chapstick and nail clippers
all that’s left
in my father’s dresser
For almost twenty years, the Haiku Society of America has hosted The Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Competition for students in grades 7-12. I hope you’ll take a moment at some point to read the winning entries. The students’ work is beautiful and moving and impressive. Over the years an outrageously disproportionate number of students earning honors have come from classes taught by two teachers at opposite ends of the country: Tom Painting and Arlie Parker.
In the most recent episode of the podcast Haiku Chronicles (a podcast I could not recommend more highly) Teaching Haiku, Tom and Arlie discuss haiku and senryu, how they teach it, prompts they use, and why they think the form is so valuable for students.
I’ve already listened to the interview twice this week, and I am quite sure I’ll want to listen to it again. As a writer and someone who has taught a few haiku workshops and would like to teach more, I value their suggestions about what examples to share, how they think and talk about the form, the limits they give their students, and when they bend them. I had thought of haiku and senryu as two broad categories of poetry, but Tom and Arlie break these categories into smaller ones–such as meaningful moments, painful reminders, and things that don’t go together. These categories can be used as prompts, which is how I came to write the senryu above.
In some ways I think haiku is quite different from other poetry, especially in the way that the writer is supposed to get out of the way and allow the reader to have a direct experience. On the other hand I think haiku is poetry distilled to its essence–strong imagery, strong feeling, and an abiding belief in the power of a few, carefully chosen words.
Happy Poetry Friday! Donna JT Smith has the roundup at Mainely Write.