Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2002

Kerry Hammergren

Kerry's Haiku

Essay on Nick Avis

Profile on Nick Avis



Love Haiku of Nick Avis and Masajo Suzuki

My global comparison will explore the haiku of Nick Avis and Masajo Suzuki. I chose these two haiku authors because of their very similar writing content. I also thought it would be interesting to study a man and a woman from two different cultures. Nick Avis and Masajo Suzuki are both known for their haiku about relationships and emotions. Many of their haiku are very personalized and are about unsuccessful relationships from their past. They also write about nature and use seasonal words. Many of their haiku involve the interaction of people and nature. They both have written many haiku with the use of metaphors, especially metaphors for emotions.

The main difference I see in Nick Avis and Masajo Suzuki’s haiku is form. Avis uses many variations in form and the translations of Masajo’s haiku are all in three-line form. Avis does not often use punctuation or capital letters and Masajo uses both, which could also be the result of translation. Both of their haiku can easily cross cultures, however Masajo uses some things that are exclusive to Japan. Here are some examples of their haiku:

longing to be near her
i remember my shirt
hanging in her closet

Nick Avis

longing for him
I warm a green acorn
in my hand

Masajo Suzuki

I really like this haiku by Nick Avis. I imagine that he is laying in bed alone and thinking about his past love. The image portrays the closeness he felt to her. He was so comfortable with her that left his clothes hanging in her closet. He is desperately trying to get her off his mind, but all he can think of is the security he had in their relationship. The image is very vivid and original.

This haiku by Masajo Suzuki is also about longing for a past love. I get the image that she is lost in thought while warming an acorn in her hand. I think she is calming herself with the acorn. I picture her leaning on the trunk of an oak tree and writing. She is desperately misses her lost love and is writing about her sadness and her memories of their time together.

These two haiku are very similar. Both authors write about coping with the pain of longing for someone. Avis does it by remembering the past and Suzuki does it by actively comforting herself. It shows their different methods of dealing with the hurt. Women tend show their emotions outwardly. Masajo is physically using the acorn to deal with her pain. Men tend to keep their emotions inside. Avis’s method of coping is silently remembering the past.
Both haiku are also very similar in form. They actually begin with the same word and are three lines. They are both written in first person and give the reader the idea that they are personalized experiences.

Both of these haiku are easily understood in both Western and Eastern culture. However, I prefer Nick Avis’s haiku, because I feel more people can relate to his situation. I also like the creativity of his imagery.


Nick Avis

your well being
how much I care . . .
the geese depart

Masajo Suzuki

Nick Avis commonly uses visual images in his haiku. The two words in this haiku are very simple, however the two words form a wonderful image. Nick Avis chose two very appropriate words because the two lines in a v-formation of geese are usually uneven. I also love how he used the "g" from "migrating" to form the point of the v-formation and also the for the "g" in "geese."

In this Masajo Suzuki haiku I see the geese departing as a metaphor for the man she loves leaving her. She is watching the geese in the sky and worrying about the well being of her love. Through reading other Masajo haiku I get the feeling that this haiku might be sarcastic. This haiku is very thoughtful and she often writes negatively about her relationships.

The main similarity in these haiku is the image of geese in flight. Nick Avis’s haiku is clearly about geese in a v-formation. When I picture the geese departing in Masajo’s haiku, I imaging they are also in a v-formation. Avis’s image is much clearer because it is visual. Masajo’s image is a is not as clear, however it leaves more to the readers imagination.

          her angry words
lost in the beaters
          egg whites stiffen

Nick Avis

in a bad temper
I break two:
midwinter eggs

Masajo Suzuki

In Nick Avis’s haiku I imagine a couple fighting while cooking. The woman is beating the eggs while she is yelling at the man. The anger in her words is shown through the action of furiously beating the eggs. The beating of the eggs is a metaphor for her anger. I think the stiffening of the eggs is also a metaphor for the man closing himself off to her angry words.
Masajo Suzuki also uses eggs as a metaphor for anger. She uses the action of breaking eggs in the same way Nick Avis uses the action of beating the eggs. In this haiku I picture Masajo releasing her tension by breaking eggs. I imagine her alone in the kitchen cooking herself breakfast on a rainy morning.

The image of relating the feeling of anger to the action of cooking is clear in both of these haiku. In both cultures cooking is seen as stress relief. Nick Avis shows how anger affects cooking and Masajo shows how anger is released by cooking. They both use cooking as a metaphor for the feeling of anger. They take the emotion of anger and put it in to a visual image. Their haiku are further examples of how Avis and Masajo use many metaphors in their haiku.

the telephone
rings only once
                autumn rain

Nick Avis

someone’s voice
from behind me . . .
autumn gale

Masajo Suzuki

This haiku is an example of Nick Avis’s ability to create remarkable imagery. I picture a woman sitting alone in her living room on a rainy night watching television. She hears the phone ring and gets up to answer it and it stops ringing. She wonders who it was and goes back to watching television feeling uneasy. The feeling when the telephone stops ringing before you answer it or get a hang-up phone call is very eerie. This haiku expresses an unsettled feeling because of the image of autumn rain.

In Masajo’s haiku she demonstrates the image of uneasiness. I imagine a woman walking alone on a path and hearing an unfamiliar voice behind her. She does not want to turn around and starts walking faster. She thought she was alone on the path until she heard the voice. The sky is dark and the wind is blowing, which makes he even more apprehensive.

Both of these haiku use images to make the reader uneasy. The clear images make the reader feel like they are in the moment. They also use many seasonal and weather words to set the scene. Almost every haiku of Masajo and many haiku of Nick Avis use seasonal words. I relate the season of autumn to darkness and the idea of something ending. I also relate rain and wind to night and the idea of fear. Both of these haiku authors place the reader in the moment and make them experience the emotions.

In conclusion, Nick Avis and Masajo Suzuki have very similar styles of haiku writing. They use similar themes, such as relationships, emotions and nature. They frequently use metaphors and seasonal words. Avis experiments more with form, while Masajo is very traditional. Through this comparison I have discovered how alike two haiku authors can be even though they have completely different experiences and are writing in two very different cultures.

—Kerry Hammergren

©2002 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors