Monday, April 6, 2009

Haikus for You's!

There's something to be said for (good) haiku. 

Lucien Stryk says this of (GOOD!) haiku poetry, 
"The effect is one of sparseness, yet the reader is aware of a microcosm related to transcendent unity. A moment, crystallized, distilled, snatched from time's flow, and that is enough." 
It's from the introduction of Basho's "On Love and Barley - Haiku of Basho". 

Haiku poetry gets to me because of it's moment-crystallizing capabilities. It's a whole feeling, a whole moment, encapsulated in a tiny phrase. It's at once surface level and emotionally all encompassing - making it one of the forms most capable of honestly describing a moment. There's no fluff, no grandiose displays, only genuine observation - and blunt emotion. 

These are some of my favorite Basho poems : 

Behind the virgins' 
one blossoming plum.

Sparrow, spare
the horsefly
dallying in flowers.

Has it returned,
the snow 
we viewed together?

Cicada - did it
chirp till it
knew nothing else?

Girl cat, so
thin on love
and barley.

Then there's Suzuki Masajo, a female poet born in 1906 and died in 2003. 
She was a kick-ass lady, and her life is well worth researching, full of torrid love affairs, and feisty feminine independence.   She takes a more modern approach to poetry, while still paying homage to those who came before her. Her poetry focuses more on the emotional side of the art form, while still maintaining that famous almost clinical haiku tone. 

Some Suzuki Masajo poems: 

light silk kimono - 
having an affair that makes
someone else unhappy

to a field of violets
coming like sinful persons
two of us

longing for my beloved - 
I warm a green berry 
in the palm of my hand

wishing to fall in love,
I pop a strawberry 
into my mouth.

pouring each other beer, 
these men with whom I shall never
make love

not a word for me
he just continues to watch
the winter waves.

There's a lot of good haiku out there. It doesn't naturally fit into our usual western forms of expression. It's unfamiliarity is what gives it the potential to be so cutting, so exacting, so effective. 

See kids, haiku is pretty rad!  

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