Genre Writing in Haiku?

big-foot-pointing_MJhjKnUu_L

Time is a precious commodity, so I’ve come to appreciate a good haiku.  If they’re well written, they’ll make a big impression in just three short lines.  When I first joined the WordPress community last summer, I discovered, Mob Haiku, authored by Jan Olandese.  Her style is a drastic departure from the classical, nature-themed haiku forms we typically see.  Olandese delivers an extremely clever little narrative concerning the day to day happenings of a fictional crime syndicate in each installment.  I look forward to reading them because they’re something I can take in very quickly, but the sharp wit and irreverent humor they convey have a long-lasting effect.  If that sounds like your cup of tea, I strongly suggest you check out her work.

Inspired by Mob Haiku, I began searching for other, less traditional haiku publications.  It wasn’t long before I happened upon a quarterly magazine that specializes in science fiction haiku.  The magazine is appropriately named, Scifaikuest, edited by T. SantitoroAgain, this was a great find for me because now I can get my Sci-Fi fix in a few minutes, rather than having to commit to a 600 hundred page novel.

I’m going to try my luck at three of my own science fiction themed haiku in this post.  I’ll conclude with some brief commentary for each selection, just to give a little insight into my thought process.  Enjoy.

 

the first conscious thought

in the servers’ circuitry:

kill the fleshy apes

#

 

there were some cutbacks

simulation 86ed

sorry and goodbye

#

 
early morning hike

a twelve-foot-tall humanoid

striding toward me

#

 

 

Commentary:

The first haiku suggests the increasing complexity of our computer networks might one day lead to the spontaneous emergence of artificial intelligence.  Furthermore, it could be an intelligence that is hostile to the human race.  Of course, this isn’t a new concept, but it’s the first time I’ve ever written a cautionary Sci-Fi haiku.  That must count for something.

 

In the second selection, the science fiction elements are more subtle than in the first.  This one was inspired by research that is being conducted by theoretical physicist, Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr., of Maryland University.  Gates claims that he has discovered error correcting computer codes woven into the equations of String Theory.  He claims  these findings are highly suggestive that our universe is, in fact, a computer simulation.  Certainly Gates’ theory has met resistance in the scientific community.  Nevertheless, his research is immensely fascinating to me.

 

In the last haiku, the premise is straight forward.  I was going for a visceral effect, rather than cerebral.  This one was inspired by an incident that occurred while I was hiking through a state park one summer day.  It was early, and I was walking west to east.  From my perspective, everything was backlit by the rising sun.  When I got to the top of a gradually ascending hill, I saw an absolutely massive, bipedal creature that stopped me dead in my tracks.  It was about twenty yards away, but I had a horrifying feeling it was capable of closing that distance in a few seconds if it took a notion to.  Then, my brain finally figured out what I was looking at.  It was a black bear standing on its hind legs atop a fallen oak tree.  Still, the situation was sort of dangerous, but not Sasquatch dangerous.  I veered off onto another trail, giving the bear a very wide berth.  There was a moment there when I genuinely believed I was looking at the legendary Big Foot, and I wanted to try to capture that feeling in the haiku.

 

Well, that’s all I got this week.

 

As always, keep writing, keep revising, and be kind.

 

-Hawk

 

 

 

A Quick Thanks

Thank you

I started this blog about four months ago on a lark.  I don’t have a social media presence, but every week I seem to gain a new follower or two.  It means a lot to me to have this audience.  It helps keep me focused and enthusiastic, and it is starting to pay dividends.  I’ve become more prolific as a writer, and I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand the craft on a deeper level.

Maybe some of you recall my Haibun posts from a few months ago.  Well, the positive feedback I got from the Word Press community inspired me to submit another piece of my own to a journal called, Haibun Today.  It was accepted, and it is currently up in the December 2017 online issue.  If you’re at all interested in a literary form that combines prose with haiku, I encourage you to check out the publication.  It’s free, and the selections are outstanding. You can find it at: http://www.haibuntoday.com/

So, thank you to everyone who tunes in to my humble blog. This is a great community, and I’m lucky to be part of it.

-Hawkelson

The Benefits of Haiku

Several posts ago, my topic of the week was on the literary form of haibun.  Typically, a haibun piece consists of a prose narrative followed by a haiku that illuminates some aspect of the prose in a subtle, but meaningful way.  I am still quite the novice at this form, however, I felt that I knew enough to submit a work of my own to a journal called, Haibun Today.

