Nearly a month ago, my friend Jude told me about someone she knows who wrote a haiku a day for a year. I took it as the challenge she meant it to be. Since then, I’ve written at least one haiku a day.
Sometimes, they don’t make it to the screen until the next day, but that’s what has been so powerful about this practice for me.
When I was completing my MFA in poetry, I drove three hours a day, back and forth to El Paso, TX from Alamogordo, NM. I had a lot of work to do, so once papers were written, papers were graded, and the house and child were cared for, there wasn’t much time left over for poetry.
I began to use the drive as my writing time. I would listen to the words in my head, refining them, saying them aloud, changing words, counting beats, and when I arrived at school or home, I would commit the words to paper.
Writing haiku is a perfect compliment to walking. The beats and my steps become one. I can discard words, challenge my vocabulary, and just stay present on the walk to what’s happening around me as I walk. I can write as I move.
This practice might take me further out of the moment I’m in. I try to remain attentive to that possibility, but so far I’ve noticed that I’m more present. I feel the tap of my shoes on the ground as a metronome to my words. I’m mindful of what’s happening around me. Anything can start the poem, anything might help build it.
Thank you, Jude, for challenging me to this new practice. I’m looking forward to the next eleven months.
Here are a couple haiku from the past month. The one from 1 Sept. is a double haiku.
19 August 2014
Will you abandon
reason, bite into the peach
with only your teeth?
1 Sep 2014
The plane lands, a thud
A white haired woman crosses
herself, a small cross
once, and then again,
hidden, as if gratitude
were cause for shame
9 Sept. 2014
Sometimes a new path
beckons you, tangles your feet.
Lost is the only way home.
A note on structure: the haiku form is three lines with the syllable counts 5/7/5. The traditional haiku contains a kireji or cutting word that separates the first half of the poem from the second half of the poem (I think of it as the same thing as a volta in the sonnet, it’s a word or a turn that connects to but deepens the earlier words) and a kigo or seasonal reference.