Haiku

Ideas in Creative Writing – Haiku Construction

An Exercise in Haiku

Writing Haiku Poems

Write a Haiku

Richard Wright’s Five Haikus

Write ABC, Haiku, Quatrain and Concrete Poems

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HAIKU for PEOPLE

since 1995.

What is Haiku?

Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The term hokku literally means “starting verse”, and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known as haika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikai poetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain.

Largely through the efforts of Masaoka Shiki, this independence was formally established in the 1890s through the creation of the term haiku. This new form of poetry was to be written, read and understood as an independent poem, complete in itself, rather than part of a longer chain.

Strictly speaking, then, the history of haiku begins only in the last years of the 19th century. The famous verses of such Edo-period (1600-1868) masters as Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa are properly referred to as hokku and must be placed in the perspective of the history of haikai even though they are now generally read as independent haiku. In HAIKU for PEOPLE, both terms will be treated equally! The distinction between hokku and haiku can be handled by using the terms Classical Haiku and Modern Haiku.

Modern Haiku.

The history of the modern haiku dates from Masaoka Shiki’s reform, begun in 1892, which established haiku as a new independent poetic form. Shiki’s reform did not change two traditional elements of haiku: the division of 17 syllables into three groups of 5, 7, and 5 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal theme.

Kawahigashi Hekigoto carried Shiki’s reform further with two proposals:

  • Haiku would be truer to reality if there were no center of interest in it.
  • The importance of the poet’s first impression, just as it was, of subjects taken from daily life, and of local colour to create freshness.
  • How to write Haiku

    In Japanese, the rules for how to write Haiku are clear, and will not be discussed here. In foreign languages, there exist NO consensus in how to write Haiku-poems. Anyway, let’s take a look at the basic knowledge:

    What to write about?

    Haiku-poems can describe almost anything, but you seldom find themes which are too complicated for normal PEOPLE’s recognition and understanding. Some of the most thrilling Haiku-poems describe daily situations in a way that gives the reader a brand new experience of a well-known situation.

    The metrical pattern of Haiku

    Haiku-poems consist of respectively 5, 7 and 5 syllables in three units. In Japanese, this convention is a must, but in English, which has variation in the length of syllables, this can sometimes be difficult.

    The technique of cutting.

    The cutting divides the Haiku into two parts, with a certain imaginative distance between the two sections, but the two sections must remain, to a degree, independent of each other. Both sections must enrich the understanding of the other.

    To make this cutting in English, either the first or the second line ends normally with a colon, long dash or ellipsis.

    The seasonal theme.

    Each Haiku must contain a kigo, a season word, which indicate in which season the Haiku is set. For example, cherry blossoms indicate spring, snow indicate winter, and mosquitoes indicate summer, but the season word isn’t always that obvious.

    Please notice that Haiku-poems are written under different rules and in many languages. For translated Haiku-poems, the translator must decide whether he should obey the rules strictly, or if he should present the exact essence of the Haiku. For Haiku-poems originally written in English, the poet should be more careful. These are the difficulties, and the pleasure of Haiku.

    Haiku

    FRAGMENT AND PHRASE THEORY

    Jane ReichholdThe fact that the smallest literary form – haiku – has the most rules never ceases to amaze and astound. The only real comfort one can find in this situation is the concept that this affords a wider range of rules from which a writer can pick and choose. You cannot follow all of the rules and several of them are so contradictory that there is no way to honor them both at once. You must always choose. In order to make a choice, you have to understand the reasons and methods. To write about one or two ‘rules’ as if these are the ‘real rules’ could (and should!) easily offend those of the society membership who have chosen to follow opposite or other guidelines. So let me make the disclaimer that in discussing these rules I am only discussing some of the current disciplines I am following in my own haiku writing and which are currently shared by a majority of writers. First and foremost, and certainly the guideline which I have consciously or unconsciously followed the longest, is the one that a haiku must be divided into two parts. This is the positive side of the rule that haiku should not be a run-on sentence. There needs to be a syntactical break dividing the ku into two parts. From the Japanese language examples this meant that one line (5 onji) was separated from the rest by either grammar or punctuation (in the Japanese an accepted sound-word – kireji – was as if we said or wrote out “dash” or “comma”). For purposes of this discussion, I would like to call the shorter portion, the fragment and the longer portion, or rest of the poem, the phrase. The need for distinguishing between the two parts of the ku takes on importance when one begins to discuss the use of articles (a, an, & the) because it is possible to have different rules concerning the different parts. Before getting into that, let me state that the fragment can be (or usually is) either line # one or line # three. A clear example of the first is:
    rain gusts
    the electricity goes
    on and off

    Even without punctuation the reader can hear and feel the break between the fragment (rain gusts) and the phrase (the electricity goes on and off). Also one instinctively feels that the second line break would go after goes. Yet, another author may find merit in continuing the line to read “the electricity goes on” and then let the final line bring in the dropped shoe – “and off”. I chose to have “on and off” as the third line because my goal was to establish an association between “rain gusts” and “on and off”. One can write of many qualities of “rain gusts”, but in this ku, the “on and off” aspect is brought forward and then reinforced by bringing in the power of electricity. An example of the fragment found in the third line is often used as answer when creating a riddle (a valid and well-used haiku technique) as in:
    a vegetarian
    with legs crossed in zazen
    the roasting chicken

    It is also possible to write ku in which the reader would have to decide which part was the fragment by combining either lines # one with # two or reading lines # two and # three together to make the phrase. An example might be:
    moonlit pines
    dimming
    the flashlight

    But even here, the fact that “moonlit pines” is not written as ‘the moonlit pines’ tells one that the author was silently designating the first line as the fragment even though the middle line has its own curious brevity. Still the lack of punctuation allows the reader to try out the thought that as the moonlight in the pines became dimmer someone had to turn on a flashlight. Or, reading the poem as it was experienced: the moonlight on the pines was so bright the flashlight seemed to be getting dimmer. This brings us around to the articles and you may have already guessed the next guideline for using them. In the fragment you can often dispense with the use of an article to leave the noun stand alone. Sometimes you can even erase the preposition from the fragment especially if you are feeling that you will scream if you read one more haiku which begins with “in the garden”. This guideline asks sensitivity. It is not a hard and fast rule. But during the revising stage of writing your ku, it is something to try. Cover up the preposition and the article in the fragment and see if the ku holds together. Perhaps it will even get stronger! If you feel the article and preposition are needed, then by all means, use them. Do whatever works for your voice. In the ‘roasted chicken’ ku I debated about leaving the articles out, but decided I felt the ku needed the ‘grease to the wheels of understanding’ of the articles. But if you are seeking to shorten the ku, look first to the fragment as you cross out unneeded words. However, one cannot follow the same ‘rule’ in writing the phrase portion of the ku. Sometimes critics make the comment in a workshop that a haiku is ‘choppy’. What they are referring to is the feeling that at the end of each line the break in syntax is final. The two lines of the phrase are not hooked together in a flow of grammar and meaning. Notice the difference between:
    low winter sun
    raspberry leaves
    red and green

