HAIKU – an unrhymed poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.
There are proven ways to expand one’s skills in capturing story. My one attempt at composing a HAIKU is a good example. This was way outside my wheelhouse and, to be honest, interest. I am more of a prose writer and reader. If I read poetry, it is a stretch and usually because I know the author. Writing poetry is just not on my radar.
However, during the shutdown, I participated in a series of online convocations
exposing me to content and expertise I would not normally seek out. I am not sure if it was the shelter-in-place coziness or the general trapped feeling, but it provided an avenue for self-exploration-in-place.
The convocation facilitator gave the participants a prompt: dragonfly. Even the prompt was not within my daily thoughts. I had to harken back to the days of fishing with my father and/or grandfather to even remember what a dragonfly looked like.
These quiet fishing expeditions took place at some reclusive, overgrown but nearby fishing hole. Normally, a pond on private land we had, I presume, permission to enjoy. These permissions were implied and understood by the grown-ups in my life. These sorts of formalities were not a major issue in the world I grew up in. The resulting HAIKU? Here it is:
Bamboo circled Island Pond
Wingless Bug Becomes
Bamboo was not a part of the Kansas landscape where I first encountered dragonflies. I suppose that image came many years later, from the bamboo-overgrown backyard of a California rent-house. The dragonflies kept mosquitoes at bay.
In these sorts of free-write stretching sessions, I find it fascinating how:
- a sense of “breath” comes and blows the stiffness out of my brain,
- random images merge,
- loosening the edges that might be holding creativity back.
This is the kind of flow you want in the first draft of anything. Plan on it needing the next step, a brutal edit, but don’t let editing enter this creative phase. In other words, the first draft is usually a lot of garbage but unearths valuable buried content.
This is a challenge for this former air traffic controller, who, when working traffic expected to get it right the first time, every time. It stretches into the “OK to fail” arena, an uncomfortable space.
So as the summer heat sets in, shake off some of that structure and let your writing flow. Explore other forms of written expression through reading and experimentation in your writing. Stretch using these proven ways of creativity.
Maybe even try a HAIKU! If you are really brave, post it in the comments!