Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #1, Juxtaposition

credits: Logo Haiku Writing Techniques
!! I publish this first CD Haiku Writing Techniques episode earlier than planned, because I am in the nightshift !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's my pleasure to introduce our new feature Carpe Diem's "Haiku Writing Techniques" in which I will tell you all a little bit more about Haiku Writing Techniques and of course after each episode the task to write a haiku with that Haiku Writing Technique.

This first Haiku Writing Techniques episode is about Juxtaposition or in a more "visible way"; if a waiter served you a whole fish and a scoop of chocolate ice cream on the same plate, your surprise might be caused by the juxtaposition, or the side-by-side contrast, of the two foods.
Any time unlike things bump up against each other, you can describe it as a juxtaposition. Imagine a funeral mourner telling jokes graveside, and you get the idea — the juxtaposition in this case is between grief and humor. Juxtaposition of two contrasting items is often done deliberately in writing, music, or art — in order to highlight their differences.

I often hear that juxtaposition is a key to successful haiku. The contrast of two images in haiku is most often instrumental in creating resonance.

Robert Spiess, editor of 'Modern Haiku', has said the following about juxtaposition in haiku:

“Juxtaposition of entities in haiku cannot be simply the throwing together of just anything; the poet must have the intuition that certain things, albeit of "opposite" characteristics, nonetheless have a resonance with each other that will evoke a revelation when they are juxtaposed in accordance with the time-tested canons and aesthetics of haiku.” [...]

I have heard (of course) about juxtaposition as a  Haiku Writing Technique,  but I am not aware of using it myself, maybe because I am in a way one with my haiku. There is (however) a last quote of my master Basho which I love to share here with you.

The Master (Basho) said, "A haiku that moves smoothly from the opening five syllables to the end is a superb verse."

Kyorai: "If a poet composes by combining separate things, he can compose many verses and compose them quickly. Beginning poets should know this. But when one becomes an accomplished poet, it is no longer a question of combining or not combining."
Credits: Juxtaposition (in art)
To close this first Haiku Writing Techniques episode: "In the hands of a highly skillful haiku poet, one-image haiku can be exquisitely successful. Nevertheless, experimenting with different types of juxtaposition may add the depth that creates a memorable haiku; one that does not fail to reverberate again and again".

I hope this episode (my first real way to teach something) on juxtaposition was clear and helps you to write even better haiku than you all already did. I hope also that you did understand my English, because it's not my maiden language.

I will share a few examples written by classical and non-classical haiku poets in which juxtaposition is used.

long hard rain
hanging in the willows
tender new leaves

© Jane Reichhold

Credits: Juxtaposition (in art)

And what do you think of that classic haiku by Basho 'frog pond' ... as I was preparing this episode I "studied" a few haiku by Basho and in a way ... this juxtaposition technique ... revealed the juxtaposition in that world wide well known haiku by Basho:

ancient lake . . .
a frog jumps into it
sound of water

© Basho (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

Or what do you think of this one by Alexey Andreyev (one of our featured haiku-poets last year):
on every icicle's tip
a drop
of sunlight
© Alexey Andreyev
Maybe ... juxtaposition is one of the most important Haiku Writing Techniques I think. Almost every haiku has two images in it, but those images aren't always the same, but contradicted. Well ... I think this is it ...
The goal of this Carpe Diem "Haiku Writing Techniques" feature is to write/compose an all new haiku/tanka with using the writing technique ... so for this first episode you have to write an all new haiku using juxtaposition. Have fun!
Here is my attempt to write/compose haiku using juxtaposition:
such sadness
to see tears on young leaves
the bright sunlight

I'm paralyzed
as bitten by a Black Mamba -
awesome sunset

wind of winter
touches the last flowers -
Ah! that perfume ...

© Chèvrefeuille

Are these haiku using juxtaposition? I have given it a try to write/compose haiku using this Haiku Writing Technique ... and I hope I succeeded ...

This first episode of Carpe Diem "Haiku Writing Techniques" is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 9th at noon (CET). I will publish our next episode, Mirror Rice Cakes (Kagamimochi), later on. For now ... have fun, good luck and share it with us all.


  1. Brilliant tutorial, Kristjaan.
    Not easy to get my head around the actual concept of juxtaposition. I wonder where contrast leaves off and side-by-side begins. All a matter of degree I suppose.

  2. Very good post - a strong set of haiku there, and a challenge....

  3. I have given this a lot of thought myself.. and I think that one should be very careful with it so it does not look too artificial.. I have found myself more drawn to the volta, a concept that has been (and should be) applied when writing sonnets for instance.. it's more of a shift of viewpoint.. for instance in Basho's classic haiku, it's not really a juxtaposition but more of a volta -- shifting from visual to audio sense .. I think the article on volta in wikipedia can be applied partly to haiku as well...

    1. Bjorn, I'm busy reading this article and they have a paragraph on haiku as well. It's very interesting.

  4. An excellent explanation of "juxing." Alexy Andreyev's "icicle tip' poem is a superb example.

    I am not sure what the juxtaposition is in Basho's frog pond haiku. Rather I believe it's an example of "yugen." Yūgen is a Japanese word pertaining to a profound awareness of the universe which evokes feelings that are inexplicably deep and too mysterious for words.

  5. You have come up with such a wonderful, fun, yet educational new feature here, Kristjaan - thank you! And your masterful haiku with the vivid contrasts...so alive...a pleasure to be inspired by/learn from.

  6. A very interesting read. I don't think Juxtaposition is especially natural for me, but that's why I'm looking forward to the Techniques prompts ;)

  7. Oh I love this challenge - agree - brilliant!
    Hope I got i right ;)

  8. Great prompt --- a tougher challenge than initially expected! Thank you for continuing to stretch our horizons beyond our comfort level -- it keeps us on our toes!

    And -- love the snow drops in the background! Especially since the temp hit 10 F here!

  9. Kristjaan, interesting challenge. Studying at the moment the various articles available although I may not be able to post as I'm having to go away for a little while.

  10. Excellent post Kristjaan! It's interesting to read.