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

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Corinne Cullina


Cullina On George Swede

Of the Real World
A collection of Haiku

Corinne Cullina

Ever since I was a little child I have been writing. Whether it was short stories, poems or what I one day dreamed would become a novel I was always writing. I even took creative writing classes over the summer just so I could learn how to write better. Aside from writing I always had a love for reading, especially poetry. Through school I learned of various forms and techniques in poetry. I loved just about all types of poetry, but I remember having trouble with haiku. Three lines of 17 syllables in the order of 5,7,5 seemed too structured to me. Also every last one seemed to be about flowers or the sun, but not one seemed to complete a single thought. They always just seemed like two or three random images thrown together and called poetry. It wasn’t until Dr. Brooks Honors Global Haiku Course that I learned to fully appreciate the art of haiku.

Right from the start Dr. Brooks just told us to write, no structure, no syllable counting, no rules whatsoever. I thought this was a little strange, but if I wasn’t given rules or instructions to follow I certainly wasn’t going to go looking for them. However, my first haiku for the course still all seemed to lack something. I was still only writing about nature and its appearance. Mostly I was just writing a sentence about nature and placing spaces where I thought they might sound nice.

It wasn’t until we read Almost Unseen which is a collection of haiku and senryu by George Swede that I was finally inspired to write haiku with more emotion. Swede’s haiku often include human elements especially his senryu, which focus on human nature. The thing I liked most about Swede’s haiku was not just their human element but they often contained words that would either completely shock you or make you think about some of the less-enjoyable aspects of life.

Moreover, I read Swede’s definition of a good haiku. According to Swede a good haiku needs to be a short but complete thought, contain sensory images, contain a sense of nature, . . . (Swede and Brooks, Global Haiku). I think Swede’s definition of the elements of a good haiku meets all the essentials and adds some structure to writing haiku but also leaves the author room for their own expression and talent. Later in the course I read haiku with similar subjects as Swede’s by other authors, but it was Swede’s haiku and the enthusiasm of Dr. Brooks class that taught me not only how to read and right haiku, how much I enjoyed it as well. —Corinne Cullina

Corinne Cullina is a chemistry major biology minor and in pre-pharm. She grew up in a small suburb on the border of Chicago.

I hold her
as she pours out her heart
for him

Fifty years later,
the fair princess—
is now the frog

little child
who crayons the wall
mother’s true love

Violence with Valor

the knight stops…
dropping his sword
he gasps for breath

warm blood-
on cold steal

his knees buckle
under his dying weight
supported by a blade

he stares himself in the eye
from within the metal

sky blue irises,
turn to gray
as it starts to rain

the heavens weep
for the fallen hero

Corinne Cullina & Ian Shelton

forever engraved
two unknown names
in the old oak

at the bottom of the movie
two silhouettes
of a first love

My cousin told me that she was pregnant at our aunt’s baby shower. No one else new and she wasn’t sure how to tell anyone else in the family. I was completely shocked and didn’t even know what to say. I couldn’t even imagine what she had to have been going through. I knew that she didn’t have a boyfriend and she was hiding this from everyone for six months. I felt special in a way because I was the first person she told.

sitting at the baby shower
wishing she
could share her secret

little boy
behind the curtain
picks his nose

the lawyer comes home
with estee lauder
on his collar

over the crowd
the stripper's eyes
look dead
into the distance

just like last year
I sit with friends
but feel apart

truth lies there
in the whites
of the lynched woman’s eyes

only the beads
around my neck
recall last night

Times Square
passionately kissing a girl
he doesn’t know

slow dance—
I sit and watch
the girl I want to be

dried pink rose
poem from his coat pocket
my heart skips

worn torn country
just a simple glimpse
from our TV dinner

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