Welcome to episode 37 of the Haiku Chronicle podcast, summer in the mountains watching the tourists, or what, when and where… I’m Patricia your host. As you know if you’ve been here before, I’m documenting my haiku learning experience in the company of an ever increasing community of haiku and senryu writers. It’s lovely to be with you. Thanks so much for your feedback, help and most importantly your company along the way.

I’m learning and trying out new techniques for writing, offering up my best work from this last week and heading off to Slovakia where we’ll be meeting up again with Eva Drobna, who we first met way back in March this year in Episode 16.

I received many positive messages about last week’s  episode, which if you haven’t listened to it yet, was a special that myself and some of the community did on the topic of women. Many congratulations to all my lovely poets, you were brilliant.

I also promised to catch up with Mark who submitted this one liner:

two sisters two clouds really one cloud

I was wondering about the inspiration behind the piece.

Mark got back to me very fast and let me know that the work was inspired by his wife and her sister, who, he says, “have an instant connection whenever they meet” thanks Mark.

This week’s technique is “What, where, when”. It’s often described as a basic technique, a very good technique for beginners. In a way it is, but I think representing it like that underestimates and undervalues it. I haven’t yet found a haiku technique that, if you are really trying to write your best work, is easy.

So what is it:

With this technique, when you write your haiku, you give your reader the following information: what, where and when and you arrange this information in the order you desire to create the piece that works best with your idea.

So yes it sounds really basic and simple, but it’s not when you start putting the pieces together? Particularly if you are doing your best to show and not to tell. Your work should try and exercise the brain of the reader a little bit.

Let me give you some examples that I found of this technique which I think show it off at it’s best:

(1) Leroy Kanterman

moored to its pilings,
the rusty ferryboat
rides the morning tide…

  • It seems very simple, but there are lots of questions for me:
  • Is this the sea or a tidal river
  • Is the ferry still in use
  • If it’s not still used, why is it still tied up at moorings
  • Does it indicate a dying town or a dying mode of transport or a dying society or all of the above

(1) Gary Hotham

pheasant
at the town dump
this winter day…

I can’t remember which of the Japanese masters wrote that when we are writing haiku we should write about the unusual. So for example why write that a rose is beautiful, or it’s scent is divine, find the flaw, talk about that. This haiku, I think does that. A pheasant at the town dump, why? It’s not it’s normal habitat.

(2) Alan Summers

Gare du Nord
the slow change of snow
on fake fur

Again this haiku is deceptive, on first read it may look simple, you can see the what, where and when, but it is not telling you, it’s showing you. You know it’s winter through a judicial use of vocabulary, not because Alan has outright told you.

So what of my writing this week?

I managed to get to a basic level with this technique, but I need more time to elevate my work to something a bit special. So here’s the best of my week:

a frog
clambers over the soil
summer drought

On first glance, it’s a bit, so what, but what I would like the reader to be asking, is, why is the frog clambering and not hopping across the soil and it’s clearly dry, so how is he managing, when the world is drying up around him?

I’ve been in the mountains this weekend, trying to get out of the city heat. I was sitting on my patio, enjoying the alpine sunshine, with just a hint of a cool breeze, and people watching.

So from the Swiss Alps, I give you these:

summer holiday hike
lagging behind his parents
a teenager

summer season
tourists performing
for the villagers

My village does quite a few things to entertain the tourists, it’s the bread and butter of existence, but I wonder do tourists ever think of the entertainment they provide to the locals? From my patio in the valley I see lots of performances: basejumpers, paragliders, teenagers wandering about with the wrong footwear or outdoor clothing, family arguments, all sorts of things.

From my life in the mountains to Slovakia to meet with Eva Drobna, who we previously met in episode 16. Like many of our community she has been a teacher, now retired. She is a lover of poetry in it’s many forms and enjoys haiku for ”its simplicity, purity of speech” and senryu for it’s insight into “human weaknesses with humour”.

anxiety pills
the soothing colour
of butterfly wings

A tribute to the power of nature to restore balance to our lives.

Thank you Eva.

Next week, we’ll have a look at another technique. I haven’t decided yet, which one I’m brave enough to tackle, so it will be a surprise. If you’d like to suggest a technique that you think we would all enjoy trying out, please let me know.

Just a reminder before I go that I am asking for submissions of sense switching haiku and senryu for a podcast special at the beginning of September, submissions by the 15th August please.

I hope you all have a lovely week. If you, as I am, are in the middle of a hot summer, stay safe and drink lots.

Thank you for listening today and keep writing…

  1. The Haiku Anthology. English Language Haiku by contemporary American and Canadian poets. edited by Cor van den Heuvel 1974
  2. Alan Summers: Area19 blog
Week 37: The Haiku Chronicle Podcast – Summer in the mountains watching the tourists