My fifth and final digital storytelling assignment is making a haiku in the writing category. Before I present my own piece, let me just explain what the haiku is briefly.
Haiku, known as the shortest form of the poetry in the world, originally started in the 17th century in Japan. It became international in the late 20th century and now people all over the world make haiku of their own. There are several rules in Japanese traditional haiku and many of them are also adopted into the international haiku. The common rules are:
・Use three lines of up to 17syllables.
・Use a season word (kigo).
・Use a cut or kire (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to compare two images implicitly.
People often think that to express one's feeling in the 17 syllables is enough for making haiku, but it's not. The most basic concept of this poetic form is to resonate totally different imagery (often presented as nouns) and generate a new perspective/context/atmosphere/situation of the moment based on these imagery in the reader's mind. In a sense, it is like appreciating a scenery picture. To appreciate the piece, one has to know the connotations of the general/proper nouns used in the piece, which makes it difficult when it becomes international since the cultural backgrounds of the creator and the readers might be different and the readers cannot pick up the implicit meanings or nuances of the words. Since there are four distinct seasons in Japan, almost all the nouns were categorized into one of the four seasons a hundred years ago, but we cannot do that any more in these days. Still we can use some words that relate to seasonal events (e.g., snow as winter or cicada as summer). I think this rule to include a season word in the poem was made probably because it was the most efficient way to indicate the time and location of the setting depicted in the poem.
Since this assignment is set for haiku beginners, you don't have to be so strict. All you have to do is just keep the first rule: three lines with 17 syllables (ideally 5-7-5). The attached photo helps a lot to understand the scenery that the poem depicts. Here is my work about the killifish ("medaka" in Japanese) that I have at home.
In a glass aquarium
Under Tokyo sky
You can probably imagine the scenery without the help of the photo. Here is the photo.
|Click here to enlarge|
In this haiku, I attempted to resonate the words "killifish" and "Tokyo" and parallel the situations of the killifish confined in the aquarium and me living in Tokyo surrounded by high buildings and watching the killifish (without referring to myself in the haiku). Japanese killifish (medaka) is categorized in the summer words in traditional haiku, but it's difficult for many Japanese to understand that connotation today.
I stuck to the Japanese traditional haiku rules this time because I like Japanese literature. (My major at the graduate school was modern Japanese literature.) Of course other students who would like to do this assignment don't have to follow these traditional rules at all. Just following the 5-7-5 rules is good enough to make a creative piece of art for this ds106 course. I just wanted to let the reader to understand the basic concept of haiku and show its literary depth as Japanese literature. Below are some links to understand the essence of Japanese and international haiku and some literary works in English made by native English speakers. I hope they may help you to do this assignment more creatively.
More detail of this assignment: Haiku It Up
Photo edited by Picasa