e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the category “Blog challenges and sharing”

Modern sculpture and haiku

Carpe Diem has had a series of posts linking haiku with sculpture. This may be something of a departure for writers, like myself, who have looked to the natural world for inspiration, but it has given rise to many really interesting poems.

I found it quite a challenge but it opened up new ideas and ways of seeing.

cool lawn; bronze sculpture;
graceful struts entwine upwards;
metallic tango.

(Pic from Carpe Diem post)
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Burn for Spring

smoke rising to the clouds

Above the burning
hills: false clouds of smoke. The land
made ready for growth.

 

 

A recent prompt from Carpe Diem is a rare kigo, ‘burning the hills’.

On the surface this doesn’t seem very kigoish, but in Japan farmers burn the old grass off the hillsides in preparation for planting – thus it is a kigo of Spring.

Departure

Today Chèvrefeuille has given the topic of departure as a prompt for haiku. For examples he’s roamed to haiku and to the Persian poetry of Rumi.

Departure is a huge topic – every time we go to work or shopping or wherever, we depart from where we are. Sometimes we depart further afield on holiday, to visit or to escape. We may be tourists or refugees; we have departed willingly or fearfully. Some kind of departure is inevitable.

Blackbird on roof

 

Everything departs: spring or rainy season, animals or plants, days of celebration or grief.

Since haiku are usually about nature I have chosen to look at departures in the natural world.

Each season to its
own time. Each bird to its own
song. Then both have flown.

Shrines to imagine

Chevrefeuille’s blog, Carpe Diem, has a fascinating article on the Ise Shrine, one of the most important sites for the Shinto religion.

The haiku challenge is to write about it, but I’ve never seen any Shinto shrine, so my poem is more about a shrine of the mind.

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A soft breeze whispers
in the eaves of the temple;
frost on the roof melts.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Photopin.

Tanka for a foggy autumn

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Carpe Diem has started a series of posts on tanka techniques. Even for non-writers, it’s worth reading the post to enhance understanding and appreciation.

The first technique is to add mystery and depth. Autumn is a good time for mystery I think; not only do we have Hallowe’en and the supernatural, but we are in a sort of between-ness – assessing summer just gone and looking forward to/dreading winter to come.

But autumn is a time of its own, as the old Japanese writers knew so well and wrote about so movingly, as in this tanka written by Toshiyuri and quoted on Carpe Diem:

Cries of quail
from the shore of Mano cove
winds blow
waves of plume grass
ripple in autumn dusk.

My response is:

A dense, white fog fills
the garden; among yellowed
grasses no blade stirs.
A crow, hidden in whiteness,
croaks three times, then falls silent.

 

 

Picture from Photo Pin.

Carpe Diem and Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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Carpe Diem has several haiku challenges going at present. I like the one (number 1033) using a prompt by the Spanish poet Pedro Calderon de la Barca.

This is the prompt:

These flowers, which were splendid and sprightly, waking in the dawn of the morning, in the evening will be a pitiful frivolity, sleeping in the cold night’s arms.

There are several ideas here around day/night, the fleeting nature of flowers, the effect of time on perception of splendour/frivolity/pitifulness, whether flowers sleep or wake, and I’m sure there are others I haven’t noticed.

I decided to put the sleep first and look forward to the wakening:

As night falls, so do
the petals of the daylily.
In the summer moonlight,
buds of tomorrow’s lilies
prepare to open at dawn.

Haiku and Estonia

A blog challenge based on a whole country! From pictures Estonia looks beautiful, but photographs are all I have to go by as I’ve never been there.

As usual Chèvrefeuille has given us some great haiku examples and some interesting insights into the country and its spirituality.

Below is my take on the subject.

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This trail through forests,
valleys, lakelands – since the stone-age
a guide for travellers –
leads us today from the sea
to the heavenly dancers.

Tan renga challenge

yellow roseCarpe Diem has invited us to finish a poem in the tan renga style (a poem started by one poet and completed by another.

The first part is a 5-7-5 poem written by a 20th century poet Mizuhara Shuoshi.

A new year begins
With the blooming
Of a single frosty rose.

My two 7-7 lines to finish it are:

Rose, frost, season met/will meet
For centuries of new years.

Carpe Diem #948 brush

The post #948 on Carpe Diem deals with the haiku principle of yugen. This word, first used by Chinese philosophers, generally means ‘mystery’ and ‘unknowable depth’.

It is up to the reader to decide if a poem has yugen or not, so interpreting the term is very subjective.

I have no problem with this. I think that all responses to all poems are subjective, and readers frequently find features the poet did not intend and miss others s/he worked hard to include.

Maybe most poems have an element of yugen – sometimes it’s obvious and other times obscure.

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

may be a rhyme for children, but does it differ much from

Tyger, tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night.

In my opinion Blake’s poetry includes yugen, even though he probably didn’t know the term.

But back to #948. The following is my contribution to the discussion:

Deer fly when no one
watches. In the snowy field
their flight leaves no prints.

Carpe Diem Special #201 Basho’s disciples

Carpe Diem has set yet another interesting haiku challenge: to write in the style of Morikawa Kyoroku who was one of Basho’s disciples.

The sample given is:

ah! morning glories
are at their best while I chant
my morning prayers

It’s a simple and straightforward word-picture, but the more I look at it the more ideas and depths I see in it.

My answer to this challenge is:

Early sun, but where
the pine tree casts a shadow
there’s grass white with frost.

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