    If to this ‘grocery list ku’ we add a preposition and an article we get:
    low winter sun
    in the raspberry leaves
    red and green

    It pays to be aware of which two lines you wish to make into the phrase. It helps to read the two lines of a ku which are to become your phrase out loud to see how they sound in your mouth and ears. If there is a too-clear break between the lines, ask yourself if you need an article or an article plus a preposition to be inserted. If you do, forget brevity and allow yourself the lyric pleasure of a smooth shift between these two lines. If I had chosen to make the first line the fragment I would write the ku as:
    low winter sun
    raspberry leaves glow
    red and green

    Adding a verb gives the proper grammatical flow between lines two and three. If one added ‘in the’ to the first line, the ku would read as ‘in the low winter sun raspberry leaves glow red and green’ which, to my ears would be a run-on sentence. One other variation on this subject is the haiku in which the break occurs in the middle of the second line. Often one finds this in translations of Basho’s haikai taken out of context from a renga. Basically you have a two-liner set into three lines. Occasionally one will find an English haiku written in this manner. Again, it is often ‘rescued’ out of a renga or written by people using 5-7-5 syllable count who end up with too many images as in this example from Borrowed Water edited by Helen Chenoweth in 1966 who wrote:
    A cricket disturbed
    the sleeping child; on the porch
    a man smoked and smiled.

    If the comment above sounds too critical of the use of the break in the middle of the second line, let me add that this method becomes very interesting if one is working with parallels. Perhaps that is what Helen was noticing – the difference between the sleeping child and man on the porch. Parallels were learned by the Japanese from the Chinese and often used successfully in haiku and tanka.

    Those persons using punctuation in their ku, will often find themselves making a dash after the fragment and hopefully nothing, not even a comma in the middle of the phrase, even if there is a breath of the possibility of one. Sometimes, the haiku sounds like a run-on sentence because the author is too lazy to rewrite the fragment clearly and thus, has to add a dash forcing the reader into the obligatory break. For me, this is a red flag that the writer either did not believe in the “haiku has two parts” rule or didn’t stay with the rewrite long enough to solve the problem properly. Frankly, I see most punctuation as a cop-out. Almost any ku written as a run-on sentence (with or without its dash) can be rewritten so that the grammar syntax forms the proper breaks. Or the author forms places where the reader can decide where to make the break and thus, give the haiku additional meaning. From this philosophy, I view haiku with punctuation as haiku which perhaps fail to fit this basic form. Some writers, unable, or unwilling to understand the use of fragment and phrase will write the ku in one line. If the author has a well developed feeling for fragment and phrase, the grammar will expose which is which. In these cases, my feeling is – why not write the ku in the three lines it ‘shows’ by the way it sounds. Occasionally a haiku is written that is so full of possible divisions into what is the fragment or the phrase that writing it in one line is the only way that offers the reader the complete freedom to find the breaks. And with each new arrangement the meaning of the poem varies. An example would be:

    mountain heart in the stone mountain tunnel light

    Over the years I gradually gave up (and easily abandoned) the dashes, semi-colons, commas and periods in order to incorporate ambiguity in the ku, but it has been hard for me to let go of the question mark – which is rather silly, as it is so clear from the grammar that a question is being asked. Still, and yet . . . I mention this, so new-comers to haiku understand that rules are not written in stone, but something each of us has to work out for ourselves. It is an on-going job and one I hope will never end. The usual way we find new ‘rules’ is by reading the work of others and deciding for ourselves what works as a ku or what we admire. Consciously or unconsciously we begin to imitate the style that ‘rule’ creates. Usually we stay with a ‘rule’ until we find a new one to replace it. Because there are so many rules, we all have different set with which we are working. By carefully reading a magazine like Frogpond, you can see which ‘rules’ the editor is accepting by the haiku printed. That does not mean ‘this’ is the only way to write a haiku. You need to make the decision: are those a rules, goals or guidelines some I want for myself? This thought is much more gentle to the Universe than saying some haiku are good and others are bad. There is, thank goodness, no one way to write a haiku. Though the literature has haiku which we admire and even model our own works on, there is no one style or technique which is absolutely the best. Haiku is too large for that. Haiku has, in its short history been explored and expanded by writers so that now we have a fairly wide range of styles, techniques and methods to investigate. Personally, I would prefer more discussions of these techniques using riddles, associations, contrasts, oneness, sense-switching, narrowing focus, metaphor and simile (yes! judicially and in moderation), sketch (Shiki’s shasei), double entendre, close linkage, leap linkage, pure objectivism, and more, rather than the mysterious idea that if one has a true haiku moment the resulting ku will be an excellent haiku. This is pure rot. The experience is necessary and valid (and probably the best part of the haiku path), but writing is writing is skill and a craft to be learned. Techniques are methods of achieving a known goal in writing. They are something to learn and then forget as Basho has already told us. But once you learn them you will understand why some haiku ‘work’ for you and others do not. It also prepares you to instinctively use the best technique for each of your haiku experiences.

    Perhaps, nothing is absolute in haiku. Like life, haiku require learning, experience and balance. I hope today you have learned a bit more of one technique – the use of fragment and phrase. Blessed Be!

    Jane Reichhold

    The fact that the smallest literary form – haiku – has the most rules never ceases to amaze and astound. The only real comfort one can find in this situation is the concept that this affords a wider range of rules from which a writer can pick and choose. You cannot follow all of the rules and several of them are so contradictory that there is no way to honor them both at once. You must always choose. In order to make a choice, you have to understand the reasons and methods.

    To write about one or two ‘rules’ as if these are the ‘real rules’ could (and should!) easily offend those of the society membership who have chosen to follow opposite or other guidelines. So let me make the disclaimer that in discussing these rules I am only discussing some of the current disciplines I am following in my own haiku writing and which are currently shared by a majority of writers.

    First and foremost, and certainly the guideline which I have consciously or unconsciously followed the longest, is the one that a haiku must be divided into two parts. This is the positive side of the rule that haiku should not be a run-on sentence. There needs to be a syntactical break dividing the ku into two parts. From the Japanese language examples this meant that one line (5 onji) was separated from the rest by either grammar or punctuation (in the Japanese an accepted sound-word – kireji – was as if we said or wrote out “dash” or “comma”).

