like to think I have gotten better at writing haiku in the ten plus years that
I have been experimenting with the form. I like to think I have improved in
general as I have made my way through the years. What constitutes a better
person is, perhaps, a subject for another time and/or place. What makes a
better haiku, however, is a question that is still up for grabs. My
thinking along these lines has led to at least one word that might be used to describe the most important aspect of good haiku. That word is: brevity. This
is a concept that has come, through my experiments with haiku, to inform all of
my literary efforts – fiction, poetry, blog posts…
short, the idea is to keep it short. As short as possible. Consider the value
of each word. Haiku is a short form already, of course, but we can, and must,
believe brevity, especially in haiku, is power. In saying only what needs to be
said, by underlining the essence of any given situation or thing, the writer
engages with the reader and empowers him or her to imagine the greater picture
(which is, of course, composed of tiny details).
way of example, I offer the two pieces below, each written April 4, 2014. Now,
these are obviously English language haiku. English language haiku is not
Japanese haiku. This is a subject that I may have covered previously in this
blog, so I will just say that while I do concern myself with syllable and line
count, these days it seems brevity is the first rule that I try to apply:
After the rain,
shines all the brighter…
After the rain,
know it will ultimately be a matter of the reader’s personal taste, but I hope
the above example proves my point. While I like the cadences and form of the
longer piece, I find the third line becomes not only irrelevant but cumbersome
in the light of the second and shorter poem.
lines. Five words. And, I believe, powerful imagery. Could the second piece be
trimmed down further? One might start with deleting the “the”s, but I like them
where they are. One might also enquire about the usefulness of punctuation in
haiku. I tend to punctuate most of my haiku. So the commas and ellipses stay.
as I continue writing I will continue whittling the poems down to their very
essence until I have a perfect haiku of only one word.