April is National Poetry Month in the US and Canada. It is "a celebration of poetry first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry."
Now I’m not one for poetry but maybe I should learn more about this literary form. For this week’s theme, I encourage participants to to help celebrate National Poetry Month by:
- Posting a favorite poem, or
- Reviewing a poem or book of poems, or
- Discussing a favorite poet, or
- Posting a vlog of yourself reading a poem or find a video of someone else reading one, or
- Writing a poem yourself- any form
Or come up with something I haven’t thought of to celebrate and post it on your blog. Let your imagination run wild.
I love Ancient Japanese poetry and haiku. Haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry with no title, no rhyme and in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras (sound units). Before Masaoka Shiki came along haiku were called hokku. They became popular in the second half of the 17th century. When a nobleman entertained in the evening a collaborative poem called Haikai no Renga was created by several poets. The first verse – hokku – had to be done by a renga master and had to follow certain rules, like contain a reference to the time and the host of the evening. Usually this was done by referring to the current season and by honoring the host with an image taken from nature. Matsuo Basho was a master at this and already during his time the hokku became a separate form of poem.
Only in the 19th century Masaoka Shiki gave it the name haiku and made it so popular that it later became known all over the world.
One of my favourite haiku by Shiki is this one:
Oppressive heat —
My whirling mind
Listens to the peals of thunder.
Unfortunately in this translation, as so often, the 5-7-5 isn’t there anymore. A German translation of the same haiku goes like this (and here the translator managed to keep the 5-7-5)
Die Hitze drückend
die Sinne ganz benommen
lausch ich dem Donner.
Here are some links to haiku sites that I recommend (mostly modern haiku):
- A previous blog post of mine about haiku with various links
- Zombie haiku contest
- haiQ – a twitter feed, I absolutely love it
Here you can see what other Weekly Geeks say about poetry.