Wednesday, May 31, 2006

questions and answers

It's been a while since the New York Times provided a real haiku forum. However else the form is defined, it thrives on poets tossing verses back and forth with each other. That's gone now and this isn't the place for it, either, but maybe an introduction to haiku will encourage some of you to try it yourselves.

Haiku is a Japanese poetry form. There are many styles of haiku because of the different traditions that gave rise to it, but formally, it's simple.

The basic format is three lines, of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables. There is some room for changing the syllable count, especially in languages other than Japanese, where that rhythm can be difficult to achieve.

The subject is supposed to be a brief description, preferably of a natural scene, with parallels to the human condition.

From Jane Reichhold, and others, Aha! Poetry is probably the best single website introduction to haiku and its many poetic relations:

Here are a few of mine:

crossing the skyline
one lone hawk circling slowly
with no prey in sight

rosebuds in winter
dusty cheap plastic flowers
behind worn curtains

clicking rapidly
beetles produce background sounds
like living machines

Here's a pair of haiku i wrote together:

the night winds howling
like wolves calling to the pack
through the city streets

can you run with them
whispering their hidden names
scenting the fresh blood?

We used to write these back and forth to each other, dozens of them every day, sometimes. Whole conversations in haiku, not alway true haiku, but sticking to the format:

sunshine diminished
the day is finished, but fun
has only begun!

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