Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Poetry is like history; it can record your life and memories. Everyone can immortalize themselves in poetry, yet not everyone likes to write or read it (poetry). Some choose fiction or non-fiction instead. But even if you choose to record your memories in one of these forms, you still can't write everything you want to say because the forms demand the bare minimum, the essential; aesthetic design.

The Japanese may have had it right with the haibun - "haikai writing - Prose that is poetic in style or theme and is interspersed with haiku. Normally the subjects are autobiographical or theoretical, but when the focus is a journey, this style of writing is called kikoo or nikki - travel journal" (Reichhold 412). Initially, I felt the haibun was redundant and became frustrated with the form when assigned in class to read The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches written by Matsuo Bashoo. However, after attending a poetry and prose reading at my city's public library tonight, I realize how important and revealing the extra, prose-like information is to the poem itself.

Now, the haibun seems like the best of both worlds, prose and poetry. Over spring break, one of my assignments is to try my hand at some renga chains, but I think I might also try to write some haibuns. The break seems like the perfect opportunity to start a haibun, especially since I plan to travel!

Reichhold, Jane. Basho; The Complete Haiku. Kodansha International: Tokyo, 2008.