Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques #21 The Technique of Mixing It Up

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques in which I introduce several haiku writing techniques in cooperation with Jane Reichhold. We have had several nice techniques already, but the technique of this week is an awesome one I think. This week's CDHWT episode is about "Mixing It Up", an example:

summer afternoon
reflected clouds fall apart
like shards

© Chèvrefeuille

I don't know if this is a haiku in which this technique is used, but as I look closer to this haiku than it is possible that it describes an action of the author, but also as an action of nature. That's what this technique is about.

Let me give you a short explanation of this haiku writing technique:

What is meant here is mixing up the action so the reader does not know if nature is doing the acting or if a human is doing it. As you know, haiku are praised for getting rid of authors, authors' opinions, and authors' action. One way to sneak this in is to use the gerund (-ing added to a verb) combined with an action that seems sensible for both a human and for the nature/nature to do. Very often when you use a gerund in a haiku you are basically saying, "I am. . . " making an action but leaving unsaid the "I am". The Japanese language has allowed poets to use this tactic so long and so well that even their translators are barely aware of what is being done. It is a good way to combine humanity's action with nature in a way that minimizes the impact of the author but allows an interaction between humanity and nature.
Jane Reichhold
Here is an example by Jane Reichhold:

end of winter
covering the first row
of lettuce seeds
© Jane Reichhold
And here is an example by Basho in which he uses this technique:

meigetsu ya ike o megurite yomosugara

full moon
walking around the pond
all night

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

This poem can be read with the idea that the moon "walks" around the pond as it seems to go from east to west or that the author walked around the pond the whole night enjoying the full moon. There is an association between the bright, that surface of the moon and the light-reflecting surface of a round pond.

A wonderful technique to use I think. So I am looking forward to your responses.

This episode of CDHWT is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until December 4th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, for a while, later on.