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Thread: How to Haiku 3: writing haiku

  1. #1

    How to Haiku 3: writing haiku

    You Zen folk have a head start on this! Haiku often take images from nature and compare them to Buddhist concepts of impermanence and other notions. This is the case in Basho’s poem which reflects both the futility of war and the fact that once proud warriors grow old even if they do not fall in battle.

    There is an importance of observing tiny details in nature and life and combining what is happening to trees, plants and animals with what is going on in your own life. The reflection of inner and outer worlds is often what gives a haiku its power and poignancy.

    So, please, give it a try and write a few poems. Spend some time in silence, preferably in nature, if only your garden, and see what images come up. Note them down and see if they suggest a verse. You can also write from imagination but direct experience in the moment is great and fits with our Zen practice.
    I will try and comment on as many as I can. My one rule is NO 5-7-5. This is to get away from syllable counting.

    Here are a few more examples to give you an idea of what we are aiming at. The fragment and phrase should be clear in each:

    begging bowl
    a crack in the pavement
    grows dandelions

    -- Kokuu

    snow melt
    the village overflows
    with children

    -- Kobayashi Issa

    summer’s end
    the numbness
    returns

    -- Helen Buckingham

    my hut in spring
    there is nothing in it
    there is everything

    -- Sodō

    Bermuda triangle the mystery in your touch

    -- Tim Gardiner

    mountain pheasant
    treading on its tail
    spring’s setting sun

    -- Yosa Buson

    These are some of my other favourite poems from modern and traditional writers: https://yearinhaiku.wordpress.com/favourite-haiku/

    Suggested reading
    Haiku techniques
    Fragment and phrase theory
    Zen and the Art of Haiku
    Writing and Enjoying Haiku (book)
    A Zen Wave by Robert Aitken (Rinzai Buddhist teacher Robert Aitken, who wrote The Mind of Clover that we use in precept study, looks at the haiku poetry of Matsuo Basho from a Zen perspective)

    You can find more books and articles on my haiku website.
    Last edited by Kokuu; 04-03-2019 at 12:45 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  2. #2
    Thank you Kokuu!! Wonderful teachings that make it sound doable. I'm looking forward to practicing and reading everyone else's efforts here.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  3. #3

    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  4. #4
    Summer rain outside
    Indoor cat
    Purring loudly

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)

  5. #5
    Here's a few I wrote last week; am I doing it right?

    shortening days
    crows pick at fallen grains of wheat
    thunderstorm surprises even birds

    fading light cooling air
    breeze blows scent of ripe cabbage
    lights go off in farmer’s house

    bees on the birdbath
    take respite
    from the heavy August swelter

    in the heat of summer
    even the river
    slows down

    tall pine tree
    casts shadows on twittering tits
    cooling hot summer sun

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----
    I know nothing.

  6. #6
    Hi Kirk!

    Nice efforts! In general I would say that you are trying to fit too much in. Take 17 syllables as an upper maximum and try just to use two images rather than more.

    Then take out any excess words that are not required.

    This one is pretty close:

    in the heat of summer
    even the river
    slows down

    Two images that add to each other nicely! The river is slower as it is dry and also brings in that human element of being slower in the heat.

    My only improvement would be to shorten the first line, and maybe the third:

    summer heat
    even the river
    slows

    As an extra, you could even draw out the third line:

    summer heat
    even the river
    s l o w s

    Here are some great images, you just need to pick between them:

    shortening days
    crows pick at fallen grains of wheat
    thunderstorm surprises even birds

    e.g.

    shortening days
    the last grains of wheat
    crow by crow

    crows
    among the field stubble
    first clap of thunder


    These are not great haiku but just off the top of my head.

    If you read some contemporary haiku (these are from a recent issue of the British Haiku Society journal, Blithe Spirit), you will get a feel of how things are done:

    winter
    rooks cross the sky
    into evening

    picking up the tempo
    on her lemon yellow banjo
    winter rain

    looking at the house
    we didn't buy
    cold winter sun

    Stardust and many other journals are published online and free to read: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1k8M...PGXrcibS0/view


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  7. #7
    Member Getchi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Between Sea and Sky, Australia.
    The waterfall here,
    has never ceased.
    Where do I begin?

    SatToday
    LaH
    Groff
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

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