Friday, November 09, 2007

The Haiku and Low Coup

One of the great things about terse poetic forms is that they help you sharpen your ability to choose powerful and appropriate words. This is a necessary skill in writing poetry. Making it part of your daily routine is a great practice for any aspiring writer.

For me one of the most beautiful terse forms is the haiku which on the surface appears simple; three lines, 17 syllables. In reality in the pure form it has 17 'sounds' and also has key seasonal words that need to be incorporated. There are whole dictionaries of these seasonal words. They are included in the text so that you know what season it is in the poem. For instance, by including cherry blossoms in the text one would know that it was spring.

Haiku is a form that has been adapted by many Black American poets, amongst them Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez and Richard Wright. One of the great masters though of this form no doubt is Kalamu ya Salaam. He has written a great overview of the African-American appropriation of the Haiku. All writers should definitely take time and check it out.

The Haiku is not a form that I have any great skill with at this point yet the insight given by Kalamus ya Salaam is great.

Any interpretation of the Haiku through the lens of Black America is by Amiri Baraka with his Low Coup which is a short, terse verse imposed on top of Black Folk Art.He actually wrote a whole book exploring the form. Definitely check it out. Something I want to explore for self in the future.

Also check out what they are already saying about my Ebook mini book of poetry over at Asiatic Light Publishing

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