I was trying to choose an author to study for this class,
many names ran through my head. There were the traditional
authors, such as Basho and Chiyo-ni, but their haiku seemed
old-fashioned and sometimes hard to understand. Then, there
were the authors of senryu, such as Alan Pizzarelli, that
were quite interesting, but sometimes still hard for me to
grasp or relate to. One author seemed to stand out in my mind
that would be perfect for this project, and it was the simple,
everyday experiences of John Stevensons haiku that led
me to choose him. I truly enjoy haiku about everyday experiences,
and I truly enjoy the works of haiku author John Stevenson.
Stevenson has a way with words. He has the ability to immerse
his reader into the scenes that he has depicted for them.
Each haiku is written with such a vividness and clarity, which
allows the reader to become part of his experience. You, as
the reader feel his emotions, see his visions, and live his
experiences over and over again, just as if they were your
own. You feel comfortable in experiencing these moments along
with the author because of his chosen subject matter and writing
style. The words of John Stevenson are simply a reflection
of an ordinary moment, conveyed in the simplest terms.
haiku is a perfect example of one of the everyday occurrences
in his life. It depicts the moment on Christmas Day in which
he has to meet his ex-wife for the exchanging
of their child. Stevenson met and married Patricia Kennedy,
and years later they were divorced. During their time together,
they became the parents of a son, James, who was born in February
of 1983. After the divorce, they spent many years exchanging
their son for the holidays. There is a lot of emotion felt
through this haiku. It is hard for parents to give up spending
time with their children, especially during the holiday season.
The positive side to this experience is that it is universal.
In the world today, there are not many traditional families.
Many children live with either one or the other of their parents,
and their holidays are usually split between the two. Although
being a child with divorced parents is not something to be
happy about, the experience, for John Stevenson, is something
to write about.
haiku that I enjoy is found in the book Some of the Silence.
Stevenson talks about this train in many of his haiku. It
is located along the banks of the Hudson River and runs from
Albany to New York City. John sometimes rides this train to
and from his place of employment. I picture him riding the
train home after a long day of work. He is exhausted, and
cant wait to get home and go to bed. John wants to sit
and relax during his ride home, but there is a voice that
keeps echoing in his head. A few seats in front of him sits
a friendly, older man that just keeps talking to anyone who
will listen. He is rambling on about nothing and is annoying
to most of the other riders, but he just keeps on talking.
Again, this haiku relates to a time in my life, and I am sure
the experiences of others. It seems like every time I fly
by myself, I sit next to the older person that wants to talk.
Although I know they are just trying to be friendly, this
usually annoys me. If you have never had the experience of
sitting next to a talker when you are traveling,
I am sure you have heard or seen them somewhere.
is my favorite haiku written by John Stevenson. It gives me
such a warm and comfy feeling. I picture myself trying to
get up for class during the winter months. I always find myself
hitting the snooze button about three times before I finally
get out of bed. I just dread the cold, and my warm bed seems
like a much better place to be. I think this haiku paints
such a vivid picture for its reader because most people can
relate to it.
think that this haiku is very humorous because I have done
this many times before. I picture myself driving along a three
or four lane interstate. I always watch the sports cars zoom
by me, and I seem to zoom past the older models. Whenever
I come up to a car that I especially like, or one that looks
like mine, I take my time in passing it. I check who is inside,
and I try to imagine what the people are thinking or talking
about. I think this is something normal that a lot of people
do, and many could relate to this experience as well.
haiku focuses on two elements of zen, with these being the
season word, and oneness. In dealing
with the seasonal element, the seasonal word sort of plays
with the reader. After reading the first line, it puts you
in a setting of winter. But, after reading on, you realize
that it is just a colder morning than usual, where the dew
has frozen over the surroundings. With this idea presented,
the reader can imagine that the people are camping during
the autumn months when the temperature is starting to drop.
Next, the idea of oneness is presented. The campers
seem to be one with nature. They are awoken early with the
animals, and adapting well to the other changes happening
within their surroundings. There is no definite separation
between the two, and a feeling of connection is present.
believe that this haiku focuses, again, on the oneness
element of zen. You picture a man on a long walk home. Instead
of being focused on the destination, he is enjoying the journey
along the way. He does not seem to be separated from nature
in any way. He has become one with it because he is acknowledging
the world around him and enjoying its beauty. In reality,
it seems like the author has a long way before he arrives
home because the river has almost become one with the horizon,
but, because he is enjoying himself, it is like he is almost
home. He feels like this walk could not last long enough.
haiku that I especially like depicts another normal, everyday,
experience for Mr. Stevenson.
think this haiku takes a normal experience and presents it
in a neat way. I can picture it perfectly. I think of when
I am on long car trips. Sometimes I get so board that all
I can do is look outside and watch the shadow of our car because
it is riding along right beside you. I love the way that Stevenson
depicts the shadow as bouncing. I think the element
of personification adds so much liveliness to this image that
otherwise might be somewhat dull.
©2003 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors