A friend posted something about the bygone days of haiku email lists, the days when there were hundreds of posts a day and long long haiku chains with dozens of authors contributing. He did not wax eloquent about the harsh criticism that many haiku received, but that was part of the picture as well. And, although the criticism was not as much fun as the play, it did serve to refine our haiku.
Anyway, this calls to mind Tim Russell's haiku exercise, one that many
of us found useful.
In the old days on the shiki list, we were trying to write in the style
of shiki. So haiku were to be two concrete images, with a break and a
seasonal reference. There was much discussion of kireji (which I am
translating rather loosely as “break”) and kigo (seasonal reference).
Haiku were to be drawn from one moment in time, and sketched from life
like a watercolour painting (shasei).
Tim had an exercise, one that could be useful to keep our minds limber
for when a haiku moment seized us by the throats. It's a very simple
exercise, one that yields 10 shasei a day.
First, pick the month or season and some aspect of it to be the short
part of the days' exercise:
Next, take a notebook and a pencil and go for a stroll or sit on a bench
Notice something. Write it down. Turn your head in a different direction
or stroll a little further. Notice something else and write it down.
Continue until you have 10 longer parts of the haiku:
a boy picking scabs on the steps
a calico cat crouched on the car's hood
the spent blossoms of the lily-of-the-nile
a cacophony of birdsong
a heavy tread coming up the steps
oak moths mating in the bathroom
a stack of plates by the dishwasher
dust on the stack of summer reading
i try to take a sip from an empty teacup
wild cucumber tangled in the redwood
Now combine them:
a boy picking scabs
on the steps
a calico cat crouched
on the car's hood
the spent blossoms
of the lily-of-the-nile
a heavy tread coming
up the steps
oak moths mating
in the bathroom
a stack of plates
by the dishwasher
dust on the stack
of summer reading
i try to take a sip
from an empty teacup
wild cucumber tangled
in the redwood
In Tim's exercise, you now put these things away.
Do 10 more tomorrow.
14 September 2011