Haiku fragment and phrase


“First and foremost, and certainly the guideline which I have consciously or unconsciously followed the longest, is the one that a haiku must be divided into two parts. This is the positive side of the rule that haiku should not be a run-on sentence. There needs to be a syntactical break dividing the ku into two parts…

For the purposes of this discussion, I would like to call the shorter portion, the fragment and the longer portion, or rest of the poem, the phrase.”   Jane Reichhold

prompt:   http://chevrefeuillescarpediem.blogspot.com.au/2017/05/carpe-diem-universal-jane-17-fragment.html

Seeking ‘Ma’

Despite spammers hijacking my blog last night and filling the comment threads with gibberish and despite the current threat of the global cyber attack I am still utterly addicted to online research.   When  the artist and haiku poet, Belinda Broughton commented on my last post – ‘Ma’, the Japanese aesthetic of space, is similar to the ‘Buddhist emptiness’ that you’re referring to, isn’t it? I call it ‘dreaming room’ – I was off on another binge.

In an article in the online magazine Rice Paper by Colleen Lanki I read –

Ma is a Japanese aesthetic principle meaning “emptiness” or “absence.”  It is the space between objects, the silence between sounds, or the stillness between movements.  The term describes both time and space, and is much more than a “lack” of something.  The emptiness is, in fact, a palpable entity.

Simply put, ma is the aesthetic of space-time.’     https://ricepapermagazine.ca/2013/02/%E9%96%93-an-aesthetic-of-space-time/

In a Kyoto Journal article by Gunter Nitschke  I read –

‘Many waka and haiku poems begin with a phrase that employs ma to paint the atmosphere of energy of the setting.   For example –

木の間 (ko-no-ma) Among trees (literally: place/time/mood of trees)’  Kyoto Journal – ma

Tracking down what Belinda meant by ‘dreaming room’ I discovered an essay on writing haiku by Denis Garrison https://denisgarrison.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/dreaming-room-an-editorial-essay/   He writes – ‘By “dreaming room,” I mean some empty space inside the poem which the reader can fill with his personal experience, from his unique social context.’

Reading these articles I had my own ‘aha ‘ moment  –


prompt – https://haikuhorizons.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/haiku-horizons-prompt-road/

Focusing my intention.

The light of the recent full moon in Scorpio was piercing, penetrating. In the wee small hours aspects of my own psychology were revealed to me. The cold, hard facts were laid out so I could not help but see them. At 3am while searing white light found the chinks and gaps in my bedroom curtains I lay awake thinking things through.

One of those things I thought about was this blog.   It could so easily meander off into the same direction as my old blog.   It is already showing a tendency to become no more than a way of filling in time when I’m bored and/or a place to vent about life’s petty trials and tribulations.    Having blogged that way on ‘Art and Life’ for several years I know how frustrated I get with that.   The blog becomes a rambling collection of good, bad and indifferent creative efforts that, more often than not, arbitrarily change direction frequently in  response to other people’s blog challenges.

I started this blog in an attempt to be more focused.  If I want to keep doing it I need to decide now to refine the focus or I resign myself to repeating the patterns that ultimately lead to  death by inconsequentiality.

Part of the problem I’m having with this blog is the stated intention.  The idea of working with words and images and exploring how they work together is leading me into new directions.   Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading about Basho, haibun and haiga.  That led me into a deeper investigation of haiku and Zen Buddhism.

From there I went into reading about how the Buddhist concept of emptiness is reflected in Chinese and Japanese ink brush painting.

In a landscape painting empty space often indicates cloud, mist, sky, water or smoke,
partly depending on the suggestions that the solid forms supply. Nonetheless, the
real mystery of the emptiness is that empty space refers to qi (chi),
a cosmological term which is formless, but bestows life to Chinese painting     http://www.heweimin.org/Texts/mystery_of_empty_space.pdf                                                                   

   Li Shi (李氏)12thC Imaginary tour through Xiao-xiang

I then began exploring how the mid 20th century American painters Ad Reinhardt was influenced by Chinese painting, voids and emptiness.  At the same time I took a detour into reading and thinking about haiku, haiga and landscape photography.

