Top Haiku Features with Commentary
The #HaikuSeed prompt last week was ivy with an additional photo prompt
There are a lot of great haiku and senryu submitted this week and it was difficult choosing which to comment on. I’m also preoccupied with other stuff related to designing the website and magazine, so this week’s commentary might not go too deep. But I hope you enjoy these brilliant haiku that beg your mind to imagine and think.
a wall ripples
The idea of a wall rippling is too interesting to not stop and picture it. If the fragment in L1 (line 1) is not about wind in one form or another, do you see how the brilliantly written L2 might not work the same way. The idea of a wall covered in ivy or creepers rippling would be a stretch but Pippa quite cleverly and tenderly directs the reader
towards the desired interpretation of a wall rippling. From there on, it is up to the reader to interpret the phrase a wall ripples anyway they could.
Great haiku make you want to read them over and over again. Why? There is no single reason. Sometimes you do not understand what you read completely but the verse has your attention anyway. Sometimes you love the imagery and your mind can’t help but go back to the first line to relive it. And so on. But the result is that with every re-read the scene and moment the haiku captures becomes increasingly vivid and sensory. This haiku is doing that to me.
The #HaikuSeed prompt last week was sunny with an additional photo prompt
the heron takes a bit
of river with him
You could see water dripping down the heron as it lifts off from the water. And if you are mindful and there isn’t much noise at this moment, you might even hear the sound of water falling back into the river between the wing flaps.
Picture this with the sun behind the heron, likely at sunrise or sunset, the glare of the golden sun in the river, and then in the drops falling into it, a glint on the heron’s wet wings and legs – what an image!
Even after a bit of the river falls back, the heron’s legs and feathers would still be wet – the heron taking the river to the tree it nests in far inland. Wonderful imagery.(more…)
A note from our founding editor Sankara Jayanth: We do not mean to be insensitive and we have no intention to disrespect personnel who serve their country or died serving their country in war. But war is war. Murder is murder and that is what happens in war, no matter how proudly and how righteously someone does it. Patriotism is a very tilted scale to gauge someone’s humanity. So you will not find here haiku or commentary that praise laurels to soldiers and armies who defended this country or that. This column will be about everything that war affects, poisons and kills, so please understand this motivation and intention of ours before determining something we talk about here being insensitive. But we will listen to reason and if we are insensitive, we will learn from it and be better. This column comes purely from a rage and angst about the violence we bring upon every living thing on earth while also being believers of religions and gods and heaven and what not.
We have Arvinder Kaur‘s haunting haiku written for the #HaikuSeed pattern to thank for seeding the idea for this new column on our journal where we will dive into the featured haiku, starting with the image of war painted by it and then following the trail to darker places that exist right behind the verse.(more…)
fireflies flicker in and out
of the empty trenches
– Arvinder Kaur, @arvinder8
Pattern bombing is a tactical strategy where aircrafts drop bombs in a predetermined pattern and timing to produce the desired effect. And the desired effect they are going for is usually murder of humans and any living thing that happens to be in their canvas for murder.
Is the writer being allegorical when she says fireflies flicker in and out of empty trenches? Are the flashes of lights rising from the trenches souls of dead soldiers?
Featuring haiku brought to blossom by terrific writers from #HaikuSeed prompts:
bird, porch, high tide, enter, butterfly, summer moon
the sunbird prefers my window
to the frangipani
– Alaka Y.
A wonderful haiku. After I finished reading, it felt like I’m experiencing sweltering heat myself, but without company of the sunbird that was here on my windowsill just a moment ago.
When haiku become specific about species of flora and fauna, it can be a hit or miss from the reader’s perspective.
I assume one of the reasons for a miss is not being familiar with the type of birds/flowers and their relationship to various seasons. I’m guilty of having only little knowledge about these things. Having said that, it more often than not does not matter.
As a reader, I guess our mind usually substitutes a vague alternative for that flower, this bird when we don’t know specifics about them. And it is wonderful that the haiku’s sensory effect is still experienced by the readers even after we blatantly replace the writer’s well thought-out subjects with hazy forms.
