At some point last year, I hopped onto my husband’s artistic project.
Kevin has been creating an image of his character, Technoman, every week for a couple of years. I admire his discipline very much. Every week, he places Technoman in a different environment, observing the objects and creatures around him, drawing us in. He (Kevin, not Techoman) then posts the digital illustration on Instagram and, when he remembers, on Twitter. He’s created a whole new world where you can project your own philosophical thoughts – or enjoy it for what it is.
Sometimes the illustration has Technoman on his own; other times he is joined by a female companion, sometimes there are many different Techonmans together. (Should it be “Technoman”? He’s a creature all to himself…)
Kevin’s style has evolved, and by including stock elements from other artists, the world has also evolved.
I must’ve been jealous at some point of his output and asked if I could join in. He said yes (he’s a good husband!) and so I committed to adding a poem to his illustrations. And in order to try and stay consistent within the poetry, I decided to try writing haikus.
I googled “haiku structure”, and read that it is “a Japanese poetic form that consists of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.”
I gave this a go, but sometimes I couldn’t fit in what I wanted to say into the syllable count.
Eventually, I moved from haiku to “poem”, where anything goes. The poems are always in free verse, often made up of three lines, but sometimes they consist of a single line. I’d abandoned the idea of a haiku, until I came up with what that kind of poem is really about.
I was reading Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”.
The point of writing a haiku in English isn’t getting the number of syllables right. It’s the feeling it evokes that’s important, the experience of reading it.
“If you read a lot of haiku, you see there is a leap that happens, a moment where the poet makes a large jump and the reader’s mind must catch up. This creates a little sensation of space in the reader’s mind […] and there is usually and “Aah” wanting to issue from your lips.”
That is guidance I can work from. After all, Goldberg explains, the Haiku is a Japanese artform and the weight of the syllables feels different than in English. So using syllable count as the main feature of a haiku makes no sense artistically.
I’m going to try writing these haikus.
The challenge of helping the reader to take a leap is going to be interesting, and enough of a challenge for me now. My poems tend to set up a thought and resolve it. I try not to go down the most obvious path, but I think that consciously going for a leap it’s going to help make them more interesting. Who knows, it might help with my fiction as well!
For now, here is my first attempt.
Aspirations elevate us,
And our dreams pull us up –
It’s difficult to slow down.
You can follow Kevin on Instagram as @3DKev and see what I’m up to there every now and then as @pog_smiles.