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LEARNING: the heart of a haiku | introduction


Written by Kala Ramesh


the heart of a haiku

a space for a little poem

to weave its magic!



introduction

Indian culture, which draws so much sustenance from nature and her seasons, is just waking up to this addictive art form. Although we’ve always had poets from regional languages exploring haiku in all its nuances, it has so far been centred on a nucleus that is unknown to the world at large. Presenting a new weekly column by well-known haiku and tanka poet, Kala Ramesh. In Pune365 July 25, 2016


What is Haiku?

Haiku is a Japanese art form that is more than 400 years old. Nature poetry, that seems to have fascinated Indian poets like Rabindranath Tagore and Subramanya Bharathi, at the beginning of the last century.


Can one call haiku a word painting, something frozen in time?


In film jargon, we could refer to each haiku as “a shot”, for it captures more than a frozen moment. A poem in just about seven to ten words shows the passing of time, the transient, the fleeting and thus, brings into focus the creative force working in nature. So naturally there is craft, which leads to technique and rules.


the sea darkens

a wild duck’s call

faintly white


Matsuo Basho

Tr by Makoto Ueda


Can a duck’s call be white? Basho has used synesthesia so effectively here. This makes us sit up, and take notice. It makes the poem memorable. This image (faintly white) links to line 1 which talks about the ‘darkening sea’ so all that I as a reader get is a white duck, perhaps a migrating bird getting farther away, and its honk simply looks ‘white’.


The truth of the moment seen in an extraordinary way!

Each word has a crucial place in the poem since in haiku there is no room for redundancy.


The four masters of Japanese haiku are Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), Yosa Buson (1716-1784), Kobayashi Issa (1762-1826), and Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). And the only woman haiku poet who is as renowned is Fukuda Chiyo-ni (1703 - 2 October 1775.)

Matsuo Basho was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga. The first verse of a renga was called a hokku, which was the only stand-alone verse in the whole poem. Basho recognising the hokku’s potential to stand on its own legs began to explore ‘hokku’ as an individual poem. This we can safely say was the beginning of a kind of poetry that was to grip the imagination of the people, from all over the world, from all walks of life.


Later Masaoka Shiki renamed hokku as “haiku”. Shiki, greatly influenced by the realism movement that was sweeping through European thought, introduced what is popularly known as “shasei – a sketch from nature”.


India is waking up to this art form in a big way. A reputed online haiku journal – A Hundred Gourds, recently asked me to write about ‘Haiku in India’ and was featured in their June 2013 issue. It can now be read at The Haiku Foundation's library Please scroll down the page, until you come to 'Haiku in India'


I’ll follow this short introduction with a haiku column every Monday — just for you!

Wake up to your senses, Wake up to the life around you … Welcome to the world of haiku in all its avatars.



* Copyright of this title and the page rests with Kala Ramesh. This was first published in an online newspaper - Pune365 in 2016. Later it was picked up by the British Haiku Society's website. Passionate about taking haiku to everyday spaces, Kala Ramesh initiated the ‘HaikuWALL India,’ where she gets graffiti artists to paint haiku on city walls. As an external faculty member of the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, she teaches undergrads, haiku and other allied Japanese short-form poetry. The haiku feature appears every Monday on Pune365.

104 views18 comments

18 Comments


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Apr 24

Thank you, Kala! Thank you, Gauri!

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Great to read this! Though i didn't get any notification, am happy my curiosity helped me to read this.

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Replying to

Thanks, Lakshmi.


I'm wondering why you get any notification :((

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Kanji Dev
Kanji Dev
Apr 14

Thank you so much for this artticle, Kala. I was first introduced to haiku in my early thirties--my mind was not ready to grasp the beauty of this craft. I did (and still do) enjoy other forms of poetry. Rediscovering Japanese short form in 2019, I'm hooked, and I'm grateful to have a form that I resonate with deeply.

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Replying to

Thank you so much, Kanjini. And, most of all, thank you for being here.

We love it when members share their views and their poems.

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Dear Kala,


What a insightful article which shares information in a readable format that can be appreciated by writers of all levels or maybe those that like reading the form. Thank you for sharing the richness of a form that has really taken off like a tree with many branches.


Best wishes,

Karen

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Replying to

Karen,


Thank you so much.

There is part 1, that is uploaded.

Please read that one too :))


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Thanks for this, Kala. I look forward to reading and learning more here. This ku you shared is magnificent.


the sea darkens

a wild duck’s call

faintly white


Will look up Haiku in India from the link


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Replying to

Thank you, Anju.

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