    For purposes of this discussion, I would like to call the shorter portion, the fragment and the longer portion, or rest of the poem, the phrase.

    The need for distinguishing between the two parts of the ku takes on importance when one begins to discuss the use of articles (a, an, & the) because it is possible to have different rules concerning the different parts. Before getting into that, let me state that the fragment can be (or usually is) either line # one or line # three. A clear example of the first is:
    rain gusts
    the electricity goes
    on and off

    Even without punctuation the reader can hear and feel the break between the fragment (rain gusts) and the phrase (the electricity goes on and off). Also one instinctively feels that the second line break would go after goes. Yet, another author may find merit in continuing the line to read “the electricity goes on” and then let the final line bring in the dropped shoe – “and off”. I chose to have “on and off” as the third line because my goal was to establish an association between “rain gusts” and “on and off”. One can write of many qualities of “rain gusts”, but in this ku, the “on and off” aspect is brought forward and then reinforced by bringing in the power of electricity.

    An example of the fragment found in the third line is often used as answer when creating a riddle (a valid and well-used haiku technique) as in:
    a vegetarian
    with legs crossed in zazen
    the roasting chicken

    It is also possible to write ku in which the reader would have to decide which part was the fragment by combining either lines # one with # two or reading lines # two and # three together to make the phrase. An example might be:
    moonlit pines
    dimming
    the flashlight

    But even here, the fact that “moonlit pines” is not written as ‘the moonlit pines’ tells one that the author was silently designating the first line as the fragment even though the middle line has its own curious brevity. Still the lack of punctuation allows the reader to try out the thought that as the moonlight in the pines became dimmer someone had to turn on a flashlight. Or, reading the poem as it was experienced: the moonlight on the pines was so bright the flashlight seemed to be getting dimmer.

    This brings us around to the articles and you may have already guessed the next guideline for using them. In the fragment you can often dispense with the use of an article to leave the noun stand alone. Sometimes you can even erase the preposition from the fragment especially if you are feeling that you will scream if you read one more haiku which begins with “in the garden”. This guideline asks sensitivity. It is not a hard and fast rule. But during the revising stage of writing your ku, it is something to try. Cover up the preposition and the article in the fragment and see if the ku holds together. Perhaps it will even get stronger! If you feel the article and preposition are needed, then by all means, use them. Do whatever works for your voice. In the ‘roasted chicken’ ku I debated about leaving the articles out, but decided I felt the ku needed the ‘grease to the wheels of understanding’ of the articles. But if you are seeking to shorten the ku, look first to the fragment as you cross out unneeded words.

    However, one cannot follow the same ‘rule’ in writing the phrase portion of the ku. Sometimes critics make the comment in a workshop that a haiku is ‘choppy’. What they are referring to is the feeling that at the end of each line the break in syntax is final. The two lines of the phrase are not hooked together in a flow of grammar and meaning. Notice the difference between:
    low winter sun
    raspberry leaves
    red and green

    If to this ‘grocery list ku’ we add a preposition and an article we get:
    low winter sun
    in the raspberry leaves
    red and green

    It pays to be aware of which two lines you wish to make into the phrase. It helps to read the two lines of a ku which are to become your phrase out loud to see how they sound in your mouth and ears. If there is a too-clear break between the lines, ask yourself if you need an article or an article plus a preposition to be inserted. If you do, forget brevity and allow yourself the lyric pleasure of a smooth shift between these two lines. If I had chosen to make the first line the fragment I would write the ku as:
    low winter sun
    raspberry leaves glow
    red and green

    Adding a verb gives the proper grammatical flow between lines two and three. If one added ‘in the’ to the first line, the ku would read as ‘in the low winter sun raspberry leaves glow red and green’ which, to my ears would be a run-on sentence.

    One other variation on this subject is the haiku in which the break occurs in the middle of the second line. Often one finds this in translations of Basho’s haikai taken out of context from a renga. Basically you have a two-liner set into three lines. Occasionally one will find an English haiku written in this manner. Again, it is often ‘rescued’ out of a renga or written by people using 5-7-5 syllable count who end up with too many images as in this example from Borrowed Water edited by Helen Chenoweth in 1966 who wrote:

    A cricket disturbed
    the sleeping child; on the porch
    a man smoked and smiled.

    If the comment above sounds too critical of the use of the break in the middle of the second line, let me add that this method becomes very interesting if one is working with parallels. Perhaps that is what Helen was noticing – the difference between the sleeping child and man on the porch. Parallels were learned by the Japanese from the Chinese and often used successfully in haiku and tanka.

    Those persons using punctuation in their ku, will often find themselves making a dash after the fragment and hopefully nothing, not even a comma in the middle of the phrase, even if there is a breath of the possibility of one. Sometimes, the haiku sounds like a run-on sentence because the author is too lazy to rewrite the fragment clearly and thus, has to add a dash forcing the reader into the obligatory break.

    For me, this is a red flag that the writer either did not believe in the “haiku has two parts” rule or didn’t stay with the rewrite long enough to solve the problem properly. Frankly, I see most punctuation as a cop-out. Almost any ku written as a run-on sentence (with or without its dash) can be rewritten so that the grammar syntax forms the proper breaks. Or the author forms places where the reader can decide where to make the break and thus, give the haiku additional meaning. From this philosophy, I view haiku with punctuation as haiku which perhaps fail to fit this basic form. Some writers, unable, or unwilling to understand the use of fragment and phrase will write the ku in one line. If the author has a well developed feeling for fragment and phrase, the grammar will expose which is which. In these cases, my feeling is – why not write the ku in the three lines it ‘shows’ by the way it sounds.

    Occasionally a haiku is written that is so full of possible divisions into what is the fragment or the phrase that writing it in one line is the only way that offers the reader the complete freedom to find the breaks. And with each new arrangement the meaning of the poem varies. An example would be:

    mountain heart in the stone mountain tunnel light

    Over the years I gradually gave up (and easily abandoned) the dashes, semi-colons, commas and periods in order to incorporate ambiguity in the ku, but it has been hard for me to let go of the question mark – which is rather silly, as it is so clear from the grammar that a question is being asked. Still, and yet . . . I mention this, so new-comers to haiku understand that rules are not written in stone, but something each of us has to work out for ourselves. It is an on-going job and one I hope will never end.

