Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #14 Sense Switching or Synesthesia

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This last quarter of 2015 we have no Tokubetsudesu episodes, but "Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques" (part two) to help you to improve your haiku writing skills. This week's episode is about Sense Switching or Synesthesia. It's based on writings by Jane Reichhold and (as you all know) I have permission to use all of her work for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I am really honored that Jane gave me that permission and that I can (through her permission, her knowledge) help you all to improve your haiku writing skills.

Jane Reichhold

Our haiku writing technique of this month was (is) a favorite of the haiku masters, but one they used with great discretion. This technique is called Sense Switching. It is simply to speak of the sensory aspect of a thing and than change to another sensory organ. I think this is a technique which is one of Hamish's favorites ways of writing haiku. Mostly we use "seeing" and "hearing", but we have our other senses also which we use often, "feeling", "smelling" and "tasting", but in haiku we don't see those last three very often.
Back to Sense Switching our HWT of this week. Usually it involves "hearing" something one "sees", or switching between "seeing" and "tasting". Some people have this ability naturally; for them it is called synesthesia. The most famous example of this technique is in (yes ... there it is again) Basho's "old pond" haiku:

old pond
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Here, the frog not only jumps into the water, but also into the sound of water. The mind-puzzle that this haiku creates is how to separate the frog from the water, the sound of water from the water, the frog from the sound it will make entering water, and the sound from the old pond. It cannot be done because all these factors are one (how much Zen you want !), but the reader arrives at this truth through having the sense scrambled.

A few other haiku by Basho in which he uses this technique:

cattle shed
dark sound of mosquitoes
in summer heat

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

pine and cedar
to admire the wind
smell the sound

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Two gorgeous haiku, which I didn't know of and than I thought that I knew all Basho's haiku.

To share a few haiku by myself in which I think I have used this synesthesia I ran through my archives and I found a few examples. Here they are:

the rustling of leaves
through the cool summer night -
spirits moving

© Chèvrefeuille 

Credits: Dancing Butterflies
dancing butterflies
the scent of a sunlit meadow
ah! the summer breeze

© Chèvrefeuille

What do you think? Did I use sense switching in these two haiku? Let me know. The goal of this HWT episode is to write an all new haiku (only haiku) in which you try to use this sense switching.

A last example, also from my archives:

an empty bowl
but in it is the spirit of emptiness -
the spring breeze

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 16th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, another CD Special, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku.

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