Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Haiku Handbook

I've just started what seems to be a very interesting book, The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku, by William J. Higginson, McGraw-Hill, 1985.

From the Introduction:
The primary purpose of reading and writing haiku is sharing moments of our lives that have moved us, pieces of experience and perception that we offer or receive as gifts. At the deepest level, this is the one great purpose of all art, and especially of literature. The writer invites the reader to share in the experience written about, and in the experience of the shared language itself. (v)

It's a very basic definition, and the author is aware of it, of course, but it's nonetheless a good starting point.

The important words are "moments" and "pieces," indicative of the brevity of the haiku. A flashing insight into the reality and concreteness of an event/vision/experience cannot be overburdened with words.

Another important word is "gift," and a haiku is, like the tea ceremony, offered in the spirit of sharing a precious "something" in a fleeting world.

More excerpts soon as I go through the book!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

When I looked at a New Born Baby

maps traced on a white covering. blue and green paths from an origin.
a baby's skin oh so delicate!


(This is an image I got when looking at a new born baby; he was only wearing diapers and his skin was so sensitive and white, almost translucent.)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Out on the Balcony at Night

"Out on the balcony at night,
Silvery streaks
Of a summer rain"

July 21, 1992

[In Lebanon, summer rains are quite rare, but when they do happen, they take the shape of quick and powerful showers lasting only a few minutes. It is night-time, the air is thick with heat, and the cicadas are singing not too far away. Suddenly the shower starts, builds up, and the drops, against the clear dark night, appear like silver spears hitting down the earth.]

Monday, 15 June 2009

Trees in the Yellow Moon

"Trees in the yellow moon;
A few seconds
And they will be gone!"

July 30, 1991

[It is a hot summer night, and the yellow moon is exceptionally big; as it starts its journey upward, it passes behind a wooded hill and, suddenly, the trees are silhouetted against the moon. Quick! The beautiful illusion lasts only for a few seconds!]

Saturday, 13 June 2009

My First Haiku: Black clouds over Beirut

"Black clouds over Beirut;
A hole in the sky
Reminds me of summer"

January 10, 1990

[It's a winter afternoon, and black clouds are weighing heavily on the capital. Suddenly, the clouds shift and a ray of sunshine pierces through a hole not meant to be there; the sun had always been shining, unknown to us!]

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Smoker

A pack of cigarettes lies on the table,

Comes the smoker and opens it.

A pack of cigarettes lies on the table,

Leaves the smoker addicted to it.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Everyday Encounter

burnt noodles tall and in mid-air
this girl's head with curly hair


Hung from the Ceiling

a fan is 3 that serves 15 within the 3 months of summer throughout the 15 credits of a semester


Friday, 5 June 2009

How this Blog will Work

If you are a Lebanese living in Lebanon, a Lebanese living abroad, or a non-Lebanese residing in Lebanon, and you have written some "good"* Haiku, send me an email (look in my profile), introduce yourself, and I'll send you an invitation to join as author/contributor.

Throughout the years, I have written (what I think are) a few "good" Haiku, so I will be posting some of them every now and then.

Comments are moderated, so there's no danger of getting offensive or disrespectful messages.

As author/contributor, please follow the simple layout below:

[Your own comments, if any]

*What makes a "good" Haiku is quite a thorny issue, but the comments are there to help.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

How it Started

Back in the late 1980s, I had finished my Licence at the Lebanese University and was starting an M.A. in English literature. The campus in Fanar had a lovely library, with a long but small reading room and, at the back of it, double doors opening onto the shelving room. The room was huge (by Lebanese standards), very well lit (with big windows on the sides), and spacious enough between the two rows of shelves.

This is where my interest in the Far-East in general and in Buddhism in particular was given substance in the surprisingly rich collection I found there. From Buddhism to Zen to Haiku, the journey is quite natural, and I ended up breathlessly but ecstatically going over R. H. Blyth's four volumes on Haiku.

I remember spending many hours inside the sun-lit library appreciating the brevity, directness, and, paradoxically, the suggestiveness of a three-line poem from which everything but the essence of the moment had been removed.

Standing like small jewels, Haiku are a reminder of the ephemerality of all things, but also console us that the "here and now" is well worth living and experiencing.


Welcome to "Haiku from Lebanon"!

We will be posting original haiku along with links to, and original research on, this unique form of Japanese poetry and its applicability to Lebanese poets and writers.