We Haiku. How ’bout you??

December 22, 2004 | 36 comments
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No one writes enough haiku. And we want to know why? Haiku are like the potato chip of poetry—you can’t have just one. They’re clean, simple, economic, easy to read, and easy to write, provided you don’t take yourself too seriously. More importantly, they’re easy to teach, and often serve as students’ first introduction to poetry because the three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables are easy to grasp.

Traditionally, the third line often functions similarly to a punchline, closing the imaginative distance between the first line and the second. But don’t let that scare you. For our purposes any haiku will do.

We want everyone to post at least one haiku. As far as we’re concerned it can be about anything, but feel free to explore Mormon themes. Who knows? Maybe haiku will soon become the Mormon poetic form of choice.

For example, here’s one Brian wrote about the sacrament.

Old lady lipstick
Crushed cups stained in silver trays
Yet, sins still wash clean

Shannon wrote this one about a familiar, but increasingly rare holiday sight.

Red kettles for coins
Bell ringers at every store
Except for Target

Here’s one more Brian wrote about a frequent T&S contributor.

Missing in action
A left-leaning voice now paused
Steve, come out and play

We do haiku, so, now will you? (Sorry, got a little Dr. Seuss there).

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36 Responses to We Haiku. How ’bout you??

  1. marta on December 22, 2004 at 5:30 am

    Write whate’er we will,
    Kristine Haglund Harris is
    The best poet here.

    Tokyo is great.
    All my children are learning
    To speak Japanese.

    Unfortunately I am not, so if, as they assure me, Tokyo actually has four syllables, substitute: Tokyo rocks.

  2. Shawn Bailey on December 22, 2004 at 7:31 am

    I posted a series of Haikus I wrote about my commute on the Amateur Poetry Hour thread here a while ago. I don’t know how to link so here they are again:

    Seven Haikus on My Commute Home, October 13, 2004

    I.
    red hexagon tile
    you make the subway platform
    all too bathroom-like

    II.
    standing on the train
    commuters sway back and forth
    some to headphone noise

    III.
    why orange carpet?
    when first laid, were you of the
    shag variety?

    IV.
    you talk much too loud
    confined spaces are places
    for discrete scribbles

    V.
    yield not your seat too
    freely. A pregnant senior
    citizen may soon board

    VI.
    Standing room only
    at metro center. All but
    void at shady grove

    VII.
    Eleven p.m.
    Last leg. Solitary
    parking-lot walk home

  3. danithew on December 22, 2004 at 9:01 am

    My wife is about
    To take a Step 2 Exam
    It will take all day

  4. Steve Evans on December 22, 2004 at 9:49 am

    No longer posting
    One fears the Chupacabra
    has stolen his voice

  5. Philocrites on December 22, 2004 at 10:09 am

    I wish I had the talent and time to write a haiku right now, but instead I’ve been reminded of one of the true highlights of my freshman year at BYU:

    One day in my Honors History of Civilization class (a wonderful cross-cultural survey course taught by Steven Carter and Terry Butler), Professor Carter, a scholar of Japanese poetry, taught us a simplified set of rules that governed “linked poetry” competitions in medieval Japan. The haiku we know today were the starting verses, composed ahead of time — but after the 5-7-5 haiku, another poet would spontaneously compose a 7-7 verse that would then lead a third poet to compose a 5-7-5 verse, with the first poet following with a 7-7 verse, and so on. The rules specified things like not evoking the same season too many verses in a row and carrying different sorts of allusions along through the successive poems.

    And then we were divided up into groups, and we were off! I’m sure there weren’t more than a half-dozen poets in our class, but the poetry we came up with was wonderful. It was the very best high-brow party game I’ve ever been part of, and I would love someday to find a version of the rules that I could easily introduce to friends. I did buy a scholarly book about Japanese linked poetry a few years ago, but it hasn’t lent itself to easy adaptation for the party I have in mind.

    Maybe someone else here took that class and remembers more specifics.

