Tag Archives: haiku

Car Crash Haiku

Damaged bumpers from car accident

As we were about to read Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” for the poem of the day, I was introducing my students to a poetic formal structure I was pretty sure none of them had ever heard of, the villanelle. To begin with, I explained to them that a formal structure was one in which the poet was following a set of rules. I asked them if they knew of any formal poetic structures, and as it turns out, most of them were familiar with these two giants: the sonnet and the haiku. We unpacked what they could remember about the rules of a sonnet, and then the haiku. Many of them recited: five, seven, five. Okay, a haiku is a three line poem in which the first line is five syllables long, the second line is seven syllables long, and the third line five syllables long. I do not consider myself a haiku scholar by any stretch, but I ventured to guess out loud for the edification of my charges that there might be other “rules” at work in a haiku, especially in its most traditional form. I speculated that many haiku are meditative in tone and usually incorporate some nature imagery. And then I told them that they were unlikely, for example, to find very many car crash haiku. After one student suggested that Car Crash Haiku might be a great name for a band, I laughed out loud, agreed, came pretty close right then and there to walking out of the room to form such a band, and then, having embraced the idea fully, I suggested a student could actually do a series of car crash haiku, thought better of it, and claimed the idea for my own–which, you know, is kind of a cheat–because any individual in that room could go out into the world with their own series of car crash haiku and there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it. So, this little paragraph is just to say that somebody might be generating some number of car crash haiku in the near future. It could become an entirely new haiku school. I just wanted people to know how it started. You’re welcome.

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Diary of an English Teacher in His Penultimate Year, Redux: Teacher Appreciation and Spring Break Randomness

First of all, here’s a thing a student of mine wrote in response to the question: what does e. e. cummings say in his poetry about being and unbeing?

When e.e cummings talks about being and unbeing the message that he’s pretraying [sic] is that to be [is] not to be and not to be is to be[,] is the perspective that living is to dying as walking is to running.

This student is either on to something way over my head or he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Either way, I found it a thrill to read out loud. I love the (I think) unintentional nod to Hamlet here, and I am amused by the idea that Hamlet was speaking, not so much about whether to live, but rather, as cummings is doing, speaking about HOW.

Then, teacher appreciation week. It is supposed to happen in May, but our administrative team, in their wisdom (seriously), made it happen during the last week in March, during classified staff appreciation week, in order to ensure that the two appreciation weeks happened simultaneously so that one appreciation week was not overshadowed by the one that follows, to make sure that the certified staff and the classified staff received the same level of love and attention. We all got rocks decorated and painted to look like us, mostly. Mine was good; the hair was perfect. We got a breakfast on Wednesday. We got fancy hand sanitizers on Thursday. We got t-shirts and free coffee on Friday and healthy snacks all day long. And then we got (the Pièce de résistance) Spring Break. Overall, one of the best appreciation weeks of my career. Outside of the rock from the leadership kids, however, students on the whole still seem oblivious to appreciation weeks.

Spring break. On this first day I am home alone. Thinking about a beach trip with the family. Planning to attend the Association of Writers and Writers Programs (AWP) Annual Conference, this year hosted in my own lovely city, where I’ll learn some stuff, see some famous people, schmooze a little by talking to folks about possible places to publish a book, and meet a bunch of friends from my MFA program. I’m writing this little blog entry. And I am gearing up internally for National Poetry Writing Month, when I will, I think for the fifth or sixth year in a row, write a poem a day for a month and post each one of those little nuggets right here on the blog. So I hope you’ll come visit.

I’m trying to finish a review for the new book by David Shields. It’s a difficult one to write, not because I am anything shy of enthusiastic for the work, but because the subject matter is difficult to write or speak about publicly. For now I’ll just let loose the title and you’ll immediately see what I mean: The Trouble With Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power. Initially, I was just hoping to have a small thing to post in the review sections of amazon or Goodreads, but I’m also toying with the idea of writing book reviews here on the old bloggy blog, so it may turn out to be a little more than a blurb, and Shields’ book would be a good, if not risky place to start. Let me know if you have thoughts.

Finally, I posted a haiku on Facebook yesterday, but not a single one of its 30 readers seemed to recognize the form, I think because they were somewhat distracted by the irony of the post, that my dog destroyed the glasses manufactured by a company that donates its profits to dogs, and by the accompanying photos. I’ll leave you here with the picture, followed by the poem, a little warm-up for April:

 

My dog, she ate my
glasses. So I got a new  
pair from Fetch Eyewear.
Postscript: Fetch Eyewear is a local outlet for glasses that donates 100% of its profits to animal welfare. Check ’em out.

 

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#237: Off Air (a Haiku Followed by Two Lengthy Postscripts)

I will go one day
without Facebook, internet
news. See what happens.

radio-silence-L-M8qvlZ

Postscript: I wrote this poem several days ago, thinking I would post it that evening and begin the next morning as a single day without Facebook and internet news. That did not happen. I’ve been sitting on this one and I find that especially worrisome. Can I do it? I am beginning to have doubts. I made up all kinds of explanations: it would be good, because it’s nice to see the holiday posts of my friends, to wait until after Christmas. Maybe it would be even better to wait until January the first, you know, as part of a New Year’s Resolution. And then the pull of the train wreck that is Trump’s transition into the presidency keeps tugging. I’m still grieving. I keep going back to the news with a delusional wish that today’s controversy will be the one that will finally bar him from becoming our new commander in chief. And if today is the day I abstain and this glorious news breaks into the webnets, I will have missed it. But the fact of the matter is that I’m a little bored with so much free time this holiday break, and the things I really should be doing, making music, reading and writing, are too hard, take too much energy and self-discipline. How crazy, sad, and scary is that? –not to have the gumption to do the things I really want to be doing? So, there are the bargains that I make with myself about the “best” time to begin, and then there’s the reality. Q: Why don’t you stop doing that thing you’d like to stop doing? A: Because I don’t want to. I’d like to but I don’t want to.

Postscript to the postscript: Just as I was reflecting on how difficult it is to stay away from social media, I took a break from the postscript above to check Facebook. Here I found almost immediately why I am grateful for social media and simultaneously why it’s crucial that I take a break from it. I learned that a writer friend of mine, Carlen Arnett, had suddenly passed. She lived clear across the country and if I was lucky I saw her once a year at the annual Warren Wilson MFA Alumni Conference. I saw her last two summers ago. It’s not that without Facebook I would not have learned of her passing, but the experience would have been different, less visceral, less visual, less social–our community of writer friends immediately began an outpouring of grief with pictures and poems and memories. So I am grateful to have learned of it here and to have witnessed with our mutual friends this immediate memorial for such a kind, loving, generous soul. And yes, I need a break from social media, if for no other reason right now, than to spend the next day without distraction to pay tribute to my dear friend, reflecting on the gift of knowing her, trying to be present and loving for my own family and friends–as she would have been, playing some music, reading something brilliant, trying to write something good. For Carlen.

Tomorrow will be a day without social media and internet news. It’s a tiny, baby step, only one day off the air. Somehow, though, I do not predict it will be easy. I may post a blog entry tomorrow with reports of my success (or failure).

 

 

 

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