    The usual way we find new ‘rules’ is by reading the work of others and deciding for ourselves what works as a ku or what we admire. Consciously or unconsciously we begin to imitate the style that ‘rule’ creates. Usually we stay with a ‘rule’ until we find a new one to replace it. Because there are so many rules, we all have different set with which we are working. By carefully reading a magazine like Frogpond, you can see which ‘rules’ the editor is accepting by the haiku printed. That does not mean ‘this’ is the only way to write a haiku.

    You need to make the decision: are those a rules, goals or guidelines some I want for myself? This thought is much more gentle to the Universe than saying some haiku are good and others are bad.

    There is, thank goodness, no one way to write a haiku. Though the literature has haiku which we admire and even model our own works on, there is no one style or technique which is absolutely the best. Haiku is too large for that. Haiku has, in its short history been explored and expanded by writers so that now we have a fairly wide range of styles, techniques and methods to investigate.

    Personally, I would prefer more discussions of these techniques using riddles, associations, contrasts, oneness, sense-switching, narrowing focus, metaphor and simile (yes! judicially and in moderation), sketch (Shiki’s shasei), double entendre, close linkage, leap linkage, pure objectivism, and more, rather than the mysterious idea that if one has a true haiku moment the resulting ku will be an excellent haiku. This is pure rot. The experience is necessary and valid (and probably the best part of the haiku path), but writing is writing is skill and a craft to be learned.

    Techniques are methods of achieving a known goal in writing. They are something to learn and then forget as Basho has already told us. But once you learn them you will understand why some haiku ‘work’ for you and others do not. It also prepares you to instinctively use the best technique for each of your haiku experiences.

    Perhaps, nothing is absolute in haiku. Like life, haiku require learning, experience and balance. I hope today you have learned a bit more of one technique – the use of fragment and phrase. Blessed Be!

    HAIKU RULES THAT HAVE COME AND GONE

    Take Your Pick

    Jane Reichhold

    Haiku, which seem so light, free and spontaneous, are built on discipline. If you’ve a desire to write haiku, you are manifesting a desire for a few more rules in your life. And rules aren’t bad as long as they are your rules for your work.

    You’ve heard Robert Frost’s saying poetry without rules is like a tennis match without a net and it is true also for haiku. And Basho had his motto: “Learn the rules; and then forget them.”

    But first he said, “Learn the rules.” If you are at that stage of the game (we are all, at all times, students), here are some old and new rules. You can’t physically follow all of these, because they conflict, but among them I would hope you’d pick a set just for you. Then write down your thoughts, impressions, and feelings while following your own rules.

    As soon as you get proficient (you will notice your haiku all sound alike) it’s time to raise the tennis net by picking a new rule or so, either from this list or one you’ve made up from reading and admiring other haiku, or, and this is possible and not treason, from other poetry genre.

    Here we go:
    1. Seventeen syllables in one line.
    2. Seventeen syllables written in three lines.
    3. Seventeen syllables written in three lines divided into 5-7-5.
    4. Seventeen syllables written in a vertical (flush left or centered) line.
    5. Less than 17 syllables written in three lines as short-long-short.
    6. Less than 17 syllables written in three vertical lines as short-long-short. (Ala Barry Semegran)
    7. Write what can be said in one breath.
    8. Use a season word (kigo) or seasonal reference.
    9. Use a caesura at the end of either the first or second line, but not at both.
    10. Never have all three lines make a complete or run-on sentence.
    11. Have two images that are only comparative when illuminated by the third image. Example: spirit in retreat / cleaning first the black stove / and washing my hands
    12. Have two images that are only associative when illuminated by the third image. Example: fire-white halo / at the moment of eclipse / I notice your face
    13. Have two images that are only in contrast when illuminated by the third image. Example: two things ready / but not touching the space between / fire
    14. Always written in the present tense of here and now.
    15. Limited use (or non-use) of personal pronouns.
    16. Use of personal pronouns written in the lower case. Example: i am a . . .

    17. Eliminating all the possible uses of gerunds (ing endings on wording).
    18. Study and check on articles. Do you use too many the’s? too little? all the same in one poem or varied?
    19. Use of common sentence syntax in both phrases.
    20. Use of sentence fragments.
    21. Study the order in which the images are presented. First the wide-angle view, medium range and zoomed in close-up. (Thanks to George Price for this clarification!)
    22. Save the “punch line” for the end line.
    23. Work to find the most fascinating and eye-catching first lines.
    24. Just write about ordinary things in an ordinary way using ordinary language.
    25. Study Zen and let your haiku express the wordless way of making images.
    26. Study any religion or philosophy and let this echo in the background of your haiku.
    27. Use only concrete images.
    28. Invent lyrical expressions for the image.
    29. Attempt to have levels of meaning in the haiku. On the surface it is a set of simple images; underneath a philosophy or lesson of life.
    30. Use images that evoke simple rustic seclusion or accepted poverty. (sabi)
    31. Use images that evoke classical elegant separateness. (shubumi)
    32. Use images that evoke nostalgic romantic images. Austere beauty. (wabi)
    33. Use images that evoke a mysterious aloneness. (Yugen)
    34. Use of paradox.
    35. Use of puns and word plays.
    36. Write of the impossible in an ordinary way.
    37. Use of lofty or uplifting images. (No war, blatant sex, or crime)
    38. Telling it as it is in the real world around us.
    39. Use only images from nature. (No mention of humanity.)
    40. Mixing humans and nature in a haiku by relating a human feeling to an aspect of nature.
    41. Designation of humans a non-nature and giving all these non-nature haiku another name.
    42. Avoid all reference to yourself in the haiku.
    43. Refer to yourself obliquely as the poet, this old man, or with a personal pronoun.
    44. Use no punctuation for ambiguity.
    45. Use all normal sentence punctuation

    : = a full stop
    ; = a half stop or pause
    . . . = something left unsaid
    , = a slight pause
    — = saying the same thing in other words
    . = full stop

    46. Capitalize the first word of every line.
    47. Capitalize the first word only.
    48. Capitalize proper names according to English rules.
    49. All words in lower case.
    50. All words in upper case.
    51. Avoid rhymes.
    52. Rhyme last words in the first and third lines.
    53. Use rhymes in other places within the haiku.
    54. Use alliteration. Example by Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes: twitching tufted tail / a toasty, tawny tummy: / a tired tiger
    55. Use of words’ sounds to echo feeling.
    56. Always end the haiku with a noun.
    57. Write haiku only from an “ah-ha” moment.
    58. Use any inspiration as starting point to develop and write haiku. (These are known as desk haiku.)
    59. Avoid too many (or all) verbs.
    60. Cut out prepositions (in – on – at – among – between) whenever possible; especially in the short 1/3 phrase.
    61. Eliminate adverbs.
    62. Don’t use more than one modifier per noun. This use should be limited to the absolute sense of the haiku.
    63. Share your haiku by adding one at the close of your letters.
    64. Treat your haiku like poetry; it’s not a greeting card verse.
    65. Write down every haiku that comes to you. Even the bad ones. It may inspire the next one which will surely be better.