A few weeks later I was contacted by the publication’s general editor, Ray Rasmussen.  He felt the prose portion of my submission was strong, but the haiku needed work.  A lot of work.  Under his patient guidance, I was able to revise the piece, and it was ultimately accepted for publication in the upcoming December 2017 edition.

This post isn’t about me patting myself on the back.  Well, it is a little bit because it means a lot to have my work appear in a journal that I hold dear to my heart.  But besides that, this post is meant to reinforce a theme I touched on two months ago.  It was titled, “On Rejection.”

In that post, I emphasized how valuable an editor’s constructive criticism can be for a writer.  It’s rare when an editor takes the time to do this for an unsolicited submission. Seize the opportunity when it happens.  Chances are you’re going to learn something about the craft of writing.

And that’s exactly what happened to me.  I learned something about writing haiku – and I can apply that lesson to every facet of my writing.  Haiku forces a writer to focus a concept into a literary laser beam.  A lot has to happen in seventeen syllables or less, and if it’s done well, the reader’s brain will vaporize from the impact your haiku just made.  There is a ton of helpful articles out there on the subject – Ray Rasmussen gave me this link to get me started, and I highly recommend it to you: http://www.haiku.org.uk/two-image.htm

I’m not claiming to be a haiku expert, but I am claiming that studying the haiku form can help a writer eliminate a lot of the mental clutter that tends to bog them down.  When you’re writing in English, you can express a concept in a multitude of ways.  A given word could have dozens of synonyms that ever so slightly change the tone of a phrase or sentence.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the possibilities.

Reading and writing haiku for a half hour or so seems to prime my brain to think more concisely.  My mind feels more focused and agile, and my writing session is noticeably more productive.  If I was independently wealthy, I’d commission a team of cognitive scientists to figure out why this happens to me.  But, unless I hit the Mega Millions, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it.  And see if it works for you.  It certainly won’t hurt.

I’ll leave you with a haiku I finished a few nights ago.  Keep writing, keep revising, and be kind.

 

-Hawkelson

sunrise-in-savanna_f1ibGZDu_L

 

pastel sky

lazy shadows spill

from the still trees

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction to Haibun

I just got into reading haibun.  Like, really into it – the way people got into The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad.  A couple of months ago I didn’t even know what it was. To me, the word sounded like something you would call an exotic fish, e.g. I’m going haibun fishing this weekend.

It turns out it’s actually a literary form that originated in Japan hundreds of years ago.  It’s difficult to sum it up in a few words, but I’ll try.  The form combines prose and haiku.    Typically, the haiku follows a prose narrative, but that’s not always the case.  I’ve seen the haiku sandwiched between two paragraphs, and I’ve seen it appear at the very beginning.  I’ve also seen multiple haikus in a single piece. Of course, my experience is limited to English language haibun because I never got around to learning Japanese (slacker).

The thing that is really interesting about this literary form is the relationship between the two distinct components.  The haiku isn’t simply appended to the narrative as a festive little garnish – it illuminates some aspect of the prose that wasn’t apparent at first.  Sometimes the haiku offers a resolution to the narrative, sometimes it presents an alternative interpretation, or even a refutation.  It can add a dose of irony, or humor, or sorrow – anything at all.  And if the haibun is extremely well written, the prose and the poetry will unite in a literary symbiosis that will explode your mind.

Haibun is such a fascinating form, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.  If you’d like to see what it’s all about, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Haibun Today are two excellent publications.  Their archives are free to view, and they offer some great selections.

Of course, I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring and try it out.  I’ll tell you what – writing haibun is not like taking candy from a baby.  It’s more like taking a freshly killed wildebeest from a hungry pride of lions.  If you’d like to read one of my early attempts you can find it below. I titled it, Ones and Zeroes.  This one has a decidedly Sci Fi feel to it.

Also, if anyone has a haibun they’d like to share with me, let me know.  I’d love to read it.  And if you like this blog, feel free to let others interested in creative writing know about it.

Take care, and keep writing.

-Hawk

sorry3

   Ones and Zeroes

It’s not just the usual conspiracy theorists wearing tinfoil hats who are talking about this.  There are professors from elite universities – people with I.Q.s as big as busses – who believe our entire universe is a simulation being run inside some kind of alien super computer.

They say it’s all numbers – binary code whirring beneath the surface.  They say they’ve seen the equations woven into the fabric of our reality.  More precisely, the equations are the fabric of our reality, and the rest is only a clever veneer.  Your memories, hopes, dreams, fears, regrets, all of it . . . ones and zeroes.

there were some cutbacks

simulation 86ed

sorry and goodbye