Archive for August, 2008

A (Future) Challenge

August 27, 2008

I was reading an article by Ray Rasmussen on the Contemporary Haibun Online website about the defining characteristics of modern English-language haibun. There were two things in particular that interested me. First was his query:

whether writers present authentic or fictional ‘stories’. […] so far as I can tell by reading them, most contemporary haibun are based on real events in the writer’s lives. [Ken] Jones himself states that in the current issue of Contemporary Haibun, “… there appear to be no fictional (haibun).”

Interesting. One of the things that most excites me about haibun is the potential to mix imaginary (not just imaginative) prose with the little black-hole of actual experience that is a genuine haiku (rather than a desk-ku). Ken Jones’ article was the first place I saw that possibility mentioned.

I need to make a distinction here between “actual” (factually accurate, and actually experienced) and “true” (plausible; true to my own experience, even if the details have been modified for artistic purposes). I’ve written haibun (and haiku) from both perspectives. But I don’t think I’ve ever gone to the third possibility: writing a haibun that is made-up, and doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

Earthrise, 24 December 1968

Earthrise, 24 December 1968

I know they exist – Bruce Ross, in his superb Journey to the Interior discusses a 1979 haibun collection by Geraldine Clinton Little, called Separation: Seasons in Space, which is written from the point of view of a woman astronaut. I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy yet, but it certainly does open up some interesting possibilities. (Anyone have a copy they’d like to sell?! Seriously – contact me!)


Back to the original topic – the other thing he mentioned was:

An examination of the current contents of Contemporary Haibun Online reveals just that. Slightly more than half of the haibun, whether present or past events, are written at least in part in the present tense. Fewer are written in the past tense and only a few are written in the future tense.

Again, very interesting. I suspect I’ve tended to stick with the present tense in most of mine, simply as a carry-over from haiku’s present tense. But the idea of writing future tense stuff is quite intriguing. Not “do” or “did”, but “will do”.

So. My challenge – write an obviously imaginary haibun, using the future tense. Should be interesting. Watch this space! (Groan …)


August 12, 2008

Soon we’ll be heading back home. Hard to believe. Easy to believe – we’ve finally adjusted to the seasons – spring unfurling in April, not September. Summer arriving in June. And now we change again. This time, at least, we’ve picked an in-between season to cross the equator. We’ll leave Ilkley in September, and arrive back in New Zealand on our 13th wedding anniversary.

We’re driving along the Leeds ring-road, heading to Pudsey for a last splurge at Marks & Spencer. Six months ago, the high bank to the south of the road was a mass of daffodils for a good mile or more. I kept meaning to photograph them, but never got around to it. Another thing.

The daffodils should just about be coming out in Hagley Park when we get home.

daffodil lawn –
the brilliant yellow
of a blackbird’s beak