If you’re familiar with our Facebook page or our Twitter, you’ll be familiar with the daily haiku. Every day we post an original haiku, sometimes referring to things that are happening with the band and sometimes, it’s just about whatever happens to come into my ken at the time. I had once (pre-Twitter) had a practice of writing haiku a day for several years, so the idea of taking up the practice again didn’t phase me, and the form seemed uniquely suited to the 140 character restriction. We thought it might be a nice way of touching base with our fans without wittering on about ourselves all the time. And so it began.
At first, the haiku were fairly to the point. The first one read:
when November comes
we play Seattle, Whidbey
birthdays today for
Virgil Bolger, my brother
and Tom Burke, my friend
but I also posted about nature, the original role of the haiku:
a distant soft chord
hums from the highway this dawn
crickets chirp descant
In time I began to experiment. I always stuck to the syllable pattern 5, 7, 5 per line. I like the discipline of it and it’s what people expect. In actuality, the haiku syllable number system can be very flexible and many modern haiku even ignore the number of lines. This can make certain words almost unusable: does ‘fire’ contain one syllable or two syllables? Where I come from ‘Ireland’ has two syllables; in the US many people pronounce it as three syllables.
The haiku is traditionally about nature and those pieces that are about the human world are called senryu and a good number of the posts fall into that category.
I’d make no claims for my haiku being poetry — haiku is a very powerful and subtle art form once described as “an open door that looks shut”, but the act of producing them has proven to be a growing experience. There’s the fact that one must be written everyday — “inspiration is for amateurs” as artist Chuck Close once said. Then there’s wondering if the piece is any good — you just have to put it out there and take what happens. For any kind of creative artist, both of those disciplines are well worth developing.
I experimented with sound. Though rhyme and musical language is not a feature of haiku I, being bred on Irish poetry, just had to use alliteration, assonance and consonance and all of the features that I’m familiar with.
a thunder stutter
then gutters slug-full of rain
drain to grateful dirt
and sometimes I insert myself as narrator. This is probably my primary sin against the form and one I often feel uncomfortable with:
if I could but fly
I’d wild goose chase all across
the grey Winter sky
some are dark:
a foxglove venom
rent his heart; tore ventricle
and blue vein apart
a scut of a child
a rogue of the smiling tribe
loping down the road
So, it’s the daily haiku. Or the daily ‘something like a haiku’. The art form itself is hugely pleasing to me and allows great flexibility. At this point, I’m not sure that I could achieve the depth and poignancy that a really good haiku can give, but I’m having fun and when I get stuck, I can always throw in a limerick: “There was a young lady of Exeter …”