Haiku #1

My English teacher was telling us the other day how the famous Japanese form of poetry, “Haiku”, has long been her coping strategy. During her lecture, she also managed to discuss the basics of Haiku writing and asked each of us to try one out! She said that the beauty of this form won’t be comprehended until tried, after a while, you’ll be obsessed trying to bring out that perfect Haiku! And from experience I can tell, she’s absolutely right!

Here are a few basic guidelines to start writing Haikus:

  • The first line must comprise 5 syllables
  • The second line is to have 7 syllables
  • The third line should again have 5 syllables
  • The Haiku must contain a seasonal marker on the first line
  • The second line should essentially have a paradox

However, Haiku is one of those forms of poetry which has undergone a lot of experimentation and innovation. Several poets, authors, have broken free from the traditional styles and created their personalised style of Haikus. Moreover, the above guidelines weren’t followed by all traditional Haiku writers either.

So based on my teacher’s guidelines, I tried writing my first Haiku, which you’ll find below. Please feel free to correct any of the information posted above as well as give me feedback on my first!

It’s the winter time,
Raging smoke from factories,
And fireplaces.

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Pain Pastiche

Snow skin, soft voice,

A frame so petite,

Light steps and shy smiles,

I’m branded beautiful.

But a tug at my reverie, it snaps!

Shards of illusion scattered around,

I am just a black woman,

A thick, heavy, dark, Negro Woman.

So you hate me and beat me,

Starve and enslave me,

But take my loathed body,

Watch me numb my soul, and give in completely.

Purple bruises blend perfectly,

I am blasé to all pain,

My dreams smother in despair,

And wash away in tears which dry…

But I write about waterfalls,

Paint bright pink flamingos,

All in my mind’s canvas,

‘Cause black women with ink and paint,

Are only witches to be shamed and cursed.

And finally I die,

My body laid next to the spirit long buried,

From which I rise another time,

Ready to be tortured, ready to be told.

So here I am again, prettier this time,

With small feet and rosy cheeks,

I thank God-

Now I shall not be despised.

Well-

I am now a Japanese Wife,

Victim of a forced marriage,

A potential actress too-

But you don’t need to know that.

But you should remind me of my femininity every time,

Snatch away the sake and the smoke,

And yes, the life too-

Berate my apparition,

Every time you see her singing to trees,

Crushing dried leaves under her feet,

Plucking flowers on a solitary night.

[This poetry is an original creation, inspired from two masterpieces- “And The Soul Shall Dance” by Wakako Yamauchi and “In Search of My Mother’s Gardens” by Alice Walker. The theme of universality of women’s oppression has been recognised and is the essence of this poetry.]