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Book of Days


February 5: Haiku Workshop

Kristen Lindquist

I spent my weekend immersed in a workshop on Haiku, the Moon & Ekphrastic Poetry, taught by Gary Lawless at Maine Media Workshop. Our discussions were wide-ranging and inspiring, from the story of Gary's apprenticeship with Beat poet Gary Snyder and life-long friendship with Snyder's mentor Nanao Sakaki, to the evolution of the haiku form from more formal Japanese poetry, to names of the moon in various cultures, punctuated by a presentation from Jim Nickelson of his series of moon photographs, Adventures in Celestial Mechanics, and a visit to the book arts studio where another class was making letterpress prints.

These haiku arose from the weekend's experiences and conversations:

Half moon
split above bare trees--
six more weeks of winter.

Fossilized shark's tooth--
at a certain angle
it looks like a heart.

Nanao said,
No swear words in Japanese.
What the fuck?

Granite quarry--
for his grandfather's sweat.

Fixated on
a severed chipmunk's head--
this floating world--

A poem, not really mine, that wrote itself from a classmate's story:

He stops to check
the wind--
mother's ashes.

Another poem, not mine, that wrote itself for Gary from a classmate's story:

Owl flies
in the headlights--
mating season.

This class was a gift from my parents for my 50th birthday, so this haiku by Issa, one of the big three classical Japanese haiku poets, spoke to me:

The moon and flowers
Forty-nine years
walking about wasting time.

Found poems created from Jim Nickelson's presentation, some almost verbatim:

Too close to the moon
and the photos look the same--
the moon is the moon.

In square photo format
only so many places
to put the moon.

Pale moon, pale sky--
how subtle can you get
and still show the moon?

Astrophysics professor--
no homework on nights
of the full moon.

He remembers where
he was that night
but forgot the name of the moon.

Moon of Falling Leaves.
Moon When Eyes Hurt from Bright Snow.
Hunger Moon. Bone Moon.