    *** This article was recently published in Romanian in the periodical for The Constanta Haiku Society — Albatross.

    Some Thoughts for Rethinking Haiku
    Jane Reichhold

    Reprinted from Mirrors, Summer 1989

    in place of the traditional article on how-to-write haiku, here are some questions. this is not a pop-psych test or a challenge to your values. one wonders sometimes about the wonder.

    the old think-tank
    another idea jumps into
    a sound mind

    bullet Should there be a better term for poetry written in English that is the result of admiration and emulation of haiku?
    bullet Is the so-called “haiku moment” any different from the seconds of inspiration that occur with other works of art?
    bullet It is traditional that a break occurs between the two phrases of a haiku; either after the first line or after the second. Do you miss this in haiku that read as a run-on sentence?
    bullet And haiku one-liners; how do you feel when you read them?
    bullet What about those where a break happens at the end of each line? Or the phrase breaks are mid-line?
    bullet Do you feel haiku need punctuation? If so, where and how much?
    bullet While reading haiku can you see a link between the images in each one? Are there two “poles”, pulling your mind in opposite directions before the “snap” of the spark that joins dissimilar things?
    bullet What makes a haiku different from other three-line short poems?
    bullet Do you miss a reference to nature or is that less important than the way the linkage works?
    bullet Do days go by when you are too busy to write haiku until a pressing deadline forces you to look! and there they are haiku all around you?
    bullet How often have you thought of a good haiku and neglected to write it down?
    bullet Do you miss the time you are not open, searching for the crack in the reality of this world where you can slip in to find haiku?
    bullet What activities bring you into a state of awareness where haiku occur?
    bullet Would you like to spend more of your day in that consciousness?
    bullet What can be changed to accomplish this?

    1991 Charles B. Dickson International Haiku Contest

    A Reading of the Prizewinners
    Lenard D. Moore

    ***This article is an except from a letter addressed to Rebecca Rust, the Founder and Contest Chairman of the North Carolina Haiku Society. Lenard D. Moore was the contest judge. The first place winner has declined to have her haiku printed in this article.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed judging the Charles B. Dickson Haiku Contest. I feel enriched from reading so many high quality haiku, which shows that organizations like the North Carolina Haiku Society and Haiku Society of America are in great demand to continue fostering the development of aspiring haiku writers. Nonetheless, here are the selections from the contest, along with comments:

    the rhythm
    of her old brown hands
    weaving thin wet reeds
    Elizabeth St Jacques

    At first reading this haiku may seem rather simple, but it shows a keen awareness. One can see the woman’s old brown hands weaving intricate patterns. Perhaps she’s weaving the reeds in a chair frame or bottom to make a chair. Like the old brown woman, the chair when completed will represent a sign of humanity. The measure of the lines give the rhythmical effect of the old woman’s brown hands as they weave. The alliteration of the “h’s,” “th’s,” and “w’s” hint at the usually harsh sound of reeds bending and rubbing together, though they give way to the wetness. One can see “her old brown hands” glistening like a baby’s skin. Like the “thin wet reed,” the woman’s old brown hands are probably thin. And not to be overlooked here is the fact that the reeds are as useful as the old brown hands.

    Road from Banbury
    a man spilled from his crushed car
    dead eyes full of rain
    Jane K. Lambert

    The somewhat eerie aspect of rain in dead eyes creates a somber mood. Also, one can see that nature (the rain) continues even though humanity becomes nonexistence in this particular scene. Banbury” implies that his road is leading from a particular place, though like the point of afterlife, one doesn’t know where it will end. It is possible that the road caused the man to wreck. And there are probably trees in this scene, which may be what crushed the man’s car. The useless or inactive car tends to keep with the lifelessness of the dead man, as the rain evokes dreariness on an autumn day. Autumn symbolizes aging or a nearing of death, which helps to strengthen the element of mystery in this haiku. This man’s eyes are open to the world, though he can’t see anything.

    CLINIC:
    on the walk a dead bee
    in the fetal position

    Helen J. Sherry

    The image that comes to mind is a young lady leaving an abortion clinic, her head held down with a feeling of guilt. She glances at the sidewalk to see “a dead bee in the fetal position.” Imagine the perplexed look on her face. Once can see the contrast of a dead bee in the fetal position. Dead suggests no activity of lifelessness, whereas fetal position hints at the forming of a living thing or something that already has some form of life. Also, one can see the sadness of the persona in this haiku. Not to be overlooked is the fact that there’s probably natural life greening or blossoming, especially since bees are usually associated with Spring. However, the poet’s handling of simplicity makes this haiku quite deceptive.

    open boxcar doors:
    the evening sun slips
    into a swarm of gnats

    James Chessing

    Boxcar doors aren’t a usual subject in haiku, but the poet has used them in a fresh way. The boxcar is probably empty of its freight. Yet it is full of sunlight and a thick cloud of gnats swarming in the openness. How the sunlight illuminates the gnats. The gnats evoke Summer heat. And the intensity of the heat is perhaps the reason the boxcar doors are open. The time aspect is clearly defined with “the evening sun.” This outlook scene is well-depicted and shows very good awareness when so much else is happening in the natural world. The speaker seems surprised by this moment, allowing his senses to tune in to what’s happening. Perhaps the particulars that the poet has rendered imply that life is circular: a swarm of gnats, and the fullness of the sun.

    That Lovable Old Issa
    Earle Joshua Stone

    Much has been written about the two famous Japanese poets, Buson and Basho, however, we seldom find any extended writing about the third and extremely important poet, Issa. His name is derived from the Japanese word ichi, meaning ‘one’, and cha, meaning ‘tea’, which are shortened to the name Issa. This quaint old poet was born in a farmhouse in the ancient village of Kashiwabara in 1763.

    Issa had a very sad life and finally died in a storage house or ‘go-down’ in 1827. He is indicated as one of the queerest and gentlest, while still most lovable of the seventeen-syllable poets Japan has ever produced. His full name was Kobayashi Tataro, which he used until he started writing serious poetry. At that time he changed his name to Issa.

