Apr 30

Haiku Author Interview: Michael J. Rosen

Posted: under Reviews.
Tags: , , , April 30th, 2009

by Kelly

by Kelly

Ever curious to learn about the world of haiku, I contacted author Michael J. Rosen.

I wanted to ask him some questions about his most recent book, The Cuckoo’s Haiku. It’s a book that combines birdwatching, haiku and watercolors.

Here is what he had to say . . .

What do birdwatching and haiku have in common?

They’re both arts of the ephemeral. The fleeting. The caught glimpse from which so much else must be inferred.

If a warbler lingers for a few minutes in my burr oak tree while on its migration path, I have to act quickly. I have to see the bird. Grab my binoculars. Rush outside with my field guide. Hope the bird is still there.

And then I have to try to discern those telltale markings that differentiate that bird from other warblers. Are there eye rings, wing bars, darker outer feathers, a rusty bib, a black cap? From those details, I can, sometimes, make an identification.

In haiku, as in all poetry, there’s the desire for similar extrapolation: what can this image or metaphor reveal? What will this detail suggest about the wider world?

So I mean to write about birds, sure, but also about the birdwatcher, about the world we share with birds, which is subject to so many other forces.

You live on a farm in a rural Ohio. Are all the haiku in this book about birds you commonly see in your own backyard?

I will admit, I’ve never seen a cuckoo. They’re elusive!

But all the other birds in the book are ones I see regularly here in Ohio. And I deliberately chose birds that had wide distribution. Birds that readers would know about.

Part of my interest in doing this work is to stop us in our tracks, to make us re-see, see more clearly.

George Abbe once wrote that poets are like most people, only more so.

If I were to sum up the impulse behind these haiku, it would be to be a person among birds and nature…only more so. To share my binoculars with you…and the poem, in the same way.

Many of the haiku in Cuckoo’s Haiku paint vivid word pictures of a bird in action. Did you find that you were paying greater attention to birds while you were working on this book?

My interest in birds spans some thirty years. There are times where I remember myself reading more…deliberately venturing into the woods with binoculars and field guide in hand. But, I have to say, now I’m more interested in the whole ecosystem, how the seasons affect this farm and all its occupants.

Here’s a word I learned recently: phenology. It’s what occurs at any given point in each season in a given place: when do the hummingbirds return, the wild apple trees drop their blossoms, the bluegill in the pond begin to lay their eggs in the mud craters they create?

So, I’ve sort of lost some of the knowledge I had about actual species in exchange for these more abstract or overall observations.

Of course, writing The Cuckoo’s Haiku was another chance to research these common birds, specifically looking for those amazing and curious facts that would renew interest in even the most familiar birds.

For instance, the fact that doves are unique among birds in their ability to drink water without tipping their heads up so that gravity can draw the water down their throats.

The fact that mockingbirds always sing in triplets, repeating their phrases three times before moving onto another “song.”

The natural history is a significant part of my engagement with the language as well; it often suggests a poem, or, at least, another meaning to a seemingly simple description.

It seems that you’re also quite a dog lover. What’s next? A book of dog haiku?

Funny you should say that, Kelly!

Yes, I’m a huge dog person. I’ve always lived with dogs. I’ve rescued a number of dogs and cats…and written or edited several books about the companion animals that share our lives.

And, yes, in fact. Mary Azarian is creating illustrations even now for a book that Candlewick is planning to publish in 2011. Some 24 breeds of dogs about which I’ve written haiku.

And, if I have my way(!), I hope to do books on a world of other creatures. Haiku, at least as I try to practice it, offers me a wonderful form against which my creativity can find enough friction to make some sparks.

I think haiku, as practiced in English, has a great deal of energy when it exceeds the mere 5/7/5 syllabic orientation. It’s a form that’s too venerable and profound to merely require breaking lines like dropping a pound of spaghetti into boiling water.

Comments (0)

Apr 30

Haiku 120

Posted: under Alison's Haiku, Daily Haiku.
Tags: , , , April 30th, 2009

by Alison

by Alison

Alien vs.

Predator or Alison

vs. her Husband

Comments (5)

Apr 30

Sarah Bloom: Haiku 3

Posted: under Guest.
Tags: , , April 30th, 2009

Our days of wine and

Roses are long gone honey

Pass me the coffee

.

..Did you know that Sarah Bloom has a photography website? It’s true. Check out more of her work at Sad and Beautiful World.


Comments (4)

Apr 29

Haiku 119

Posted: under Daily Haiku, Kelly's Haiku.
Tags: , , , April 29th, 2009

by Kelly

by Kelly

Nothing could make me

happier than this yellow

dandelion. Spring!

