Writing a good haiku has many different components. Excellent haiku often come from simplicity and in finding profound meanings in very modest things. One of the masters of finding that magic in everyday life was the beggar monk Santoka Taneda’s favorite poet, Taigu Ryokan. He pushed the form of haiku to its limits and did not care much for any of the rules. His poems still feels modern, although Ryokan was born in 1758, over 100 years before Santoka.
Taigu means great fool, a name which Ryokan chose for himself. His poems are full of the wonders and joy of small things, even though he chose to live his life in the face of adversity. A haiku poet will do well to let him or herself to occasionally be a great fool and laugh both at ourselves and the world around us.
In order to find the magic in our everyday lives we need to be playful. To view things with fresh eyes as though they are completely new to us and allow ourselves to be amazed. It is a gift to see our world through the eyes of a child in haiku and re-discover the magic of our own surroundings.
I forgot my bowl again
my lonely little bowl
please nobody pick it up
last year a foolish monk
this year no different
My life is like an old run-down hermitage
poor, simple, quiet.
Not much to offer you
just a lotus flower floating
in a small jar of water
there is a bamboo grove in front of my hut
every day I see it a thousand times
yet never tire of it
Palestinian haiku poet Rita Odeh has that same playfulness in her haiku. Like Ryokan, she also depicts adverse conditions of the destitute and sees both beauty and humor where it occurs.
That full moon
a coin falls into
the beggars palm
only a sparrow
to share my meal
A rainy night
even without sandals
the clouds jog
The Kindness of Strangers is a six-part series by Swedish poet Anna Maris of haiku written in consideration of poverty, homelessness, begging and our responses to these issues.
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