What do your haiku reveal about you?
I asked this question of some longtime haikuists and got some very interesting answers, coupled with representative samples of their haiku.
I hope these comments, along with my previous posts on haiku, spur you to write some great poems.
Like these poets, you may want to join the Haiku Society of America to network with others and excel in the art. For more information about HSA, log onto its web site,
Incidentally, the word “haiku” is both singular and plural. And, the accent is on the first syllable: “HIGH-ku.” That’s the way the Japanese pronounce it. Haiku orginated in Japan in the 1600s.
My haiku reveal my focus on family. I often am alluding to family relationships in my haiku.
Here is one from the Dec. 2005 “Solares Hill” (Key West, FL) haiku column which used to appear monthly:
early nights, wishing I could
call my late father
And this one from the Summer 2006 issue of “The Nor-Easter”:
on the way home
driving by the “for sale” sign
on my parents’ lawn
From the Nov. 2006 issue of “Moonset”:
of the front door
Merrill Ann Gonzales:
I’ve been thinking about this very topic as I begin to gather haiku for the new year. I’ve found that often the selection of haiku for publication reveals as much about the editor as it does about the poet. I’ve come to realize, as editors change from publication to publication, that it behooves me to watch what I send to whom, in order to preserve the direction of my own path. It would be difficult for me to select haiku that have been published, except perhaps:
this fractured life
of scrambled eggs
–Frogpond 2011 Vol. 34, No.3
This might offer a good example of what I mean. It had been included with a selection of haiku that I had considered sensitive responses to nature. I had inserted this haiku as a rather light moment. While I was thankful for the publication, it made me pause because it’s not the direction that motivates my writing, for the most part. But I do like to, once in a while, just laugh at the way things turn out.
Perhaps this editor was trying to tell me something? This is a sudden insight into the futility of some things, yet in a strange way they nourish us. Is it the philosophy of the path I want to be cast in?
I’m always surprised what editors select.. but thinking about what they do select, surely gives me insight into many areas. It is worth paying attention to.
–Merrill Ann Gonzales
trying to see past
what she’s not
–frogpond 34.3 – 2011
Even when writing about the moment – the way it looks, smells, feels, sounds – my haiku sometimes transcend the moment. What does what I am experiencing right now, mean to me, and how might it possibly change me and how I experience future moments? I hope with each haiku that I write, whether it becomes published or not, I experience growth and a closer relationship to the world in which I live.
I think many of my haiku and free verse reveal a regional sense of time and place. I live in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. I’ve been fortunate to take many of my experiences (and the experiences of others) and record them as poems or stories.
the auctioneer pauses
to catch his breath
Chasing the Sun: selected haiku,
Haiku North America 2007
About half of my haiku have universal appeal, and I see myself, in the traditional Japanese sense, as part of the eternal, the natural world. The others, the ones that reveal, are confessional:
to Christian singles night
I change my sheets
–bottle rockets, 2008
Although this is funny, it is also dead serious, and is another kind of sharing.
I have a wry sense of humor that often comes out in my haiku/senryu. (The latter is satirical haiku.)
after his death . . .
they fill our table
with cold cuts
Modern Haiku, Vol. XXX11, No.2, Summer, 2001
Haiku can highlight a memory from a real experience. For example, I remember visiting Yellowstone National Park two years after devastating fires.
after the wildfire
a haze of green
across the prairie
Notes from the Gean, Vol. 3 Issue 3
I have always been an outdoors person, spending most of my childhood waking hours near the Mississippi River or roaming the countless hills surrounding my home. Almost all of my haiku are drawn from nature, inner and outer, as you can see in the triptych below, written from my backyard porch. It is published in the Haiku Registry.
firefly and small plane
the wild canary
My haiku reveal that, despite having suffered a great deal, I can still appreciate the beauty of the universe and haven’t lost my sense of humor.
prison exercise yard
five lifers cluster around
a wild crocus
–John J. Dunphy
Happy Holidays to everyone! Most of all, peace.
Copyright 2011 by Charlotte Digregorio.