Haiku Eye’s Wordlessness
Just as in poetry, where one word effects another, so are images influenced by the others near them.
Poem, with juxtaposed words,
unique—to each reader’s mind.
Images connect in unexpected, even mysterious ways, by pattern, color, mood, suggestion—whatever the viewer brings to it at that moment.
Photos, juxtaposed image,
like wordless poems
new—with each contemplation.
Haiku Eye—wordless poems, branches from a blog where I often reflect on how words and image connect, and how their juxtaposing effects meaning.
Haiku has been called “unfinished” poetry because each one requires the reader to finish it in his or her heart.
To explain what Haiku Eye intends to explore, I’m now turning to the overview of Haiku that’s posted at WikiHow.com where you can read its collaborative authors’ fuller version of what I’m posting below (indented).
Structure of Haiku
Sound. Japanese Haiku traditionally consist of 17 on, or sounds, divided into three phrases: 5 sounds, 7 sounds, and 5 sounds. English poets interpreted on as syllables. Haiku poetry has evolved over time, and most poets no longer adhere to this structure, in either Japanese or English; modern Haiku may have more than 17 sounds or as few as one.
Contemporary haiku poets may write poems that are just a short fragment with three or fewer words.
Juxtapose two ideas. The Japanese word kiru, which means “cutting,” expresses the notion that Haiku should always contain two juxtaposed ideas. The two parts are grammatically independent, and they are usually imagistically distinct as well.
Japanese haiku are commonly written on one straight line, with juxtaposed ideas separated by a kireji, or cutting word, that helps define the ideas in relation to each other. The kireji usually appears at the end of one of the sound phrases. There is no direct English translation of the kireji, so it is often translated as a dash.
Choose a Subject
Distill a poignant experience. Haiku is traditionally focused on details of one’s environment that relate to the human condition. Think of a haiku as a meditation of sorts that conveys an objective image or feeling without employing subjective judgment and analysis. When you see or notice something that makes you want to say to others, “Look at that,” the experience may well be suitable for a haiku.
Create a subject shift. In keeping with the idea that haiku should contain two juxtaposed ideas, shift the perspective on your chosen subject so that your poem has two parts. For example, you could focus on the detail of an ant crawling on a log, then juxtapose that image with an expansive view of the whole forest, or the season the ant is currently inhabiting. The juxtaposition gives the poem a deeper metaphorical meaning than it would have if it were a simple, single-planed description.
Describe the details. Haiku are comprised of details observed by the five senses. The poet witnesses an event and uses words to compress that experience so others may understand it in some way. Once you have chosen a subject for your haiku, think about what details you want to describe.
Show, don’t tell. Haiku are about moments of objective experience, not subjective interpretation or analysis of those events. It’s important to show the reader something true about the moment’s existence, rather than telling the reader what emotions it conjured in you. Let the reader feel his or her own emotions in reaction to the image.
Be inspired. In the tradition of the great haiku poets, go outside for inspiration. Take a walk and tune in to your surroundings. Which details in your environment speak to you? What makes them stand out?
Practice. Like any other art, haiku takes practice.