by Jill Doyle
Anita Virgil's Haiku
I am writing about Anita Virgil because when I read her haiku I can picture her haiku in my mind so vividly, almost as if I am there with her looking at the same thing she is. It is evident in Anita Virgil's writing that she seems to have a love for nature and animals. Her haiku are very simply written and the rest of the story is left up to the imagination of the reader. Well-written haiku can bring different pictures and thoughts to the mind of its readers and Anita does just that with her haiku. She is a talented and thoughtful haiku writer and I enjoyed her work.
I chose to compare the work of Anita Virgil to another author who does a well at keeping haiku simple and left up to the imagination of the readers, George Swede. George Swede and Anita Virgil both write their haiku well because they are not overdone. I think that the best haikus are those that do not express too much thought, so the story is not told for the reader.
so different I
leave it alone
One Potato, Two Potato, Etc .- Anita Virgil, p. 67
spider clings to
Almost Unseen - George Swede, p. 28
In the haiku by Anita Virgil you can picture yourself standing there looking at the large spider web in awe. Just as you want to reach up to knock it down you realize how magnificent this particular spider web is and you stand there for a while to admire it. You may even call someone near you over to look at this spider web and how nicely the patterns in the web have been spun. Finally you walk away deciding that this one you won't knock down because it is too unique to touch.
In the haiku by George Swede you can picture that same spider web in danger from the storm and the spider that created this wonder is clinging to it for dear life. The spider does not want to give up his home even though the storm is threatening to destroy it. You stop for a moment as you pass by to take another glance at this beautiful creation and hope that the spider and its web will withstand the storm.
A closer look at samples of Anita Virgil's work:
feeding the baby
One Potato, Two Potato, Etc . p. 11
This is such a precious haiku that everyone can relate to. You can just see Grandpa sitting at the table in front of the highchair with a spoon full of baby food. As the spoon approaches the babies mouth Grandpa and the baby both have their mouths wide open ready for the bite of food. If you think about this haiku long enough you will even find yourself opening your mouth to feed the baby. You can even watch the mother sitting nearby watching the grandfather feed the baby with a smile on her face. This paints such a nice picture in your mind that it takes you to that warm feeling of home and family.
when the guests leave
the old cat
purrs and purrs
One Potato, Two Potato, Etc . p. 19
For anyone who has ever owned an old cat you know that they can often be very grouchy in their elder years. This haiku reminds me of my old black cat whom we recently lost. She was sweet as she could be and loved to be around family. If company came over you didn't see her for hours because she ran off to hide. Once the house became quiet again she would reappear and head for the couch or your lap and lay there purring. She was happy that company had left and she had the peace and quiet in the house once again. I loved this haiku because it brought back that memory for me.
the tall trees stir up the sky
One Potato, Two Potato, Etc . p. 39
In this haiku you can imagine yourself staring up at the tall trees as they blow in the wind. As you look up at the trees you can see the bare branches swaying back and forth in harmony. If you look to the very top of the branches you could imagine them almost painting the clouds that might be in the sky. Like the stroke of a painters brush the branches sway ever so gracefully. I can see a sight like this as I lay on the couch in my house and stare out the picture window. It is very relaxing to watch the trees blowing in the wind. It also makes you thankful that you are warm in the house and not out in the wind.
the wife is polishing
One Potato, Two Potato, Etc. p. 84
This haiku makes me think of freedom. Summer is my favorite time of the year and when it is summer you can shed all the bulky clothes. It is time to get out the t-shirts, shorts and your favorite sandals. Since you have spent most of the winter with your feet in socks you probably have not painted your toenails in a while. Once summer comes it is wonderful to get out the nail polish and get ready to show off your freshly painted toes. Most of us spend the whole summer in sandals so we can slip them off easily whenever we want. It just feels like freedom in the summertime to have your sandals on and your toes breathing again.
and the cat on my lap
begins to purr
One Potato, Two Potato, Etc . p. 48
This haiku is peaceful and relaxing. I can imagine lying on the couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a warm blanket and the cat curled up on my lap, purring. I try not to move so I don't disturb the cat from its sleep. It also gives me an excuse not to get off of the couch because the cat is on my lap. When I am totally relaxed I let out a sigh and the cat just starts purring even louder. It makes me feel good to know that my cat is so content at the moment. Anita does a good job with this haiku at making you feel warm and peaceful.
in the heat the cat sleeps longer
One Potato, Two Potato, Etc . p. 110
Once again I chose a haiku about cats. Perhaps it is because I am very fond of cats and this may be another reason why I chose Anita Virgil. She seems to be a cat lover as well. When I read this haiku I pictured both of my cats curled up in the sun, wherever they could find it. When the windows are open or the back door is open that cats find the sun and go to sleep. I think they are very happy to be in the sun and warmth. The cats do not usually move until the sun has faded from that spot which is sometimes several hours.
This was a review of some of my favorite haiku by Anita Virgil and what they mean to me. Perhaps as you read these haiku that I have selected they will make you think of your own memories. Maybe you will even be interested in reading more of Anita Virgil's work and selecting your own favorites. I hope that you enjoy her work as much as I do when you read more from her. She is truly a gifted and outstanding haiku writer. I am sure that in the future she will have many more haiku to offer to the world.
Heuvel, Cor Van Den. The Haiku Anthology. 3rd ED. 1999
Virgil, Anita. One Potato, Two Potato, Etc. 1991