Let’s not beat around the bush.
Poetry is hard.
Harder than I give it credit for. I mean, it isn’t. On the surface you can knock out a haiku without even trying.
The owl soars higher
Bringing joy to the night sky
In the morning sleeps
See? That’s technically a haiku. 5-7-5. Boom. Let’s knock out another one:
My pants are on fire
Because I always tell lies
I’m not Washington
Unst. There you go.
Here’s the reality of poetry, though. The technicalities can be damn easy, but the art is hard.
Are the above two poems haiku?
Are they good haiku?
That’s purely subjective.
Do the actually mean anything?
No… not really.
For most people growing up in the Midwest, haiku really is just about the syllables. It’s a shame. The art form deserves more respect.
Yes, under the western tradition of imitation of haiku, it is mostly about the 5-7-5 formula, but there is so much more nuance to Japanese haiku.
When I studied haiku in high school, we were taught it was about the syllables and needed to be about nature. Now, I’ve studied a little bit of what is considered “classic” haiku, and I’ve come up with my own philosophy. I’m not arguing that I’m right, and I’m sure poetry scholars will tell me I’m a damn, dirty ape, but I have a theory.
Haiku, in it’s best form, is an expression of those little moments of peaceful thought. Actually, quite a few classic haiku remind me of the “Deep Thoughts” by Jack Handey sketches from Saturday Night Live in the 90s, and some of it reads like Mitch Hedberg stand-up.
Now, I’m not saying it’s all humorous, by any means. I’m just saying that it so much of it reads like the random thoughts of a person out for a walk, that I wouldn’t be surprised if ancient Japanese Poets thought of Haiku as short-form philosophy. Just the wanderings of the mind given eloquent form. The meanings are all, subtle and beautiful.
My thoughts on the screen
Open for the world’s judgement
But, still, I write on
My mind is happy
Playing with the syllables
In my poet’s soup
Little dog asleep
Drooling on my favorite quilt
I think it farted
For some classic Japanese Haiku go here:
Enjoy the art in it’s best and purest form.