The introduction to Western Haiku: A Collection, recently released by Dagda Publishing in the aid of the charity Scope, sums up all I needed to actually know in order to understand the form enough to enjoy it. They use a quote from the Haiku Society of America: they say a haiku us a “poem in which Nature is linked to Human nature”. It also explains that traditionally haiku adheres to a strict syllabic construct (three lines, seventeen syllables) but that modern haiku are not bound by such an orthodox structure.
I found all this interesting and it helped me understand the nature of the poetry I was about to read.
The collection itself is neat and concise, as you can imagine, but the scope of feeling, tone and passion that was exhibited was invigorating. This is one thing I am always struck by with powerful poetry and haiku in particular: how some writers can produce so much with so little. It has got to be the most heady and provocative example of how less is more.
The quality of all the writing I thought was high but there were a few in particular that leapt out at me, almost knocking the wind from me in fact as I read. I won’t list them all as it is best to get the collection and read them in situ, but I’m going to share a couple that really struck me.
Nothing is permanent
yet this rock remains
Time, that filthy courtesan
Tries to tempt the day
Into wearing black
Poetry fans will enjoy but even those who don’t usually read poetry or haiku, I believe you can still enjoy this. It is accessible and makes you think. At only 20 pages it is easily and quickly devoured and yet still takes you out from yourself and stays with you.
I would recommend possibly particularly to those who don’t normally read haiku. It is a nice way in to a thought-provoking and powerful medium.