Can You Fake Haiku by Miriam Sagan

Can You Fake Haiku?

The writing of haiku seems to increase every time I look at international websites and magazines. It’s wonderful to see so many people practicing poetry, and investigating this special form. Yet much of the work posted—often asking for feedback—is much weaker than it needs to be. It is possible to build a better first draft.
The most obvious advice—and the advice most often given and presumably taken is to learn what haiku is, and to follow its rules, byways, and ethos. This is a good starting place. Learning about season words and syllabic counts and everything else that defines the genre is the necessary first step.
The second, also obvious, step, is to practice. However, as in any practice from singing to weight lifting to writing there are better and worse ways to do something—and haiku is no exception.
In my experience, genuine haiku needs to come from genuine experience. Like all poetry, it can’t be written out of superficial emotions, sentimentality, shallow wit, a desire to show off, or to look good.
Haiku in particular is based on moments of perception expressed in language.
The proliferation of cell phone haiga tends to dilute this. A picture of an iris and a three line poem about pretty purple flowers doesn’t really express much either poetically or visually. Haiku can seem easy to write—or close to impossible—depending on your level of practice.
Traditionally haiku can come from a sense of deep feeling, connection, loneliness, poverty, the ephemeral, a rush of passing scene, and more. Can you imitate such haiku and learn from them? It does seem possible. And that is because you may be passing through haiku moments without even realizing or noting them.
However, don’t make a fetish of the work of haiku masters. That person’s vision or intimacy is attainable by you as a writer—just that it has to now be yours.
Here is an example from Haiku of the day by my friend Elizabeth S. Lamb at Mann Library 11-25-18

the first fall of snow
even quieter, inside
the small adobe

Haiku in the Botanical Garden

Haiku in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden with Miriam Sagan

Saturday, September 15th, 2018. 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Location: Santa Fe Botanical Garden Pavilion, 715 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505 Cost: Member $15; Not-yet-member $20 Please register in advance here.
Become a SFBG Member today and begin receiving discounts. Join/Renew here! Please join us for a haiku writing workshop in the garden suitable for all.
https://santafebotanicalgarden.org/haiku-in-the-garden/

3 Questions for Lee Nash

Questions
1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

As a poet with a broad range, at any given time I could be writing a haiku, a received form or a piece of flash fiction. This means that I could be focusing on a work anywhere between one line (a monostich) or a paragraph or more (flash). The important first step is to get my initial thoughts on screen, then I try to proceed at an unhurried pace, to find the line that is pleasing to my ear and eye, that fits the essence of the piece. In the draft stage I want to see what emerges – happily now and again the first try is pretty close to the finished product. If there isn’t a good definition then at some point I will start a revision, at which stage (for example) a sonnet may become a free verse poem, or vice versa. The process is organic, with the line taking its length and shape on the page in the most natural way possible, the line breaks setting the pace, working like gears to drive the reader along. The line needs to work with and not against the poem’s internal rhythm and cadences, to be in sympathy with its words and sounds, and the reaction the whole invokes.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

Yes, in the sense that we produce the fruit of who and what we are. I suspect that the traits expressed in our words are linked as much to our physiology and psychology as to our life experiences. When writing a specifically body-oriented poem (for instance, about a C-section, or a burn, or a colonoscopy), the sense of relationship between words and body is keener, simply by definition, but all poems seem visceral rather than intellectual at source. It’s a fascinating question and this body/writing correlation is something I would like to explore in more depth.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

I often think that it increases my intensity when what I really need to do is lighten up! Saying that, I do enjoy writing light verse from time to time. To me writing is a work of faith, and this is exciting but also quite daunting. It’s not the same as having a skill; for instance, I play the flute and know I can pick up the instrument and play a piece as long as I have practiced enough. With poetry, even if you are honing your craft, understand the dynamics, and have publications to your name, you are creating something from nothing each time (as all artists are) and you cannot afford to lose your self-belief. This is not always easy. A poet must accept that the poetry business involves regular rejection and so develop a kind of impassivity to all that, yet still stay sensitive to inspiration and new ideas.

Haiku

guessing his name…
the scent of jasmine
on fine rain

Stardust, February 2018

premature birth
I choose the thinnest needles
and the softest wool

Pulse, 16 February 2018


sundog an unexpected windfall

The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Haikuist Network, 16 February 2018

morning kiss
the warm sting
of his bristles

Chanokeburi, Love Videoanthology, 14 February 2018

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Heron’s Nest, and The Lake. Her first poetry chapbook, Ash Keys, is published by Flutter Press. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website: leenashpoetry.com. http://flutterpress2009.blogspot.fr/2017/11/new-release-ash-keys-by-lee-nash.html

Shadowed

shadowed graveyard
stones of strangers
a foreign language

after the rain
old man on a bicycle
pedals by

I sit writing
by the shrine—perplex
the neighbors

I traveled
my whole life, just to enjoy
this

twisted leafless trees—
this slick moss
almost trips me up

politics blares
from the passing van,
clumps of narcissus

Photographs by Isabel Winson-Sagan

7 am. Dawn. Itoshima, Fukuoka, Japan

And the strains of “Blue Blue My Love Is Blue” chime the time over the neighborhood.

Last night we walked home after a lovely party at Kura Studio with artists from South Korea, Italy, and Guatemala, plus our Japanese hosts and two little children playing with tiny plastic dinosaurs. This is “our” walk from House 3 to the office. Down the lane, past two Shinto shrines, earthen embankments above our heads. Then fields and impressive greenhouses. People burning trash at the edge of the fields–it could be home in New Mexico.

Past a little restaurant with a sign of rabbits making mochi. Then on to the road. Isabel started talking about animal spirits and I shushed here–I wouldn’t mention Coyote on a Santa Fe night walk. As we strolled through light mist, time chimed with the resounding strains of “Edelweiss, Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music.”

Impossible not to love the world at this moment.

lit train
across dark rice fields—
our flashlights