Thursday, June 16, 2016


 the Japanese characters - from Pamela

slowly unfurling
the basho leaves
strong in containment


I gathered the WEA students round the banana plants in the Botanic Gardens ( ‘basho’ is their literary Japanese word), to help us begin writing haiku. Basho, the seventeenth century Japanese poet made the ‘haikai’ a stand-alone verse. They expressed autumn beautifully with their bunches of fruit.

The tools of a haiku poet on a ginko are a notebook and a pen. The challenge is, to convert the experience of a natural setting into something written on the blank page.

So gently falling
on the white page
a little brown seed


We hoped to find subjects that would signify the season. This was the next challenge, in a Botanic gardens which has a collection of plants from all over the world, to find something that is endemic to Sydney. The next two haiku do this by comparing one thing with another.

Summer gone
next to the gum tree
a plane tree turns to gold


nestled below the bare
peach tree––
one tri-coloured flower

Mena Johnson

The human cheer emanating from the café was alluring but we focused more on plant and animal life.

poised on one leg
the plover stalks––

Mena Johnson

So simple! So complete! The next haiku has strong imagery and leaves a lot open to the reader’s imagination.

dark throated Bromeliad
central silent pond -
Beautiful assassin


And her next one illustrates how a haiku can suggest something, that there are layers. There was an ikebana exhibition on, and Leslie treads a delicate balance between the human and the natural. 

On a bamboo pole
Ikebana shivers - 
Winter is approaching

Her last haiku looks ahead to the season of new life.

Green swords
Pierce the earth
Promise of spring

Leslie Frost


These students wrote some very affecting haikus when the course was over.

In a foreign place,
A banana leaf plate,
Adobo stew – I’m home.

Some time in the quiet winter’s night
Your heart just stopped.
My friend is gone.

Pamela Huggins

Petals and dreams
Blooms nodding in the wind
caressing my memories

Eia Stanich


And this last one ( can’t we all relate?) is a senryu rather than a haiku – it focuses squarely on the human.

My computer does
strange and mysterious things -
quiet despair


My next haiku course at the WEA runs over 2 Saturdays, the 22nd and 29th October. Details here: