National Haiku Writing Month (#NaHaiWriMo) and the 5-7-5 Controversy

February is National Haiku Writing Month, a juxtaposition of the shortest month of the year and the shortest form of poetry. The hashtag is #NaHaiWriMo, to make the whole thing even shorter. The idea is to write and post a haiku every day in February.

Haiku is a favorite  pastime of mine (see the archives) and I applaud the effort to get more folks to create and appreciate it. I’m going to join the one-haiku-per-day movement for the rest of February, relying in part on a cache of unpublished little unrhymed verses I’ve written and saved, all in the 5-7-5 syllabic structure.

no205-7-5But according to the NaHaiWriMo site, 5-7-5 (syllables, that is) is an urban myth, a somewhat contemptible English interpretation of the traditional Japanese structure for haiku. The late Japanese-American poet Keiko Imaoka explains in the essay, Forms in English, that the more appropriate number of syllables in English (if one was counting, which one should not), would actually be about 11. About. To drive this point home, the NaHaiWriMo site has adopted the “anything but 5-7-5” image shown on the left.  It’s a mantra to remind us haiku writers, in their words:

not to get a case of mumpsimus, or being stuck in your ways despite evidence to the contrary. With English-language haiku, you have no need to persist in any adherence to the incorrect idea or belief in 5-7-5 syllables.”

haikuIn addition to being edifying and enlightening, I find this all rather stuffy and amusing. Why should it bother anyone if I choose a 5-7-5 structure for my little “Texas gal with the bigger-than-she-expected life” haiku pieces? Like a woman who wears an inappropriate dress to a party but feels like a million bucks in it, I think I’ll just write haiku my way, even if it means I have a case of “mumpsimus”. It may be a stretch, but I think it is possible that an English-language haiku could be a decent poem, even if it adheres to that back-water 5-7-5 syllabic form Americans adopted in the 50s when haiku became popular.

Or maybe I’ll just throw caution to the wind and mix up my syllabic count. A haiku a day for the rest of the month – anything could happen!

the rule-makers rant:
“5-7-5 – it just can’t
be a true haiku”

And yes, I know, the piece above does not fit the thematic form of any kind of haiku. So be it!

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

 

St. Francis Prayer of Peace for a World That Needs It

Hello world, friends, family and neighbors: I wish you peace, love, happiness, serenity, interesting hobbies, low blood pressure and job security.

I’m not Catholic but I have a spiritual crush on St. Francis – how can you not love the patron saint of animals???!!! I ran across the St. Francis peace prayer today, and it is too beautiful not to share.

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By Anonymous – da web, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6382528

I hope to one day embody even a small portion of this kind of goodness, optimism, acceptance and love.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Isn’t that lovely? Although it turns out that St. Francis didn’t write this beautiful supplication…the first record of it is in the early 1900s, and the syntax doesn’t match the dialect from the 1200s when Friar Francis lived (see this article). But the prayer was thematically accurate, according to Wikipedia: “As a friar later summarized the relationship between the prayer and St. Francis: ‘One can safely say that although he is not the author, it resembles him and would not have displeased him.'”

And hey, does it matter who wrote it if it is meaningful? And it is meaningful.

Because of my crush, the Grill-Meister gave me a St. Francis bird feeder some years ago, and we keep it full.

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I love love love love love watching the birds, especially the cardinals, enjoy the feeder; it is an investment in peace, love, happiness, serenity and low blood pressure!

For my birthday in 2014, the Grill-Meister commissioned a beautiful work of art representing Glover Gardens in which our St. Francis and my beloved cardinals are featured – see below.

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Original art created by Shannon O’Donnell

The artist said, in her Facebook post of the painting:

This piece was commissioned by Tom for his wife, Kim. He wanted a painting that brought together all of the special pieces they have in their yard — a statue/bird feeder of St. Francis, the wrought iron heart/cross with a butterfly, Kim’s favorite flowers (blue irises), her favorite birds (cardinals), their saguaro cross on the tree with the turquoise center, the “Blessings” sign hanging from the branch, and their bird house (tucked in the trees). I wanted St. Francis to almost “come alive” — like a haven for all the little animals. And as I thought about St. Francis and the birdseed, all I could think of was that it wouldn’t be complete without a little squirrel!!!

Isn’t that wonderful / peaceful / serene? Find the artist here: Paintings by Shannon Gurley O’Donnell. She rocks, and exemplifies the St. Francis frame of mind. You should check her out!

Life is good.

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

 

“Give me a word and I will write a poem starting with that word…”

The author of the A Passers By blog says, “Give me a word and I will write a poem starting with that word.”  So I did! My favorite word – and idea – is serendipity.

A poem was created in a very rapid turnaround, and it surprised me! As I said in the comments:

Thank you so much – you made me smile, and laugh out loud, and a little uncomfortable, too. It takes a good poem to do that!”

I had expected a certain kind of poem, and got quite another, reminding me of the value of collaboration and improvisation – when a person builds on an idea from another, the result is almost always unexpected.

Find the poem here: Serendipity.

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Image from the A Passers By blog

 

Christmas Wishes from E. B. White – The New Yorker Radio Hour – WNYC

This heartfelt, ironic, wry and ultimately sweet poem is worth 3 minutes of your time.  Click on the link below to hear it read aloud.

Merry Christmas.

E. B. White sends Christmas greetings to uncertified accountants, old men asleep in libraries, and people who think they are in love but aren’t sure.

Source: Christmas Wishes from E. B. White – The New Yorker Radio Hour – WNYC

Dad is gone…and still our hearts are full

the chair by the fire is empty
Dad won’t be here to read Luke 2
we feel his loss deeply
and still our hearts are full

the stocking for Dad is empty
he won’t be bringing the shrimp dip
everything’s different without him
and still our hearts are full

they’re full because God loves us
they’re full because He lived
they’re full because Dad’s healed now
they’re full because Christmas is

Dad is gone…and still our hearts are full

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Manger scene ornament hand-painted by my aunt
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Last year’s stockings, the last outing for Dad’s

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens

 

 

beth and bella and bree and brielle (an amazing poem by a very wise 6th grader)

I just read an awesome poem by a friend and former colleague’s daughter, published in the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) Navigator online blog.  Source: beth and bella and bree and brielle.

beth and bella and bree and brielle

went down to the park (to relax one day)

and beth found a firefly that flew to the sky; forward to tomorrow and back again to yesterday that made her run as fast as the wind, and

bella ate some wonderful fruit that made her feel like she could float;

and bree laid down in the soft, summer grass and watched the leaves sway and dance: and

brielle climbed a tree that was as tall as forever and its view stretched out to the green studded meadows and back to her home.

Whatever we think, whatever we were taught to believe will keep on changing with the world’s scenery.

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Wow! This beautiful, gentle, tranquil and philosophical poem is rich with imagery, illustrative of the concept and value of mindfulness, and fills me with hope. Are you with me?

Click here to read the poem online and navigate to other contributions.

Copyright belongs to Brielle Burns, a 6th grader from Texas

Water, Wind and Land: Metaphors for a Geophysicist (remembrance for Grandpa on his 98th birthday)

My grandfather was an amazing man.  A geophysicist, he was quiet, brilliant, circumspect, pragmatic, a lifelong learner in the fields of math and science and leader in oil exploration – and yet he was so faithfully loving and supportive of a creative like me, his oldest grandchild and just about his polar opposite in terms of interests and passions.

51t9ijqmntl-_sx314_bo1204203200_Grandpa was strong and silent like so many men of his age who served in WWII and saw things they could never describe and didn’t care to remember.  Tom Brokaw called them The Greatest Generation in his influential book of the same name; I just call myself lucky that this first lieutenant in the Air Force fell in love with my grandmother, a divorcé with a tiny daughter, and married her in 1942.

