Posted by: John Looker | 23 July, 2013

childhood memories

Picture and haiku. The picture came first:

.

treesteps

.

childhood memories –

woods where we put down monsters,

paths that led us on

.

© John Stevens 2013

The photo is reproduced with permission from Tom Stevens’s photography blog at:

http://shutttertom.com/2013/07/18/the-path/

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Responses

  1. Generally, I’m not one for haikus, but this I like, a lot.

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  2. I agree with Bart re. haiku, but yours follows the precise shape and depth of that marvelous photo…I’m guessing, familial talents passed on?

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    • Well spotted! A talent for photography bypassed me and sprang up in the next generation!

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  3. People who don’t like haiku like this haiku.
    I like haiku but dislike the compulsion to 5-7-5 them in English.
    I like this haiku too.

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  4. great pairing here, John!

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  5. Lovely musical phrasing, John. But I do wonder at the low reputation of haiku, perhaps people think the drivel they read in newspapers represents the genre. To be a haiku a la Basho, the first line would be a seasonal word, establishing the principle of change. That would throw the two line segment into poignant relief, the lost ness if those oblivious childhood rambles.

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    • I’m learning about haiku – partly from your own blogs. The form is more exacting than is often realised. How important would you rate the ‘seasonal word’? In my verse above, there’s a sense of time in the first line, but not of annual seasons. I’d be interested if you had the time to comment.

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  6. Childhood memories … I love the image this poem brings to live. And the image. 🙂

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  7. The classic form is Taoist. The sense of transcendence or order in the immediate is crucial. The seasonal word fixes the more personal story in the base both in time as passing and in the order of the ten thousand things that overflow the otherwise dark origin of things. So the kigo or seasonal word is essential to the meditative mental state of haiku. Haiku like other enduring genres inscribe the tensions of mindfulness. Sorry for the jargon! You may be amused by the fact that the jargon is met with hostility by individualistic Americans who cling to the myth of personal autonomy regardless of what it has cost the Earth.

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    • Thanks for that Tom – I was hoping you might be able to respond. It is challenging to try to map and explore the pure form, even if the modern Western world has found fun with loose adaptations. I can see that my poem above falls short against rigorous criteria (although I had hoped to sneak by with a sense of time passing in the first line!).

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  8. Hello John—I throw up my hands when it comes to haiku….

    autumn past fuji
    magpies are making haiku
    Basho–Issa–laugh

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    • You’re too much of a rebel, that’s your trouble Cynthia! I’m signing you up to remedial classes in haiku composition!

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  9. Thank you, John. Though I hate to be taught, I’m always most willing to learn.

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    • Touché! That leaves me looking like the teenager in your poem ‘Where Esses Look Like Effs’!

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  10. I like this John. I like to work in this form every once in a while. I like the constraint.

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    • It’s the challenge isn’t it? I find it a tough one.

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  11. …woods where we put down monsters! How I remember. Though more often then not they followed me home ; ) I think the image is beautiful and the poem, too.

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    • I’m glad it resonates a bit for you too. Thanks Anna.

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  12. It is interesting that so many of your commentators dislike the haiku. One thing to say:
    it’s summer that lies—
    writing a bad haiku is
    so easy to do

    One of the things I like about poetry is the construction aspect of it: you’re building a little machine to capture something: Rilke’s panther poem, for example. Would it be fair to say that the (good) haiku is one that takes this engineering project and deconstructs it, freeing the world to wander into the words?
    The 5 – 7 – 5 thing: of course that’s the first thing you learn when you learn haiku. It might be useful to think of it as a ladder that one might throw away…someday. To cling to it…that must against Tao. Much like clinging to Tao is against Tao.
    Integrating the seasonal word: might be something to cast off too someday. Just because we haven’t turned it into a cliché is no reason to cling to it—just end your summer haiku: ‘damn, it’s hot’ or ‘even my words sweat’
    Now as to your haiku—
    It is perhaps a failure if judged by (say) Tom’s demanding standards (but ‘standards’ is the wrong word here), one might say that it is a good start towards a haiku. Lines 2 and 3 aren’t bad at all. ‘childhood memories’ seems unnecessary. ‘scones with clotted cream’
    A quote from G K. Chesterton is appropriate here (I’ve been fooling around with fairy tales lately):
    Fairy tales don’t teach children that monsters exist. Children already know that monsters exist. Fairy tales teach children that monsters can be killed.

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    • I wonder whether people are suspicious of the haiku because there are so many bad examples around. Your parody is great fun – but is actually better (better crafted, more thought provoking) than many! I also wonder if many other people like writing haiku because they hanker after the demanding constraints of form – but whether they are going East for inspiration or back into a Western past when every poem had to obey rules, I’m not sure. For my own part, I rather like the way a haiku is bigger on the inside than the outside – like Dr Who’s Tardis.
      “Scones with clotted cream” – indeed!
      i like that Chesterton quotation by the way.

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  13. Dropping by here after a time away. Once again, I enjoyed both the haiku and the image. Cheers.

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  14. I love this, John – brings back childhood memories. (Perfect haiku to go with the photo!)

    Good to be reading your poetry again. I’ve been behind in reading blogs for months, but hoping to stay caught up with you and everyone now. 🙂

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    • Thanks Betty – I’m greatly encouraged by your catching up with reading my blog!

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  15. Most interesting to see The Child….your new category. 🙂

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    • You have sharp eyes, Cynthia! I have no immediate plans for this theme but realised it was going to be reoccurring.

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