Life and Haiku of Betty Drevniok
haiku about everyday life experiences entice you to read haiku?
If you have answered yes, I recommend the haiku of Betty Drevniok.
Drevniok was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1917. After high
school, Betty attended Washington University School of Fine
Arts as well as St. Louis School of Nursing (Haiku Canada).
After she graduated with her nursing degree in 1948, Betty
moved to Canada where she worked as a nurse. In 1977, Betty
Drevniok, George Swede, and Eric Amann founded the Haiku Society
of Canada, which is presently known as Haiku Canada. Drevniok
served as secretary for two years and as president for three
years. As president, Betty was able to arrange the first haiku
international meeting in Toronto in 1980 (Haiku Canada). Throughout
her life, Drevniok wrote many haiku as well as books such
as Impressions of Rural Ontario, Focus on a Shadow, Aware:
A Haiku Primer, and Thoughts of Spring. After her
life ended in March 1997, Haiku Canada started the Betty Drevniok
Award 2002 in her memory (Haiku Canada).
became interested in Drevnioks haiku after reading several
of her haiku in The Haiku Anthology. Her haiku appeals to
me because they are about everyday life experiences and they
are simple yet complex. They are simple because she uses a
minimum amount of words and complex because they always seem
to have a deeper meaning.
I read this haiku for the first time, I thought it was simple
because as the snow is falling outside, the tea on the stove
gets warmer and darker. However, after I read this haiku several
times, I am able to see its complexity because I believe it
is a little narrative. I imagine that two old friends are
sitting in a kitchen on a cold, snowy night. Through the small
kitchen window, they are able to see the snow falling outside
as they await their cup of tea, and as they get deeper and
deeper into conversation the darker and darker the tea becomes.
the haiku uses vision as a sense. Because the haiku takes
place in autumn, I imagine that it is a cool night with a
light drizzle. As the person walks in a forest, wet leaves
on the ground stick to his shoe. However, neither the rain
nor the wet leaves stops him from following the flashlight
beam that he sees in the distance. Then, Drevniok appeals
to our sense of smell because I am smell the rain. In addition,
she uses sound because you are able to hear the rain bouncing
off the fall leaves. What I like most about this haiku is
that I can see the man walking in the rain at this present
In Drevnioks book, Aware: A Haiku Primer, she wrote that the best haiku is created from actual experiences that are happening at this moment. As people are writing haiku, they should be alone in order to allow the universe to touch them and at the same time allow themselves to become aware of nature and reality. Drevniok says, Be aware of things around you. Let those things reach out and touch you as in the Japanese phrases mono no aware, the touchingness of things and the touchingness of the world, of life, yo no aware (Drevniok, Aware 5). As people become aware of their surroundings, they should become one with nature, where they are, and as who they are. With this approach in mind, most of Drevnioks haiku is from the oneness technique of Zen. Another approach that Drevniok takes in her haiku is that she uses minimal emotion, if any. Drevniok likes the minimum / maximum approach which is when authors write a minimum amount of words that expresses the maximum experience in order for readers to share the same exact moment (Drevniok, Aware 18). Within this minimal amount of words, the authors should not force their emotion on their readers. A haiku is written so that the reader, too, may experience the moment because the haiku belongs to the writer and reader equally but differently (Drevniok, Aware 19).
wants her readers to be able to feel their own emotions by
using their imagination.
like this haiku because of its irony. It is the first day
of spring but not all of the snow has melted because the picnic
table is blocking the suns heat from melting the drift
of snow. Drevniok allows me to imagine that a family is enjoying
their first day of spring by having a picnic in the park.
Also, I like this haiku because I am able to use my imagination
so that I can form my own emotions. When the family arrives
at the park, they cannot believe that some of the snow is
still on the ground. However, the snow does not ruin their
picnic. They continue to celebrate the first day of spring
because they know that it will not be long until the snow
will be completely gone.
choose to write about this haiku because I enjoy the contrast
of black and white. Drevniok sets up this haiku so that her
readers imagine a dark sky that is filled with bright white
stars. However, the same black and white contrast is experienced
inside as well. I imagine that a man is sitting in is living
room watching TV with no lights on in the house. The only
light is coming from the TV but it is not giving off much
light because the movie is in black and white. In addition,
I believe the oneness technique used in this haiku because
nature and the man are connected by sharing the same environments.
haiku is a perfect example of oneness because the person becomes
connected by nature as her foot sinks into the sand. Also,
she becomes one with the water as it rushes over the top of
her feet. The way Drevniok spaced the haiku, allows her readers
to see the movement of the waves going back and forth onto
the sand. Because no emotion was used, I was able to imagine
that a woman was on a midnight stroll along the beach. She
has been stressed out lately and she finds herself at peace
when she is near the ocean because it reminds her of when
her parents would bring her to the ocean when she was a little
like this haiku because Drevniok makes her readers feel that
they are one with nature. I imagine this haiku is written
about a camping trip. Every time I have gone camping, I feel
very connected to nature by sleeping on the ground, making
campfires, and taking hikes. This haiku takes place early
in the morning because the full moon is still out and shining.
The man came out of his tent because he could not sleep. As
he walks around his campsite, he realizes that his campsite
is not as bright as it usually is. After looking around he
realizes that it is dark because embers only remain in the
campfire and clouds are drifting across the moon. I believe
that Drevnioks use of spacing is very useful because
it allows readers to imagine how clouds drift across the moon,
unevenly and slowly.
Drevnioks haiku are simple everyday experiences, but
they usually have a complex meaning. She does not like to
impose her readers with emotions because she wants them to
be able to relate to the moment through their own imaginations.
Finally, Drevniok likes to use the oneness technique of Zen
by appealing to her readers senses. In order to write
a good haiku, Drevniok believes that people should be alone
with nature. Being alone with nature allows people to be touched
by the universe, and allows them to become aware of reality.
©2003 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors