A podcast documenting my journey to learn the art of haiku and I hope what I’m learning will be useful in helping you learn and improve your haiku writing too. You will find all the links to the reading I’ve done in the show notes and on the poetrypea.com website.
This week I’m happy to welcome Eva Drobná as our guest writer. Our first guest from Slovakia. I’ll tell you a little bit more about her later in the podcast.
Last week, you’ll remember that I was intrigued by the one image haiku. I was reading Marlene Mountain’s essay (1) on one image haiku and it got me thinking, because what I’ve been reading so far recommended two images, the phrase and the fragment. How could one image haiku, really be haiku?
She quotes Alan Watts’ definition of a good haiku, which is “a pebble thrown into the pool of the listener’s mind, evoking associations out of the richness of his own memory”
If you take this definition, perhaps you can accept the idea of a one image haiku.
Marlene subdivides the one image Haiku into
- a haiku which has two components
- A pure one image haiku, which does not have the two components
Let me share with you a couple of examples she gave. For the two component Western one image haiku she offers Virginia Brady Young’s
A hippo shedding the river
Here you can clearly see the two components the hippo and the river and the relationship between the two.
She gives many examples of a pure one image haiku, for example,
Elizabeth Lamb’s (2):
spotting an antelope–
that long moment
before he jumps
Inevitably Cor van den Heuvel’s haiku:
Is quoted as an example of the pure one image Haiku. To explain the rationale behind her belief that this is a pure one image haiku, Mountain quoting Watts again, suggests that tundra has achieved, ‘a silence of the mind in which one does not ‘think about’ the poem but actually feels the sensation which it evokes–all the more strongly for having said so little.’ (1)
Cor van den Heuvel himself suggested how one should interpret tundra in an interview with Carmen Sterba in Troutswirl in which he says: “it is what it is, “a level or undulating plain characteristic of arctic or subarctic regions.” The important things are to see it alone in the mind or in the middle of an otherwise blank page and to color it with a season, preferably spring when it is blowing forever with grasses, flowers, birds (with their nests and eggs), and insects; or in winter when it is covered with endless drifted snow. To see the vastness of it spreading out from the word across the page and across the world. And to hear the sound of it. The word. (3)
To my mind this offers two interpretations. The first supports Marlene Mountain. As when you see it alone in the mind you can feel the sensation it evokes. In this interpretation it is a pure one image haiku.
In the second interpretation where you see it in the middle of an otherwise blank page it is still a one image haiku, but I believe it has two components, the word and the paper on which it’s written.
Perhaps what is more interesting to those of us who are learning the art of Haiku, is the reason why Cor van den Heuvel wrote one image Haiku. In an article for the haiku foundation, My Haiku Path (4) he writes that he tried to find another element to resonate with
the shadow in the folded napkin
but “finally decided, with the encouragement of Anita Virgil, that the image could stand alone. It didn’t need anything else”. He writes “I began to think of one-image and one-line haiku as a part of my approach to haiku. There is almost always something else in the experience of the reader that will resonate, if only sub-consciously, with a single image-if that image is striking and evocative enough. One may think of it as an invisible metaphor.”
I was asked if I knew why he removed his one word haiku from the third edition of The Haiku Anthology and I found the answer in the interview he did with Jim Kacian in the Haiku Foundation’s JUXTA Interview: Jim Kacian Interviews Cor van den Heuvel (5). Jim asked him directly and he answered, “I felt it was becoming too much the poem that defined me, to the neglect of my other work. So I didn’t think it needed to be included again. There is something a little greedy of a poet who takes a single word from the language and sort of puts his or her brand on it. An interesting phenomenon once, I’m not sure if I were to try another one-worder it would not seem unseemly. I think someone has already published a shorter word as a haiku. The word “shark” on white space is only one syllable, whereas tundra has two. I’m not sure, but I think it was “written” and published by Alexis Rotella. Of course, many of us can think of single words that might work, and it’s largely by chance who gets to publish it first.”
It was published by Alexis Rotella you can read about it on the Living Anthology webpage (6). It is the second most famous one word Haiku.
I say this time in cheek I promise you, but maybe my one word haiku
could become the third!
Last week I promised an explanation of the thought process behind this Haiku. You can make up your mind whether it works or not. But I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
I did not want to write this, as a two component one word Haiku, ie, the word grey, on a grey page. I felt that this would actually detract from the word and not allow people the space to imagine what the haiku was about.
If you were listening last week you will know the story behind the Haiku. If not, this is what I was thinking. I spent a lot of time in the city. One day I was walking along the cobbled streets of the old town, which normally I love but it was cold, really cold, the sky was grey, the cobbles were grey, most of the houses had taken on a grey colour in the shade and the word grey came to me. Grey because of the colours naturally, but also the mood, the sadness that it evoked. And the word itself, which I find quintessentially miserable. Seasonally I see it as a winter haiku because of the snow and the leaden skies that go with it but it could also be an early spring/late autunm haiku, when the mist of the lake can envelop you in a bubble of grey for part of the day.
Now a quick reminder of submissions you could be making this month. You’ll find more info on the poetrypea website but don’t forget that submissions to Frogpond are open until the end of March, click on the submissions menu on our website for the link.
Let’s not forget that we accept submissions here at the Haiku Chronicle too!
Guest Haiku featuring Eva Drobná, from Slovakia.
Eva, who is from Slovakia, is an active pensioner, teacher of the Slovak language and proofreader of Slovak works. I asked her why her English was so good and she replied that her teacher was very good as was her translator.
She writes poetry as a hobby. She is intrigued by haiku in particular because of it simplicity and purity of speech. She has written books:
- Haiku in the stream of life
- Searching in the pedigree
Like many other guests she recommends reading haiku to improve your knowledge and style. She herself has read translations of Japanese poets: Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki, Kakinomoto, Hitomaro and others.
Additionally she recommends the British haiku society as a good source of learning.
Let’s hear her Haiku:
I lean into rays
As I read this haiku I can feel the sun on my face. I don’t know about you, but that’s one of the things that makes me feel very, very happy.
Thanks for your great haiku Eva. I look forward to hearing you again.
Can I ask a favour of you? If you are on facebook please go to our page: The Haiku Chronicle and give us a like. It would be much appreciated.
Keep writing and remember we’d love to have submissions from you for the podcast.
See you next week!
- in this blaze of sun, From Here Press, Paterson NJ, 1975