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

On the road to nowhere

“Santoka is considered a unique proponent of “free-style” haiku poetry, a mode that abandoned much of the customary form and subject matter of traditional haiku in favor of a direct and unadorned depiction of human experience. He was also a wandering poet and ascetic Zen priest for the last fifteen years of his life.  Santoka emphasized many of the essential qualities of Zen Buddhism in his verse, including mujo (impermanence), the necessity of sabi (solitude), the importance of simplicity in life, and the pervasive sadness that accompanies all human affairs. Many of his poems point toward the Zen goal of achieving spiritual enlightenment and serenity.   Santoka spoke also of “the vital necessity of movement and the partial release it brings to the anguish of the soul.” – from http://chevrefeuillescarpediem.blogspot.it/2015/03/carpe-diem-special-135-santoka-tanedas.html

Driving through roads that stretch for miles beside a vast salt my movement through time and space becomes hypnotic.   Fugitive and impermanent the boundaries of the lake have shifted since I was last out this way.

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Standing alone at the lake edge certainties diminish as I look into nothingness.   The opposite shore is no more than ephemeral shapes hovering in some illusory space.

Beside the lake life is simple – no more than bands of colour.   There is an emptiness that is both melancholic and serene.  No one thing is more important that any other.   All is reduced to suggestions of possibilities and the landscape itself becomes a haiku.


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.