Recently, I was asked to write a long essay for a university anthology on haiku. Therefore, haiku has been on my mind a lot recently, and I’d like to bring out some relevant points about it in this post.
People often ask me if you have to be a Buddhist to write haiku. No, you don’t have to be a Buddhist. I am not one. But keep in mind that life is short. You don’t want to go through it without stopping to appreciate the little things around you while you are waiting at the red light or walking to the grocery store.
If you have had experience as a freelance writer of articles or as a staff journalist, you are used to writing with an economy of words. This will likely help you get used to writing haiku. Many haiku beginners find it especially difficult to be parsimonious with words.
Recognize these significant aspects of haiku:
1) It is insightful, dealing with human nature, your fellow man, nature, or anything around you. The fun is often in discovering the various levels of a haiku’s meaning.
2) Haiku helps us to share our emotions in a subtle way. In so doing, we dust ourselves off, and understand ourselves better. It is good therapy without seeking counseling.
3) Buddhist thought and sensibilities run through haiku, telling us that life is not always beautiful, but that we should appreciate the beautiful moments. Haiku, written in the present tense, allow us to capture these beautiful moments.
4) Use your observational skills to write haiku and develop a “camera eye.” Freeze an image in time by writing a haiku.
5) Consider yourself an artist. Paint a picture, only with words. Haiku is imagistic poetry.
6) Indulge yourself with the free things in life– the scenes around you. Appreciate nature, the seasons, and human scenes through your five senses. You can discover correspondences between nature and yourself–how you are feeling, how you experience life. We are one with nature.
walking by sun
along the frozen lake
i melt into winter
Haiku Society of America Anthology 2009
the morning newspaper
i step out into gray
bottle rockets #21, Aug. 2009
If you don’t know much about haiku, read the many posts on this blog that deal with it. You’ll begin to develop an idea of what it’s all about. My blogs feature a lot of haiku written by others, and even interviews with haiku poets. You can also read about related Japanese forms like tanka.
Copyright 2012 by Charlotte Digregorio.