Heeding Haiku With HA: Jack Kerouac

In my first post for the haiku/tanka prompt here, I conveyed how the beat poets like Jack Kerouac played an influential role in the promotion of haiku in the West. Mr. Kerouac was a creative haijin himself. He was introduced to haiku by his friend, Gary Snuder, when Kerouac was studying Zen Buddhism.

He did not stick to 17 syllables in his haiku composition. His language always conveyed an image, crystal clear and deep in meaning. He mentioned haiku in his book in “The Dharma Bums” and said that, “a real haiku’s got to be as simple as porridge and yet make you see the real thing.” He knew of the differences in the structure of the two languages, namely Japanese and English and thus, he asserted that, “A “Western Haiku” need not concern itself with the seventeen syllables since Western languages cannot adapt themselves to the fluid syllabic Japanese. I propose that the “Western Haiku” simply say a lot in three short lines in any Western language.” The following is one of the most popular haiku by Jack Kerouac:

Missing a kick
at the icebox door
It closed anyway.

© Jack Kerouac

“Book of Haikus” is a collection of haiku of Kerouac, which was edited by Regina Weinreich, and published in 2003. Here are some of the haiku from the book:

Bluejay drinking at my
saucer of milk,
Throwing his head back


I went in the woods
to meditate –
It was too cold


All day long
wearing a hat
that wasn’t on my head.


Alone, in old
clothes, sipping wine
Beneath the moon

© Jack Kerouac

This week, I would like you to understand the composition of Jack Kerouac and write a haiku or tanka, flushing away all the notions of syllables and spiritual dialogue but still considering the image and the thought you want to convey in those three lines(five lines in case of tanka).

What to do next?

1. Publish a post with your haiku or tanka if you have a blog. If you haven’t got a blog, you can share them in the comments down below. In case you have published a post, you can submit its link in the linking widget.

2. After you have made the post, take some of your time and visit the links of other participants. This is how we learn and improvise. Return again at the end of the week if you have made your post during the weekdays because there would be new links to visit, which would help us all to make connections and develop the feeling of community and togetherness in our adventure every week. Even if you can’t take out the time to visit all the links, then visit at least the link shared before or after you and offer your feedback and develop comradeship with that person.

You can also add the following tags to your post: HeedingHaikuWithHA and MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie.

Image source– Jack Kerouac by bentjoelker

Note: If you can’t see the linking widget, please leave your links in the comments down below.


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