March 23rd 2017

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swirling
····in the girl’s gaze—snow on the closing days
········of March
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I’ve read that sometimes the Japanese poets wrote haiku such that the sounds of the language echoed their subject. That’s rarely possible to translate, but maybe there’s a little of that in the haiku above.
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82 March 23rd 2017 | bottlecap
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March 20th 2017

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sunlight
····through the closet doors—an onion’s green
········shoot
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I’ve marked today’s haiku as belonging to spring. My winter haiku end. I haven’t always switched seasons according to the calendar, but more by feel. The sun today was so brilliant and so warm, despite the icy undercurrent of melting snow, that the change seems right. The Japanese marked the season of their haiku with kigo, or ‘season words’. The most famous kigo being ‘cherry blossoms’. Any haiku, almost without exception, that mentions cherry blossoms takes place in the spring. The trick for a western writer, who can’t resort to kigo, is to find other ways to convey the season.
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79 March 20th 2017 | bottlecap
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June 19th 2016

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Sunday’s
····strawberries in a white, porcelain
········bowl
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Shiki is considered the last of the four great poets of haiku. He famously developed a style of haiku called Shasei, the aim being “to depict as is”.  The aesthetic was a rebellion against the many techniques that had come to define haiku. As Jane Reichhold put it: “He favored the quiet simplicity of just stating what he saw without anything else having to happen in the ku. He found the greatest beauty in the common sight, simply said. And 99% of his haiku were written in his style.” Yet after writing so many Shasei, the artist in Shiki inevitably became restless, searching for yet a new way to express his ideas and vision.
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226 June 19th 2016 | bottlecap
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June 17th 2016

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gusts
····carrying a peony’s petal—the truck
········trembles
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The day before yesterday was a beautifully windy day in Vermont—clear skies and intermittent clouds. The trees, once more with leaves, bent and nattered with the burden. Seeing some of the late petals surrendered to the gusts, I was somehow reminded of Buson’s famous haiku:
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a heavy cart
rumbles by—
peonies tremble
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  • haiku mind | translated Patricia Donegan
 
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224 June 17th 2016 | bottlecap
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June 15th 2016

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secretly
····crossing the road—a mid-afternoon
········shower
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Less than a week left of spring and I feel just as I did at the end of winter, ready for new kigo (even if I’m making them up). Standing back of my wildflower garden, the stretch of yard I don’t’t mow, I could build my little Mozart Hütte. Wouldn’t take long. Basho, without family or attachments, wandered Japan’s narrow roads and took to cabins built for him by admiring students and patrons. That’s the life for a poet. Disciples. Adulation. Patrons.
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sanding—
····the clapboards don’t care if I’m a great
········poet
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222 June 15th 2016 | bottlecap
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