Archive for May, 2008

Things to Do with Haibun (first, catch your haibun …)

May 26, 2008

I came across a really interesting idea on the Haibun Today website for responding to other peoples’ haibun. It’s from Jeffrey Winke, who calls it “bookend haibun“. Essentially you take a piece that you like from someone else, and reverse it, following the same basic structure and retaining the same emotional context. The idea is to create a second piece that resonates with the first, so that you have:

a companionable pair [rather than] an identical twin… This experiment is successful if the reader finds that the mirror prose adds, rather than detracts, from the impact of the original haibun.

Well I’m never likely to resist that sort of challenge for long, am I?

I do have a few reservations. First is the question of how I’d feel if someone did it to one of my haibun. I hope I’d be flattered, but I guess it depends on the who and the how. (If anyone out there wants to try it with one of my poems, please contact me first!) And I suspect it would get a bit loose and floppy (technical terms) if you didn’t select your original haibun carefully – for starters, the haiku has to be able to handle being reversed. And you’ll need the prose to be quite imagistic, rather than discursive. Or deeply personal. And you’re probably limited to the “short prose plus one concluding haiku” style.

But, those reservations aside, it sounds like a great way for two writers who are generally in sync with each other to explore their work further. Or maybe even more interesting between two writers who are quite different in styles.

Maybe even writing a double pair – each person starts one of their own, then mirrors the other person’s. Or you could have a chain of people doing it – rippling outwards and onwards, flicking the pieces over, with each reflection adding its own distortions to the mix. ( Mirrors can and do lie – distortion, parallax error, reversal, etc.)

Actually that’s not a bad idea – linking it back round, so you create a haibun variation on the Crown of Sonnets. (We’re working in a Japanese form, so “crown” is wrong – anyone out there an expert on Japanese formal attire?)

Remember: you read it here (ok, and here) first!


in progress – Queen May

May 15, 2008

for Marina Bonomi

This time of year, when the moon is a smudge in the sky above bare trees, as though it were an afterthought, a mark left on the blue from something that isn’t there anymore. And May is a girl who likes her jewellery – gold and ruby, platinum and diamond. She wears them everywhere. The blackbirds sing her praises from rooftop and hedge, as though we were blind, as though we hadn’t noticed. Frost curling the edge of the air. The rolling crunch of acorns underfoot. The gutters and footpaths heaped with the season’s discarded wrappers, their colours stolen from the sunset.

autumn gust –
a swirl of leaves stopped
by the traffic lights