There are many different approaches to writing haiku and, of course, Verandaku.
Regarding form, Japanese tradition says that there are three basic elements to a haiku: form, season, and the moment.
Usually, a haiku is a three-line poem of 17 syllables in the 5-7-5 format. A season word is included to designate what time of year it is, eg, the actual seasons: summer, autumn, winter, spring; or words that indicate temperature: hot, cool, cold, warm; or descriptions of natural phenomena peculiar to a particular time of year, eg, blossoming flowers or falling leaves, leafless trees or cyclonic deluges. Although, with climate change coming along nicely, we may have to be fairly specific in our references, should we decide to honour this part of the tradition.
The third element relates to the capturing of a moment in time, an observation of what is happening now, a something that you’ve observed to be the case in this present.
Of course, not everyone follows tradition. Some have abandoned the 5-7-5 form and even three lines, although generally that abandonment is in favour of fewer lines (2 to be precise) and fewer syllables rather than more. These kinds of haikus sometimes read like mini-sutras rather than poetry, but equally often they’re quite beautiful. They may well be your cup of tea.
Others dispense with season words, but most of us persevere with the moment: that, I think, is the ultimate essence of the haiku. Well, arguably – I wouldn’t want to profess an attachment to one perspective over another in what could be the most Zen-like of all poetry. Non-attachment rules the rules, as it were.
Veranda Life favours the 5-7-5 three line split as is apparent, but season words are optional, and of course, the moment is paramount.
I find that most of my Verandaku captures occur when I’m out walking, although sometimes watching the back yard or enjoying a storm from the front patio can be just the thing.
Walking is relaxing and meditative, as long as you can deliberately clear your mind of intrusive thoughts and allow the moment to become your friend.
After you’ve made friends, walk or sit together for a while, and then try focussing on an aspect of your surroundings. It might be the wind, or lack of it, or it could be the parrots screeching in the bottlebrush. Perhaps it’s the sound your shoes make as you change from grass to gravel to bitumen. Maybe it’s what’s happening in the sky, or a scent that drifts by and reminds you of something significant.
The fun part, well all of it’s fun, but the funnest part is taking the observation and fitting it to the 5-7-5, if that’s what you’ve chosen for your form. Or else, managing to write the momentary observation in 17 syllables or less, three lines or less.
Make a cup of tea,
Breathe, relax, sip, and watch for
yourku to arrive.
The photograph is of Lamp lit (1989), a work by artist Rosemary Gascoigne, and it was taken at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.