Poetry, Haiku Style: A Simple Way to Paint Pictures with Words
I use a diary app on my phone (Journey–Diary Journal) to write a haiku about my day as the last thing I do each night. I title each entry, Haiku My Day, and I enjoy this daily challenge. When I was in school, I hated it (like so many others) but now it’s one of my favorite forms of verse because of the simple format and forced focus. When I first taught it to my writer’s group, they groaned like I was one of the elementary teachers they remembered forcing this non-rhyming poetry on them as children–until the class was over. Then, they understood the following list of things writers can learn from creating haiku.
As a result of writing haiku…
- You will be more apt to notice, or be aware of, the present moment, (something important for every writer);
- You will realize the POET-ential (potential) of each moment for settings to be used in stories and articles.
- You can recapture some of the keen and vivid perception you had when you were young and everything was new and wonderful and worthy of further investigation, or at least of telling the world around you about. (Which is why we become writers in the first place, right?)
- You will have a heightened and deepened appreciation of life & nature, and how to paint them with word pictures.
Let’s begin with an answer to the question: What is haiku?
Haiku are Japanese in origin but have made their mark in American poetry where they traditionally consist of seventeen syllables, written in three lines that are usually divided into 5, 7 and 5 syllables, respectively. In Japanese haiku, there is always a nature theme. To express this, each haiku will use what is called a kigo (season word) to indicate the season in which the Haiku is taking place. For example, flowers & butterflies can indicate spring; snow & ice, winter; mosquitoes & lightning bugs, summer; and multicolored leaves, autumn. But in writing Americanized haiku, no topic is off limits.
Matsuo Basho, (1644-1694), considered the greatest master of this form of poetry, said the poet should write directly from his own experience and should try to seek the deeper, inner life of the subject or moment’s activity. He stated, “Learn of the pine from the pine: learn of the bamboo from the bamboo.” It is important to use your first impression, exactly as it was when you write about subjects taken from daily life.
Here’s a haiku I wrote the day I created the first lesson. For my examples, I’ll put the syllables in parentheses after each line. See if you can determine where I was while preparing.
…Quiet all around, (5)
…Just a whisper here and there; (7)
…People reading books. (5)
You likely figured out I was in a library. Now, here’s a set of haiku (called a renga) I wrote for the four seasons. See if you can figure out which season is represented by each.
…A cup of cocoa, (5)
…Flames blaze in a fireplace; (7)
…I am warmed inside. (5)
…New blossoms on trees, (5)
…Pink, white, purple, and yellow; (7)
…Generate new life. (5)
…The sidewalk is hot, (5)
…I do not have shoes to bear it; (7)
…I walk on the grass. (5)
…Feeding time is done, (5)
…The green has left the trees; (7)
…Look at the colors. (5)
I have plenty more, but now it’s your turn. Here are some suggested haiku exercises.
- Look around you right now and write one or more haiku about something you see. Think of it like playing twenty questions and answer some of the base questions. Then, see if someone else can figure out what you’ve written about.
- Write your own set of four three-line verses describing the four seasons.
- Think of two things that are opposites of each other: trust and fear; peace and war; rich and poor; tall and short; loud and quiet; hard and soft, etc. Now write a haiku that shows their differences. Try to get it into one three-line verse. Choose new opposites to write more verses. Here’s an example of an opposite haiku…
…Heat waves in the air, (5)
…Icicles aim for the ground; (7)
…Opposite seasons. (5)
- Think of two things that are like each other or that complement each other: faith and trust; peace and quiet; rage and violence; water and liquid; silk and satin; music and lyrics; etc. Write a haiku to draw attention to their similarities.
- Write about the most beautiful thing you can ever remember seeing. Make it visual enough for others to clearly see the same thing in their minds. If you’re tossed, don’t worry. Just write more than one haiku.
Try this form of writing to bring focus to a character or subject you may be struggling with. If you write a haiku you are willing to share, please comment on this post and let others see it. I’m excited to see what my readers might share.
