Learning and writing haikuWritten by George Ellison
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Lots of people write haikus or haiku-like verse. This past year we had several haiku-writing fests at our house. House rules during Lands Creek haiku fests are that each haiku must be of three lines with a 5-7-5 syllabic structure.
More wine was consumed than haikus produced. And as the evenings wore on the quality descended. But it was great fun and interesting to see how individual minds worked as they tried to turn out reasonable verse in a group setting. Han Shan would have laughed until his sides split. Some pretty good widely-published poets (I won’t name names) cranked out some miserable haiku that has been confiscated by the authorities.
Here are the Dec. 11, 2011, first- and second-place winners, which aren’t all that bad. Nothing qualified for third place.
still catching late sun
Uncle Luther Hyde’s old place
above the creek bend
cold December day
counting syllables with wine
ground hard as haiku
Kids like haiku a lot and have nimble minds, which is a plus. When our granddaughter, Daisy (11 years old), was visiting from Colorado last summer, we had a 20 or so minute haiku-writing session each evening after supper and put together a hand-bound gathering we call The Suppertime Poems. Here’s one of hers:
in the rainy mist
silent wolves moved down the ridges
always out of sight
She counted “ridges” as one syllable, which I would have, too. Here’s another one of Daisy’s:
sittin’ here waitin’
iron griddle & hot butter
cornbread on my mind
And I like this one that we wrote together. It’s a riddle (the answers to the three riddles in this column are on below in a box):
perched along the river
dark angels with outspread wings
waiting for the light
Writing haiku is therapeutic, especially when composed in a Mead composition book. I prefer the wide-ruled 100-sheet 9¾-by-7 black-and-silver model #09918 designed by Jackson Pollock … especially those with the inside back covers featuring the multiplication tables (9-by-7 has been a lifelong difficulty) and the differences between lay and lie (another problem area) … not a journal … not a diary … no dates … no themes … mostly illegible pages decorated with mustard stains and bottle rings. Here’s the second riddle from my magic composition book:
weathered board monarch
frozen sky-tailed in the sun
dark crack slither gone
And the third riddle:
rocks without mortar
framing pathways with quiet care
Answers: (1) buzzards; (2) a skink; & (3) CCC work.