    Issa had lived a very lonely life after his mother died when he has was two. He lived with relatives after that time, but his early verses show that he was still an extremely lonesome young man. Tradition records that at about the age of six years his loneliness was reflected in his poetry Ware to kite asobeya oya no nai suzume which translates to:

    Come over with me
    and together let’s play
    Oh, motherless sparrow.

    Living this somewhat solitary life, he spent time with various members of his family until he was thirteen years of age, at which time his father decided to kick him out into the world, and he walked to old Yedo, which is now Tokyo.

    He lived about eleven years in Edo, spending his time in a temple, and little is heard of him until he was about twenty-four, when he began to write serious poetry. Issa returned to his hometown when he was about 38 years old. From that time on he travelled back and forth between his hometown and Yedo and tried to make himself acceptable to his family. They didn’t receive him kindly or even invite him into their homes, so that by the time he was forty-nine he decided to leave the area permanently.

    His sadness at this rejection is reflected in this poem: Furusato ya yoru mo sawaru mo bara no hana.

    My native village
    on approach and to the touch
    a bramble rose
    .

    When he was fifty he decided to return to Kashiwabara to settle down. He married a twenty-eight year old woman with whom he had five children. However, all of these children died. When the last one, a little girl died, he wrote, Tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara.

    World like a dewdrop
    though it’s only a dewdrop
    even so, even so.

    At the age of sixty-two, Issa married a third wife, having lost all of his previous wives and their children. Apparently this younger woman was a taxation on his health and strength, and did nothing to enhance his life. Continually dogged by ill-fortunes, his house burned down when he was 64, when he wrote the following poem: Hotarubi mo amaseba iyahaya kore wa haya.

    Even a firefly’s fire
    if increased, heaven help us!
    Well, well, heaven help us!

    Being without a residence, and his relatives not wishing him to return to them, probably not even recognizing him at this late age, he moved into the go-down warehouse of a friend in Kashiwabara. In 1827 he had another serious stroke from which he subsequently died. His last verse, written as he was dying was: Tarai kara tarai ni utsuru chimpunkan.

    From infant bathtub
    to burial tub changing
    This utter nonsense!

    Old writing about Issa informs us that in his later years in Kashiwabara, he had built a small meditation hut on the hillside near Maruyama station. The hill later became a public park on which a small meditation temple was built and called Haikai-ji (playful composition temple), named after Issa’s old hut. (So haiku was a game!)

    Near the Meisen-ji temple cemetery is Issa’s grave with a large and a small stone on it. The large stone has an inscription describing his importance to the community and the world, and the small stone, placed there in 1927, a hundred years after his death, was a memorial to him and his verses and other writings, which had been collected by his admirers. At that time Japan was filled with books written in praise of this wonderful old man.

    Issa was known for his sympathetic attitude towards the less fortunate ones around him, including the wildlife in his environment. Once in his wanderings Issa observed a frog fighting with a number of other frogs. He wrote this little poem of encouragement to that creature: Yase gaeru makeru na Issa koko ni ari.

    You skinny frog, you
    don’t be beaten, don’t give up!
    Here stands Issa by you.

    One cool night in August, Issa was turning over in bed when he observed a cricket trying to get under the blankets to get warm. That prompted him to write this poem: Nekaeri wo suru zo waki yori kirigirisu.

    I’m turning over
    look out and give me room there
    you cricket, you.

    Still another amusing incident encouraged him to write: Yare utsu na hai ga te wo suri ashi wo suru.

    Wait! Don’t strike that fly!
    he’s wringing his hands there
    and wringing his feet
    .

    Anyone who has ever observed a fly at close range has seen this humorous action of the fly rubbing its forefeet together, and then the hind feet, which indeed appears to be a wringing of the hands in expectation of a blow.

    While Issa was very young, he saw his father carrying luggage on what was then called the Hokkoku Kaido, or the North Country Roadway. We know that the daimyo with their long colorful entourage used this road to Edo from about 1611. Nojiri was one of the stations along the foot-highway, and was one of the eight important stopping places along the base of the mountain.

    The richest daimyo in Japan at that time, Lord Kaga, travelled this road and part of Issa’s father’s job was to assist in the carrying of Lord Kaga’s luggage. While he made the trip every year, Lord Kaga’s train was so long that it never stopped passing through the village from one year’s end to the next. Issa wrote many poems about happenings during this spectacle. One is: Umebachi no dai chochin ya kasumi kara.

    Great bulging lanterns
    with crests on them of open plum
    come out of the mist.

    The open plum blossoms of the crests was the jo-mon of Lord Kaga and appeared on all of his luggage and pennants.

    One of the humorous poems that Issa wrote while observing the birds of the neighborhood on the road, picking at the horse droppings, is: Suzume no ko soko noke, soko noke ouma ga toru.

    You baby sparrow
    get out of that, get out of that
    Milord’s horse would pass
    .

    In his wanderings, Issa saw many scenes of rural Japan, one about which he wrote a poem. Seeing a farmer pausing in the fields for a breather while pulling radishes; the radishes being the large daikon, that monstrous stinking vegetable so well known in Japan, he wrote: Daiko hiki daiko de michi wo oshie keri.

    The radish puller
    pointing with a radish root
    teaches me the way
    .

    One of Issa’s favorite songs, while he wandered through the terraced rice fields, was: Shinanoji ya ue noue ni mo taue uta.

    On Shinano ways
    paddy above paddy rising
    the rice-field planting song.

    While the stories about Issa do not mention in detail his various employments while traveling, which were necessary to earn the small change needed to keep him alive, there is one poem he wrote which indicates a soft job. Nebanashi no ashi de oriori naruko kana.

    From time to time with feet
    sprawled out in noonday sleep
    I pull the scarecrow string.

    Apparently this was a job for the weak, lame, and lazy, in which he laid on the bank of the paddy with a string tied to his toe and the arms of a scarecrow. An occasional pull between naps would scare off the scavenger birds.

    While traveling in the winter, he often thought of the warmer southern climates, no doubt wishing he was there instead of the northern territories. He mentions that in this verse. Shogatsu ya ume no kawari ni ofubuki.

    The New Year comes
    and instead of plum blossoms
    a great storm of snow.

    Issa wrote a poem about the houses of northern Japan, which at that time were little more than hovels. In the winter they were almost buried beneath the thick, heavy snows. Sorihiki ya yane kara otosu todoke bumi.

    The snow-sled puller
    drops down from the roof of the house
    the letter he brings
    .

    These letters were sometimes dropped down through the smoke-hole and one had to be quick to snatch them before they fell into the fire-pit.

