#500TweetedHaikuProject -- Resource Hub
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The first #500TweetedHaikuProject is done. I'm currently compiling the tweets and hashtags into a manuscript for an eBook.
Tune in to @TheShowJoe on Twitter to get daily news links and haiku as part of the #500TweetedNewsHaiku project.
Also, look for #500MoreTweetedHaiku late this spring or early summer in 2012.
Welcome to the Resource Hub for the #500TweetedHaikuProject
This hub provides resources for writing and understanding haiku poems, as well as information and updates on @TheShowJoe's ongoing haiku projects on Twitter.The project was inspired by the united States Library of Congress' program of collecting all the Tweets posted globally on an ongoing daily basis, for study by future generations.
As an author it seemed like a simple opportunity to get poetry archived in the Library of Congress. As a teacher and a Twitter user, it seemed like a chance to educate people on the possibilities of poetry and social media, while adding something better to the National Archive than nude twit pics and football scores.
The tweeted haiku will be collected into volumes to be published as articles and eBooks for use by students, teachers, writers, fans of poetry, and Twitter enthusiasts. In addition to the tweeted haiku and their #hashtags, the collections of haiku will include development questions and other exercises. A valuable resource for writers and fans, as well as teachers and students, to write better haiku and read them in a more informed manner.
The #500TweetedHaikuProject's goal is to help anyone interested in haiku attain a deeper understanding of the art, and the principles of zen contained in these tiny poems.
What is a haiku?
A haiku is a three line poem, having a first and third line comprised of five syllables and a middle line comprised of seven.
Traditionally, haiku were written about nature topics. Modern poets write haiku about a variety of topics.
In truth, the Japanese language doesn't have syllables. It isn't really accurate to say that haiku have seventeen syllables, that is a simplification based on language differences.
The Syllable and the Mora
In school we are taught that the haiku is a three line poem which consists of 17 syllables and that the lines are broken up into a pattern of 5, 7, 5. Strictly speaking, this is not true. Haiku come from Japanese culture and are written in the smallest unit in the Japanese language, the mora.
Similar to the way that syllables are the smallest unit of meaning in Roman and Germanic languages, the mora is the smallest unit of meaning in Japanese. While syllables can be comprised of several different phonemes (or "word sounds"), there are only two types of mora, a consonant followed by a vowel and a vowel by itself.
When native Japanese people speak English or other western languages they often add an extra vowel sound to the end of common words. In Japanese, there are no words which end in a consonant. All of the sounds which comprise the Japanese language end with a vowel.
Traditional Versus Modern
The great debate in the world of haiku is whether one should write haiku with traditional themes or with modern ones. Traditionally, haiku were written about topics from nature, and the author endeavored to demonstrated a principle of zen that was observable in nature. Many authors, historians and fans of haiku believe that if you don't use traditional themes of nature and zen then you are not writing haiku, you are merely composing tiny-three line poems.
On the other side of the debate, many authors and poetry organizations believe that modern haiku are perfectly acceptable, and that themes and subjects can range from coffee to internet use. Some proponents of this idea of totally free haiku, go so far as to claim that one need not be constrained to the 5,7,5 syllable form as long as the poem is comprised of three lines.
Before I weigh in on the great haiku debate, let's revisit the lesson about the syllable and the mora. Haiku were never intended to be written in syllables, as the Japanese language is comprised of moras. Over the centuries as writers of other languages have endevored to write haiku in their native languages, the world has grown to accept the idea of the 5,7,5 syllable scheme, and the Japanese have not significantly objected.
Personally, I feel that if you are not writing in Japanese, you are already outside the bounds of the traditional format. For many years I have written "modern" haiku, about topics ranging from consumerism to recycling. However, I have always endeavored to maintain an observable zen element on every haiku that I write. The idea of zen, or that the poem must contain an element of enlightenment remains a standard regardless of how free an author wants to be with the form of the poem.
More recently I have made a determined effort to stick to "traditional" haiku themes by writing about nature topics as much as possible. Once I got into the flow of staying within nature subjects, I found that the zen elements flow more freely, and almost write themselves into the poem without effort. I find that sticking as much as possible to the idea of "traditional" haiku (that being nature subjects based on zen principles) is deeply enlightening for both the reader and the author of the poem.
What is Zen? How is it Relevant to Haiku?
Zen, also referred to as Zen Buddhism, is a philosophy of pursuing spiritual enlightenment by the most direct possible means. The idea behind Zen Buddhism, is that one can observe and learn zen (or "everyday enlightenment") all around you in daily life, and that one should only accept formal study and ritual observances of spirituality when they allow you to see the enlightening spiritual forces at work around you every day.
Zen is not something you could hold in your hand and it cannot be easily defined. Many students, teachers and masters of zen and Zen Buddhism cannot clearly define exactly what zen is. Zen is the element of enlightenment that can free us spiritually that is contained in every act and moment of life, if we can manage to tune in and see it. A fisherman who pays careful and close attention to his life and work may attain more zen enlightenment in his lifetime than a monk who spends 50 years worth of days meditating in a temple.
One of the most beautiful aspects of haiku poetry is that it tries to describe the zen principles at work in moments of everyday life. It is a work of art in itself to describe a moment of life, in skillful detail, using the brief, three line format of haiku. Placing an observation or moment of time in the haiku format yields interesting results and can teach a great deal about zen.
Links to Lessons and Connections
- Variations on a Haiku Theme -- How Does Alternate Word Choice and Punctua
A lesson demonstrating how variations to punctuation and pronouns in a haiku produce different themes.
- Five Examples of Modern Haiku
5 Haiku on modern subjects: Computers, fast food, photographs, crosswords, coffee.
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