For a number of years Michael Dylan Welch has been organizing National Haiku Writing Month, more commonly known as NaHaiWriMo during the month of February where anyone can post their minimalistic poetic contributions every day. There would be a prompt for each day the participants could, if they wanted, use as a theme for that day’s installment. I had fun participating this year and would like to present a selection of what I came up with.
I’ve been writing in the English language haiku form for quite a while and feel most comfortable when I can hold to a few guidelines for myself. Some of these are in reference to the Japanese form with its rules, some are adaptations to English, and some have more to do with the group setting of many people posting their work all set off by a single image or idea.
- The 5-7-5 rule in Japanese corresponds to something much more compact in English. I aim for twelve English syllables in the three-line form, nine for single line poems.
- Poems should hae two images or ideas juxtaposed hard against one another. This corresponds to the cutting word or kireji in Japanese.
- Although the poems have prompts which might be considered to correspond to the season word or kigo in Japanese, I prefer to suggest the topic instead of featuring it explicitly. Reading a long series of haiku all using the one same word as their main pivot is not so enjoyable for me. I know I’m in the distinct minority of practitioners on Facebook in this area.
- I am not at all strict about the orientation away from human preoccupations toward nature. If it’s what happens, then all well and good, but if not and what comes out is human-centric, more like a senryu, I’ll go with that too.
I wrote something for each day of the month, but not all of them are reproduced here, because I have some other plans for some of them. Here they are, in reverse sequence, each with the writing prompt given for the day. A few of them have images that go along with the prompt and my interpretation, which I have credited.
28: NATURE (yet again—whatever you want to write about from the natural word, and try to keep it a pure-nature poem).
two dozen eggs and four besides, some of them cracked26: OUR (our what? see where that will take you, and try to use “our” in your poem).
spit drips from her lips; her boy stoops for a good rock25: TO (write a poem in which you use the word “to”).
all the way back last fall’s kim chee lifts up the lid22: LEAF.
then might they know: someone passed this way
eighty year old teacup – its shards in your two hands20: NATURE (yet again, but this time think of something seasonal that’s unique or special where you live).
early September the smoke plume a lurid red16: NATURE (write about something natural rather than human-made that you can see right now).
the place where you used to park - leaves from last autumn15: RETURNING TO (what have you often returned to in life, or would you like to return to?).
to begin again: share your things, try to be kind14: A WAY OF (either fill in a word after “of” or write a poem about a “way” of some kind).
through life’s twenty thousand missteps we learn the Tao13: IS (use this specific word in your poem, but try to be wary of introducing too much judgment into the poem).
camp twenty-three the place you knew no longer is11: CLEAN.
before mother comes hide the bacon, this raw shrimp9: A MIRROR.
mass job cuts I look at myself… could have been me8: OPENED.
ancient oyster one kimono fold in the flow7: HALF.
two people but one hearth: the cherry and its stone
6: A DOOR.
I jab the button twice… still no elevator5: BECKONING.
she has them look: the transport that holds their father4: HAND.
the harlequin’s salute – just a few fingers short3: A (yes, just this letter of the alphabet—where will it take you? a what? or something starting with a?).
tap of a hammer… violet on violet…
I really enjoyed participating in the haiku month this year and saw some really excellent submissions along the way by some really skilled writers. The plan is to produce an ebook of the twenty-eight best of the submissions for release sometime soon, something I will be looking forward to when it happens.comments powered by Disqus