Oh hai Haibun

Yesterday was the Girls Write Now Poetry Workshop on short poetry forms, co-led by yours truly. I have to admit I was pretty much shaking in my sneakers and I wore a dark shirt so that the girls couldn’t see how my pits were sweating profusely. The sections I had to lead were for the opening writing exercise, the general discussion of poetry, the discussion of haiku and haibun, and then the longer writing exercise of a prose poem.

Before I began planning the workshop with the GWN staff and other mentor poets, I had never heard of a haibun before. And I’ll admit that the haiku was not my cup of tea. But planning the workshop gave me a new appreciation for the haiku through the haibun. So, the haibun is another Japanese form of poetry created by haiku master, Basho. He sold all his belongings and traveled through Japan, documenting his journey through haibun. A haibun is made up of a prose poem (could be one or two paragraphs) and ends with a haiku. The haiku section could sum up the prose poem or progress the poem. And modern haibun are usually written about travel or some place that means something to the writer. The following poem by Adelaide B. Shaw from Contemporary Haibun Online is one we gave as an example to the girls:

California Burning

Heavy rain early in the season, which produced thick growth, followed by an early and extra hot dry season, has created perfect conditions for FIRE. Hill after hill, community after community. FIRE. Smoke and ashes blow across the Los Angeles basin. Four, five days. FIRE. Its reach is capricious, teasing. Entire neighborhoods gone, but for one house. Maybe two. A circle of safety in an inferno. The blue sky becomes dull like a smudged window. Flames licking through the homes of rich and poor, moving westward through the valley, down a canyon to the Pacific.

fire dust –
at sunset sea and clouds
set aflame

The mentees did so amazingly well with this form. I wish I could share some of the poems that the girls wrote, I was blown away by the quality. Every time I hear these girls read their work I’m proud that I joined this organization and I realize that I’m here not only to mentor but to be mentored by the girls as well.

My mentee asked me if I was nervous! She said I did great and that I looked comfortable up in front of everyone. Whew!

Also, a special thanks to Khadijah Queen for being the guest poet. She read some amazing poems, led the room in a sound exercise, and had the girls do a writing exercise where they wrote a poem based on a word in a different language or a word they made up. The girls had so many questions for Khadijah about her process, why she writes poetry, and her experience publishing.

Next workshop: Journalism. I can sit back and relax, sweat-free, in the audience. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Oh hai Haibun”

  1. I love GWN!! I absolutely hate that there isn’t a GWN sister-organization in Washington, DC! With that said, I would love to connect with you and discuss ways in which I might be able to reach/connect/mentor young writers here in DC. I have attached my email and Web site. I hope to hear from you soon. And…thanks for the work you are doing with GWN in New York!

  2. Did a random blog search and luckily came up with yours! Love this post, thanks for the education, I love poetry and it was great to learn something new 🙂 hope your pits are better now!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s