Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Lisa Loves Haiku

Why I love haiku?
Five, seven, five syllables
is easy to do.

Funny that this topic has stirred up such animosity among some Pens. I hesitate to admit it but this subject was my idea.

I am not so good with poetry. Personally I prefer a longer format, say book length, to explore themes and stories. Iambic pentameter, dactylic hexameter, Anapestic tetrameter, Trochaic octameter...all have rules about the lines, feet, stanzas, stressed syllables versus unstressed syllables, rhyming, and the restrictions go on and on. I mean, really, who can remember all of that?

What I love about haiku is that anyone can write it. If you can clap out the syllables, you are good to go.

A few years ago we took a trip to Portland and stayed at the Kennedy School, a really fun, funky old schoolhouse converted into a hotel. The hallways are decorated with absolutely gorgeous artwork, a lot from former students.

This is a painting on the wall, depicting a ghost said to be a former student who haunts the halls

The owners also are brewers and the restaurant serves their yummy beer.

The old theater shows complementary movies all day long.

The rooms are literally old classrooms complete with the original blackboards on the walls.

The one thing the rooms don’t have: televisions. So to keep my kids from moaning about the lack of television, I gave them an assignment. Everyone had to write at least one haiku. Coming up with goofy haiku to describe our adventures turned out to be a heck of a lot of fun.

Try it and you might just learn to love haiku too.



Rachael Herron said...

I love how egalitarian haiku is. Like you said, anyone who can clap a rhythm is good to go, including kids. And I want to stay in that hotel!

Sophie Littlefield said...

ever since you described that school i've wanted to stay there! I hated school so much, maybe getting to stay in one when I got to pick what to do would cure me. and of course i love the idea of a ghost in the halls...

Unknown said...


it is an awesome place to stay :) going back in july-can't wait

Juliet Blackwell said...

I've stayed at the Edgefield, which is owned and operated by the same people as that Kennedy School -- it's also full of artwork and ghosts. Fabulous place!
And thanks for owning up to having suggested this topic. I was *wondering* who came up with it!!!

Unknown said...

Lisa--I think a lot of people were tortured by bad English teachers with haiku as youngsters. We weren't old enough to understand zen or karma or how a whole civilization can be reflected in the frozen moment of snow on a cedar tree...so the form became associated with the bad teachers, rather unfairly. Plus, of course, we are never taught about the cutting word or the kigo (season) word, or the fact that Japanese "on"s aren't exactly the same as syllables (I didn't study enough Japanese to be able to quote you the differences, though).

I'm glad you all wrassled with the form/demons from the past/poetry insecurities. I'd damn near forgotten about it...

Funny writers' angst
Fills heart to overflowing
The challenge remains