I’ve made a strong effort with this blog since August of 2013. I think I’ve been trying to make up for the years I had it and barely wrote. But I need to make a change. There have been times where I have spent so long trying to come up with just the right topic, that I couldn’t post in a timely manner. If I want a good picture to go with it, that takes even more time.
Am I quitting? No way. I will still make an effort to get something posted every day, but it’s going to become more “slice of life” stuff with some good lessons mixed in as I learn them from a variety of sources. Maybe I’ll throw in a haiku or other type of poem now and then. Sometimes, I’ll post my photography or creative images. I just don’t want people surprised if all of a sudden there’s not deep Bible study on every single post.
Tonight and last night, I’ve been thinking about time and my use of it, hence the clock face above which is a blend of my creativity and a representation of time itself. I’m thinking about the efforts I put into the minutes and hours of my day. For example, I actually started this post early enough tonight to get done before midnight, but some unexpected issues came up that made it impossible to post as planned. I guess God is reminding me that time is in HIS hands and not my own. (By the way, if you click the image, it will take you to my Christmas shop at CafePress. It’s mostly coffee cups, but I do have this clock face on an actual clock there.)
Anyway, as my title says, I want the efforts I make in this life to be effective. What does it mean to be effective? To me it will mean that the things I do have some type of lasting value. I am bombarded by things I want to do, things I need to do, and things I should do. I have to prioritize them based on those that have the greatest value now and later. I want to watch the nice G-Rated Christmas movies by Hallmark while they’re in season. Some of them have life lessons that inspire me long after their viewing. Also, I need to send Hanukkah and Christmas cards. I take longer because I like to write personal notes in them to let people know they are more than just names on a list. And, I should get out and do some shopping before it’s too late.
Here’s some more. Want: I want to either call or Facebook message all the family and friends that have current events going on in their lives. Maybe they’re having birthdays, maybe anniversaries, maybe fighting illnesses, maybe suffering loss, or maybe they’ve just released new writing I want to read. Need: I need to plan for our upcoming Christmas dinner for our writer’s group. That includes making updates on our website and contacting everyone on the e-mail list. Should: These are the things on my want list, like reading the works of writer friends, but with a bit more oomph and importance.
What about you? Do you struggle with all the stuff you want to do with your gift of creativity and all the stuff you need to do to keep life up and running? I want to make more products for my Zazzle store, not because I make much there, but because I’m energized by being creative. I need to watch the lessons I’ve purchased on using my Scrivener software, so my purchase is valuable and so I can share information with others in my writer’s group. Helping others energizes me too.
Under both creativity and helpfulness, it has been requested that I compile my posts on Torah reading for those who want to read it in print all in one place. I want to do it, but it will be some work because of things like Bible version permissions. I’ll have to change some of what I wrote to go with the King James’ Version of the Bible or get permission to use the full text from the Complete Jewish Bible. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, do you think I should do a book on those posts? If so, would you read it? Should I seek permissions to keep the text from the CJB? Please comment below just to help me hone my “to do” list and get the important and effective efforts pushed closer to the top. Thanks.
If you’ve read very many of my posts, you’ve probably come across at least one with a video from the group, ApologetiX. Today, I’m going to share with you why I like them so much, and I’m going to share their plea for support and prayers.
First, for those who don’t know, this group of musicians, singers, and writers is a multi-talented band that has been declared a cross between Billy Graham and Weird Al Yankovic. They take songs from different generations and styles, and they change the lyrics to those which uplift Christ. They do their best to imitate the original songs in music and vocals to the extent that you often have to listen carefully to hear the lyric change before you realize it’s a parody.
The lead singer, J. Jackson, has fantastic talent and ability in being able to imitate a variety of voices and vocal styles. He blends those with a touch of humor while trying to write the new lyrics to rhyme with the original ones, so the crossover is smooth and harder to detect. If you attend a concert, you’ll get to see him in a variety of costumes, and he puts on a great performance. But, he doesn’t end with the musical show. An audience of many who would never attend a traditional church will be entertained, but they will also hear some strong words of God both in the songs and after. J shares his personal testimony, encourages people to give God Almighty a chance in their own lives, and then offers an altar call.
