A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016

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A Very Effective Haiku Author

by Brad Bennett

As haiku poets, we try to write as effectively as possible. We hope that we are painting a picture that the reader can easily recognize and appreciate. An effective haiku successfully communicates the haiku moment and place. William J. Higginson states, “Vivid, clear writing gives the reader clear images. This results in a kind of vicarious experience, in which the reader pictures what the writer’s words show, hears what they sound, feels what they touch, and so on (The Haiku Handbook, p. 115).”

In early November 2015, I was thoroughly enjoying the second issue of muttering thunder, an on-line “annual of fine haiku and art” edited by Allan Burns with art by Ron C. Moss. I have been wowed by Scott Mason’s haiku for years, so I was eager to read his contributions in muttering thunder. Of his three haiku, I had the most powerful response to the third:

epochs in the making
the box canyon’s
sudden chill

A powerful poem. And one with which I instantly resonated. My partner Barbara and I had vacationed in Arizona this past summer. We had hiked a lovely canyon trail on a cloudy day in Sedona. It was a box canyon. And during our hike, we walked through a cooler patch on our way to the canyon’s terminus. I remember it was jolting in a good way. It woke me up to the enduring beauty around me.

So I emailed Scott to rave about his haiku and tell him that it transported me to a box canyon that I had hiked recently. I didn’t tell him where the canyon was. He emailed back to say that he had written the poem while in Sedona. Now I was starting to get interested! In my reply I named the specific canyon of which his poem had reminded me, a box canyon called Boynton Canyon. Scott wrote back to confirm that he had written his poem about that very same canyon!

We all want to write a poem that the reader can see and experience fully. Scott’s poem was uncannily successful. Without even naming the specific canyon, or even a specific region of the world, he took me there. A happy coincidence? Some kind of haiku energy vortex in Sedona? Or just a very effective haiku?


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