Writing Meaningful Verses

This morning, housebound and wandering round the web again, I came upon this post over at Penumbra Haiku. Interesting reading the various definitions and quotes from famous poets! A Poet Is

A Few More Thoughts On Writing Haiku

As you will know by now, I enjoy reading and writing haiku. There are a number of online sites dedicated to this art form — Cattails, Frogpond Journal, The Heron’s Nest, to name a few — plus there are bloggers who post their verses like I do on Tree Top Haiku and like the above blogger does.

Haiku, if done well, can really speak to you, catching a brief but touching scene, or revealing an interesting quirk of human nature. I follow The Haiku Foundation’s blog and have read some deep verses, both in their Troutswirl e-zine and in their featured books.

For some time now I’ve been thinking of publishing an e-book of haiku myself and last night I started this project, choosing the most-liked verses from both blogs. Mind you, I did it to gain practice in formatting an e-book as well as to publish my verses. I’ve been working on an allegory, editing and then setting it up as a print book to be published shortly, and the author wants me to publish as an e-book as well. I have the means to do e-publishing with my current WordPerfect version but hadn’t tried it out yet.

Wondering what the competition is like, I hopped over to Amazon to check out the poetry books listed there. First point noted is that haiku is “free verse” — in the literal sense as well as the figurative. Most of the haiku books listed on Amazon are “Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited.”

In the other corner, one brave poet listed his e-book of haiku for $24. Good luck with that.

Second point noted: one poet has seemingly flooded the haiku-book market. I saw at least two dozen of her books listed, but then I saw that one of her books had only nine verses, some others had only four. Book descriptions read like:
Given title. It is an e-book. 5-7-5 Haiku Quality

Hmm…

I checked out a couple, since they’re free for KD subscribers. Hmm…

My thoughts went back to an incident thirty-some years ago, when I was making a serious effort to learn French. Since I’d never lived in a French area, I had only an occasional opportunity to practice with the few local francophones in our community, but I did what I could when I could.

One day I was trying to converse with a young man from a francophone family in Dorval, Quebec, who’d travelled extensively in North America before settling in our area. His English was impeccable, but his tact wasn’t the best. After one quick practice session he told me — in an intriguing blend of kindness and honesty, “After you’ve learned French well, you’ll know how poorly you speak it now.”

Whimper.

But it was the truth. Once we lived in Quebec four years and I learned to speak it better — though never fluently— I knew what he meant. That’s what life and learning are all about.

When it comes to haiku, I have much to learn myself. However, poems like these (my examples) can’t really be classed as haiku:

yet I’ve
always
thought it so

today
I learned
I was wrong

One day a few weeks back I had to laugh when I saw a verse in an online book; it read (something like):

melon
inscrutably
meloning

This led me to write my own verse:

coconut
inexplicably
a nut

And then:

sunrise
promises
sunset

From what I have gleaned about haiku so far — as well as other modern short poems — writers should tell you what they see, but not what they think or conclude. These examples tell you plainly what I’ve seen AND what I want you to see or conclude:

her new outfit
too tight — nothing left
to the imagination

goose hunter
displays three dead birds
proud as a peacock

Verses aren’t to be disjointed to the point of confusion:

oil derricks pumping
countries in consuming competition
with world politics

The verse should not be just a sentence divided in three, nor use a telegraph style:

wind in wheat field
swirls heavy heads
of golden harvest

But rather leave you with a scene, imagining what happened or drawing your own conclusion. I’d love to quote a dozen better poets here, but their works are copyright, so here are my own adaptations again:

walking at dusk
the winnow of the nighthawk
lifts my thoughts

partway down the street
your shape disappears
in the fog

While I’m dealing specifically with haiku in this post, the same is true of all poetry — and writing as a whole. We should make it as concise as possible, thought-inspiring, but still accessible. Paint the scene, but not explain it.

Never Look Back

This is my response to fellow blogger Kristian’s “Tell the Story” Challenge. Here’s the picture he’s given about which to write my story:

IMG_3163

Never Look Down: A Lesson in Corporate Ladders

“Never look down,” I whispered to myself. “Never, never, never look down.” I forced myself to focus on the floor above and took another step on the winding staircase.

So what quirk of nature is at play in the human brain — or is it something more sinister perhaps, some evil force at work? How can it be that, when you so much don’t want to do a thing…

I couldn’t stop myself. I leaned over the railing and looked at the landing below. Before I could grab them, my glasses slid off my face and went sailing down the staircase and crashed on the floor. I shook my head and hurried back down to grab my shattered glasses, then started up again.

I’d been so delighted when, after several years on the working in Accounts Receivable on the ground floor at the Apex Complex, I was able to get the position of Personal Assistant to Ms DeVerre, one of the company executives three floors up. I didn’t realize when I started in my new position that there’d be days when the elevator was out-of-order or otherwise tied up, and I’d have to take the stairs.

I was hunched over my desk trying to read the daily planner when Ms DeVerre walked in. I looked up at the sound of her greeting and she stopped to take a good look at me.

“Lost another pair of glasses down the staircase,” she asked. “Isn’t that the third pair this month? This must be getting expensive for you.”

