Report on Bindii Group Haibun Workshop

The workshop was presented in 3 x two hour sequential sessions. I planned the workshop this way as I considered the work too intensive to be conducted effectively in a one day session. Likewise the aspects I wanted to cover required more than 1 x two hour session, which is our usual time unit.

The aim of the workshop was to work towards a Haibun of approx 600 words and including a minimum of 3 haiku. I chose this frame as giving more than adequate opportunity for exploring both prose and poetry as poetic elements of expression in the Haibun genre.

Maeve Archibald

The aspects of Haibun that I selected to emphasize for the purpose of driving our writing were; story line, setting, flow of prose and poetry, image, and evocative writing. Each session consisted of selected input by the presenter, interactive participation from the work -shoppers, and a variety of writing exercises. Some of the latter were an ‘on the spot response’ to a question or need voiced from group.

Session 1. The main activity was defining a Haibun. The definitions supplied on the web site

provided a very useful resource for our discussion. The writing work concentrated on different types of descriptive writing.

Session 2. The focus was on different ways of creating a setting;
i) a very specific physical place,
ii) ii) a more abstract sense of place as in emotional, and
iii) iii) numerous variations of either or both of these.

We worked together on ways to create a personal kigo, reflecting just where it is (in Australia) that you happen to live. We also worked on how setting can be used to carry the story line and hold consistency. The use of seasonally loaded words can be used in a similar way. Both techniques can be very effective in an imagination hinting or alluding to something that may form the actual core of the Haibun.
Writing exercises were aimed at i) extending, and ii) pruning prose. Unexpected elements were introduced to inspire and challenge the writers.

Session 3. Several of the participants had some very promising examples to share with the group. For some it was their very first attempt at this genre. The sharing was a very useful vehicle for discussion.

The focus of the session was on imagery, how to evoke through powerful use of language. As we had many examples to draw from everyone was keen to try exercising their skill. An important part of this workshop was for participants to work further on the examples I gave and to e-mail them back to me for feedback and suggestions for the next step.
As the presenter I felt that the aspects I chose and my approach were effective. I did emphasize that what I was presenting was meant only as a possible tool of approach to a genre by which the group had felt blocked. At the first session I talked too much and I should have had some examples available. I didn’t because I didn’t want the participants to feel restricted or inadequate in the face of finished and polished pieces.

The general consensus was that the workshop was challenging, enjoyable, and inspiring. Two beginners who originally only committed to the first session stayed for the whole course. Several wrote their first Haibun. All were challenged to try something different from their usual style. Some who normally find it difficult to write in this sort of situation felt comfortable enough to relax and get on with it at the time. At the end everyone seemed to regard Haibun as a positive sort of challenge rather than a scary genre to avoid. I think that the workshop was a success.

Our Bindii group encourages all the participants to continue with writing Haibun as we are planning an anthology representing the work of the group. It would be incomplete without some examples of Haibun.