July 22, 2019

Monday, July 22

Because these are summer days, and because lately these summer days have been spent in a haze of heat and more heat, I ask you this week to take a break from longer writing and capture a simple moment.

In that simple moment, write a haiku. Buddhist monks in Japan created the form, to emphasize mindfulness. If you are sitting at your computer trying to remember the elements of haiku, fret not: a standard Japanese haiku is three lines. The first and last have five syllables. The middle has seven.


Here’s an example:


“Over the wintry

forest, winds howl in rage

With no leaves to blow”

— Soseki


Try the standard rendition, or try the Americanized haiku, which like so many Americans, disregards the rules but remains true to the crux of the idea:


By Jack Kerouac:

“The windmills

Of Oklahoma look

In every direction.”


Or the wonderful writer Richard Wright:

“In the falling snow

a laughing boy holds out his palms

Until they are white.”


Write one, write a few. Many haiku focus on animals or weather, in part because animals and weather give us movement, a reason to use a verb clause in a space where movement is embraced.

Next Monday, read your haiku aloud to yourself – or anyone who will listen. If you are a Candlelighter or about to be, send it along to me. I’d be delighted to read it.