Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2003


Jared Stahl

Timothy Russell

Jared's Haiku



Timothy Russell and Gene Doty:
A Comparison of Haiku

I am studying the haiku author Timothy Russell, and in looking for some haiku to compare to his works, I picked Nose to Nose by the author Gene Doty. Reading this small book I found that Doty’s stile is very similar to Russell’s and I picked three haiku of Doty’s that are very similar to three of Russell’s haiku.

rising from the ground
in the town cemetery
so many fireflies

Russell, Black Bough

rising from newly cut grass
the heat

Doty, Nose to Nose

Both of these haiku create a beautiful, peaceful image of fireflies rising from the ground. Doty’s begins with the word “firefly” which gives us that visual of the glowing light right off the bat. Then it fallows with “rising from the newly cut grass” which is a great line. Doty and Russell both use the word ‘rising’ to describe the fireflies coming up form the ground. I can almost see, and smell the fresh cut grass, which is why this line is so good. Russell begins with “rising from the ground” and leaves the fireflies for the end of the haiku, which works very well. This works well because with the middle line being “in the town cemetery”, I read the first two lines I think of the dead rising from the cemetery ground. This is kind of humorous, and dark. When the last line is read, I get this beautiful image of many fireflies rising up with their lights glowing in the dark.

in the spiderweb

Russell, Dreams Wander

in the cat’s mouth—
first firefly

Doty, Nose to Nose

Another set of firefly haiku by Gene Doty and Timothy Russell. This time it is not as pleasant, at least not for the fireflies. In Doty’s haiku, he begins with “glow”. I like this because immediately I get an image of something glowing in my head. Unlike the previous set, this time Russell begins with firefly and ends with “blinking” which is very similar to Doty’s “glow” and has the same effect. Both of these haiku convey the demise of a firefly, but Doty’s “in the cat’s mouthi—“ is more on the humorous side whereas Russell’s “in the spiderweb” is more somber. Both haiku are great, but I really enjoy Doty’s. I can just see the cat opening up its mouth and seeing the yellow glowing juice on its tongue and teeth. That can’t be very tasty. It was the cat’s first firefly, and probably its last.

sliver of moon
reminding me
to trim my nails

Russell, Brussels Sprout 10:3
September 1993

I go out
to trim the hedge

Doty, Nose to Nose

Both of these are great and humorous haiku, or senryu. Both relate hygiene with something from nature. I like the way Doty’s begins with “clean-shaven” “I go out.”

At first you think this person has shaved to go out on the town or out on a date. Then you read the last line “to trim the hedge” which is very clever. Like in Russell’s haiku, where the sliver of moon reminds the person of the white crescent moon shapes on his/her long fingernails, it seems as if this person shaving his face reminded him that he needed to trim, or “shave”, the hedges. Russell’s is very clever too. I like the phrase “sliver of moon.” The word sliver is just a great word to use in this haiku and it works so well in describing the moon and relating it to the tips of fingernails.

Both Timothy Russel and Gene Doty have a similar approach to writing haiku. They both write haiku that deal with seasons, nature, and humor. Most of all, both authors write haiku about everyday life, and the irony and humorous actions that

—Jared Stahl

©2003 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors