This week, I entered a 4th grade classroom to see students at their desks silently moving their lips and quietly tapping their fingers. I heard a hum, “5-7-5… 5,7,5…” and then tapping, clapping, and snapping. I knew immediately what they were busy creating. They were constructing haiku.
In the last two weeks, the teacher introduced haiku as an accessible way for students to get to know each other. She asked them to write haiku which described who were without giving a physical description. First, she had laid the groundwork reminding them of the haiku form and reviewing background information, sharing examples of haiku from the Japanese poets, Basho, Shiki, and Issa. As I listened, I learned something I had not know before. In Matsuyama, Japan and its surrounding prefecture, they have built special mailboxes expressly for the purpose of sharing haiku. They are beautiful works of art in and of themselves, and as I saw the pictures of the mailboxes placed all around the city, I had an idea. I asked the teacher if I could construct a haiku mailbox for the 4th grade. She thought it was a wonderful idea and reported that her students have been happily depositing their work into the mailbox. I am looking forward to the time when we share our poems.
The school year began in a rush and is continuing at a frenetic pace. I have been trying to pause throughout my day and catch a breath. I’m finding that this is not enough. I am making it my intention to pull away on the weekends and devote time to poetry, photography and art. Photography helps me get into the flow of the moment. When I am walking in the woods, gardens, or parks, I direct my attention to what I see. It is like going on a treasure hunt, and my camera records my beautiful or surprising sights. When I am looking through my camera lens, I am not thinking of anything else. I am only concentrating on the object. I let it tell me how it wants to be captured and remembered. I experiment with angles and exposures until I feel I have expressed the object’s mood and essence. Immediately, a sense of calm permeates my spirit. I have entered a fall flow. After I have collected several photographs, I sit quietly and let the words come to me. They come tapping into my mind – “5-7-5,… 5,7,5…” The rhythm relaxes me. I can continue to flow.
HAIKU BOOKS FOR CHILDREN
A Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes.
Cool Melons – Turn To Frogs!: The Life And Poems Of Issa. Story and translations by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Kazuko G. Stone.
Dogku by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Tim Bowers.
GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.
Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Jon J. Muth.
If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Andy Rowland.
If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Ted Rand.
I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder.
My First Book of Haiku Poems by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, illustrated by Tracy Gallup.
One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Mannis, illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung.
The Cuckoo’s Haiku: and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by
The Horse’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows.
The Maine Coon’s Haiku: And Other Poems for Cat Lovers by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Lee Anthony White.
Today And Today by Kobayashi Issa, illustrated by G. Brian Karas.
Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young.
Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin.