PACE Global Haiku • January 2008
Dr. Randy Brooks

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Jane Rieman


selected haiku by
Jane Rieman

This selection of haiku was inspired by a week long trip to the beautiful state of Florida. It had been twenty years since I had been out of the state, and to drive south enjoying the simultaneous variety of seasons was breath-taking. It was over Christmas vacation when I left behind the cold and the snow to venture to sunny beaches and gigantic leaves. Two of the most impressionable sights for me were the ocean and the palm trees. The title “Waves” reflects this: the ocean waves and the waving palm fronds. They will be forever etched in my memory . . . thoughts as warm as the sandy beach I once walked along.

In a very few words I hope to relay to you the beauty and diversity of my miles traveled. From the moss hanging off Georgia trees to the bowing of the pineapple leaves I hope to create images which can more than adequately describe the beauty of this part of America. Please enjoy the following haiku.

Writing Haiku

Jane Rieman

When I have mentioned to my friends that I was in a haiku class they would invariably say, “Oh, yeah, isn’t that the 5 – 7 – 5 poetry?” They were all surprised to find out that what they were taught in school was not necessarily so!

I have discovered that I am out of my comfort zone in this class. The main reason being that haiku demands time, reflection, thought, a slower pace - in general, a shifting of gears. Unfortunately right now in my life I don’t feel as if I have time to reflect on the beauty of nature, or much of anything else, for that matter! I noticed that the first half of my snow poems consisted of the negative aspects: almost getting stuck, shoveling my driveway, and noticing how fast the snow turns dirty grey. I had to make myself look at the glistening trees as I drove down the street instead of concentrating on all the things I had yet to scratch off my to-do list. My life wasn’t always this way; it’s just since I started the PACE program! I love school and I love learning, but I have also been more stressed since returning to Millikin.

It has been a journey learning the culture of haiku. I enjoyed the reading, The Wordless Poem: A Study of Zen in Haiku by Eric Amann. I felt it gave me greater insight into the meaning behind Haiku. I could relate to chapter four: “Nothing Special.”

Here the author states that Western readers wonder how poetry can be made from such mundane topics as “dirty melons, socks drying in the sun, and old sandals.” I have to admit I was one of them! The Western readers need to learn that the haikuist is trying to take the reader “out of intellectual preoccupation and bring him back to earth” (Amann, 1978). I tease and say I have not yet been able to become “one with the tree”; but in essence, that is what haiku seems to be about.

An author of haiku needs to write succinctly. He needs to be able to create an image using meaningful words; never describing it. There should be a natural pause before creating a second image. Using fragments of a sentence the author needs to be able to create a moment inside the haiku. He should be able to use words that appeal to the senses and stimulate the sensory imagination. In other words the haikuist needs to use words that capture the perception.

The author should be able to set the scene or the season using few words or phrases. I learned that some phrases can denote feelings, such as: autumn mist can mean feelings of loneliness or sadness; and cherry blossoms mean spring and new beginnings.

Another insight I gained from The Wordless Poem is that the Judeo-Christian tradition of a dualistic way of thinking: good versus evil/heaven versus hell is opposite of traditional Japanese or a Zen way of thinking. Amann states that this dualistic thinking, instead of being opposite each other, should be “interrelated, mutually interdependent, and ultimately harmonious.” He states that words in a haiku need not be analyzed and moralized.

Learning the art of haiku, rengay, and Kasen-no-renga has been very fascinating. It is much more in-depth than one would suppose. Finding word links, content links, and scent links can be challenging. It creates a spark when you can pair a haiku from one author to another. Haikus are enjoyable to read; causing many facets of emotion to erupt: peace, happiness, sadness, even laughter. I was amazed to discover how much time and thought is behind a five word haiku. It has been an enlightening journey.

standing on the beach
endless waves
white froth tickles my toes

ocean waves
pulling me

     looking up
   coconut balls





© 2008, Randy Brooks • Millikin University
All rights returned to authors upon publication.