    Issa was keenly aware of the landscapes through which he passed, and at one time he was so stricken by the size of the mountains apparently rising from the waters of a lake, that he wrote: Kosui yori shutsugen shitari kumo no mine.

    From the lake
    springing up into the sky
    the clouded peaks
    .

    Of the cloud-covered Kurohime, which means ‘black princess’, he wrote of the softness of appearance and her feminine tradition thus: Kurohime ya iroke zuita ka wata eboshi.

    Has Kurohime
    turned to colored thoughts of love?
    See her bride’s headband.

    North of Mt. Kurohime, there is another mountain called Myoko, a very jagged peak which stands across the valley of the Seki River. Being impressed with the masculinity of Myoko, Issa wrote: Yama kake ya shiranai kao shite shigi no tatsu.

    The mountain crumbles
    and with a look of unconcern
    up rises a snipe.

    While this has a double entendre, we believe it refers to a huge landslide leaving a bare spot on the mountain. About four miles from the Seki River Gorge, is a beautiful waterfall, called Nae-no-Taki, or Jishin-daki (earthquake waterfall). While old Issa was observing these magnificent falls, he noticed the misty spray hovering over some flowering cherry trees, and he thought them comparable to distant trees making a cloud on mountains.

    A fan inscribed by Issa with the verse “Wait, don’t strike that fly!. . .”, and signed “The man, too, by Issa.” To this he added the self-portrait.

    This inspired the following: Taki keburu soba de miru sae hana no kumo.

    Smokes the waterfall
    and even seen close at hand
    the cherry flowers are clouds
    .

    On a large green stone under the cryptomerias that surround the little shrine at Suwa, where he spent lonesome days as a child, is found carved this verse: Matsu kage ni nete kuu rokuju yo shu kana.

    In the shade of pines
    all in peace they sleep and eat
    the sixty-odd clans.

    In spite of all the tragedies and ill health that beset Old Issa, we, with great love, remember this kindly man who wrote such magnificent poetry. Numbered among the triumvirate greats, his name will never be forgotten in Japan, and most likely will not be forgotten throughout the world.

    (The above verses were selected from the Osaka Asahi published in 1929.)

    Metaphor in Basho’s Haiku
    Jane Reichhold

    How many times, in your years of studying haiku, have you been told “never use metaphor or simile in haiku”? How many times have you written a pretty good haiku but have been afraid to send it to an editor for fear it would be rejected because it “kinda has a metaphor” in it?

    Yet, if you have studied and written longer poems, you KNOW the use of metaphor is one of the essential aspects, one of the most time-tested techniques, of poetry. Our greatest English language poets were the best masters of discovering and using metaphor.

    Now in haiku, the experts say we must cast aside this trusty tool. But wait a minute. Basho was Japan’s most famous poet. Did he use metaphor?

    Let us dare to rewrite his most famous “on a bare branch / a crow settles / autumn dusk” into:

    the heavy way a crow settles on a bare branch is just like the way dusk comes in late autumn.

    Given this, the reader’s mind says yes, both are dark, autumn dusk is similar to heavy feathers that suddenly descend through the empty tree filling it with darkness. Yes, the black crow is the harbinger of death, the time of rest in nature and in life. If you’ve ever been near where a crow suddenly lands you’ve felt this fear folded under its wings, the surprise it is so black, so large, so threatening, so cold — just as late autumn is.

    What makes the haiku fascinating to us is that all above, and surely much more, can be contained by juxtaposing bare branch, a crow settling and autumn dusk. For me, the elements that securely tie the crow in place as metaphor for an autumn evening are: one, the verb “settling” (because we say dusk settles — but not lands or perches), a technique Basho so often employs one automatically checks his verb for this two-sidedness when one appears in a poem and two, the image of a bare branch which can accept naturally both the arrival of a bird image and autumn dusk.

    A bit more far-fetched, but therefore deeper and more interesting, is Basho’s metaphor / simile in his “old pond / a frog jumps in / the sound of water.”

    To begin, let us take the Japanese literally in the last line so it reads “water of sound.” Let that roll around a few minutes in your imagination. The water of sound. Sound as water. Sound moving as water does. Sound rippling outward as water does when disturbed.

    Heretofore, all poetical Japanese frogs made sounds — croaking, songs, calls. What if water was used as a metaphor for the invisible sound? Instead of making a sound with its voice, what if the frog leaps into the water of sound?

    We can never know if Basho was having thoughts like these before he wrote (or spoke) the lines “a frog jumps in / the water of sound” but we do know he was aware enough of the gift of his inspiration that he didn’t allow Kikaku to tack on a beginning phrase of yellow roses but stayed with his metaphor of water as sound / sound as water to say “old pond” to emphasize that sound is the oldest pond.

    It could be, as it has been reported, that Basho simply heard a frog plunging into water (a rather probable occurrence as he lived in a marsh where two rivers joined) just at the moment a Zen master asked him a question on his progress in his meditations. Yet he didn’t begin his poem with his reality of “in the marsh” or “by the river” but used “old pond” because in a quiet pond a disturbance most closely resembles the way sound moves and is most accurate. Again the third image is the tie for his metaphor of water for sound. Bodies (get that one?) of water have sometimes stood as metaphors for ears because of the way water reflects and distorts sound.

    So you see, Basho’s oft-quoted advice, “to know the pine, go to the pine” is also a clue to understanding the metaphors in his work. For instance, in his “summer grass / the dreams /of warriors” became clear to me one summer day while sitting before a hillside of long, dried grass. As the afternoon wind blew up the slopes, the heavy-headed (sleepy-like) grasses bent and waved. The sheen on the polished stalks flashed and darkened in patterns as if the ghostly people were dashing toward the top — as if waves of attacking warriors were flowing — flanking –following some unseen desire. That Basho surely saw this very same effect while visiting a famous battlefield gives added credence to the metaphor of warriors’ dreams, their passions and ambitions, being as worthless as dried grass which moved so it looked as if the soldiers were still, in their spirit husks, charging up the hill.

    My premise is that metaphor IS one of the valuable components of haiku writing. What is different though, is the way the metaphor is written into the haiku.

    In haiku the two portions of the metaphor / simile are usually not connected with “like” or “as” (although in several of Basho’s haiku he does use these expressions) but the elements of the metaphor are simply set down in their clearest, most elementary expression, usually in juxtaposition tied together by a verb or third image.

    Also, in haiku, the range of the metaphor is limited somewhat by reality. Towering storm waves crashing on a beach do call to mind lions raging toward the shore. Yet it is very rare to see lions cavorting in the surf. However to see the white spindrift blow aloft where a gull flies gives the more haiku-like “lifting white from the waves / a gull.”

