May 02

Haiku 850

Posted: under Alison's Haiku, Daily Haiku.
Tags: , , , May 2nd, 2011

by Alison

by Alison

perhaps that black bird

at the top of the pine tree

has haiku to share

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Apr 30

Haiku 848

Posted: under Alison's Haiku, Daily Haiku.
Tags: , , , April 30th, 2011

by Alison

by Alison

sunshine on my skin –

I forget which day is mine

to post a haiku

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May 20

Haiku 505

Posted: under Daily Haiku, Kelly's Haiku.
Tags: , , , , , May 20th, 2010

by Kelly

by Kelly

haiku has become

my way of life — I notice

subtle loveliness

This haiku was inspired by my reading of The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

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May 20

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Posted: under Reviews.
Tags: , , , , May 20th, 2010

by Kelly

by Kelly

I wasn’t expecting haiku when I sat down to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a novel by Muriel Barbery.

I was, though, expecting a captivating read. Two acquaintances — from two different circles — had recommended the title to me. Based on their words, I picked up the book months ago, but it wasn’t until just recently that I got around to reading it. As promised, it was an original, thoughtful read that totally hooked me. That haiku played a part in the plot was a wholly unexpected bonus.

So here’s a basic run down of the characters and conflict. Renee is, by her own admission, cantankerous, short, ugly and plump. She is the concierge at a high-priced, highfalutin, Paris apartment building. The tennants are rather dismissive. Most pay her little mind, which is exactly how she likes it. Renee is a closet intellectual. She believes in Anna Karenina, still life paintings, philosophy and the depth of a certain Japanese film maker. She’d rather chill with her cat and pursue her own interests than deal with the capricious demands of her tennants.

Paloma is a 12 year-old girl whose family lives in Renee’s building. Paloma is not a fan of her family. She dislikes her father, her mother, her cats, and she especially dislikes her older sister. As Paloma sees it, her family members are only concerned with their own feelings and status. They don’t recognize the abundant beauty in this world. For this reason, she has decided to teach them a lesson by killing herself. Paloma has decided that she will do the deed when she turns 13.

Until then, Paloma has decided to compile all of her most profound thoughts in a journal. Because she is an avid reader of Japanese comic books, studies Japanese at school, and in interested in Japanese culture, she has decided that each of her journal entries should contain either a haiku (which she defines as 3 short lines) or a tanka (which she defines as 5 short lines).

Of all Paloma’s haiku and tanka, this one was my favorite:

Grammar

A stratum of consciousness

Leading to beauty

Because I’m a loud and proud grammar nut, this haiku spoke to me. How true! And how succinctly put! I even went so far as to write it on a post it and stick it above my desk.

But back to the story. What’s going to happen to this 12 year-old girl dreaming of suicide? And what about the secretive, intellectual concierge? Well, someone new moves into their apartment building — a wealthy Japanese man. Given their individual interests in Japanese culture, both Renee and Paloma are drawn to him. And he, in turn, is drawn to them. Will his friendship offer both women a way out of their current isolation? Will they discover they’ve been sharing a roof with a soul mate all along?

One of the things that pulled me through this book was that its characters continually observed and ruminated on tiny beauties — like grammar. Or a cup of hot tea. Or still life paintings. Or camellias. All this attention lavished upon the daily prettiness that we so often dismiss struck me as very haiku. Which, besides the actual haiku included in the book, is why I so wanted to write a review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog here on Haiku By Two.

Now that Haiku By Two is well in to its second year, I catch myself lingering over tulips or staring at frost on a window. I discover myself discovering the tiny beauty all around me and it makes me happy. It makes me feel present and appreciative.

And I sensed, while reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, that its characters –and its author — felt this way too.


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