Text of the poem:
I sought to seed the barren earth
And make wild beauty take
Firm root, but how could I have known
The waiting long would shake
Me inwardly, until I dared
Not say what would be gain
From such untimely planting, or
What flower worth the pain?
— Toyo Suyemoto
Check out the Concentrational Poetic Resonance project to read more poems like this and learn about the poetry of the Japanese American World War II concentration camp experience.
Haiku is a form of poetry I return to again and again. Deceptively simple to write, I enjoy the challenge. I’ve written hundreds — maybe thousands. Most are… just okay, if not downright terrible. Some are, well, not bad, but not really hitting the mark. A rare few, if I dare say so myself, are meaningful and resonant. Haiku need to deliver a startling image and an emotional wallop in just a few beats. I’m not a stickler for the 5/7/5 syllable form, but do consider it a helpful and challenging framework to work within.
I swing into the habit of writing haiku as part of my routine — it helps me get started not just with putting something down on paper, but taking an emotional concept or image and describing it with words. The brevity of this particular poetic form helps me distill what I am trying to convey through story, whether that be a chapter in a novel or a longer form poem.
The above images are from Yone Noguchi’s Japanese Hokkus, published in 1920. Noguchi was the first Japanese-born writer to publish poetry in English, and is credited with introducing haiku to America, influencing the Imagist poets of the early 20th century. Here’s a great essay on Noguchi posted at the The Huntington library’s website: “Yone Noguchi and Haiku in the United States.”
Reading Noguchi’s “hokkus” and writing this short entry has inspired me to get back into haiku, as part of a daily creative ritual. Stay tuned!
Sittin’ on the floor this wintry Sunday morning drinking some coffee and reading the stellar and stunning first issue of The Storms Journal. So impressed with the editorial vision of Damien B. Donnelly and Gaynor Kane — Grateful to be engulfed by the inaugural issue’s complex, beautiful, and thrilling works.