One of my favorite traditions this time of year is the Nengajyou postcard exchange. Me and my fellow haiku enthusiasts exchange postcards to celebrate the new year. It’s a Japanese thing, typically. But lots of Western haiku writers do it as well, since the tradition involves writing a haiku or senryu on the postcard.
I haven’t talked about haiku yet, on this blog—or senryu, tanka, or renga. These are all Japanese poetry forms that I simply adore. I’ve been practicing them for a few years now, and I’m still not that great at crafting them, but, I so, so love to read them.
“Haiku?” You may say, “How hard is that? 5-7-5, right?”
Well, no. Not exactly. Haiku is more about kigo (nature) words, and celebrating “is-ness,” and taking a pure moment and distilling it to its very core. It’s not about flowery language or jaded navel gazing. It’s about the moment you experience something and go, “A-ha!”
Literally. One of my favorite writers runs this site: http://www.ahapoetry.com/
I think the simplicity and bare-bones nature of haiku appeal to the type of writing I do. I am a trained journalist, and it shows in everything I write. Plus I love the idea of components adding up to more than their parts. It’s very gestalt, to apply a western term.
This was the card I sent out for 2008. It’s cute, huh? That was the year of the rat. I’d write that poem differently now. It’s crying out to be simplified. Something like:
Dots of salt
on the night road
New Year’s Eve
2008 was the last year I participated in the exchange. The postcards this round are for the year of the dragon. I can’t pass that up. Plus, it’s fun to get mail from a bunch of poets around the world. My first one arrived yesterday. I’m excited for them all!
I’m still working on a haiku for this year. I will keep you posted.