I started my haiku writing with the idea that these little gems had to have 17 syllables and three lines, but I learnt very quickly that this was not the case and I have documented this journey of learning and frustration in the podcast. Frustration? Yes, because learning about haiku is a little like herding cats, you find a potential rule, only to find in the next article you read, that it is not a definite rule, but a rule of thumb and you can break it.

Since starting the podcast people have joined me and helped me to grow. Thank you to all of you who listen and give me advice or follow up the podcasts with your feedback. You know I appreciate it.

This week I am continuing the theme of haiku techniques, because I’m finding these techniques are giving me the structure that I require and a greater understanding not only of how to create haiku but how to read them. Today I’m looking at what Jane Reichhold (1) calls “as is above: is below” .

What is this technique I’m talking about? “As is above: is below.” (1)

I think as a beginner at this technique you start by thinking of creating a sense of completeness, “working to make the tiny haiku a well rounded thought.” (1) You are trying to show a clear connection between L1 and L3. That L3 can in effect, complete the idea in L1 and yet, L2 and L3 also makes perfect sense within the haiku. All together they give you a whole. Jane Reichhold gives us this example (1)

the horse’s head bowed
straight down

Here you can see in your minds eye, rain falling straight down, so L3 complets L1. You can see the horses head bows straight down, so L3 completes L2, and you can also see the whole piece as one and it makes sense.

Let me give you more examples:

The first is by Virginia Brady Young (2)

a sand dune

Again, moonlight shifts works as one thought, a sand dune shifts also works, but you can see the whole thing fits together as one.

Rod Willmot (2)

half-moon through mist…
i lean now
on my axe

What do these example have in common? If you think about it, the fragment at the beginning is an image from above and the phrase, an image from below.

When I started to try out this technique,  I started, with this:

an aeroplane
a great white shark
crosses the sea

It struck me as I swam up and down at my local outdoor pool, coming up for air now and again, that aeroplane shadows were falling across me and the pool. I found it difficult to use this example to illustrate in a Shiki sketch of life way what I was trying to say, so I thought of using a shark.  A great white had been in the news for being sighted off the coast of the Balearic Islands in Europe.

As it stands the haiku works technically in the way it was supposed to, L3 finished L1 and made sense with L2. Yet I still wasn’t happy. The fragment and phrase were too far apart. The completeness wasn’t there, so I turned to my friends at Haiku Nook on Google+ and asked for help.

Fractled came up with this:

cloud formation
a great white shark
crosses the sea

I think this achieves the objectives of the technique much better than my attempt. Can you feel the completeness of it? Thanks Fractled, you did a terrific job with this.

However, it doesn’t say what I wanted it to say, so I’m continuing and currently it reads like this:

an aeroplane—
far across the ocean a shark
cuts through the blue

Another one for you from my notebook:

autumn oak
the red squirrel
drops its nuts

That’s the basics of the technique covered, in the literal sense.  Let’s evolve our haiku…

I give you this from another of my friends at haiku nook, Willie Bongcaron

scented breeze
but to be young again
near the jasmines

You still have that above / below feeling, L3 finishes L1 yet makes sense with L2. It’s complete. The technique is there, but is not so blindingly obvious as in my own pieces.

Lovely job Willie, thank you for allowing me to use it.

Next week, the technique of riddles. I’ve not tried this before. Feel free to join in and email me with examples you have written or have enjoyed reading. It’s always fun to hear from you.

Now let’s go and visit with Alison Finch, in the USA. Alison clearly knows her haiku stuff as you will hear, but little wonder, not only is she a writer, but she teaches English.

She loves nature, which comes through in this haiku. She says “writing haiku is a way to give another person, a reader, a picture in their mind. Believing that when, “the reader can picture in their head what the poet is trying to convey, and it leaves an impression.” then you have written a successful haiku.

I think she has achieved exactly that with her haiku, so let’s hear it:

a hive in the tree
skilled craftsman busy at work
delicious results

Delicious results indeed Alison. Thank you. I do have a vivid image in my mind. I hope we will have a chance to hear more from you in the future.

And so today’s podcast closes. A very big thank you to everyone who has helped me to put together this week’s podcast and who have sent me examples of their work using some of the techniques I have been talking about.

Remember next week it’s the technique of riddles.

Before I forget, Nicholas Klacsanzky recommended a book to me and I forgot to tell you last week. The Art of Haiku by Stephen Addiss.(3) I’ve started to read it and am enjoying it so far. Thanks Nicholas.

I so happy that you joined me this week and I look forward to being with you next Monday, here at The Haiku Chronicle. Thank you and keep writing.

  1. Jane Reichhold: Writing and Enjoying Haiku. A hands on guide
  2. Bruce Ross editor: Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku
  3. Stephen Addiss: The Art of Haiku. It’s history through poems and painting by Japanese Masters
Week 34: Sharks, Squirrels and Bees

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