wet coast crow haiku

I arrived at my bus stop to head home this afternoon, and there were three crows ahead of me in the line (yes, they were literally standing one behind the other in front of the bus stop). They moved slightly before I got this picture, but I couldn’t resist trying to capture the original image in haiku.

 

 black pavement shines

 three crows at the bus stop

 waiting in the rain

 

Lately, I’ve been trying to work on the very important creative writing tenet, “show, don’t tell” (sometimes easier to know in theory than to use in practice). It is often tempting, for example, to point out how your character feels instead of letting your description and imagery paint the picture. It is hard to trust that the imagery will convey everything you want and to trust that the reader will get it. Haiku can be a good exercise for practicing this (my revelation of the day). Successful haiku uses a brevity of words and a single image to evoke the feeling of a moment. So, in the haiku above, I held back on saying what I thought about the crows or how I felt about the onset of Vancouver’s rainy season. Does it come across? I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s harder to write a little than to write a lot.

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12 Responses to “wet coast crow haiku”

  1. kc Says:

    I think this is an AWESOME exercise, Jacquie!

    ~kc

  2. Ellen Says:

    How I love those crows. Writing less, illustrating less, speaking less IS harder, every element seems to count more. I love the idea of using haiku as practice. I suppose in art, a calligraphic gesture drawing with brush and ink would be the haiku equivalent. Something I think I’ll practice, thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Crafty green Poet Says:

    that’s one of the reasons I love haiku so much. i think yours is very atmospheric.

  4. Jacqueline Pearce Says:

    Thanks everyone for the positive comments! Ellen, you’re the second person to mention gesture drawing to me recently (the first to equate it to haiku). I’m going to take it as a sign. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any drawing, and I’ve been meaning to get back into it through some uncensored (ie. without my usual inner critic) practice. Maybe I’ll start with some crow sketching…

  5. joylene Says:

    When I was a little girl, my uncle told me that a large flock of crows was called a murder of crows. I giggled.He also told me that if a murder of crows gather in your yard, it meant that a family member had passed on and was stopping by to say so long.

    My uncle was a kewl guy, but I never took anything he said seriously. Years later, my girlfriend’s mum was standing at the sink washing the breakfast dishes. She looked up in time to see a murder of crows land in their birch tree. She immediately broke down. My friend said, “Mum, what’s wrong?” My friend’s brother was in the hospital having his tonsils out. Her mother cried and said, “Your brother was here, and now he’s gone.”

    I’ll never forget that.

  6. Jacqueline Pearce Says:

    Does that mean your friend’s brother did not survive the tonsillectomy? I hope that wasn’t the case.

    Usually, when a large group of crows gathers in my yard, there is a raven or hawk nearby, which the crows are trying to chase away. Also, I quite often see large numbers of crows heading to their roost just before dark. A roost full of cawing crows always seems like such a social, fun place. I imagine the crows sitting around telling stories and jokes and recounting the day’s activities.

  7. extabesco Says:

    I have a question meant sincerely because I have more than my fair share of haiku on my blog. Isn’t the haiku form in English rendered as a three line reflective poem, 17 syllables in length composed in a three line pattern of 5-7-5? Or is the form looser than that? I’m aware that in Japan the rules are stiff and complex and in other languages they are more like guidelines, but where are the boundaries blurred?

    Again, I’m not taking issue with your abdicating the scheme (and I loved both the subject and the content of your poem), I’m just curious. Thanks.

  8. Jacqueline Pearce Says:

    Of course you’re right about the 17 syllables and 5-7-5 pattern, though taking some licence with this seems to be acceptable. I usually try to stick to 5-7-5 and can’t remember why I didn’t for this one –although I do remember thinking I should have shortened the last line to match the first, but thought “waiting” rather than “wait” shifted the sentence to apply not only to the crows but to me (?).

    I checked out some of the haiku on your blog and enjoyed them. I like the way you use haiku to reflect on both emotional and cerebral moments (I guess you could call them “senyru,” as they reflect more on human nature than on seasonal nature).

  9. Jacqueline Pearce Says:

    Sorry, I’m not sure if that answered your question “where are the boundaries blurred?” Haiku always seems personal to me, so I think choices about whether or not to stick with 5-7-5 can also be personal. With writing in general I’ve been told “it’s okay to break the rules as long as you know what the rules are and can justify breaking them.” (Sorry, my answers are not as brief as my haiku!)

  10. extabesco Says:

    Jacqueline, thank you for your encouragement and your explanation. I am far more prosaic than I would like to be and admire poets. (My boyfriend is an extremely accomplished poet and painter and I something thing the only emotion that surpasses my envy of his gift is my love for him in general.) I understand better about “breaking” the rules. I am doctrinaire by nature and reading poets like yourself and the way you use the structure to create and expand meaning rather than simply abide by it (my weakness) is helping me learn to loosen up a bit. By the way, your haiku on crows had particular significance to me.

    My name is Duncan (forgive me for waiting until now to introduce myself!) and the first literary example of my name is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “the raven himself/grows hoarse that croaks/the fatal entrance of Duncan/upon our battlements” So I have a particular love for ravens and their close cousins the crow. Thank you again for your time and gracious reply and attention.

    Duncan

  11. extabesco Says:

    sorry…that should have read “I sometimes think” instead of “I something thing”…I suffer from a condition not unlike dyslexia and often can’t recognize inaccuracies in the words I’ve used until the fourth or fifth time I look at them..

    Thanks again for your responses. I’ll enjoy visiting your blog and reading more of your work in the days to come.

  12. Jacqueline Pearce Says:

    Thanks, Duncan. I appreciate your taking the time to comment here and share something of yourself. Having your name welcomed by Shakespeare’s ravens is auspicious. By the way, for me, the name “Duncan” has always had a good feeling, as I grew up in a town called Duncan (mostly happy memories) and my family still lives there.

    Jacquie

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