haikaiTALKS Q8

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

** * Q8 ***


haikaiTALKS: a saturday gathering_under the banyan tree

host: Kala Ramesh

Hearty Congratulations, Jayashree, !

Lorin has picked your answer as the best reply to her Q

Lorin's question was:

a) What is the purpose of kigo and seasonal references?


b) Are kigo or seasonal references essential to contemporary EL haiku?

Thank you all for engaging with the question and posting your responses, Shalini, Subir, Tapan, Lakshmi, Jayashree,Vani and Kala. All of your comments have contributed to the discussion in their various ways.

I’ve chosen Jayashree’s response because, within it, she considers both parts of the question and rightly refers back to the collaborative haikai-no-renga (now called ‘renku’) and the tradition of setting the hokku in the precise part of the current season when participants met to compose this poem of many verses. Hokku were also written as individual greetings for various occasions and, as Jayashree notes, “..,.kigo can only steer us towards getting to know what is around us.” This practise, too, focuses on attention to the here and now. To this day, we always write haiku in present tense.

And yet, as Jaya acknowledges, “Some experiences are universal and some are not.” Few of us believe in the flat earth theory these days, so we’re aware that Diwali is an autumn festival in India and in Australia, at the same time, it’s late spring. While we do need a saijiki (collection of kigo) when involved in international EL renku , in EL haiku we’re likely to have seasonal references rather than set kigo. Also, ‘cultural keywords’ (descending from the ‘all seasons/no particular season’ verses in renku) may take the place of both.

Jayashree writes:

"This is an interesting question. Kigo is what sets the background for the poem. Apart from the image in the verse, it also gives the reader their own associations with the same season. I believe back in time when writing a hokku the kigo marked the season when the renga gathering took place. Given that we are all spread across the globe with different seasonal experiences, the practice of writing a haiku with kigo can only steer us towards getting to know what is around us. It brings us closer to nature and our responses to nature, than what we would have realised otherwise. Some experiences are universal and some are not. I agree with Subir in saying that it is a matter of personal taste. And also with Tapan. When our lives are in concrete jungles mostly, it is hard to feel natural about using a season word, in which case we find our own kigo. "

- Jayashree Maniyal

Jayashree’s Q:

We talk about Japanese aesthetics, which comes from their way of living, and becomes evident from their writing of haiku. Following this vein of thought, does ELH have its own set of aesthetics?

Lovely question, Jayashree. You are given time until midnight 10th November (IST) to share your view and reviews on others’ answers.

Join the fun!

Let’s rock and roll :))

your host:



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