Welcome to episode 39 of the haiku chronicle podcast. If you are already one of the chronicle community, no, you’ve not heard wrong, episode 39. Last week I missed an episode because I found myself unexpectedly in hospital for a week. Thanks to all of you who knowing my plight sent me messages of support and particularly Giddy and Su who wrote me some lovely haiku and senryu to cheer me up.
I am a little behind with replying to your messages, sorry, but it’s going to take a little while to get on top of that, I’m still a bit poorly.
This week, I’m going to be looking at the technique described as narrowing the focus, sharing what I’ve written using that technique and then we have two poets to go and visit with, one new to the Chronicle, Su Wai Hlaing, originally from Burma but now living and working in Singapore and Mineko Takahashi one of our regular contributors from Japan. I’m looking forward to reading you their work.
Thinking about our growing community the other day, I realised that we come from so many parts of the world, except, South America. If anyone knows of haiku and senryu writers on that continent, please let me know and I can try and make contact.
Coincidently, the Haiku foundation daily haiku for August is featuring Spanish haiku writing. (1) I’m enjoying it.
Alan Summers is doing something I would love to do, he is the poet in residence at Oppo on the park, (4) a coffee shop in the city of Bristol in the UK. Alongside their serving of coffee, juices etc Alan is spreading the joy of haiku with his customers. What a great idea Alan, if I’m ever in Bristol I’m coming in…
And Mark Gilbert has set me thinking. he wrote to me that he enjoys the interplay of rules and technique with other things such as tone, drama, trying to say something etc, but wonders, and I’m putting words into his mouth here, if in contemporary journals, haiku have become more about technical skills and less about the simplicity of the idea. What is more important technical skill or content, where do you draw the line? Editing vs spontaneity? Are modern journals featuring too many haiku that are loosing their simplicity of content because they are working too hard on the technique. Is there an intellectualisation of haiku? Should there be an intellectualisation of haiku? Personally I like a simple haiku which shows consideration for technique but doesn’t shout about it. Interesting one… anyone got any thoughts?
So without any irony, let’s look at another technique. Narrowing the focus. Another so called basic technique, and yet you can create wonderful pieces by using it.
Here’s a definition by Ashley Capes (5) that I liked:
“Narrowing the focus” can be achieved if you think of your poem like a camera—begin with an establishing shot, then move to the subject for a close up, and finally an extreme close up where the most telling detail of your poem is revealed.”
“This technique is favoured by haiku writers seeking to establish an intimacy between subject and viewer, and can be useful in drawing attention to something seemingly insignificant—but which becomes poetic through either its position in the wider world or the lens through which the poet views it.”
Actually I would like to redefine it slightly; as zooming in and out. I think this technique can work both as a narrowing of focus and widening of focus. Widening also creates a certain intimacy. I hope you’ll see what I mean in the examples I have chosen for today.
Noelle Egan (6)
inside the box
sits a doll
Michael McClintock (7)
watching the sun move
in a water drop
Robert Spiess (7)
wispy autumn clouds;
in the river shallows
the droppings of a deer
JW Hackett (7)
the stillness of dawn:
crashing between the branches,
a solitary leaf
Michael Mc Clintock (7)
a field of poppies!
the hills blowing with poppies!
My best of the week
under the laurel leaves
a dead blackbird
walking the ridge
A double treat. Two guest poets this week.
Su Wai Hlaing
The first is Su Wai Hlaing, a nurse currently working in Singapore, but originally from Burma.
Like many of us Su uses her haiku and senryu to focus on the moment, to preserve it. She says “A good haiku should be one which is honest and like water which flows smoothly and softly in the reader’s mind.” I like that definition, don’t you?
She also had some recommendations for reading, which I are at the bottom of the page.
When she’s not working or writing haiku she loves to climb mountains, run, travel and undertake other creative pursuits such as drawing and painting.
chimes of cathedral
I read the words of
I savoured the contrast between the sound of the bells and the silence of the beggars. The implication of the richness of the church and the poverty of the beggar. I think that Su achieves what she set out to achieve, the images and the poetry do flow smoothly and softly in my mind. Thanks Su. Looking forward to haring more from you, and if you would like to read more here’s the link to Su’s blog.
Staying on the asian continent we turn to Japan, where one of our regular contributors resides, Mineko Takahashi. Mineko inspires me not just with her language abilities, and her work ethic but almost every time we correspond she starts my brain fizzing with new ideas for topics.
in our hands
flowers remain longer
than their fruits
I thought this was a very clever observation. I asked Mineko where it came from. “What inspired me is the fact that we eat cherries so eagerly and quickly when they are put on a table for eating, but we admire cherry blossoms for as long as from the start of their buds’ starting to bloom till petals all fall, and even after, on the ground feeling them with our feet as we walk.” Of course Mineko lives in a country of cherry trees, for me, when I read this I thought of apples, watching the buds, through to seeing the blossoms flying in the wind and landing on the ground and the pleasure of gobbling up the fruit. Thanks as always Mineko for your lovely piece.
That’s it for this week. Don’t forget that I’m still taking submissions of haiku and senryu on any topic as long as they are written using the synesthesia technique. Deadline 24th August please.
Thank you to all of you for listening and for taking the time to get in touch, I honestly appreciated it very much.
Until next week and another technique, keep wiriting….
- The Haiku Foundation daily haiku
- Su Wai Hlaing Mainichi
- Roger Watson Mainichi
- Alan Summers: Oppo on the park
- Ashley Capes Scribophile.com
- Noelle Egan
- The Haiku Anthology. English language haiku by contemporary American and Canadian Poets 1974
Su Wai Hlaing:
Recommended reading from Su:
- Basho: the complete haiku, Matsuo Basho
- Lips too chilled, The Classic Tradition of Haiku,