On the Road prompts update

Some of you have expressed confusion as to how to find the responses of others to On The Road Prompts.   I’ve decided I will publish a list of contributions when I post a new prompt.   I am inspired by the way others respond to the prompts.  Everyone brings their own unique style and way of seeing to the prompts and the responses are always worth reading.  To get the ball rolling here’s a list of some recent contributions:- 








It’s been suggested to me that the tag   #ontheroadprompts  could be used to identify On the Road responses.   I think this is great idea (thanks Xenia) and will include the suggestion in all future prompts.

I’ve also created a logo that can be added to your posts if you like.   Simply copy and paste it into your post.


I hope all this will make it easier for us to find each other’s work.    If you have any further suggestions as to how I could make it easier please let me know.

On the Road today I have posted some thoughts on writing haibun.   This is the first of my occasional prompts on writing techniques.  You can find it here –  Haibun as a journey within     I hope you find it helpful.


In the moment

This week in his ongoing series on haiku writing techniques Chevrefeuille of CDHK writes –

“A haiku must be fluid, it has to flow, but how can we bring that fluid, that flow into haiku? I think the only way to do that is being one with the scene, the moment, we have to describe in our haiku…
haiku is an impression, a surprise, but if we look at haiku that way and we have to bring movement into our haiku then we cannot be non-artificial, but still … This sounds like a koan, that Zen question that enlightens you as you find the unexpected answer, the unexpected deeper meaning and beauty of your haiku.
Most haiku can be seen/read as such a koan, because you describe a moment as short as the sound of a pebble thrown into water that touched you and gave you a kind of insight … or maybe a revelation.”

my response –                              Untitled-2

prompt- carpediem haiku kai – movement in haiku

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/



All week long I have been reading about Basho and the concepts behind his haiku.  I learn that, rather than seeking the seclusion of the monastery, Basho chose the path of the yugyô hijiri, the wandering holy man or wayfarer.  “traveling the countryside was a form of ascetic practice that sharpened both his poetic creativity and his religious vision.”


“Despite the variety of occupations and lifestyles, Bashō sees all people as wayfarers.  Whether or not the boatman and horseman realize it, their life is a journey that ends only in death.  But it is not enough for Bashō just to recognize this fact, he feels compelled to embody it directly and concretely in the way he lives.  By living as a wayfarer, he “real-izes” the inherent structure of reality.  In doing so he “moves with the deepest grain of reality.”https://www.uwosh.edu/facstaff/barnhill/es-244-basho/journals.pdf

I have long thought of myself as a spiritual nomad – a wayfarer on the road of life.

Wayfaring haiku
written on the journey
from then and now

Elsewhere I read – “Through invoking powerfully juxtaposed images of nature, Basho strove to achieve amari-no-kokoro, the state a poem reaches when the heart and soul of a poem leaps at us from a place beyond the words themselves to leave an ‘aftertaste’ in the center of the reader that is haunting.   http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/haiku/basho.html

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Self doubt

Searching through old blog posts I wade through layers of crap to find posts I don’t remember writing that actually say something interesting.

self doubt

While reading a book on Basho  –     Basho – The Complete Haiku by Jane Reichhold –   this paragraph jumped out at me:_

‘Often, as a haiku writer’s understanding and experience with the form grows and changes, he will return to previously written poems and revise them – as did Basho.   It is vital to remember that a poet writes a poem with all the knowledge and skills available to him at that moment.   With more study, wider reading, and deeper understanding, the poem would evolve, but we can still value the inspiration and capabilities under which it was written.’


What makes a good haiga?

I’ve been thinking about what makes a good haiga.

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“Haiga, like haiku itself, became a major form of artistic expression with Matsuo Basho (1644–1694). His modest paintings do not seek to impress viewers with technical prowess, bright colors, or bold brushwork, but they set the tone for most haiga that was to follow. The most important later poet-artist was Yosa Buson (1716–1784) who was a master painter. Some of his scrolls go beyond the simplicity and modesty established by Basho, turning haiga into a more purely painterly medium.”  http://happyhaiku.blogspot.com.au/2005/11/shahai.html


Haiga by Basho – calligraphy reads –

                                     Yellow rose petals


                                         a waterfall

  image source – http://thephilosophersmail.com/virtues/the-great-eastern-philosophers-matsuo-basho/

“While the haiku and the painting in a haiga share the same space, they are meant to complement, and not explain, one another.  In fact, in some cases the haiku and the painting have nothing to do with one another, because, explains Takiguchi, “if the painting and haiku are [similar], it would mean that one has been added because the other is not adequate.” https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/haiga-haiku-calligraphy-and-painting

Haiga by Buson – calligraphy reads

             willow leaves fallen
in the stream-bed dry rocks
helter skelter