thoughts in seventeen
syllables struggle to form
the early bird sings
I’ve never cared much for haiku, that Japanese form of poetry that cares not for rhyme or punctuation, restricting itself to minimalist form, not concerned about completing a sentence. Nevertheless, I’ve accepted the challenge of a women’s magazine to celebrate National Poetry Month by writing a haiku.
This challenge comes while I’ve been honing my cumulative writing style, the style that prolongs the period, adding detail, creating suspense, hopefully not tiring my readers. Yesterday, I spent a little time describing my day in haiku (as I understood it, as the magazine described it) by fitting my usual words into a strict form of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables, adding punctuation as I saw fit. Wondering about that punctuation, I decided to observe National Haiku Poetry Day by learning more about haiku. According to William J. Higginson, author of The Haiku Handbook, “Much of the art of haiku comes in revising.”
Higginson’s article presented some Do’s and Don’ts of haiku, leading me to throw out some of my attempts, keep a couple of them intact, and completely revise others.
Dust and sweep the house
anticipating flute duets
and talking with friend.
melting frost glistens
clouds’ reign ends shadows rule
the day at night–rain
Describing sunshine and springtime without using those words. Now that took some thought!
Helping Americans vote
Thankful for freedom
I’ve broken a rule and told you how I feel.
taters carrots meat
layered covered forgotten
I’m glad that I took on the challenge. It led to learning and to thinking differently. I’ve dabbled in poetry before, creating stanzas that rhyme and have lines of similar length, lines that give reasons and describe feelings, but had only written haiku under a teacher’s command. My children’s book Words That Win is an example, as is the poem Father, Forgive Them.
My final haiku (for now, at least) describes the joy of discovering poetry penned by my mother, her mother, and ancestors I could never have known except through words written by and about them.
A line of poets
seen in family records
not the first writer
April is not over! I challenge you to think up a haiku. I’ve learned that the American version is usually shorter – 10 to 14 syllables, but is still written in three lines with the longest line in the middle. If you do celebrate National Poetry Month this way, PLEASE share your poem with me! I’d also love to hear which of my haiku you like the best.