  Haiku and photo by Ron C. Moss https://www.behance.net/gallery/27565659/ron-c-moss-haiku-and-photography

Looking at all this art and thinking about the ideas behind it has made me re-think my approach to incorporating words and images in my own work.   In the past I’ve skimmed over ideas, gleaned a broad overview and used that as a launch pad for creative expression.   It’s all happened quite quickly and I haven’t thought too deeply about my own processes.   Now I’m feeling the urge to slow down, think more deeply and respond in a measured way.   All that takes time.

If this blog is going to work for me long term it has to be focused.  I have to discipline myself to use it in a methodical way.   Probably the best way at present is to use it as a place to reflect on what I’m reading and thinking about.  Ultimately my goal is to create work that incorporates images and text but I might need to explore a metaphorical Outer Mongolia before I get there.


When I was very young I lived with my family on the shores of a vast salt lake.  We moved to the city when I was four  – the country was left behind and never revisited.   My childhood memories are of suburban streets and holidays on the beach.    The inland lake and the flat plains surrounding it became a mythic land I visited only in dreams.

illusionReturning to the lake shore now, all these decades later, my eyes are stretched into a haze of blue.   Is this what I saw as a baby?   Did my infant eyes attempt to focus on the horizon only to drift into illusory realms where nothing is quite as it seems?   Did this vision of infinite possibilities, probabilities and improbabilities influence my approach to life? – the landscape as a Buddhist primer for babies.

prompt – https://pixtowords.com/2017/04/23/emptiness-pic-and-a-word-challenge-84/

(elements of this post appeared on my old blog “Art and Life” is a different format)

Serious Clowning

DSCF7874 (2)

On a quiet Saturday afternoon a clown in a campervan pulled up in my driveway.   At the time I lived in a lonely house on the edge of a salt marsh.   It was a place of shifting mists and lengthy silences.  Misfits, artists and ferals lived thereabouts and sometimes came to visit so when the clown jumped out of his campervan I wasn’t all that surprised.

He’d lost his way, he said, and was late for his engagement at a children’s birthday party.   I gave him directions then, curious, asked where he’d come from.  He told he’d driven down from the city some three hours away.   He’d worn his clown clothes complete with orange floppy wig, red plastic nose and full clown makeup the whole way.   He was a very serious clown and didn’t seem to think there was anything odd about that.

Out of the blue,
with no rhyme or reason,
serious clowning

Narrowing the Focus

A haibun written in response to  –
Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #25 The Technique of Narrowing Focus :  a technique which was often used by Buson (1716-1784) …  Basically what you do is to start with a wide-angle lens on the world in the first line, switch to a normal lens for the second line and zoom in for a close-up in the end. It sounds simple, but when he did it he was very effective. Read some of Buson’s work to see when and how he did this.
An example of a haiku by Buson in which he uses this technique:

the short night ending–
close to the water’s edge
a jellyfish

Narrowing the focus feels like the way ahead for me.   With so much going on in the world – all the fears and rumours – all the mayhem and senseless violence – all the crazy weather events – narrowing the focus feels essential. Now more than ever, it feels like those of us who aren’t directly effected by these events can choose our own reality.  We can choose to buy into media fuelled fears and narrow the focus of our lives so much we become afraid to leave the house – or – we can choose to move into a greater recognition of our own personal strengths – our own creative and spiritual wisdoms.  We can create our own path into the future.


Haiku and Nature

‘Basho’s style of haiku was formulated by others over the years. His fundamentals  include: sabi (detached loneliness), wabi (poverty of spirit), hosomi (slenderness, sparseness), shiori (tenderness), sokkyo (spontaneity), makoto (sincerity), fuga (elegance), karumi (simplicity), kyakkan byosha (objectivity), and shiZen to hitotsu ni naru (oneness with nature).

The female poet Chiyo-ni wrote in Basho’s style.

a single spider’s thread
ties the duckweed
to the shore

Oneness with nature  resonates in Chiyo-ni’s haiku. Basho’s theory of oneness with nature was that the poet should make a faithful or honest sketch of nature. In the Sanzohi (1702), Basho’s disciple, Doho, explains his teacher’s theory: “Learn about the pine from the pine and the bamboo from the bamboo–the poet should detach his mind from self . . . and enter into the object . . . so the poem forms itself when poet and object become one.” This experience is analogous to the Buddhist idea of satori, or enlightenment, what Kenneth Yasuda called the “haiku moment.”

My attempt –   spider thread