Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Electronic Worksheet: Haiku, Renga, Haibun

Haiku is a Japanese style of poetry with specific sound-units, called “on.” These sound units are written in three metric phrases of five, seven, and five “on,” one placed below the next—called the morae pattern.

When a haiku is written in English, the “on” are replaced with 17-syllables. Interestingly, this makes for a much longer poem than the Japanese version. To further keep true to the original haiku form, writers often make use of a “kingo,” or seasonal word, indicating the season in which the haiku is set.

Meaning lies as much
In the mind of the reader
As in the haiku
-Douglas R. Hoffstadter

Renga is a style of haiku written as a collaborative, linked poem. This type of poem starts with a haiku, typically written by a master haiku writer, or the writing group’s host. The poem is then passed to the next person in the group, who writes a waki—or a poem written in two metric phrases of seven and seven “on,” or syllables in English. The full renga should end on a waki, written by the final member of the group, or by the host after the poem has made a full cycle through the other poets.

The cat was yellow
And his tail was very long
He walked with a strut

He strutted with all his might
To impress the cat next door

She wasn't impressed
She thought he had a big head
And so she soon left

Continuing his love quest
He strutted to the city

Where he found a can
He walked right past it
And smelt the tuna

"Tuna's good, I like tuna
But I would rather eat mice"
-The Writers of Westminster’s Writing Your World Camp 2008

is a Japanese style of prose poetry, typically written in two autobiographical paragraphs followed by a haiku. This, however, isn’t a strict rule. The haibun should be written with a blend of haiku poetry and prose written in the spirit of haiku. The length of a haibun is unimportant, so long as it retains the brevity of haiku, with the focus on complimentary enhancement of text through an interaction of poetry and prose.
Ghost Calls

My friends give me a hard time about my seeming inability to answer my cell phone. I figure, there's a chance I might answer, and I almost always call back. I can't be alone in this habit.

Buzzing in pockets--
crowds of people with cell phones.
Many unanswered?

I just prefer to talk on the phone when I know I have a moment to speak, and when I'm not going to be overwhelmed with socialization.

It isn't as if I don't notice my phone ringing. The damn thing goes off all the time. I've started to develop these odd ghost-rings in my leg—right next to where the phone sits in my pocket. Little muscle spasms that feel like the vibrations of my phone. Sometimes my phone isn't even on me, and I instinctively reach for... nothing.

Nothing but spirits.
Calling. Wanting attention.
Leave them unanswered.
-J.E. Remy

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