I quickly pulled my spare pair out of my desk drawer. “I can’t seem to resist looking down. I think it’s some kind of compulsion. Maybe I should apply for a job as chambermaid at the local Holiday Inn. At least if my glasses fall off there, they’ll land on a soft bed.”

She didn’t laugh at my joke. “Surely contact lenses would be a better solution, Miss Shattner. You should look into that.”

“I’ve never liked the thought of wearing contacts, but you’re right, of course.”

She gave me an odd look before she went into her office, almost like she was wondering about my intelligence.

I sighed. Something told me I wasn’t going to get much higher on this corporate ladder.

Give Us This Day

calendar + quote

I wanted to share this neat quote with you this morning but couldn’t think of a proper title for my post — until I spotted one of the “Our Daily Bread” devotional booklets I keep around for quick inspiration.

The title, “Our Daily Bread”, is taken from The Lord’s Prayer. Responding to his disciples request, “Teach us to pray,” Jesus gave them a sample prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) Included in this is the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses (or debts)…”

I know the whole phrase is asking God to meet our needs of the day, but this morning the words really impressed me: “Give us this day…” A great title for my post!

I wouldn’t want to miss this day — or any day. Time goes by fast enough. Also, I hope to make good use of today. It’s my hope and prayer that I can accomplish some goals, and also enjoy today’s hours. Yesterday I finished the final edit (I hope!) on the manuscript I’ve been working on and put it together as a pdf, ready  to send to proof-readers. Today I plan to deal with some of my own work that’s been piling up while I gave most of my attention to this project.

“This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Oodles of poets have written about living in today, dealing with today’s problems, enjoying this time. They remind us that we shouldn’t rush through these hours, but stop to smell the roses blooming today, and store up some of today’s goodness and/or good memories for our future days.

Here are two verses from Annie Johnson Flint’s poem, One Day At A Time

Not yesterday’s load we are called on to bear,
Nor the morrow’s uncertain and shadowy care;
Why should we look forward or back with dismay?
Our needs, as our mercies, are but for the day.

One day at a time, and the day is His day;
He hath numbered its hours, though they haste or delay.
His grace is sufficient; we walk not alone;
As the day, so the strength that He giveth His own.

Birds, Books and Verses

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been dropping in here and there on other people’s blogs this month, but haven’t posted much of anything myself. It feels like “too long” but my time has been devoted to going over and polishing an acquaintance’s book.

Some great writer once said, “A book is never finished; it’s finally just abandoned.” Well, coming to the end of my fifth edit, I’m ready to abandon this book to the marketplace. I still have to set it up on Amazon and insert the images, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Hari & Rudi in the Land of Fruit is a Christian allegory along the lines of Pilgrim’s Progress. The main characters are two young teens who find themselves on an intriguing journey through a strange land. Here they meet creatures who represent the fruit of the Holy Spirit: Joy, Peace, Love, Goodness, Patience, etc.

Doing this work has given me a good idea of that final drive necessary to get a book “out there” in a short time. (I’ve written a few of my own that are just waiting for that kind of commitment. 😉 )

To get some idea of teen fiction, I’ve been reading some very interesting books for teens, like the first book in Gordon Korman’s Kidnapped series. He’s a very good writer and this book is WELL done!

Last night, for something different — and because I enjoy reading haiku — I downloaded a book through Kindle Unlimited. The title is Redbird tree: one thousand haiku, and it’s written by James Dildine. I really like his introduction, about how the great haiku poet, Basho, didn’t limit himself to a rigid form, but wanted each verse to share a mini- experience with his readers. Then the author shares his own verses, not fussing about exact number of syllables and such. Which is fine, but…

What I’ve learned from this book so far is how important it is to get the formatting right — and if you can’t, then hire someone who can. Poetry is as much visual as sound, so when verses look like this…

86.) Afternoon rain The afternoon

rain
was cool and very welcome
spirits damp, not wet 87.) Neighbors

leaving

Storms came after noon,
with antlers high
they both left,thun-
der followed them

…it makes your eyes cross!
Note: This writer numbers and titles each haiku, and about half of his verses come out normally.

I took a break from editing Thursday and we went into the city to meet some writer friends for coffee and do some shopping. This afternoon and tomorrow dinner I’m cooking at the Villa, the seniors’ residence where I work on a casual basis. While in the city I saw this neat little car, so of course had to write a verse about it:

Mercedes
cherry red
executive class

Another treat we had yesterday: around 5 pm I looked out the back bedroom window and saw the Grand duke himself — our resident great-horned owl — sitting on a branch behind our property. He sat there awhile, so we got quite a clear look at him, all puffed up for the -20̊C evening.

We’ve actually had a very mild winter this time around, but right now the temp has dipped low. Supposed to be much milder next week. And a SUPER-moon + lunar eclipse tomorrow, I hear!

Thinking of birds all puffed up from the cold reminds me of the magpies we’re seeing hanging around our feeder. Which led me to write this verse last night and post it on Tree Top Haiku:

Winter Magpies

winter magpies
fat from feasting at the feeder
parade past the cats
🙂

And one more bird I’ll leave with you as a smile this morning. Apparently this is an aracani +/or tucano. The “thought” is mine. 😉
unique aricari