Friday, August 5, 2011

Haiku from photographs II

So last week I wrote about how I wanted to write some haiku based on the very haiku-like photos of Daido Moriyama. While the photos seemed perfect for adaptation to haiku, I struggled with some kind of block. I came to the conclusion that it was because the setting was so foreign to me. The photos I was looking at were from distinctly Japanese settings and I've never been to Japan, so I didn't have the immediate experience to write haiku from.

This week I've been re-reading volume one of R.H. Blyth's 2-volume A History of Haiku. One point he makes helped me to understand further why I was having trouble writing from these photos. In his view haiku is a poetry of sensation:

"In haiku, the two entirely different things that are joined in sameness are poetry and sensation... The coldness of a cold day, the heat of a hot day, the smoothness of a stone, the whiteness of a seagull, the distance of the far-off mountains, the smallness of a small flower, the dampness of the rainy season, the quivering of the hairs of a caterpillar in the breeze -- these things, without any thought or emotion or beauty or desire are haiku." (p.7-8)

And there's my problem. I was treating the photos as strictly visual things, unable to sink into them because the sensations of the places pictured were inaccessible to me. With a little imagination, though, it should be possible, now that I've identified that stumbling block...

by the tracks

with the

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