Thursday, March 21, 2013



The haiku in a dictionary of it are arranged into seasonal categories because, for me, a sense of the season is vital to enjoying and understanding haiku. Absence in our system of travelling buzz words, it is very often difficult, or impossible, to know if an individual haiku is set in autumn or winter. By putting many haiku together by season, it was my intention to let the season mood of one poem resonate with the next one, causing them to have the same vibration indicative of that time of year without the over-use of the actual words spring, summer, fall and winter. Japanese saijiki have the individual items within a category listed in the arbitrary order of their natural appearance during the season which is often a matter of debate. In Japan, probably 90% of the adrenalin used for writing haiku goes into the arguments about the use and usage of kigo. By listing the subjects within a category alphabetically, it avoids the above while it creates leaps within the subject matter of a season spanning such a distance so the reader will stop reading at the beginning of the next subject-word. Though I have consulted available kigo lists from the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society of United States and Canada, those compiled by Kiyoko Tokatomi, and Koko Kato's Four Seasons, where have deviated from them considerably. For the Japanese reader and friend/defender of saijiki, the first category, especially will be a push to the senses. Generally this section is categorized "season" or "climate" and the kigo convey the spirit of the time of year with honoured expressions which imply the emotions we equate with the season. As English writers we too work with these sensibilities but lacking set phrases to stand for them, have had to express these human concepts and emotional states much more subtly. In the English/Japanese saijiki these haiku would be listed as "non-seasonal." I felt by making a list of essences or moods of the seasons which embody our emotional states relative to that time of year, haiku which do not blatantly state "spring" but which emote the airiness, gentleness, freedom of spring, could be given their rightful place. Many of the kigo for the season/climate category such as "bright skies" or "south wind" could more accurately fit into celestial phenomenon leaving a category free for emotional states, which to me, as a much a part of any season as a bird or flower. Haiku is a very short form of Japanese poetry typically characterized by three qualities. The essence of haiku is “cutting”. This is often represented by the combination of two images or ideas it is a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which elements are related and put together.

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