Do you haiku?

For Christmas, one of my daughters gave me “Knit One Haiku Too” by Maria Fire. I’d seen this book in Borders and been tempted to buy it … but resisted … so was really pleased to receive it. Only to be really disappointed when I read it. I don’t know what I expected, but it didn’t hit the spot. I’ve done a few searches for reviews, but only came up with a couple of raves on booksellers’ sites and a deafening silence elsewhere. Why? After long consideration I came to the conclusion that the book failed to please me on two fronts:

Firstly, the short musings did not grab me at any level – it was a bit like reading a blog in paper form – the main difference being that I expect nothing when I read another person’s blog – if it doesn’t connect with me at some level I just surf on out and look for something else. When I read a book I have a certain level of expectation – that I’ll be amused, engaged, or stimulated or …..the list goes on. And if I’m not, I’m disappointed.

Secondly, I found the haikus to be ?too contrived, and, at times, nothing more than nonsense – I wondered if the Japanese form does not translate well to English – there is so much subtley in Japanese culture and the Japanese language that it seems naive to think that you can just take a 5-7-5 form in Japanese syllables and replace it with English words and bingo! you have haiku!

Then in my search I found this site and aha! my discomfort was explained. Jane Reichold and Keiko Imaokai in “How-to-Haiku” write on both the symbolic and grammatical structure of the haiku form. At one point Reichold says ” Suddenly I could figure out by myself what was wrong with a haiku that failed to jell as I thought it should. I could ask myself if there was a comparison, a contrast or an association between the images and if this relationship was clear and understandable for the reader” . Perhaps the comparisons, contrasts and associations were present in this book, but, in general, they were not clear and understandable to me. Imaokai’s essay on the grammatical structure of Japanese haiku and the difficulties this presents for the form in English, further explained why this book “failed to jell” with me.

Ahh – it’s a hard life being an armchair critic! I’d be interested to know what other people think.

Today was knitting-group-at-Cherryhills day and when I picked up my friend, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of her beautiful red flowered eucalypt – the flowers were so new that she wasn’t aware they had opened. If you look carefully, you can see a gumnut about to “pop its top” – they are magical. I have always loved our eucalypts- when I was a child we’d collect the empty gumnut ends (I don’t know what they are called botanically) and put them on our fingers to look like witches’ fingers – those eucalypts aren’t native to the area here, but if they had been, I guess my kids would have pretended they were Edward Scissorhands! I used to knit gumblossom hats (a fad – I tend to have them) and everytime I photograph something this beautiful I vow to use the photo as inspiration for colour or form in my knitting – but end up doing nothing about it. One day…

As usual Janette and Roxie have made me smile with their comments. Just as well I was born a pessimist, Roxie! Thank you Willow for your good wishes, and before too long I’ll post some more wildlife photos for you Carson – you said you had possums in a built-up area – they’re amazing little blighters, aren’t they? There was one in my street that had a dray in a deciduous tree branch right above the footpath – almost within reach. I must have walked under it dozens of times without seeing it and only noticed it when I was looking for a bird with an unfamiliar call. It wasn’t there last time I looked – I think the electricity commission had lopped the branch too close for comfort. No doubt it’s happily scratching away in someone’s roof! I don’t have fond memories of The Magic Pudding – the banksia men used to give me nightmares when I was little. I should revisit it (do I have the right book?).


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