Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2002

Joan Leach

Joan's Haiku



Pamela Miller Ness and Chiyo-ni:
A Comparison of Two Women Haiku Authors

Chiyo-ni and Pamela Ness are two wonderful haiku authors. I think what makes them even greater is that they are women haiku authors. Chiyo-ni was one of the greatest women haiku authors of her time, and she was quite well known. She worked quite hard at her haiku and made a name for herself. She published two collections of her work. The reason I chose to compare her to Pamela Ness is not just because they are both women, but because they are both influential with the haiku they write. Both have had great luck with their haiku and have worked very hard to achieve their success.

I like how the two authors capture the moments that they are experiencing. They both enjoy gardening and flowers. I think they capture the true beautiful moments of life. After I researched Pamela Ness, I discovered that she enjoyed writing about gardens and Zen. I immediately thought about a Japanese author. I figured that since we have already studied Chiyo-ni that it would be fun to research her in more depth and compare her to a modern, woman haiku author. I have chosen four haiku from each author and looked closely at how they are written. I have compared them on style and topic. I tried to find the real moments that both authors were capturing within the haiku.

The first pair of haiku I compared were the following:

warm city wind
cherry blossoms filling
the potholes

Ness, Haiku Canada Newsletter
June 2000

evening temple bell
stopped in the sky
by cherry blossoms

Chiyo-ni, p.131

The first haiku is by Pamela Ness. I am from a suburb of Chicago. I travel to the city a lot for fun. Everyone knows that downtown Chicago is covered with potholes in the streets. I imagine a warm, summer day downtown. The cherry blossoms have fallen from the trees and are starting to fill the potholes. The image is so clear and captures the moment in which the writer is seeing this happen. Chiyo-ni’s haiku also captures a wonderful image. The bell is ringing in the evening hours. However, the cherry blossoms are falling from the trees and capture the attention of the watcher. The ringing of the bell does not mean anything anymore as the watcher watches.

Both authors use the image of cherry blossoms capturing the eye of the watcher. One image is the cherry blossoms covering potholes and the other getting the attention away from the ringing of the bell. I like both of these haiku and the image they represent.

The second haiku I chose to compare are the following:

folding the first
of a thousand paper cranes,
a new year

Ness, a millennial transition, 27

flying of cranes
as high as the clouds—
first sunrise

Chiyo-ni, p.94

The reason I chose to compare the preceding two haiku was because they both had an image of cranes, yet they are used in different ways. Pamela wrote the first haiku and it contains the image of paper cranes. I imagine origami when reading this haiku. I think that for the New Year, a person is folding the cranes to use for something. The second haiku written by Chiyo-ni captures a wonderful image using actual cranes. The cranes are flying high in the sky. The author captures the moment by using the last line "first sunrise". This may be the first sunrise of the year.

Both haiku capture the beginning of the New Year, and the subject matter is a crane. I think it is interesting how the same word is used, but in a different way.

The third set of haiku I chose to compare are the following:

ocean sunrise
again the aged painter
paints the sun head-on

Ness, Haiku Canada Newsletter
October 2000

green grass—
between, between the blades
the color of the water

Chiyo-ni, p.105

The two previous haiku were my favorite to compare from the two authors. I love images of color in haiku. It brightens the image and brings it out of any kind of darkness that may be expressed. The first haiku is by Pamela Ness and capture the image of a sunrise. Sunrises have beautiful colors. I see a somewhat older painter out on the beach watching the sunrise. The painter captures the sunrise as he/she sees it. The haiku also has the colors of the water. The second haiku by Chiyo-ni I think captures the colors of the water and the grass. The grass, being green, is slowly pushed way maybe in a meadow and the water shines through.

Both of these haiku show calmness and beauty. Water is a strong action image. The sun and grass are the demonstrations of expression of true color and nature’s beauty. I think both of these haiku give the reader images of natural beauty. They both possess awesome images. I compared these two because they are true moments in life where the watcher is taken in by the captivating moment.

The final two haiku that I compared were the following:

Lily pool
the layers of glow
in a dragonfly’s eye

Ness, In the Ripples

sounds enter the water
on this night—

Chiyo-ni, p.131

The two haiku demonstrate images of water and sound. The first, written by Pamela Ness, captures the moment of the dragonfly on the water. I picture the dragonfly landing on the lily pool and resting there. The water reflects in the dragonfly’s eyes. The sound is quiet and calm. The second haiku does not have an animal present, but definitely has sound represented. The sound that "enters the water" might be an animal of some sort landing on the water, but only the author that actually captured the image can be sure of this. The sound of something landing can be subtle or noticeable. The two haiku differ only in that one is day with the image of the sun and the other is at night.

I like these two haiku because of the sound. I like haiku that are written where the sound is captured are wonderful for the reader. These haiku do just that.

Chiyo-ni has captured many moments of her life. Most of the haiku capture the nature aspects and images of beauty. Pamela’s haiku capture her childhood many times with images of beauty. Also Mrs. Ness’s haiku show a display of her interests in gardening and the Japanese culture. I think that these two extraordinary women haiku authors were perfect to compare. I enjoyed looking at them both more in depth than I had before. I love their beautiful moments that they capture. Their haiku show their beauty as people and as individuals.

—Joan Leach

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