  6. Bryce I on December 22, 2004 at 10:12 am

    Haiku in English
    are not so elegant as
    those in Japanese

    Seriously, I find most haiku in English unreadable, having tasted a little of their true potential in their language of origin. I’m not a huge poetry reader, and I’m not much of a Japanese scholar, but in my opinion the severe constraints of the haiku don’t work nearly as well in English as they do in Japanese. And English haiku usually ignore some of the other traditional constraints that give me such pleasure — for example, the first line generally has some word that signals a particular season of the year.

    Japanese has the advantage of having a writing system in which the characters convey meaning independently of their phonetic realization, so a good poet can substitute a character that “sounds” the same as another but that carries a different meaning to overload a phrase. You can imagine that this might be a powerful technique for a poet to use, especially when the number of syllables available are limited.

    I have seen some nice translations of some Japanese haiku that capture the flavor of the original. I’ll see if I can dig them up.

    Carry on! Ignore my little rant.

  7. Charles on December 22, 2004 at 11:02 am

    Here is an old Haiku to Spongebob Squarepants I did some time ago.

    Little, yellow, square
    Absorbant holes, but no hair
    Tidy Whites he wears.

    I’ll see if my wife still has all our Haiku saved from when we were posting them on her blog. We had a ton.

  8. Charles on December 22, 2004 at 11:08 am

    Bryce,

    I think thats because we tend to find more Japanese Haiku masters not just writing to make poetry but writing as part of their Zen journey through Bushido or something similar to that. Haiku is meant to be simple in its form but confining. Forcing the writer to purify thoughts and “ah ha!” revelations into as small simple structure. I had a book of Haiku poetry and it was very refreshing to read through.

  9. Aaron Brown on December 22, 2004 at 12:35 pm

    I don’t do haiku
    I don’t like most poetry
    I’m a pompous ass

  10. Kaimi on December 22, 2004 at 2:13 pm

    Haiku are not hard
    (Five then seven, five again)
    So long as one can count.

    :)

  11. Rosalynde Welch on December 22, 2004 at 2:13 pm

    Snowless solstice here
    But indoors winter stalks my
    Cold hand on the mouse

  12. Shawn Bailey on December 22, 2004 at 2:58 pm

    apparently I
    should call groups of two or more
    “Haiku,” not “Haikus”

    would-be posters take
    heed. My little poems laid
    my ignorance bare

  13. cooper on December 22, 2004 at 4:16 pm

    Hurried rushing stops.
    Christmas light glows in windows.
    One perfect among us.

  14. The Only True and Living Nathan on December 22, 2004 at 5:27 pm

    Heh. While taking an Eastern Lit class, three bored friends and I constantly wrote notes back and forth — in haiku. Had the professor ever looked up from his drier-than-moonrock notes, he could easily have seen us sitting there, pencil one hand, counting off syllables on the fingers of the other…

  15. Lizzy on December 22, 2004 at 5:47 pm

    Sunbeams stream all ‘round
    Disguising the true season
    Christmas in So. Cal.

  16. danithew on December 22, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    Bryce is getting old
    His birthday is tomorrow
    Happy Birthday Bryce!

  17. Brian G on December 22, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    Of course, Bryce is right, haiku would sound much better in Japanese, however, not knowing Japanese I thought I’d try my hand at Spanish. It wasn’t easy.

    Manos sangrean
    Tantas puertas tocamos
    Y nos abren

  18. Bryce I on December 22, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    A question/challenge:

    Can you write a three-word haiku?

  19. Bryce I on December 22, 2004 at 6:26 pm

    I really like Rosalynde and Lizzy’s haiku. Shawn’s are quite worthy as well.

    In all seriousness, my all-time favorite English haiku comes from Beavis and Butthead:

    Cherry tree on fire
    Ev’ry blossom was aflame
    Uh, here come the cops.

    It works on so many levels — truly awesome.

  20. Bill on December 23, 2004 at 12:37 am

    Bryce, here’s my three-word haiku in honor of post 173 on the evolution thread:

    Archaeopteryx:
    Genealogically
    Indeterminate

  21. David King Landrith on December 23, 2004 at 10:32 am

    “I love my roommate.”
    “I know with every fiber…”
    A testimony.

  22. Bryce I on December 23, 2004 at 10:45 am

    Bill wins the thread!

  23. marta on December 23, 2004 at 11:37 am

    Nine weeks have passed since
    A long post on depression.
    Where is Braden Bell?

  24. Jack on December 23, 2004 at 1:12 pm

    Deck the halls with boughs
    Of holly fa la la la
    La la la la la

  25. Bill on December 23, 2004 at 1:41 pm

    Bryce, here’s a tripartite nine-word haiku:

    Exhibitionists
    Extemporaneously
    Materialize

    Expatiating
    Autobigraphical
    Promiscuities:

    Indiscriminate
    Unbelievabilities,
    Unmistakably.

  26. Mark N. on December 23, 2004 at 6:55 pm

    Laban’s head detached
    Nephi cleans his blood-stained sword
    Scriptures are now his

    Is that Mormon enough for you? ;-)

  27. David King Landrith on December 23, 2004 at 7:07 pm

    Yes. good one, Mark N.

  28. Bill on December 23, 2004 at 11:00 pm

    This is getting easier than I thought it would be. Here’s a couple more I thought up on the train ride home:

    In honor of the several SSM threads:

    Matrimonial
    Homosexuality:
    Constitutional?

    And finally:

    Unfortunately,
    Underappreciated
    Virtuosity:

    Habitually
    Unsatisfactorily
    Remunerated.

  29. Jonathan Green on December 23, 2004 at 11:09 pm

    Bill, at long last, you have found your calling in life: three-word Haiku master of the 21st century.

  30. Brian G. on December 23, 2004 at 11:16 pm

    Wow, Bill. Those last two haiku are the story of my life boiled down to six words.

  31. David King Landrith on December 24, 2004 at 12:12 am

    Christmas tree aglow
    A juicy watermelon
    Holiday picnic

  32. Jack on December 24, 2004 at 1:42 am

    Star light, star bright, first…
    No, SECond star to the–no…
    Twinkle, twink–no! Clouds!!!

  33. Bryce I on December 24, 2004 at 9:39 am

    Yes, in three comments, Bill has played out the career arc of many an artist: an eye-popping initial splash, followed by a mediocre sophmore outing, capped off by a triumphant return to form and a fulfillment of the promise shown in the initial work.

    It simply remains for him to cash in on his comeback success by writing a haiku hawking some household cleaner or diet soda.

  34. Bill on December 24, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    Ammonia, Ajax,
    Clean floors and fixtures. Breathe deep!
    Sweet smells for Christmas.

  35. Bryce I on December 24, 2004 at 2:01 pm

    …followed by the inevitable decline into drug abuse (in this case, huffing ammonia). Such a bright star, burned out so fast. Alas.

  36. Bill on December 25, 2004 at 5:48 am

    Bryce,

    I agree that the poem in post 25* was flawed; the whole apparatus creaked and groaned.

    But under the influence of all that ammonia (I prefer lemon-scented), I began to see in it previously unrecognized merits (or maybe this was just a Mr. Krueger moment). As I stared straight ahead at the words, suddenly, like visions of sugar-plum fairies, multiple wonderfully flawed little embedded haiku began to emerge, peering out from within their surroundings.

    For example:

    Exit porous maze
    Eating a biscuit in an
    Evil mist ably.

    His ex’s trial:
    Pin to graphic promises
    In criminal ties.

    Exhibit A: Mar.
    Ex-auto prices increase
    Unmistakably.

    There may have been more, but these were the only ones I wrote down after the haze dissipated.

    *(Exhibitionists
    Extemporaneously
    Materialize
    Expatiating
    Autobigraphical
    Promiscuities:
    Indiscriminate
    Unbelievabilities,
    Unmistakably.)

WELCOME

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