IN203 Honors Seminar: Global Haiku Tradition
Dr. Randy Brooks • Spring 2006

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Allison Lingren

Essay on
Elizabeth Searle Lamb

Untraveled Worlds: Ode to Seatbelt
A collection of Haiku

Allison Lingren

Dedicated to Seabelt, my bright orange goldfish.

And to Mildred—mere words cannot suffice to immortalize you. Through music you will always be remembered.

My collection, "Untraveled Worlds: Ode to Seabiscuit" is a somewhat eclectic combination of haiku, haibun, and tan-renga. The subjects of my work are connected by only one thing—they all come from personal experience. Whether the subject is music, love or childhood, all of these haiku mean something deeply personal to me.

As a professional musician (in training) I can no longer always turn to music for solace and comfort. However, I never really have felt the urge to express through another medium. Though I profoundly hope that my work will strike a chord (pun intended) with you, the reader, I believe that in haiku I have found a way to express my innermost emotions through an art form outside my profession.

The title of my collection comes from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poetic work, Untraveled Worlds. I chose to present my haiku in a piece of choral music that uses this text because I felt that my work should be presented in a context that really accentuated my personality and quirks. In high school, the text of this poem always motivated me, especially the end:

Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

After I chose this piece of music to hold my haiku, I began to find that many of them fit in perfectly with the text. Therefore, I tried to strategically place my haiku so that they were complemented by Tennyson's poetry.

This collection is dedicated to Seabelt, a bright orange goldfish that I have been part owner of for three days. I think the major reason that my haiku fit so well with Tennyson's Untraveled Worlds is that many of them deal with my need to make seemingly ordinary events into adventures. I think that this is a nearly mandatory characteristic of a good haiku. Seatbelt is a good example of my need for adventures, so I felt it was only fitting that I dedicate this work to him.

—Allison Lingren

a gasp—
before the applause
after the music

sleepy musicians
watch the sun rise
a yellow school bus

reading at recess
transported to all the places
she's rather be

picnics and kite flying
the opening words
of Richard the Third

an addiction
with no support group—

beneath golden arches
her note says we're cute

intellect on rye
threatening to leave
the country

climbing over
your empty words
to your core

your lined hands
shape doughy figure eights—
and me

mailed in a shoebox
teardrops salt your cookies
weeks after you've gone

turtle instinct
now just a reflex
coax me out

your sparkling eyes
fade with the North Star—

drunken confessions
he can't erase
my apprehension

delicious blustery wind
cools my head . . .
i chase after it

drying off
on the sunny creek bank

just as the lightning
reveals too much

last note shatters
against the frozen night sky
Dona nobis pacem

My project consists of a song cycle based off three of my haiku. The song cycle is called Rooftop Songs: A Closer Look. The haiku I chose to use were:

just as the lightning
reveals too much

your sparkling eyes
fade with the North Star—

wishing you hated me
anything but this

In this song cycle, I chose to use compositional techniques that range from popular music to the methods of John Cage, a composer who experimented with prepared piano in the 1960s. Each movement consists of only one haiku, and each has its own distinct style and atmosphere. My project will include a tape of the song cycle, as well as the score.

© 2006 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois
all rights reserved for original authors