A Challenge from Simply Haiku


photo by Kristian Birchall

photo by Kristian Birchall

I’ve been posed the following challenge by Lynn Rees, who is the haibun editor at Simply Haiku:

 As writers, I believe that working within ‘boundaries’, or with subject matter we might not have consciously thought about, can often lead us to surprising discoveries, so the challenge is to write a haibun with a particular theme and criteria.

I’d like you to begin with some ‘directed’ free writing. Try and be as spontaneous as possible, write down everything that comes into your mind; don’t edit or reject. Let your creative mind have time to explore without the interruption of the critical/editorial mind.

  1. Imagine a photograph of yourself when you were much younger.
  2. See this photo clearly in your mind.
  3. Starting with the phrase In this one there is or I am… write down everything you see, e.g. what you’re wearing, who is with you, the weather, anything at all that’s ‘in scene’.
  4. Now think about what happened before this photo was taken – just before, or earlier in the day, or even earlier than that, e.g. something specific that happened to you, or someone else, or an event that took place. Begin with Earlier, yesterday, last week etc… and write down all the sensory detail.
  5. And finally, beginning with the phrase I don’t know yet… write about something that will happen in the future, something that you have no knowledge of at the time of the photograph.

Once you’ve finished the free writing exercise put it aside for at least a few days (without reading it if you can!) before looking back over it to see if you can shape this material into a haibun. It’s entirely up to you what information you retain or discard but the completed haibun must include:

  • 1 or 2 haiku that can be placed as you choose
  • the use of the three tenses (the present, past and future)
  • and be no longer than 350 words

Deadline: Wednesday April 15th 2009.

So there we have it. I have to say I’m quite inclined to have a go at this – as those of you who read my main blog will know, I’m planning to take part in NaPoWriMo this year, so I’m settling into the “directed writing zone”. And I’ve always found writing exercises to be useful – a classic example of it ain’t what you have, it’s what you do with it.

Who’s going to join me?


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2 Responses to “A Challenge from Simply Haiku”

  1. Alan Summers Says:

    How did you get on! 😉

    • Jopre Says:

      I haven’t even started yet! I’ve been flat out with going over the proofs of my first collection and taking part in NaPoWriMo 09. (Both sagas being relayed on my other blog, should you feel inclined to read about them!)

      But thank you for the reminder. Note to self: get on with it!

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