Sunday, July 30, 2017

Write Like Issa: A Haiku How-To, May 2017

first snow . . .
three deer asleep
in my garden

Editor's Comments:

Note that Issa has loaded these and all of our previous examples with emotions without relying on overtly emotional words. He lets his images speak for themselves, and they speak volumes. This is an important secret of great haiku.

Twenty-first century poets Deborah P. Kolodji, Julie Warther, and Debbie Strange have learned this secret. They offer the following haiku as examples of verses imbued with Issa-like perspective and Issa-like compassion, their emotions encoded in pure imagery...

These poems are not parodies of Issa; they are original works of art for which the poets have adopted Issa's habits of mind. First, they stretched their imaginations to visualize what this world might look and feel like to fellow denizens...

In the third example Strange suggests an abiding, shared sense of peace and security under the year's first snowflakes. The deer doze peacefully, while the poet, beyond mere tolerance of their presence, honors and celebrates it. The herbivores that she might chase off with a broom in warmer seasons adopt the poet's garden as their safe dormitory—and all is right with the world.

All three poets have learned Issa's lesson of imagining a fellow creature's perspective to the point that "it" and "I" become "we": sharing both space and consciousness. In addition, all three poets, like Issa, deftly allow their images alone to convey emotion. In the art of haiku, that which is unspoken often speaks the loudest.

—David G. Lanoue

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