Ruth and Nancy 1941That tiny daughter was my Mom, and this gentle, studious man adopted her as his own, treating her the same as the other children he and Grandma went on to have. I didn’t know Grandpa wasn’t my Mom’s biological father / my biological grandfather for years, and when I found out, it didn’t matter in the least. We were his, and he was ours.

(photos with captions are excerpts from a slide show created by my Dad for my grandmother’s 90th birthday)

Tom Ruth Nancy Steven
Grandpa Grandma Nancy Lucy

A true explorer, Grandpa’s career in oil exploration took him all over the world; he was eventually VP of Geophysics for Superior Oil (now ExxonMobil).  His remarkable career was followed by adventures on the sea, as his retirement began with a 42-foot sailboat and trips that sometimes included lucky grandchildren like my brother and me.

The Sea Urchin

Steve on Sea Urchin
My brother on my grandparents’ sailboat, in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, in the mid-70s; this was an epic 7-day trip I will always remember

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The rigors of sailing gave way to land-based adventures as my grandparents mounted an RV in their 70s and traveled throughout the country, visiting national parks and family, arriving just in time for birthdays and births (including my son’s). Their retirement together was rich in experiences fueled by water, wind and land – and love of family.

Tom Ruth RV

Today would have been Grandpa’s 98th birthday. To honor and remember him, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for his funeral in 2002.

Water, Wind and Land: Metaphors for a Geophysicist (for Grandpa)

 

we are all archeologists now

sifting through our memories of you

sorting the bits and pieces we find

to put them back together

in what will become our lasting “mind pictures” of you

sometimes sifting and sorting alone

sometimes together with your other loves ones

turning our memory fragments this way and that

to see where they fit

and make a clearer picture

all of my finds in this archeological dig of grief

are geo-metaphors for a geophysicist:

~ water, wind and land ~

 

for you were not a man of words

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

 

my dig finds full sails and stormy skies

radars and Lorans

dolphin fish and egrets’ cries

a wood-hulled boat, a lake cabin, a becalming

your thoughtful brown eyes

your “I love you’s” were spoken in geo-metaphor:

~ water, wind and land ~

“help me steer the boat, Kimmie”

“Stevie, let me show you how to tie a slip knot”

“Of course girls can shoot skeet!”

 

for you were not a man of words

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

 

I dig deeper, contemplative, archeologist-turned sociologist

looking for meaning

and I find you are an underground river

strong, constant, clear and sure

your life’s waters carried bloodlines and love-lines

equally strong

lifelines guiding through shifting sands

~ water, wind and land ~

 

my finds are home-baked bread

and spectacular jams

a well-stocked RV

crossing ferries and dams

Grandma’s letters with your P.S:

“Math and science, math and science!”

recognized clearly – then and now –

as geo-metaphor love, all your best

~ water, wind and land ~

 

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

~ water, wind and land ~

 

we dig and sort

together and apart

reconstructing geo-you

in the museums of our hearts

~ water, wind and land ~

 

 

love, kimmie

july 2002


Grandpa and me at my first wedding, way back in the 80s. Those pearls were borrowed from my grandmother, one of the many, many gifts he brought her from his world travels.  His finds, which included on the one end spears and art from Nigeria and on the other end, jewelry like these pearls and a gorgeous raw emerald, have been given to all of my cousins. I got the pearls.

Grandpa and Kim 1984

In his later years, Grandpa channeled his natural curiosity and scientific attention to detail into cooking, mostly bread-baking and jam-making.  He made the same recipes again and again, meticulously documenting small differences until he had them perfected.  Christmas stocking gifts in those years were highly coveted jars of his homemade jellies.  I treasure the memory of our long talks about cooking from those days. I also inherited some of his knives and big pots, which I consider to be heirlooms on par with the pearls.

Rest in peace, dear man, and bless you for teaching us about water, wind and land – and love.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook