Bear with me and please read my entire post here, even if you’ve done haibun many times before.
DID YOU KNOW?
** THE HAIBUN WAS ORIGINATED by 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, who often wrote haibun as travel accounts, the most famous of which is Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Interior).
** FIRST ANTHOLOGY OF ALL ENGLISH-LANGUAGE HAIBUN: Bruce Ross’s Journey to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun, published in 1998.
A HAIBUN IS: 1 or 2 short prose paragraphs followed by 1 haiku.
The PROSE PARAGRAPHS must be a true accounting, not fiction; not flash fiction.
The HAIKU, in the traditional manner, is trickier to me. Notice the musts below:
- It must be nature based
- It must be three lines (5-7-5 syllables OR short-long-short)
- It must have a direct or subtle relationship to the prose paragraphs; enrich the prose without condensing the prose.
- It must include a KIGO (word or phrase associated with a particular season). See suggestions below in section on the SAIJIKI.
- Trickiest for me – although only 3 lines, a haiku must have two parts including a shift, an added insight. Japanese poets include a KIREJI (cutting word). BUT there’s no linguistic equivalent in the English language therefore punctuation creates the cut: a dash, comma, an ellipsis, an exclamation point. Sometimes it’s simply felt in the pacing or reading.
Japanese poets often use a SAIJIKI – a book like a dictionary or almanac for KIGO. Divided into the 4 seasons, it includes categories within each: earth, humanity, observances, animals and plants. I found this VERY HELPFUL!
For example, under SPRING KIGO you find words like warm (weather changes from cold to warm; water becomes warm); spring mist and spring haze. Under Animals: frogs (noted for their singing); skylarks (in flight); swallows, and twittering (singing of songbirds). Under Plants: blossoms, cherry blossom-viewing, wildflowers.
In AUTUMN KIGO: full moon. Under Humanity: scarecrow. Observances: grave visiting. Animals: crickets. Plants: apples, persimmons, colored leaves.
In WINTER KIGO. Humanity: snow viewing, first snow, ice. Plants: fallen and dried leaves. New Year: first laughter.
In other words, you may or may not actually use the words summer, spring, winter, or autumn.
EXAMPLES OF HAIKU with a Kigo and a Kireji (added insight after a cut)
The crow has flown away:
swaying in the evening sun
a leafless tree.
Natsume Soseki (186 –1916)
fresh snow on the mat –
the shape of welcome
Michael Dylan Welch
too dark to read the page,
Yuki Teikei Haiku Society’s Season Word List contains KIGO hints/words I found very helpful.
**Let’s journey together into an interior. Go back in time to one of the very first houses you remember living in. Try to recall a room or place in that house. Take your mind around the room to see what details you can picture. Do you remember this room because of something that happened there…..or someone who habitually sat there?
**Your haibun will begin with 1 or 2 tight paragraphs of prose describing that room. Take us into its interior. It must be a true accounting; not fiction.
**Add a TRADITIONAL haiku. Follow the haiku musts given above. If you just skipped down the post to read this prompt, go back up to read the musts for a haiku – and the section on the SAIJIKI. Let’s try our hand at a traditional haiku!
I’ve always said, I learn so much at dVerse! I love its camaraderie in the writing, learning, and appreciation of everyone’s posts.
I look forward to, in the words of Bruce Ross, your Journey to the Interior – and seeing how traditional you can be with the haiku portion of your haibun!
Photo: Cherry blossoms are a spring KIGO.
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