Welcome to our long awaited interview with the lovely Christine Eales, a strong and passionate lover of haiku and talented poet. (Rapturous applause)
Now, I’ve given the poor woman a barrage of questions, and each one, Christine has answered brilliantly. Now sit back and enjoy the ride!!
(A ripple of anticipation from the audience)
Take a seat, Christine, and welcome to the show. I trust you had a good journey here…
“Well, the jetpack started to sputter a bit over the A4…..”.
Okay, small talk over. Now, how did your passion for haiku begin?
Well, this all came in about an unusual way. I entered a competition for a poem about Spring. Then, in the middle of the third verse I said “I am going to write a haiku.” I wrote one, then three more to finish the poem. I didn’t win but doing that zany thing in the middle of a poem made me look at haiku.
Here are some great places to read modern English haiku free online:
http://www.theheronsnest.com Regarded by some as the top haiku journal in the English speaking world.
femkumag.wixsite.com/home Brilliant poems written by women
http://www.waleshaikujournal.com/submit Great poems and a feature section that only take a few minutes to read.
What aspect of haiku has influenced you the most?
Once you have started to get involved in haiku, it really changes the way you look at everything. Some people would say a Zen way of looking at life evolves. Haiku captures a moment. Sometimes in the real world, and especially the natural world.
butterflies in the wind pushing against time
or the natural and the human world together:
little boy shaking wishes
from a dandelion
Writing haiku, you do not talk about the abstract. You give facts and let the listener or reader respond with all they know about life. So you don’t mention words like love or explain your feelings.
not far away
Mum still walking
in the bluebell woods
So exploring and writing haiku means there is always an antenna working to see if something you are observing at a particular ‘moment’ is just right for a haiku. Also when you read normal poetry when a poet goes on and on about their feelings, you think they are bonkers. Another shock when you go back to normal poetry is the use of rhyme which is not used very often in the English-speaking haiku world.
Writing haiku makes you conscious of the importance of every word. We know this is true of all writing but with the tiny amount of space you have in a haiku each word has to be a nugget of gold. Even adding or taking away, ‘a’ or ‘the’ can be crucial.
the ladybird ladybird joining up joining up dots the dots
That’s fascinating, Christine, but how difficult is it to write haiku?
Haiku is brilliant for everyone to write as it uses facts to get the ideas of the haiku across. You don’t need an imagination, just become the observer of the small or large things in life. That you see, hear, smell, touch or taste.
There is this BIG RULE that most of us know before we get into haiku. Haiku are made up of seventeen syllables. Five on the first line, seven on the second, and five on the last line. The famous 5.7.5 layout. This works in Japanese as it is made up of very short sounds. If you say one short sound unit or ‘on’ can be replaced by a syllable, some of which can be very long, and you lose the beautiful lightness of a Japanese haiku. So to get towards that lightness, many English haiku written now are around eleven syllables. Sometimes less, sometimes more, if that’s what the haiku needs.
If you feel very passionate about the 5, 7, 5 syllables then you can do them. They are still a respected form and appear in all the top journals.
So, tell us the rules
A few vital rules are:
You must have the juxtaposition of two images (not necessarily sense of sight, any of the senses or one part of the haiku can be a thought)
massage scales with amber and patchouli weighing each day boiling sprouts I belong to you
The haiku consists of two parts, the phrase where two lines are saying something and the fragment in one line saying something. They can be in any order, phrase then fragment or fragment or phrase.
shaft of sunlight we eat our meal dog on the bed in silence shifts bellowing moon
You must write facts so no verbose phrases about how you feel.
a daisy chain rainy day around her neck blending my thoughts her hands with the sherry her feet
Writing facts makes writing haiku accessible to everyone. You do not have to have a flowery mind. Put down those facts and shock people, make them laugh and cry.
There are lots more rules so picking them up bit by bit is maybe a good idea. And just to add to the fun, sometimes rules can be broken.
(Spontaneous applause from an awed audience)
That’s fascinating, Christine, your passion is to be envied, and I, for one, want to get writing Haiku.
Now, share your favourite haiku with us.
My favourite haiku are the one that blend the natural world and the human world:
through a dragonfly’s wing
a sheepdog calls
his master home
Wasn’t that just stunning?!
Now, before we relocate to the Discotheque, I believe you have some useful websites to share with us.
www.thehaikufoundation.org/ find poems, essays, opportunities to put your poems on the blog
http://www.graceguts.com Go to article ‘Becoming a Haiku Poet’ by Michael Dylan Welch under essays.
Please join the Haiku World.
Christine Eales, thank you so much.