I asked this question of my fellow poets: Which flowers or trees inspire you to write haiku, and why?
None of the poets knew what others’ responses would be, as I blind-copied them. Two poets said they were inspired by peonies and two said by aspen trees.
Please read all responses below:
I generally don’t know what will inspire me to write a haiku, until it happens.
—Bruce J. Pfeffer
Sharing the Sun: Haiku Society of America Member’s
Cherry trees and their blossoms are important images in poetry and in art. Cherry blossoms’ fragrance, beauty and fragility have inspired me to write haiku.
cherry blossoms fall
on his headstone
World Haiku Review, April 2012
New Mexico (where I recently moved to) has different trees and flowers than Chicagoland, so I have changed my tune a bit recently. This haiku was chosen for a project called Odes and Offerings, in which 30-odd poets in the Santa Fe area submitted a couple poems. One each was chosen by Joan Logghe, Santa Fe Poet Laureate, and matched to an artist, who then created an “ekphrastic” work (i.e., a work that incorporates actual text in the artwork). My artist was Donna Rutt, and what she came up with is visible on her blog at: http://www.loosidia.blogspot.com/2012/03/
and the chamisa agree
on a shade of yellow
I have a special love for the sound of aspen trees. They are the first to pick up a breeze and give it voice, and they sing quietly even when all the other trees are silent. That sound is a blessing, getting me out of my head and back to the present moment.
whisper of aspens
bringing me back
to my senses
The pines of northern Wisconsin … balsam, spruce, white & norway pines! For the way they smell in the heat of summer, and their embrace of the snow in winter.
snow falls lightly
on your limbs
Frogpond XXII:2 1999
When we moved here (to Connecticut), right out my studio window, I saw an ash tree that has the same angle curve that I bear in my spine. It’s been overshadowed by other trees and had to grow through the open spaces, thus causing the twisting. Every year I think it won’t make it, yet each year it still leaves out.
I can’t help but identify with it, and the very name “ash” conjures up so many images of rising from the ashes, that it always inspires me.
This poem was written right after my husband John died. I felt quite dead indeed.
dormant ash tree–
still curved toward
the sun of past years
South by Southeast 7:1 (2000)
Charlotte, you really nail these questions. Each day I start with a novel or haiku that clear my head to write. Monday through Friday, I open the seed packets anthology from bottlerockets press. This is where I love your trillium and homelessness poems each time I read them. It helps me think of the morning through the lenses of plant life. My favorite in the book is Michael McClintock’s single-image poem:
deep in the pool,
that summer easiness
It has made me think of describing human nature via plant-life. This leads me to write a poem such as:
little by little
the cattail winters
I used to read a fair amount of D.H. Lawrence’s poetry. He had a turtle and flowers phase. He said he wrote about plants and animals during those years because humans had betrayed him so. In the same way, I think, consideration of a flower or tree starts my day by putting humans in a proper proportion in creation. I haven’t published this one, but it comes from a cup of coffee looking out the window:
the locked church
but a magnolia left
To answer your question, I am surrounded by altar flowers and easter lilies, and poinsettias. They tell me what’s happening. I have poems about each of them. Sometimes I use the black walnut as an image for my daughter who has had a rough patch lately. So this morning I wrote:
who can help
the chemicals in your grain
Sure, I will work on that one, but you have surfaced plant life as a door home. Thanks for these questions, the dialogue, and your contribution to haiku.
Blessings for the day.
–-Dan Schwerin, Minister
Thanks, Dan. Since you brought it up, this is my trillium haiku:
through darkness . . .
International Herald Tribune, Feb. 17, 2007
Peonies. I got my fondness for peonies from a maiden aunt who, before she passed away, gave me cuttings from her three favorite peony plants. Years later, while I was teaching in China, I visited the “Origin of Peonies” hill in Chongqing Province. Legend has it, that area was the first to develop the peony. I felt I was making a pilgrimage for both my aunt and myself.
This request is very timely. The peonies are early this year. My grandmother originally planted them around 1915-1920 in Chicago. I remember carrying bunches to school with the fragrance pouring into my heart. These same plants have moved with me to Skokie. I treasure them.
The garden’s silence
I reach for her peonies
An ant soothes my hand
Finally, Michael Dylan Welch didn’t send a haiku, but a message that might interest a lot of haikuists:
I can’t resist saying cherry trees and their blossoms. And now, would be a perfect time to enter the Haiku Invitational on the subject of cherry blossoms for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. The deadline is June 4. You are free to enter up to two haiku. Info is at http://www.vcbf.ca and click the Haiku links.
Copyright 2012 by Charlotte Digregorio.