    When encouraging writers to resume the use of metaphor, I am not suggesting the metaphor be selected and used in the conventional English literature tradition. Part of the delight and popularity of haiku is the learning of new, and for Western writers, unusual methods of stating the metaphors that come with our inspiration.

    Aside from the observation that most of the “flat” haiku are simple observations lacking in hidden metaphor and so many of the haiku that “grab one” are those offering a metaphor to chew on is the idea that we need metaphor to bring into concrete reality the poetic vision.

    The poet’s job is to experience this earth, this life, and report it to fellow inhabitants in a manner that allows the reader / hearer to experience the insight for him/herself. The poet is the journalist for the spirit world. Yet our vocabulary for this illusive realm is as vague and undefined as the average person’s ventures into it are. Therefore, in order to talk of feelings, sensations, vision, hunches, parallel world experiences, we must employ the concrete images by metaphor and simile.

    Recently I’ve been studying William Everson’s concept of “the earth as metaphor” in which he view all the physical elements of our universe as substances standing in for greater deeper, finer truths. The Bach Flower Remedies are a practical application of this belief. Distillations of the essence of flowers are sipped, not for any medicinal qualities of the plants, but for the emotions of the other world which manifest in them.

    I believe it is this method of thinking that made Basho the great poet he was. When historians say “haiku degenerated” after Basho’s death I suspect this decline was because haiku was denied its right to be a vehicle for poetry and poetical vision. I admit to finding most interesting the writing of persons, either Japanese or non-Japanese, who allow themselves to write as poets drawing on the devices of poetry and who are able to transfer ALL the previous poetic techniques into new forms inspired by the visions of poets of many cultures.

    Something Fishy about Haiku
    Jane Reichhold

    Today a neighbor came by bringing us some fresh fish he had caught on his most recent boat trip. As we thanked him, he spread his arms saying, “They are not from me; they only come through me.” At that moment I realized a similarity between fish and haiku.

    Nowadays, if Mom doesn’t ever serve fish for dinner at least the kids get a taste of haiku in grade school. For most of us, our first introduction came from reading translations from the Japanese which is a bit like comparing sushi to frozen fish sticks. Even with the knowledge of the exotic, most poets remain solidly with the meat and potatoes of English literature. It often isn’t until we get older that we accept the simple goodness and benefits of fish, adding them to the menu a little more often; maybe even buying a book.

    Having acquired a taste for fish, having learned how to cook and serve them, one is better able to read and appreciate the short, succinct form of haiku. Like fishing, haiku writing can be done with minimal equipment. A pin or a pen, a scrap of paper or willow rod can suffice, but it is tempting to go all out; buying a rod and reel, tackle box full of lures (even studying Zen to visit a monastery or take a trip to Japan). With that comes the fancy brush pen and chops, the blank-page books bound in leather. If one goes in for deep sea fishing or the commercial aspects, a computer and laser printer are soon on the list of must have.

    Like fishing, to catch haiku you have to go where they are. Unlike fish, haiku are everywhere. Still, you have to know the secret places out in plain sight where they hide and how to get there quickly and quietly. Wearing old comfortable clothes (usually thought of as “mind set” or a meditative state, which is easier to get into than waders) we look around just where we are. It does little good to only read of fishing off the coast of Japan when sitting beside the lake by our own front door. It does help to know which fish are edible and not. There are two ways of finding out this information. We can either eat everything we catch or publish what feels right, or send it off to editors for comment. Or we can read books containing others’ experiences while making up our minds about what kind of fish to go for. Reading what the Old Masters of Japan caught and ate, can give one incentive to appreciate even the smallest sunfish, to pan-fry up a catch for a delicate feast.

    As the fisherman said, the haiku are not ours, but come through us. How we take care of the ones we do keep is up to us. Do we gut them right away, getting rid of the extra ands and me’s and prepositions? Do we put them immediately on ice by writing them down on something that won’t go through the laundry or end up in the wastepaper basket? It is also up to us whether we eat all the fish ourselves or if we clean them up, label them, and send them off to a magazine to share with others. If we catch a really special one, we can enter it in the country fair or haiku contest.

    Some people simply flour and fry their fish, believing that this one way is the only way to express a haiku moment. Others study cookbooks and create dill sauces to blend the favors of a sequence, barbecue recipes that smoke the fish and create mood haiku, fish soup renga or hors d’ oeuvre of one-word haiku. Other folks get involved in arranging the serving platters. Long discussions have ensued over whether lines should be centered, indented, all in one, three, in caps or lower case, with or without parsley garnish. It usually comes down to the fact that we become attached to one way of fixing our catch and, unless we’ve been inspired by the taste of other’s, tend to keep serving them up in the same way which later is hailed as one’s individual voice.

    For the dedicated fisherperson (a lot of women write haiku, too) there are several magazines to which we can subscribe. These are especially treasured in the off-months when one can’t get away long enough to drop a line into the pool of unconsciousness, when all the ideas have dried up or are frozen over. Reading of the success of others is often just the right incentive to give us courage to get out there to try out a new lure or seek out a new fishing hole.

    Out on the public pier, the old guys kindly put up with the youngsters who are constantly asking why they use that weight line or why they whip their rod like than when that is hardly what they are thinking about anymore. They’ve learned to smile gently when beginners get tangled up their lines remembering their enthusiasm not so long ago. Once we’ve caught all the fish our friends and family can enjoy and still we are packing the notebook, there comes the time to decide whether to go commercial with what had started out to be fun hobby. This step demands decisions about how much can I afford to invest this venture, will I make a living at it? Fishing: maybe <197> haiku: hardly. Or do I do it because I love it? There are rewards other than financial; ask the trout fisherman. At first it will cost more than it brings in; the rule of most businesses. And, unless the name is Ginsberg or Snyder, it will probably remain this way.

    However, in this way you meet a lot of interesting people, many who become great friends, and what a thrill it is when the local restaurant, with a blare of trumpets, serves your fish on their menu. The local paper may even review your book.

    Fortunately for haiku writers, their catch doesn’t get smelly if it gets mislaid in the trunk of the car and taking a live fish off a hook is certainly different from scratching words on paper but the thrill is very similar.

    Books and notebooks are a pleasant way to savor the thrill of the moment of pulling in the big one, which not all that different from hanging the stuffed trophy fish over the fireplace in the den. If we compare spending days on heaving seas to fish or strolling on the beach writing haiku; it is very easy for me to decide where my interest lies. Still I do love a fish dinner and I hope my neighbor enjoys my latest poems.

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