|Geplaatst op 20 januari, 2020 om 10:20||reacties (0)|
What is a kigo?
A kigo (season word)(plural kigo) is a word or phrase associated with a particular season, used in Japanese poetry. Haiku poems, especially traditional or “pure” ones, also use season words or phrases. These words capture the setting and mood. Season words can be obvious or subtle, universal or culture-specific. In Japan, poets often use a book called a saijiki, which lists kigo with example poems.
In English-language haiku, we can simply state the season (winter, spring, summer, autumn) or use words that allude to the season (snow means winter, blossoms means spring, etc). For those who seek to write “pure haiku”, season words should be further analyzed, as they can house a deeper meaning than simply referencing a season.
Examples of haiku using obvious season words:
the pull of her hand
as we near the pet store
—Michael Dylan Welch
First published in Woodnotes 19, Winter 1993
walking the dogs
where they want to go
Honorable Mention, the Haiku Society of America Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest, 2017
Judge’s comments: Summer is the season of relaxation. A holiday in summer is dialed back even further. Here the poet lets the dogs take the lead on an adventure. It’s the essence of a vacation from the self. Lighthearted humor works perfectly in this haiku.
I received it from the dog
and gave it to the cat
—Taneda Santōka (1882-1940)(translation by John Stevens)
Examples of haiku using subtle season words:
hides under her lovely shell
a pair of long wings
First published in Bug Haiku by Japan Publications, Inc., Tokyo, December 1968
between the reeds
a little girl again
tussen het riet
weer even dat kleine meisje
First published in Blithe Spirit, Volume 27, Number 4, November 2017 (Dutch trans. by Corine Timmer)
of each snowflake
Winning entry in the international section of the 22th Mainichi Haiku Contest, 2019
Judge’s comments: This haiku by Ms. Timmer of Portugal could well be described as an answer to these words from Jacottet. She was presumably diagnosed with cancer. Perhaps on her way home as the snow began to fall, she became aware of the weight in each and every fragile snowflake. There is a natural, graceful brilliance here first perceived in the midst of illness and a premonition of death. It is a truly poignant haiku. (Judged by Toru Haga)
I was never diagnosed with cancer but some of my family members have been. This is an example of how haiku interpretation can vary, especially when something has been left to the imagination (silent space). The poet didn’t specify she was diagnosed with cancer. This could be anyone’s cancer, not necessarily hers. It touches us all.
The first two lines of this haiku popped to mind instantaneously. In the third line I wanted something lightweight (add contrast, yin-yang) that can become heavy at the same time depict the cold and lifelessness of winter (death). Snowflakes fit that description. Though lightweight they can become a burden when they accumulate. Heavy snowfall changes the world as we know it—as does cancer. “Snowflakes” is a subtle yet profound and versatile season word. Snowflakes can also melt and become the water in a river.
perfuming the man
who broke its branch —
— Fukuda Chiyo-Ni (1701 – 1775) (translation by Jim kacian)
A little something extra: https://akitahaiku.com/2020/01/13/world-haiku-series-2019-26-haiku-by-corine-timmer/
Examples of season words: https://www.adianta.com/YTKigoList.html
In addition to the Kigo or season word, “pure” haiku also contain a Kireji or cutting word. Next time we will learn more about the pause/cut that divides traditional haiku into two parts (juxtaposition of two images or ideas).
|Geplaatst op 14 januari, 2020 om 0:05||reacties (0)|
What is haiku?
Haiku is a form of poetry that originated in Japan. It focuses on a brief moment in time, and a sense of enlightenment. A traditional* haiku is composed of seventeen syllables in three short lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second line seven syllables, and the third line five syllables. A haiku is usually written in the present tense, with a pause at the end of the first or second line. This pause divides the poem into two parts. Haiku don’t rhyme. Contemporary or free format haiku, especially in English, are not bound to the 5-7-5 syllable structure but it is a good place to start writing haiku. Many of us started there.
Haiku is closely related to nature and the change of seasons and how that relates to human nature and awareness (think Zen). Haiku poetry captures a moment in time objectively, sharing the joy or sadness that can lead to a profound emotional experience. Seasonal words are often used in haiku and they are taken very seriously in Japan.
One of the ways to approach haiku is to think of a camera and what you see through the lens. Open your senses. You can zoom in or out and capture a moment. Haiku doesn’t tell, it shows. Don’t tell us how you feel, describe what causes the feeling.
The following haiku popped to mind while writing this post. It is in the 5-7-5 format:
beneath a dead branch
the entrance to a fox den—
the owl sees it too
debaixo de um galho seco
a entrada da cova da raposa—
a coruja também a vê
Portuguese Translation: Esperança Dickman
In May, fox pups (kits) are playful and vocal and will leave their dens for longer periods of time. Big owls can catch and eat fox pups. The combination of the dead branch with the fox den, the latter which we can imagine to house pups, deepens the haiku and adds balance. It highlights the circle of life, which includes death. The owl’s presence further enhances this and adds tension. In this poem the poet hasn’t used a traditional season word but we know it’s probably May because of the owl’s interest in the den. Has the owl seen a pup? Will it catch one? How does that make us feel? Did you notice the two parts? There is a pause after the second line. The third line gives us a new image and a new thought.
Here is another example, but in free format. This haiku was commended in the Little Iris Haiku Contest, Croatia 2018 (judged by Jim Kacian).
in a passing hearse
We know it is autumn because of the leaves scattered in the street (leaf-strewn is a season word for autumn). Autumn means the end of a life cycle. It invites us to let go. It can be associated with illness, death or old age. But the narrator (poet) doesn’t tell us she is old or ill or dying. All she says is that she sees her reflection in (the tinted windows of) a passing hearse. The use of the word “reflection” in this haiku leads to multiple layers of interpretation. Perhaps she has suddenly become aware of her own mortality? Perhaps she is happy to be alive? The reader is invited to finish the poem in his or her own mind. This poem has space beyond the words leading to further thought.
A good haiku has silent space (think of a lot of white space on a canvas). A space where each individual can dwell and finish the haiku (art) in his or her own mind. In other words, don’t show all. Leave something to the imagination.
Remember, there can’t be a valley without a mountain (yin-yang). A good way to familiarize yourself with haiku is to read it. Another way is to go on a nature walk and write down what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
Examples and further reading:
Next time we will learn more about seasonal words, known as kigo in Japan.
*Traditional haiku in Japanese is written in 17 sounds (not the same as syllables) in a single vertical line. Three lines with 17 syllables is a Western interpretation. There is much debate about the correct structure of haiku in English and other languages other than Japanese. Some adhere to the 5-7-5 structure whereas others practice a free format (less than 17 syllables in English). The most important factor is the essence of the poem.