So when using such specific identification in the haiku does work, it transports the reader to a different place and they are almost convinced it is a moment they have experienced themselves. This haiku does that.
🍂 🌿 🍀 🍁 🍃(more…)
In War is a Kigo column, we shall feature haiku that paint a picture of war – be it the scorched earth patch in a garden, the bloodied swing in the park, the wails of children, the agony of the parents, the untended houseplants, the dog searching for its human, and what not. The horrors of war are many. Our intention behind running this column is to remind ourselves of the horrors that are happening elsewhere that we are often unaware of or ignore because we will surely become sad thinking about all the suffering, to provide an outlet to our angst and helplessness sitting a world away from the conflict being able to do nothing, to record the bravery and tragedy on behalf of the victims in the only way we could. Through art. Through haiku.
I say, War is a Kigo. I wrote the following haiku with a little illustration a couple of years ago, I don’t know during which conflict. But the history of human race makes it quite evident that in terms of our experience of time, war is indeed a season. A season that spans year-long over some regions on Earth where all other seasons are pushed aside to accommodate this one.
At the time of this writing in March 2022, everyone is talking about the Russia-Ukraine war. But wars, war-like conflicts that kill thousands of people, are happening in places like Yemen, Afghanistan. Indeed they have been happening in many places around the world all round the year, every year but they don’t get much attention. Why, is a whole another can of worms.
There is also this ironic relationship between war and haiku. At least in my mind that is and I won’t mince words when I touch that relationship because it is the truth every which way you look at it. Japan’s poetry form haiku has become so popular all over the world, written in many countries in their native language even. I’m will not go and find out if haiku made in-roads into English literature before World War II, I think it did, but the fact is:
for them, for us
their poetic forms
The bombing by Japan on Pearl Harbor in USA killed 2,390 people, most of them US service members.
The nuclear bombing by USA (and UK, apparently they had to approve the attack) on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, mostly civilians.
… and we write haiku.
Submitting Haiku For War Is a Kigo Column
It is true that you might not be able to work-in all the traditional haiku writing conventions into your haiku about war and there will be exceptions in our selections for this reason. But nevertheless we are still looking for haiku that have a natural element in them, haiku that describe a brief moment in time or thought, a juxtaposition of two images that evoke a response in the reader.
We will announce calls for submission on our Twitter account @HaikuSeed_, there is no fixed schedule as of now for this column. You are requested to submit your haiku through the Google Form we will make available during the submission period.
- All featured works are copyrighted to the respective writers. We would love it if you cite being our journal if your work is going to be published elsewhere, no obligations though.
- Photos used in our journal are taken by and copyrighted to Sankara Jayanth Sudanagunta unless stated otherwise.
This short animated illustration video shows the idea of our upcoming column Haiku Horticulture – what it is about, how to write and submit the haiku you’ve written for this column.
Read all the details about this column in here: Haiku Horticulture. We hope this little video gets haiku writers excited. What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below or on Twitter at @HaikuSeed_.
Featuring haiku brought to blossom by terrific writers from #HaikuSeed prompts:
door frame, mango, wintry, evening walk, bloom, pattern, tranquil
I seldom dive into language-specific commentary or poetry form-specific commentary. Basically my commentary is not technical. I’m also not good at writing appreciation. I hope the amazing writers being featured do not take offense if my commentary lacks literal words of praise. When a haiku sets off a chain of imagination inside me, there is an ecstasy I experience that I’ve often been aware of when I read haiku by Basho, Issa and the like. So my commentary is usually about all these images in my head spawned by the featured haiku and this is how I show my appreciation for the writers and their amazing haiku.
in the door frame a March moon
cut in half
– Hege A. J. Lepri
Apart from the beautiful image, I feel this haiku lends to several interpretations of human scenes. A lover halfway through the door, leaving angry. Or a lover halfway through the door, taunting and playful. Of course, the cut in half is too sharp of an expression for both these interpretations, unless you subscribe to the absurd.
Why does the writer say the half moon is hiding in the door frame? Did she first search for the moon through a couple of windows in her room, couldn’t find it and she comes out of her room and there! the half moon is hiding in the front door frame.
