Jean Knill and Haiku

As I have stated on this blog, the structure and idea of haiku was a big influence on my first Folding Mirror poem, and today I am happy to inform you that we have a guest writer and poet who has been creating quality haiku for a long while.

Jean Knill (who blogs at Blogspot and Writelink) will first of all introduce what writing haiku and poetry means to her, and then there is an example of the daily haiku diary she ingeniously writes.

Tomorrow, Jean will compare haiku and Folding Mirrors, and there will be a Folding Mirror she submitted to the Writelink Folding Mirror competition in 2008.

Jean Knill: My Haiku Diary

Introduction and Explanation

One of the bloggers I follow recently wrote a post entitled, ‘Why I Hate Haiku’. I was intrigued and found I had to agree with some of what he wrote. But his conclusion was that 17 syllables was just not enough to express what he wants.

I don’t agree with that. It’s a challenge, but it’s a great way to express the essence of a moment that I want to remember.

I first learnt about haiku on a college course as a mature student when I was about 34. I’d been going through a bad patch in my life, after my first husband left me and our two children.

One evening I found a babysitter and went to listen to some music in my local church. I thought it might be uplifting, but I found it bitter sweet, and in this mood I wandered home along the path by the river in the dark. Selfishly not thinking about my children, I couldn’t care less if there was a psychopath around to bump me off. It would have been a happy release. Silly me.

My college assignment to write a haiku drifted into my mind as I looked at the reflection of the moon in the water beside me, and this just popped up in my head.

The moonlight shimmers
as the breeze stirs the water
on a warm June night.

I’ve never forgotten it. Every time I think of it, I remember my hopeless mood and how fortunate I am to be not still in that place.

So that’s why I love haiku. I couldn’t be without them in my life. Now I write a haiku diary, picking a small moment or event in each day that seems memorable. I always stick to the 5-7-5 syllables but not always the Japanese rules on content. How factual or poetic they are varies a lot but reading them afterwards usually brings back the emotions and feelings along with the memories.

Here is the haiku diary of a recent holiday in Egypt. It helps me recall exactly what we did on each day, so my haiku are very personal. But hopefully it also has some interest for other readers as well.

Wed 18 Mar

Luxor is hot and
so noisy. Why did we choose
to holiday here?

Thur 19 Mar

We walk out from the
oasis of our hotel,
swim above the Nile.

Fri 20 Mar

Early start for the
West Bank – those temples and tombs.
Wonderful Luxor.

Sat 21 Mar

We visit Luxor’s
soaring city temple and
the sphinx avenue.

Sun 22 Mar

On George’s birthday
cruise to Dendora, I buy
Egyptian textiles.

Mon 23 Mar

Restaurant haven
means we can eat away from
the sudden sandstorm

Tues 24 Mar

Karnak is biggest
of all the temples, and where
pharoah gods once ruled.

Wed 25 Mar

White birds sitting on
the Nile float upstream till the
flock lifts to fly back.

Thur 26 Mar

Meet Egyptian kids
at Medinat Habu – most
colourful temple.

Fri 27 Mar

Tiny, little birds,
yellow breast, black on top,
turquoise shoulder flash.

Sat 28 Mar

Cruise ships manoeuvre
awkwardly across the Nile.
One goes on its way.

Sun 29 Mar

Tented enclosure
is where we eat Egyptian
food beside the Nile.

Mon 30 Mar

Riding on camels
alongside the river, through
wheat and sugar cane.

Tues 31 Mar

Have a final dip
in the hotel’s swimming pool
Tomorrow we leave.

Wed 1 Apr

We fly through the night.
Pinpoint lights below seem like
stars all up-side-down.

Contact: jean@jknill.fsworld.co.uk

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2 thoughts on “Jean Knill and Haiku”

  1. Thank you, Jean: I have really enjoyed this fascinating post … I am a great believer in quality rather than quantity.

    Exponents of the Haiku form have shown over the centuries just how profound and beautiful a short poem can be.

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