Comments (3)

Apr 29

Sarah Bloom: Haiku 2

Posted: under Guest.
Tags: , , April 29th, 2009

My heart is un-caged

Yours forever unchanged

Forgiveness freed me

.

..Did you know that Sarah Bloom has a photography website? It’s true. Check out more of her work at Sad and Beautiful World.


Comments (3)

Apr 28

Sarah Bloom: Haiku 1

Posted: under Guest.
Tags: , , April 28th, 2009

A single moment

Stretches out in front of you

Remember to breathe

.

..Did you know that Sarah Bloom has a photography website? It’s true. Check out more of her work at Sad and Beautiful World.


Comments (4)

Apr 28

Haiku 118

Posted: under Alison's Haiku, Daily Haiku.
Tags: , , April 28th, 2009

by Alison

by Alison

rapidly talking

in Starbucks while kiddos nap –

like our Brooklyn days

Comments (2)

Apr 27

Introduction: Sarah Bloom, guest haiku’er

Posted: under Guest, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , April 27th, 2009

This week, Haiku By Two is thrilled to be presenting the haiga of Sarah Bloom. Sarah is a professional photographer who lives in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania and her haiga will appear on this page for the next five days. Check out more of her work at her website  Sad and Beautiful World.

What is haiga, you ask? I have recently learned that haiga is the marriage of a haiku and an image. Traditionally, this would be a watercolor painting and a calligraphy haiku although today’s haiga are much more varied. But whatever the medium or approach, the image and the haiku work together for a complete affect.

Let’s welcome Sarah as she describes her approach to haiku, photography and haiga:

I have written poetry since I was a child and for a while in my twenties, was actively submitting and reading throughout the city of Philadelphia. I’ve dabbled in haiku off and on, and even spent a whole day on Twitter once using only haiku! I love the simplicity of its form and the way it forces me to condense my overabundance of description into something quiet and calm. I tend to ramble, so restrictions are good for me.

I have begun to look at my photographs in a similar way, to stop trying to force too much meaning into them but rather, let the meaning emerge. I’m drawn to lines and shadows lately.

For this exercise I decided to pick 5 images of mine that already felt like haiku to me, and create the poem as an extension of the image.

.

Comments (2)

Apr 27

Haiku 117

Posted: under Daily Haiku, Kelly's Haiku.
Tags: , , , , , April 27th, 2009

by Kelly

by Kelly

Sigh. Another month,

another disappointment.

I hate telling him.

April is National Poetry Month and we’re celebrating!

Each Monday this month, we’re throwing out a topic and inviting readers to share haiku on the subject.

This week’s topic: Periods

Add your haiku as a comment. Let’s see how many we can collect! Oh, and there’s no time limit. Today, tomorrow, next week. We’ll take ‘em!

Comments (21)

Apr 27

The Cuckoo’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen

Posted: under Reviews.
Tags: , April 27th, 2009

by Kelly

by Kelly

Ever since I rearranged the furniture in my office and set up my computer so that whenever I sit down to type I’m also looking out a window, I’ve started to pay more attention to birds.

I catch them, out of the corner of my eye, doing all their bird-y things: cawing, pecking, strutting, hopping, dancing, flapping, flitting.

I know the crows, the robins, the jays. In other words, the ones that are easy to recognize. The rest, to me, are just birds.

But they’re not just birds to author Michael J. Rosen.

His newest book, out just this spring, is called The Cuckoo’s Haiku: And Other Birding Poems.

In it are 24 haiku, each dedicated to a different bird like the Canada goose, the starling and the purple finch.

Sometimes Rosen’s little poems detail the calls or habits of a species. Other times, his poems paint a vivid word picture.

This one, for example, struck a chord with me:

twittering at dusk

chimney swifts sail above the

citronella glow

I can see those birds, exactly like that, in my head: It’s summer. I’m at the cabin. The sun is sinking. The mosquitoes are biting and those small, black birds — instead of getting ready to bed down for the night — are suddenly very active.

Each of Rosen’s haiku is accompanied by beautiful, bright and splashy water colors (by illustrator Stan Fellows) that fill two-page spreads. Plus, tiny factoids about each species dot every page.

While the title is being billed as a children’s book (Rosen boasts a string of children’s titles) it didn’t necessarily stike me as such.

It’s lovely — very much so — but some of the haiku were a bit too abstract, I thought, for a child’s mind.  A middle schooler, I thought, might understand the verses better, and an adult birder certainly so.

On the other hand, the illustrations are so fetching that I’m sure any child would be drawn in, as was I. And if a poem is a bit beyond their reach, well then, so be it.

It gives them something to reach for. And hopefully, they’ll sooner grasp the meaning of the haiku than any of the birds in the book.

Comments (1)