Here at Tweetspeak, we love to celebrate poetry by pairing it with a holiday, like Take Your Poet to School Week, Take Your Poet to Work Day, and Poem on Your Pillow Day. So we are happy today, in the middle of National Poetry Month, to bring our three lines and seventeen syllables to International Haiku Day.
Haiku began in Japan. Among its masters are Matsuo Bashō, Kobayashi Issa, and Masaoka Shiki. As haiku has found a home in English, the rules of the form have changed to become more fluid.
About a year ago, I started writing a haiku a day. A friend tried it, and it seemed like a doable poetry dare. Knowing I’ll be writing a haiku about the day makes me pay attention to its unfolding and helps me synthesize the most memorable part.
When it comes to haiku, Amy Losak, a public relations professional in health care, finds writing haiku and senryu improves her writing, providing discipline and focus.
“I am not an expert. I’m a beginner, and I will always be a beginner,” she said. “The appeal for me is trying to catch and release a moment in our daily life that we might overlook. It’s the ability to slow down, take a breath, release the breath, pay attention to what’s going on around us, and find any kind of emotion in that and deeply express a moment with all the senses in three lines, not necessarily seventeen syllables.”
This month Penny Candy Books published a picture book titled H Is for Haiku: A Treasury from A to Z, written by Losak’s mother, Sydell Rosenberg, who passed away in 1996. The book is illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi. Rosenberg was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. She also worked as a copy editor, a teacher, a short story writer, and a novelist (under a pen name).
“I can detect the poet she became,” Losak said.
The book is not only a picture book of haiku; it’s also an alphabet book. The poem for A starts with the word “adventures,” followed by B for “boy” and C for “car.” E begins with the word “even.” For the letter D, which starts with the word “drops,” Chalabi illustrates drops of rain “clanking.” Don’t you think clanking is a better choice than falling?
Losak says she didn’t appreciate her mother’s interest in haiku until she began going through Rosenberg’s manuscripts, following her death.
“I realize now that my mother woke up every day greeting the day. Every day was not only a blessing but an anticipation of the small miracles of the world around us. I didn’t appreciate that at the time,” Losak said.
Now she is following in her mother’s footprints, slowing down and appreciating the small moments.
“I’d catch the bus to get into Manhattan, about a three-minute walk. I was rushing to the bus and past my neighbor’s house, and there in some kind of bush was this magnificent butterfly. It wasn’t a monarch,” Losak said. “The way it was just hovering around the bush, spiraling around, I had to write something about that. That was for me a haiku.”
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