Haiku/Haibun Workshop with Martina Taeker

Report on Haiku/Haibun Workshop given by Martina Taeker 5 June 2010

Sixteen people attended the haiku/haibun workshop organized by Friendly St Poets at the Box Factory in Adelaide on 5 June.

Martina Taeker gave a well devised and very clear presentation to help those starting to write both haiku and haibun, with plenty of examples to illustrate her points.

Some of the points she made first were to dispel the myth that haiku should be written in the 5/7/5 form in English. Martina pointed out the differences in English language sound syllables and Japanese written onji, which make seventeen English syllables appear far too long when compared with a Japanese haiku.

Other points she stressed were the importance of content in the Japanese poetry form and that haiku were objective and nature based. The reader must work to interpret the haiku. The reader must make the connections rather than have the poet spell them out. Such a short poetry form can contain a lot of depth and subtlety. She also stressed the importance of Australian poets using their own landscape in writing haiku, rather than imitating the language and imagery of Japanese poets.

Martina then touched on guidelines regarding seasonal references, punctuation, capitalization, titles and the importance of using concrete imagery from all the senses in haiku. She noted that the shape of the haiku on the page could enhance the effect of the poem: three, one, two and more rarely four lines being the most popular arrangements in English. She discussed the presence of people in haiku poetry and the senryu form.

A practice session in writing haiku followed this discussion, with Martina offering individual advice to participants.
Following a break for a sumptuous afternoon tea provided by Friendly St Poets, Martina presented information on haibun, again providing a number of examples to demonstrate the points she was making. Again, she emphasised the importance of imagery and urged those attempting haibun to focus on not too large a topic and to leave out extraneous detail. She also stressed the importance of the haiku in haibun.

This session was valuable not only to newcomers to the form, but as a reminder to those of us with more experience, of the beauty of a well expressed haiku or haibun.

Lynette Arden