ABOUT POETRY: the joy of haikus

I have always had a deep love and respect for poetry: TS Eliot’s ‘Macavity – The Mystery Cat’ http://tiny.cc/9it0ex thrilled me as a child and later Shakespeare’s sonnets http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/17.html and plays ‘Othello’, ‘Hamlet’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘The Tempest’, ‘Richard III’, ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, ‘The Taming of The Shrew’ and ‘The Twelfth Night’ introduced me to history, fantasy, reality, love, loss, passage of time, beauty, mortality, politics written in such a way that real emotions were wrought from the words on the page. Studying Shakespeare also gave me an insight into the phenomenal craft of a poem written to book length aka a ‘play’. Six years later, TS Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’ blew my academically mushrooming and hormone ravaged mind. I clearly remember the day that my English Literature A-Level teacher, Mr Birch, said loftily (whilst rubbing his profuse beard) that ‘prose was an open hand and poetry was a closed fist’ – from this moment the inspiration ran high to punch well above my literary weight with such a fist and the resonance rang deeper than an Atlantean bell. I have always preferred writing poetry (although up to now it’s been mainly personal stuff that nobody sees or reads) to prose: it presents much more of a challenge to me.

Now if poetry is a closed fist then my preferred, and the very succinct, Japanese Haiku form is an iron fist welded fast inside a titanium lined velvet glove.

Wikipedia states:


This article is about the Japanese poetic form. For haiku poetry written in English, see Haiku in English. For other uses, see Haiku (disambiguation).
Haiku (俳句 haikai verse?)About this sound listen (help·info) (no separate plural form) is a very short form of Japanese poetry typically characterised by three qualities:

The essence of haiku is “cutting” (kiru).[1] This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji(“cutting word”) between them,[2] a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colors the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.
Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae), in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 on respectively.[3]
A kigo (seasonal reference), usually drawn from a saijiki, an extensive but defined list of such words.
Modern Japanese haiku (現代俳句 gendai-haiku?) are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on or to take nature as their subject, but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honored in both traditional and modern haiku.[4] There is a common, although relatively recent, perception that the images juxtaposed must be directly observed everyday objects or occurrences.[5]

In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line while haiku in English often appear in three lines to parallel the three phrases of Japanese haiku.[6]

Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.



They say you should do one thing every day that scares you. I am now going to publish some of my poetry.

The beginning…




Manners costs nothing

Why don’t people say ‘thank you’ as much as they say ‘sorry’? Is it because they feel more comfortable making excuses or apologising for something rather than being grateful and / or expressing gratitude?

We say ‘sorry’ when we make simple mistakes, or step through a door at the same time as someone else, or if we talk over friends excitedly in conversation. Others use ‘sorry’ more as a habitual conversational tic than the powerful fixer that it is meant to be. Some people say ‘sorry’ so much that I have asked them to replace that word with ‘orange’ or ‘blancmange’ just so that they themselves can flag how deep their addiction to it is. Some of them realise how ridiculous they sound and slowly wean themselves off it, others not. I hear ‘sorry’ a lot and sadly a lot of the time, it’s not for the right reason.

‘Sorry’ seems to have become a lexical comfort blanket, its potency so fuzzy that it appeases even that that needs not be appeased. Many are happy with this. That’s not to say that sorry should lose its rightful place at the top of the apology hierarchy. I am a loyal subject and a firm believer in the power of a sincere and robust ‘sorry’ (make up sex is dynamite after all).  But if we said ‘thank you’ for even half the things we should, as we say ‘sorry’ for half the things that we shouldn’t, the effect could be earth shattering.

Maybe I’m a dinosaur, maybe I’m not, but it bothers me that people say ‘sorry’ more than they say ‘thank you’. But who died and made me Queen? It worries me that I am judging how other people act when I’ll wager I don’t say ‘thank you’ as much as I should. Nobody’s perfect.

I saw the image above on Pharrell’s Instagram / Twitter stream and thought it was a great idea. Yes I should cultivate the habit of being grateful more than I perpetuate the cliché campaign in support of ‘sorry’. I shouldn’t just be insta-grateful for an instagram and then move on. Much like a plant or a tree, I should cultivate gratitude – I should make it grow shoots, leaves, branches and a big, fat trunk. I should elevate this gratitude cultivation into a such a fine counter-cultural art that one day the tree will grow so big that it provides shelter, love and warmth for whole families of horses, cats, dogs, birds, squirrels, rabbits and all those furry sticky icky nano-creatures that nibble away at the leaves. As they take refuge from the ravages of the world outside in its bark and branches, they will say, ‘we are so thankful that someone grew that gratitude tree over there. We are now going to tell our friends so that they can cultivate one too’.

The dictionary definition of the word, grateful, is the act of being ‘warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received’. Amongst so many other things that I refrain from boring you with here, I am deeply appreciative of the message that Pharrell beamed into my brain. It planted the seed of an idea that germinated until I felt strongly enough about it that I didn’t just take it to heart and put it into practise for myself, but I also shared it.  Thank  you Pharrell for making me check myself and want to be a better person. And thank you, you, for reading this.

If you want to read more about cultivating the art of gratitude Huffington Post ran this feature today – 11th of February – 4 Ways to Immediately Feel Better About Your Life  These are helpful pointers and should get you on the way no matter what happens in your day. Let me know if you can think of any more.