Hello and welcome to episode seven of the third series of the haiku pea podcast. If you’ve been following in recent months you’ll know that I’m thinking through the essence of haiku and I’m going to continue with that today.
I’d like to give you a little bit of news, there’s lots going on in the poetrypea world at the moment and I’ll finish with the renku as it currently stands.
Most of you are at the very least restricted in your movements at the moments because of coronavirus. As I put this together I’m not on lockdown but the Swiss have been asked to stay at home wherever possible, and most of the shops apart from food stores and chemists are shut as are all the entertainment opportunities apart from those you make yourself.
Without my husband, family, nature, my bike, you and haiku, life would be a little dull. It seemed to me a week or so ago all the news outlets where doom and gloom. Whenever I turn on the radio or the television or listen to some of my favourite podcasts all I was hearing was coronavirus and it’s deadly nature. It was making me over anxious, I don’t know about you. So I decided to have a go at a new series on YouTube, just to bring a little joy into the world. It’s called Pea TV Moments and you’ll find it on the poetry Pea YouTube channel and of course here on the website. At the moment every morning at 9 o’clock central European time, I post a video with haiku to try and cheer us all up. Some of the videos are mine and I’m delighted to say that a number of you have sent me videos and haiku so we can see little snippets from around the world at this wretched time. It would be lovely to have more videos. They are easy enough to make on your phone and need to be MP4, in landscape mode and at least 20 seconds long. You don’t need to record your haiku as long as you send it to me in an email I can read it over the video. I would welcome more, but only if it’s fun for you to do and most importantly in these times, safe for you to do. If you’re finding it difficult to send a video over let me know because we can use Google Drive and I’ll send you the details. I hope you can check out YouTube and give the little videos a bit of love, perhaps even subscribe.
I’m also putting the finishing touches to the journal so I hope it won’t be too long before I can let you know that our first journal of haiku and senryu is available on Amazon. If you’ve signed up for our newsletter you will be one of the 1st to know. You’ll find a sign up form at Poetrypea.com.
So now let’s talk a little bit about the essence of haiku.
So far I’ve spoken about the a-ha moment, the simplicity of haiku and its references to every day life. But there is something else I want to say but I’m having a little bit of trouble formulating it.
I have to thank Tia Haynes for giving me a push, even though she’s unaware of it. I was reading a piece by her in February in the haiku dialogue of the haiku foundation in which she said,
“Our primal nature has not left us and is still deeply embedded in our DNA.”
In a most succinct way she spoke about an element of what I had been thinking; that the essence of a haiku or part of the essence of a haiku is an appeal to something which could be deep within each of us, something that we might not even recognise as part of us. In addition it has to be something that binds the majority of us together, something recognisable to the majority of us.
It’s been many, many years since I studied psychology and even then it was a minor part of my degree and I know that amongst our listeners there is at least one professor of psychology. So I’m a little bit scared about this opinion piece, but as I always say, I’m more than happy for you to feedback that you disagree with me. How else will I learn if I’m not open to other opinions?
Anyway, I started to put my somewhat dormant consciousness into action. It occurred to me that perhaps Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who lived, as it happens not far from where I live today, might have had something when he talked about collective unconsciousness.
“Jung’s theory on the collective unconscious was that it is made up of a collection of knowledge and imagery that every person is born with and is shared by all human beings due to ancestral experience.”
We have so many things that differentiate us from one another, colour, religion, culture, location, and so on and so forth but what we do have in common are elements of our ancestry.
For example, many of us are now urban dwellers but if we were to trace our history we would find at some point or other that we will have had ancestors that had a much closer relationship to nature than we do today. I am very much a city person. I grew up in London and I now live in the little big city, Zürich, in Switzerland but I don’t have to go very far back to find farmers in my heritage. My mother and father were both born on farms in rural Ireland. My husband has to go back very many more generations than I to find his rural connections. In fact so many generations that I don’t think he’s achieved it yet and he can trace his family back to the early 1800s.
