Sunday, October 13, 2013

Poetry Sunday: Fragment of an Unnamed Haibun Novel

Haibun is a form of Japanese traditional writing which combines prose with a haiku. I thought it might be interesting to try something similar to that, prose and short poems mingled.

What I did was an opening to a story about werecats and werewolves. It begins with a haiku which is not strictly traditional, since it lacks a season-word and is not about cherry blossoms or peonies or the like.

I thought I would share it this Sunday just for the heck of it. It's very new and unedited.... written this morning..... but I thought I'd share it while it is still in progress.

Fragment of an Unnamed Haibun-Novel

dogs howl
while cats nibble at the
government cheese

That Saturday we went to the food bank. We had to borrow Hagger's truck, which worked, unlike Papa's which was broken and needed gas and tires. Hagger had nodded at that. "Cats 'ud be hard on the tires." Which was a stupid thing to say, but what could you expect? Hagger was only a dog.
We got to St. Paul's Moravian Church about an hour after the food bank opened. 'Sats 9-12,' the sign said. And pointed to the concrete path which lead around the church. Toward the back, there were some steep steps and we stopped.

We. I suppose I ought to explain that. 'We' meant me--- Inae, daughter of the most prominent of the local cat-lords--- and Mishkina. My afrit. Who, I suppose, is not precisely an afrit any more.
The legends say that when a pure-of-heart young human child sprinkles a young afrit with holy water, the afrit does not die or disappear from the human world, but becomes transformed, and follows the human child around for life as a protector.

When I did it I wasn't thinking of the legend. If I had I would have assumed it didn't apply to me. I wasn't a human, nor all that pure-of-heart after what I did to the Saint Michael statue, according to Pastor. And by reckoning in human years-of-age I wasn't even in the young-child category any more, though I had been by the reckoning of my own people--- still was, as for that.

Shared on Poetry Pantry #171.

The cat in the picture is Katniss, daughter of Chachamaru, older sister of Therese, younger sister and possible daughter of Joel. Yes, my kitties are naughty.

Recommended Reading:

For many years I didn't dare to tackle writing haiku. On the one hand there were those that thought haiku were something for schoolchildren to do on assignment. On the other, I knew that good haiku probably had a lot of rules I didn't know about. Recently I acquired some quality books on haiku, and found them very inspiring, though often my haiku-ideas turn into sijo, which is a somewhat longer Korean poetic form.

It includes haiku in English by poets I've actually heard of: Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Amy Lowell, Langston Hughes, e. e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Richard Wright, among others.

It's a good antidote to the notion that good haiku in English can only be written by Western Neo-Buddhists who reject everything in Western civilization in favor of often-romantic images of the civilization of the East.

Along with a book of good translations of classic Japanese haiku, this book makes a great introduction to the haiku form. Poets and writers ought to consider owning the book. It also makes good sense for classroom teachers and homeschooling moms.

My favorite haiku in the book, so far, is this one by Paul Violi:

Don't look at my face.
No change, just large bills.
One wrong move will be your last.

I mean, WOW! A poem that doubles as a bank-robber's note! It makes me long to run out and rob a bank, but then I'd have to go to confession.

Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (
A Review of Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, by one of the poets included in the book, Melissa Allen.

Please consider 'liking' us on Facebook.


Loredana Donovan said...

Yes, haiku has a lot of rules and can have a great impact when done properly. The Western form is more modern and doesn't follow the rules necessarily, but can still be interesting. I wrote a lot of haiku when I first started blogging and have been trying out other forms for a while now. I like haibun, the combination of haiku and prose; and haiga, combining haiku and a picture. Your haibun sounds like it could turn into a legend type of novel--good luck with it :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I loved reading this story. I especially love the haiku. VERY original, all of it. Way cool.

scotthastiepoet said...

Cleverly cryptic - says a lot - I'llbe back to keep an eye on what you're doing and where your mind is going creatively With best Wishes Scott

Jennifer said...

I have never heard of haibun before, but I had an idea to do something like it a month or so ago. Never got around to it, but maybe I will now.

mypoeticpath said...

A lot to think about here. Loved the haiku. :>) And the kitty is so cute.

dsnake1 said...

seems like the start of something good... :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...