Colours Within Nature
robin’s eggs nestled
blue the color of my soul
and all things gold
flush green in winter sun
life holding on
cobalt blue of pre-dawn
notes of gold
from warbler throats
Lessons in Haiku – by Michele Rule
Hope you all had a chance to read Michael Dylan Welch’s essay in the last newsletter! I thought his explanation of syllables in haiku was very good. Some journals do insist on 5-7-5 still and others don’t want any 5-7-5, so make sure you read the submission guidelines carefully.
Today I wanted to go more into depth about season words in haiku. Known as kigo in Japanese, season words add layers of common understanding to a haiku. For example, the season word “cherry blossoms” tells you exactly what time of year it is as well as brings up colours and smells that are common to all (or at least most) people. In addition, a season word generally imparts a sense of emotion, in the case of cherry blossoms that would likely be love. Season words also ground the haiku in nature.
There is a great list of over 500 season words available here. New words have been added over the years, especially ones that are specific to North America.
We generally think of the four seasons, but in Japan there are also mini-seasons and micro-seasons! A really good resource about these seasons is the Naturalist Weekly. I encourage you to sign up to the email list.
In senryu, another tercet Japanese short form, no seasonal reference is required although one can be used. In haiku there is usually only one season word but that’s not a hard and fast rule.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments about either Michael’s essay from last week on syllables or about season words!
More Haiku Journals to Submit to:
We’d like to welcome new members Carrie Mitchell and Pam Desjardine.
Carrie is a poet, writer, and artist currently taking her MFA.
Pam is a writer specializing in mystery novels, children’s books, and has been writing haiku for most of her life.
Cynthia Sharp is taking the summer off from haiku in order to focus on other ongoing projects. She will still receive our newsletters, but likely won’t be contributing on a regular basis until fall.
Jaki Sawyer started late, but she’s here now, and offered us this haiku based on last week’s prompt:
turns dill into flight
Michele Rule had a collaborative sequence published in the most recent issue of The Lothlorien Poetry Journal, and three of her haiku were published in Haiku Canada’s BC/Yukon Member Newsletter.
Sally Quon also had three haiku published in the BC/Yukon Newsletter, and one piece appearing in the Haiku Canada Members Anthology.
Remember, if you have any haiku news to share, send it to me. We’re here to lift each other up and learn from each other. Let’s celebrate our growth!
This Week’s Prompt
I thought we’d try another photo prompt for our haiku this week. Remember when writing a photo -haiga, the idea is not to describe the photo, but to add to the story the photo tells.
Additional (Optional) Prompt:
Try your hand at tanka! A traditional tanka is five lines long. Initially, it would be 5-7-5 followed by 7-7. The modern form is a little different. It should be a stand-alone haiku, followed by two lines which advance the story. The entire piece should be less than 31 syllables. Here is a sample tanka by Joy McCall
a faint light
through the curtains
a crow calling
leaves rustling and falling
morning has broken
“Is that a real haiku, or did you write it yourself?”–Michael Dylan Welch