It’s my daily hobby to play with a form of poetry called haiku, as a way of fostering creative presence in the moment.
And lately I’ve started posting them on Instagram with a photograph of that moment.
A haiku is an act of transcription, a verbal and sensual photograph.
The moment gives us the poetry, as it is created through us. Through our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin (the outer senses); through our feelings, memory, intuition, imagination, and overall sense of perception (the inner senses).
We just transcribe it. And then the haiku is created, a witnessing of what we have seen or heard or smelled, tasted or touched, and how we felt, remembered, intuited, imagined, and perceived it.
And all in this tight structure of the fewest and best possible words artfully arranged into a pattern of 3-7-3.
(Or 5-7-5 syllables or some variant of that for the non-purists. Yes, there are arguments in haiku circles about such matters, but these need not detain us).
The haiku’s job is just to observe and express what is there, within its compressed form, as the kaleidoscope of life shifts into another moment.
Haiku look so simple that writers sometimes overlook their transformative power. Some think any words or thoughts captured in the correct number of syllables will do.
A haiku must convey creative presence through the lens of the personal experience of a single moment.
The writer has first to experience that shift and then has to recreate it for the reader.
If that shift, that moment of presence and awareness that Joyce called an “epiphany,” hasn’t happened, then poetry hasn’t happened.
Here are a few recent haiku:
summer, fuschia still flush in
You rise to
go. I sit into warm space
the window. Our neighbour’s tree
waits for light.
Large mirror sequins. Circles
The time of bluebells, my hand
in your hand.
Now your turn: Capture a moment of creative presence: Write a 3-7-3 haiku.
- Use the thirteen syllables to give a short summation of a moment: what you saw, heard, touched, tasted or smelled.
- Turn the moment in time into an image.
- Don’t tell us what happened, show us.
- Don’t tell us how you felt. Trust the images, the sense perception, to hold the emotion. A good haiku conveys a mood, without mentioning the person or mood.
Haiku tell us that every place, every moment in time, is full of poetry. All we have to do is open up to it, allow it, express it.
Poetry is always possible.