English, we use meter. Other languages do not use meter, or do not use it as English does.

But I know about haiku.

That’s great! It helps to build on something that we already know when trying to learn new things.

Okay, so…how do haiku work?

(I know I was taught a fair bit about haiku as a child, but I am going to talk as if you all don’t know many of these things. Therefore no one will be lost or confused.)

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form. Haiku have a single stanza of three lines. Line one is five syllables, line two is seven syllables, line three is five syllables again. This is what most people are taught.

In researching this, I discovered that haiku don’t have three lines when written in Japanese. They have only one; the three lines in English-language haiku point back to the three phrases that haiku have in Japanese.

Syllables, Morae and On

Japanese syllables are not syllables, but on (or morae). Japanese on are all the same length. Stress is more or less the same across all on. Since Japanese is a tonal language, you may hear high-tone on as stress. (Japanese has two tones. The other is low-tone.)

Haiku were once referred to as hokku. They grew out of renku (hokku is still the name for the first verse of a renku poem), and were viewed in that context for a time. In order to truly separate haiku from renku, Masaoka Shiki, a haiku author, suggested the name of haiku (an abbreviation of haikai no ku).

You told me that every poetic form has a recipe. What’s the recipe this time?

On (which we already talked about), a kigo, and the idea of kireji.

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A Poetic Look At: Poetic Forms

Kaleidoscope

(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

So what’s a poetic form?

A recipe of sorts. One like sugar cookies. Rad, sweet, sugar cookies. (That was my sweet tooth talking, sorry. :) ) It takes several ingredients, mixed in a certain way, giving you an expected result, but with room for variation.

Sounds fine, but what’s wrong with formless poetry?

Not one thing. I write in a style that doesn’t seem to fit a form. It seems like it fits free verse the most, but I don’t know for sure.

But it’s fun to know how to work in new forms. You can enjoy both an old friend and get to love a new one. No one was talking about replacing anything. I’d be sad if you did!

That’s okay, then. What are the parts of the recipe?

Structurally speaking: words, meter, line, and stanzas. (There’s also the idea of half-lines, but they’re not something I’ve heard too much about. We’ll probably talk about them in the midst of a form that makes use of them.)

Stylistically speaking: mood, subject, and degree of repetition. Repetition doesn’t have to be bad, by the way. It can make a given idea stick better, or it can really annoy the socks off people.

We’ll talk about structures today. Stylistic things are really best talked about in the context of a given form. (Repetition is the special one that will get its own post.)

*hands out cookies* (It seems like a good time to share those. :) )

(Cookie) Center of the Matter

Words – Eggs/Flavorings

They’re …well, what you’re reading here. Not too bad so far. They can carry quite a lot in themselves, without any intentional meter. A big plate of eggs, with a bit of salt and pepper is nice. But we wanted cookies, so on to the other ingredients.

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A message about a change in purpose.

The poem I posted last Wednesday will be the last one for a while. I figure it’s more helpful to you if I help you flex your own writing muscles. Also, I’d love a reason to learn more about poetry than I currently know, and I know that teaching is the best way to do that.

I don’t quite know where I’ll go after talking about poetic forms, but I’m sure I’ll be led one way or another. If you like, you may suggest new poetic forms that I haven’t covered.

I am also working on writing prompts. Those will be able to be used in any writing context.

<3

There’s Space Everywhere

I see it, I see it
a landscape

(c) Windy Johansen

at once cold
and beautiful
it’s open
there’s space everywhere

(c) Windy Johansen

I see it, I see it
there’s space everywhere

(c) Windy Johansen

little droplets of ice fall
not snowflakes
not stars
frozen earth

(c) Windy Johansen

little wonders of life
don’t stare
don’t close
frozen earth

(c) Windy Johansen

I see it, I see it
a landscape

(c) Windy Johansen

at once cold
and beautiful
it’s open
there’s space everywhere

(c) Windy Johansen

I see it, I see it
there’s space everywhere

(c) 21 January 2013, Windy Johansen.

Bells (All the Wealth)

wailing over housetops
wailing over shipyards
wailing for the nights that hide you
this warfare gives you
the sun you refused to see
all the wealth for you to consume
wailing for the nights that hide you

(c) Windy Johansen

ringing bells, I hear them
ringing bells, sailing over soot
ringing bells, and lonely smoke
ringing bells, why did you replace
ringing bells, your sun?

(c) Windy Johansen

hunting over water
hunting over daylight
hunting for the stars that save you
meteors give you
the earth you refused to save
all the wealth for you to consume
hunting for the stars that save you

(c) Windy Johansen

subsumed bells, I hear them
subsumed bells, sailing over you
subsumed bells, that lonely will
subsumed bells, why did you ignore
subsumed bells, your selves?

(c) Windy Johansen

ringing bells, subsumed bells
hunting for the stars that save you
ringing bells, subsumed bells
wailing for the nights that hide you

(c) Windy Johansen

all the wealth for you to consume
all the bells ringing in my ears

(c) 25 September 2013, Windy Johansen.