Screeching Gulls – Haiku Writing Techniques – March 16, 2016

row boat

fisherman’s boat
sloshing in the evening calm
gulls screech for fish

© G.s.k. ‘16


Carpe Diem #939 Old Pond

old pond
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

In this haiku Basho uses the “sense switching” technique, a technique which we have seen in our second series of haiku writing techniques last year.

In the haiku by Basho, this very famous “old pond” the frog not only jumps into the water but also into the sound of water. The mind-puzzle that this haiku creates is how to separate the frog from the water, the sound of water from the water, the frog from the sound it will make entering water, and the sound from the old pond. It cannot be done because all these factors are one, but the reader arrives at this truth through having the senses scrambled.

Here are another couple of examples of haiku in which this technique is used by Basho:

cattle shed
dark sound of mosquitoes
in summer heat

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

pine and cedar
to admire the wind
smell the sound

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

Hiding Sun – Haiku – March 15, 2016

port sun_small

late afternoon sun
over-shadowed by the hills
hides among the boats

© G.s.k. ‘16

Carpe Diem #938 Iris leaves

“The “pseudo-science” technique is very close to the paradox but has a slight difference. This technique demonstrates a distorted view of science – one we think is not true, but has the possibility of being true, perhaps when we understand quantum physics or all become poets. When the “other reality” the author was using is explained, the poem becomes absolutely clear. Again, this is an old Japanese tool that was used to make the poet sound simple and childlike but also to confound the reader.”

kimono slipping
fingertips discover silk road
ecstatic sigh

© Chèvrefeuille

the day ends
buttercups share their golden light –
the moon rises

© Chèvrefeuille

Puns – Haibun – March 15, 2016

I’ve been labouring over a prompt for days, trying to figure out what to write a pun in haiku form about.  Today, March 15, a fellow blogger Jules Paige, sent me an interesting bit of information about how the Romans read their calendar … which included the famous Ides of the year … which were supposed to be determined by the full moons at mid-month which usually fell around the thirteenth of the month except for March, May, July and October when they fell on the fifteenth.

the Ides of March
taunted the seer said:
remains to be seen

© G.s.k. ‘16


the year’s first snowfall
the cat bats at the window
to catch the snow birds.

each suburban lawn
a page in fall’s manuscript
burnished with gold leaves.

pierced by falcon claws
red feathers on the white snow
a cardinal sin.


Carpe Diem #937 Robe

“Japanese poets were master punsters. We have many of the same opposrtunities for puns in English, but contemporary haiku writers may not be as well versed as the Japanese are in using this technique because there have been periods of Western literary history when this skill has been reviled. And even though the hai of haiku means “joke, or fun, or unusual”, there are still writers who frown when they encounter a pun in three lines. Basho didn’t use the technique much because he was against the overuse of the method by the two other haikai schools of his time. Translators shy away from pun verses because they rarely work in the target language and long explanations can be tiresome to write and read. Fortunately the above haiku by Basho, works in both languages.” By Chèvrefeuille

Haiku Riddle Technique – March 13, 2016

early morning walk
can these be visions of spring –
apricot blooms

© G.s.k. ‘16

Carpe Diem #935 Cicada

This episode of CDHK is dedicated to the technique of writing a riddle … or perhaps more precisely – koan.  I didn’t write a koan – but I did ask, why do we think of spring in haiku writing when the cherry blossoms bloom and rarely use any other fruit tree blossom?  Actually, I recently came across an article about spring kigo which stated that the Emperor during the Basho’s period changed the spring kigo from apricot to cherry blossoms, because he preferred them.  It seems that apricot blooms actually blossom before cherry blossoms.  Of course, there are many many kigo for spring, probably almond blossoms, apple blossoms and any blossom one can think of would make us think of spring.  🙂

My son told me yesterday that when I arrive in Padua next week-end I will be greeted by the blooming of the apricot tree in his garden.  Here too, though the snow has finally found its way onto the mountains in the past two weeks, the various fruit trees are beginning to bloom … something I’m off to photograph this morning!