I will tell you that I am not normally fan-type of person (dedicated follower), but when I can see sincerity and love for God in action, I can get behind the ministry that presents it. I feel this way about ApologetiX. I love the strong biblical messages in their songs, including the liberal use of Scripture verse locations. I love that each set of lyrics also comes with a history on the writing of the song. If you check their music page, you can click on the lyrics for songs in the left column. In the window that pops up, you’ll see both the lyrics and story behind the song’s writing. By the way, you can also listen to the mp3 music from that page for free if you are a member of the fan club.
From the home page, you’ll also see the recent news and a few past stories. This is where you will see the updates on music, but you’ll also get a glimpse of the heart of the band. If you want to know even more of their hearts, become a fan club member and agree to receive their newsletter. Within a variety of their pages and newsletters, I have become aware of some of the band’s financial needs, so without any prompting from them, I just want to share some ways you can help. Before I do, I just want to share that I have seen them go through years of performances and CDs, and they are always straightforward and honest. If there were ever a group to support, I would wholeheartedly recommend this group who has faced many challenges yet will stop and help stranded motorists as they travel from one concert to another.
So, below are a few links that you can use to either purchase their products or support them in other ways. They use PayPal for a pay portal, so it’s safe and convenient–especially if you’re already a PayPal user.
- Get free downloads for any donation amount at http://apologetix.com/store/store.php#MustSeemSilly
- If you want to donate online, read the how-to page at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2696 where you will also find a donation link.
- More downloads for donation at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2706
- Limited time Buy One CD Get One Free Offer at http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2774
- Instant download of their songbook with lyrics for every song from 1993 to 2013 in an interactive PDF for $20 at http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#songbook
- Tis the season to get The 12 Downloads of Christmas for $8 at http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#christmas
- And a letter from a fan that sums up much of what I feel for the group and explains why I would dedicate a full blog post to their support… http://www.apologetix.com/news/news-details.php?news_id=2782
If nothing else, please keep this band and their families in your prayers. They are a ministry like any other, and serving God while spreading the good news is their primary purpose. You can buy their music from places like Amazon (ask me for links and I’ll donate any commission to them) and iTunes, but I’m guessing they get a bit more by purchasing directly from their website. Whatever you do for them, do as unto the Lord, and may God bless you for blessing His children. In the meantime, enjoy the history of their band in the top video and one of the first of their songs I ever heard (Play that Funny Music Right Boy) below…
Monosyllabic is a five-syllable word that defines words of one syllable. Only in the English language, right? But, if you’re like me and like rhythmic poetry like haiku, you might count syllables in words just for fun. For example, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious has 14 syllables, even if it is a made-up word. If you want a real word, there is a word for a lung disease that has 19 syllables, but I’ll let you do that research for yourselves. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, in the urban dictionary, monosyllabic is actually a word that means “lame” or “boring.”
In an effort to keep this post from being lame, I’m going to challenge readers to write a monosyllabic piece. In other words, create a paragraph or story made up of only one-syllable words. You can keep it to yourself, or you can share it in comments for me to read. I prefer the latter. Just to make it fair, I will share a quick one-syllable story, and this one even includes a cat just to match the image above. Here goes…
High noon, when the sun sits at the top of the sky, is too hot to work, but there is so much work to be done. But how can I work when life will not yield its strength to me. I need strength. I need hope. I feel the pain of my loss as it digs a hole in my heart. It makes me weak. I am bound by it, and I can’t do a thing to make it set me free. It haunts me. It taunts me with its knock, knock, knock at my brain.
I watch the cat curl up in a warm spot of sun on the floor, and I wish I were a cat. Not that cat’s lives are filled with ease. I know they are not when I watch them sleep and dream of that cat and mouse chase where they may win or they may lose. But when one has just sensed a great loss, it makes me think it would suit me more to just lie down and sleep.
There are dreams I would like to keep in the depths of my heart, and there are dreams I would like to share. But gone are the dreams I think could come true for me since my new dream is now gone. And it would have worked so well. But, like the cat and mouse game, the thought was there when I went to sleep, but when I woke up, it was gone. So it seems best now to lie in the sun and take a nap like the cat does each day at noon. It could be that as I sleep, my dreams will wake in me once more.