Featuring few brilliant haiku brought to blossom by terrific writers, seeded by #HaikuSeed prompts.
#HaikuSeed: weeding, roadside, crane, moss, jolly, scarf(more…)
the crane and the heron
The image of a crane and heron standing still is quite trivial and the haiku wouldn’t be doing much if it was just describing it without doing something more with the juxtaposing image. I felt that early spring doesn’t give any life to the triviality of this moment even though spring itself and the birds are full of it. Instead, the writer’s creative use of playing statues brought all the life into the haiku. Not only is it an entertaining way of saying that the birds are standing still like statues, it could also mean that the crane and the heron are actively playing a game of statue. This interpretation brings back memories from childhood where we as kids shout “statue!” pointing at a person and the person has to literally freeze in place and stay still like a statue. The idea of a crane and heron playing this game is quite amusing.
In short, Haiku Horticulture is a weeklong writing process where writers work on an idea seeded by #HaikuSeed_HH prompt that yields one haiku at the end of the cultivation period.
Writing a haiku is a lot like cultivating a plant. You sow a seed, an idea sprouts from it in your mind. You see the potential, so you pour your efforts into the seedling. You cultivate it with patience and care, trimming the leaves that are detrimental to the growth of the plant if necessary. And after some time, a flourishing bloom appears in your garden.
With Haiku Horticulture, we expect you, the writer, to ruminate on and cultivate your haiku for one week before you decide it has bloomed fully from the first day you have seen it sprout from Haiku Horticulture prompt (#HaikuSeed_HH).
We often stick with our first idea. We often also neglect the potential our ideas have and trade it for fruits that can be reaped instantly, a sign of impatience. We want to make haiku writers see the fruits of patience in haiku writing. We also want to help haiku writers understand and observe more closely how their mind and heart shift and change perspectives ever so slightly, maybe just a word or two. It may not be quite different from the first version, but you would have spent a week cultivating it and you’d know that this version of your haiku is the best expression of your idea.
Haiku Writing and Submission Guidelines
Below we outline a rough idea about how you could approach writing a haiku for Haiku Horticulture:
- Write a haiku (Day 1)
This version is the one you’d post if it was any other prompt. Keep it in your notes. This is haiku you want to cultivate and get it to bloom. Submit this as an entry for Sprout (Version 1).
- Cultivate your haiku (Day 2-6)
Over the next few days, work on your haiku, see if can be improved. You can do anything that is required to cultivate it – change one word or re-write the whole haiku, but do not change the core idea that you’ve used in Sprout (Version 1). Keep a track of all the different variations you have tried in your notes. Select on of them and submit it as an entry for Cultivation (Version 2).
- See your haiku bloom (Day 7)
You have spent a week cultivating your haiku and it has bloomed to its full potential. Submit this as an entry for Bloom (Version 3).
We expect you to submit 3 versions of your haiku through the submission form in the order in which you’ve written them over a period of 7 days. As described earlier, the 3 versions are named Sprout (Version 1), Cultivation (Version 2), Bloom (Version 3).
While evaluating the best written haiku for a feature on Haiku Seed Journal‘s Haiku Horticulture column, only the final version i.e., Bloom (version 3) will be considered. But we shall post all 3 versions of the selected haiku in order to showcase how haiku evolve over time in a creator’s mind before they become the simple yet tremendously artistic verses that they are.
Haiku Horticulture – Twice a Month
- The prompt post Haiku Horticulture – Prompt shall be posted on Mondays of weeks #1 and #3 every month. Submissions close on Mondays of weeks #2 and #4 respectively.
- The feature post Haiku Horticulture – Showcase shall be posted at the end of weeks #2 and #4 every month after selection process is completed.
- The 3 versions need not be written exactly on the days we mentioned above. We know great haiku can often be written impromptu, but our initiative focuses on patience and cultivation. So we hope you honor the spirit of Haiku Horticulture initiative by cultivating your haiku for a few days until you can say to yourself your haiku has fully bloomed.
- The progress you show in the 3 haiku versions need not be drastic. It could be as simple as remove one word or adding one from your initial versions.