Now, some of you might disagree with me about our relationship with nature, you might say that you have a very close relationship and indeed you might. I wander about the countryside here every day. If I want I can buy my food from the local farm. But I don’t have that intimate relationship with nature that my grandparents had and I don’t think many urbanites do. My very survival does not depend on how well the crop that I am growing does, or the ability of my sheep to lamb successfully et cetera. I rely on those things yes, but they happen at a distance, not in my back garden.
Nonetheless, what I am saying is that whether you live in the city, the countryside, whether you work in a huge corporation or in a farm what we all have in common consciously or unconsciously is a strong relationship to nature, whether we realise it or not, whether it comes from contemporaneous experience or from somewhere deep in our past.
For the sake of this podcast I’m not going to go any further and discuss as I have done in the past what does nature mean, does nature include mankind and therefore things that are made by mankind. If you’ve not heard that before you can listen to a previous podcast.
So to get back on track, in our collective unconscious I think we’ll find a common link with nature but there will be other things too. I’ve said that religion differentiates us, but that which is at the heart of religion would probably be common to all of us, either now or in the past. Family might also be another of those common links. What do you think? Is the desire to be part of a family something we all have? Then there’s music and rhythm, love, I could go on and on.
There are a couple of things I’d like to end with,
First that if we get this connection to our concious or unconcious right, a haiku will, as Eric Amman put it, “achieve its effect, evoking moods and memories, echos and ripples of associations, playing on the mind as though it were an instrument where all the sympathetic strings resonate when a single note is struck.” Eric W Amann The Wordless Poem.
Secondly, that we can use any technique, sweat over the words we want to use, write traditionally or experimentally, but if we don’t get that connection with the minds of our readers, we may have an technically excellent and admirable piece of work, but our haiku will still be lacking. It will lack the heart of a reader.
Yet remember, you will not reach every heart, perhaps it is enough to touch just one.
On that note let me give you a few haiku that touched me:
By Alan Summers
wake up call
the silver tones
of its feathers
Quite probably Alan didn’t mean this at all but it connects with me because I have a woodpigeon that sits on top of the chimney of my house and I can hear it from early morning. It is a most unwelcome wake-up call.
This one by Michael McClintock
by a single cloud,
and letting it pass … ”
Virginia Brady Young, review of Light Run, Haiku Magazine, V: 2 (Summer, 1971), 37.
I’m a bit of a cloud watcher, so I can imagine myself on one of my walks watching the sky and being overtaken by the cloud. Could this appeal to the city dweller? I imagine myself in New York, Manhattan, for example. I remember the first time I went there I could not believe how little you saw the sky and yet you might notice that single cloud. It could be part of your direct experience, or your delight may come from deep within.
From haiku in English the first hundred years edited by Jim Kacian; Philip Rowland and Allan Burns
William J Higginson
where the river goes
first day of Spring
My grandmother was born in a house very close to a river. She loved to hear the water flowing and I think that is something I have inherited from her.
From Frogpond issue 43.1
our kids toss pebbles
Just this morning I was skimming stones at the lake. The child in me taking over, “just because”.
Joseph P. Wechselberger
without boundaries dandelion seeds
I will counter with one from me:
my neighbour loves
And now I’d like to give you an updated version of renku three. My thanks to the following poets for their contributions; Paddy White, wendy c bialek, James Young, Robert Horrobin, Pat Geyer, Giddy Nielsen-Sweep, and Jonathan Roman.
facing the sun
a passing dog
smells the soles of his shoes
wendy c bialek
rain clouds gathering
no bed at the hostel
my tomb is bigger than yours
all are dead
as they piss on the fallen
seeing his breath
only the living can feel
a ray of light
rage thaws the frost
sets daylight frenzy…
butcherbird sings the morning in
I’m no longer alone
Giddy Nielsen Sweep
the peach tree blooms
in his cup
Thank you so much to all my renku collaborators. I look forward to finding out where it takes us over the next few months.
And so it’s nearly time to say goodbye, but before I go remember:
Your next deadline for submissions is the 1st of May, when I would love to read your monoku. Emails only please.
Before we get to monoku, the next podcast is in a couple of weeks. I will be bringing you lots of lovely haiku and senryu on the topic of Afternoon break.
Last and not least until we meet again, stay safe and well and keep writing.