In case you don’t get the hidden subject, I don’t want to leave you thinking this is a negative story. It’s just about those ideas that you think about when you lie down to sleep, or dreams you have in the middle of the night. You are so sure you will remember the idea or dream, so you don’t write it down. And then, when you wake up, it’s all gone. You then hope that it will come back to you the next time you sleep. If it doesn’t, you write a story about it just to have something to feed your muse. 🙂
Now it’s your turn, and I hope you share.
I know,you think I’m joking about the title, but I’m not. I don’t know how I missed it, but when I ventured to one of my favorite sites, “Brownie Locks” holidays page, I found the announcement. I don’t know how I’d missed it before. I mean, isn’t it a holiday about the study of me? 😉 Of course, I know better, but I do love anything that sparkles, and that means I’m intrigued by things that crystalize, so this intrigues me. If you want to know more about it, visit About the International Year of Crystallography to read more.
So, in the spirit of all things crystalized, I’m going to do a prismatic post tonight. In other words, I’m going to write on a variety of subjects. For example, today is Simchat Torah which means “Joy of Torah” and it is the time when the annual Torah readings begin again. I was wondering why the readings actually began with Deuteronomy 33 & 34 (Easy to Read version), and I found understanding from a comment posted at Chabad.org (link under Simchat Torah above). The commenter said it shows continuity and the never-ending cycle of the Torah in our lives. I love that because it’s like saying God’s Word is His wedding ring for His bride.
Now I want to talk about special days for October. For writers and readers, we have National Book Month plus National Church Library Month and National Children’s Magazine Month. Of course, for published writers, it’s also National Self-Promotion Month, so get the word out. For those who love to eat, and don’t live on a Kosher only diet, it’s Hog Out Month which coincides with National Pork Month. Oh, and it’s also Pizza Month. No wonder I’ve been craving that.
If you’re into issue awareness, you might already know that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can visit the Pink Ribbons for Awareness group on Flickr to see some pretty pink images in honor of this month. After you enjoy the images, be sure to stop by The Breast Cancer Site to click the pink banner and help raise funds for research. It only costs you a moment of your time unless you decide to buy something from The Breast Cancer Site store, and then the proceeds go to a great cause. (You can click banners and shop for other great causes while you’re there.)
While we’re talking about awareness, we are just completing Take Your Medicine Americans Week (Oct 10-16), which is interesting since October is also Antidepressant Death Awareness Month. So, take your medicine, but be careful. It’s also Global ADHD Awareness Month, and just so you’re aware, I do have Adult ADD, but I don’t think there’s any hyperactivity except mentally. You may have figured that out from my variety of subjects tonight, and by all the distractions that cause my posts to show up well after midnight. Still, I like what I heard on an old episode of Numbers: I’m not easily distracted, I’m easily fascinated. Maybe that’s why I also noticed that it’s Squirrel Awareness Month and reminded my husband to feed the squirrels that visit our backyard.
Okay, just a few more. If you have a bathroom leak, you should know that October is Toilet Tank Repair Month. I guess plumbers are as busy as the ophthalmologists dealing with those celebrating Home Eye Safety Month or Eye Injury Prevention Month. If you like Science Fiction movies or Jeff Bridges, you’ll be glad to know that it’s International Starman Month. If the movie puts you in the mood for a snack, you’ll also be happy to know it’s National Popcorn Poppin’ Month which may also lead to your awareness of National Dental Health Month. If you top your snack in honor of National Caramel Month, it could get you thinking about National Orthodontic Health Month if you have braces.
For those of my readers who are also writers, I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of what you can find out there when looking for writing ideas. There are plenty more ideas at the site above, and there are links to more from there, so add Brownie Locks to your bookmarks. You’ll want to submit articles on these October special days anytime from February to April for those publications that want things six to nine months in advance, so maybe this will give you a head start. For all my readers, I hope I’ve given you something fun to read that makes you want to share my blog. After all, October 12-18th is Getting the World to Beat a Path to Your Door Week.
I’m editing and updating my first post on this blog to be more of a true welcome to all who stop by to visit. I hope to get back to every post before I get too far along. I want to add images, double-check for grammar, and do a quick readability check. I would love for every post to be five-star perfect, but I know that’s not reality. My most difficult issue is probably with the use of passive verbs, but when talking about past events, it’s a bit difficult to do otherwise.
So, what is this purpose of this blog? I’m using it as a place to make myself write more things to be read by others. I write a lot, but it’s mostly in the form of prayer journals or other journals, though I have had requests to publish my prayer journals because I speak to God as if He is the Best Friend I have ever had–because He is. What little I’ve shared from the journals has brought great encouragement to others, and being an encouragement is one of my greatest desires.
The first post I made here was probably a year after I actually created the blog, and it was just one little paragraph and a link on June 7th, 2009. I had tried to post before that, but each time I would run into a struggle in getting it to do as I wanted, I would quit for a long time before trying again. That’s an old bad habit wrapped around a fear of failure that I consistently work to free myself from. That said, daily struggles with recovery from a neck injury (and two surgeries), from the pain of fibromyalgia, and from PTSD related to many abuses in this life, kept me from updating the blog again until May of 2012–almost three years.
I added another space of nearly six months without posting until I shared my thoughts about the hero worship I saw the world offering Obama, and I compared it to the elevated worship ignorant Christians offered the apostate preacher Todd Bentley. Find that at November 6th 2012 article called “When I Said I Knew It.”
Just under a month later (a record considering how much space I had been leaving between posts), I shared about my purchase of materials from “Pro Blogger” and my hopes that they could help me get more done. I’m certain they would help if I would apply them, but I’m far more interested in being available for others who say they need my assistance than in taking the time to learn how something new and how to apply it.
In early 2013, I thought I would become consistent with posting a daily thought on the book of Proverbs and the thirty-one readings that correspond to the 31 days in the month. I got through two of them before whatever I allowed to distract me stopped me in my tracks, and I went another almost 4 months before posting again. That post on April 21st, 2013 called “So Many Laws” is about a lawful heart versus a lawless heart and how lawlessness it was actually creates the need for more laws.
Finally, on September 28th, 2013, I began writing a daily post with my commentary on portions of The Torah (the first five books of The Bible). For once I have focus, and I have posted regularly now for over eight months as of this update. I have learned that having a focus makes a lot of difference, so I’ll need to figure out what focus to apply once I have gone through the year of Torah readings. I know I love to teach, and I love to encourage, so I hope to find a way to incorporate that into whatever I do. In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy my commentary as I share my love for God and His great creation, mercy, and love for me. In the meantime, consider this your invitation to read, comment, and vote on my blog content; add a like if you like, and take a gander at some of my other blog-type projects…
- My first blogging attempt (in 2006) at Yahoo 360 with kaleidoscope designs (transferred here at the 360 closure)
- My next blogging attempt (at Blogspot.com) for a book project I hope still bears fruit one day
- My accumulation of articles at Scribd
- My profile page at Flickr, and most photos have abundant descriptions, so a lot like a photo blog
- My creativity and design blog for kaleidoscope images here on WordPress (one day to have at least weekly posts)
- My main website at crystal-writer.com where I hope to streamline my entire web presence.
And with that, may I introduce you to my first post on this blog…
My first post here will actually be a test on posting a PDF with line numbers so members of Louisville Christian Writers can post editing comments a little more easily. I had a bit of a hard time getting the PDF into my blog where people can read it as part of the blog. But, with perseverance, I finally got it. Just click the link below.
- Current Events
- LCW for Edits
- About Writing
- Bible Study
- Fun & Flourishing Friday
- Lyrics and Song
- Musably Monday
- Sabbatically Saturday
- School of Christ
- Serendipitously Sunday
- Slice of Life
- Tech Time Tuesday
- Theologically Thursday
- TV and Movies
- Wordy Winsome Wednesday