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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Literary Devices – rhyme & Introduction to Family Portraits

Literary Devices with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe & Introduction to Family Portraits

Thank you Guest Editor Alex Fyffe for an interesting & educational exploration of literary devices over the past two months, & thanks to our new Guest Editor John S Green for stepping up for the next few weeks… welcome!

Introduction to Family Portraits with Guest Editor John S Green

For the month of September, a total of five weeks, we will write haiku in response to photographs of human faces – portraits of sorts. These will all be images of my family – hence the title, Family Portraits. This could be termed a photo-haiga exercise – composing a haiku in reaction to a picture.

Often, the instinct is to write a description of the image. However, this is rarely satisfying. From my experience, a poem that connects in a subtle manner is more rewarding. For some excellent examples, please take a look at The Haiku Foundation’s Haiga Galleries.

Many haiga do not mention the scene at all, but simply allude to it via the haiku. The image and the words complement each other. Let’s work on that over the next five weeks. I look forward to your poems.

next week’s theme: Family Portraits – Portrait One

While visiting our first grandchild, my wife’s mother (baby’s great grandmother) held the 2 ½-week-old child for the first time, when he suddenly began to cry. Please write one or two haiku in response to this photograph. Be sure to read the introduction to the theme about photo-haiga above.

The deadline is midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Saturday September 3, 2022.

Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry. (The Submit button will not be available until the Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in.) With your poem, please include any special formatting requirements & your name & residence as you would like it to appear in the column. A few haiku will be selected for commentary each week. Please note that by submitting, you agree that your work may appear in the column – neither acknowledgment nor acceptance emails will be sent. All communication about the poems that are posted in the column will be added as blog comments.

below is Alex’s commentary for rhyme:

Even in haiku, there are times when you simply have to rhyme. And maybe that’s okay if it isn’t every day. Allowing ourselves the room to explore is necessary to find the door that leads to where we want to be – just come this way and see!

Here are some of my favorite examples of haiku that use end rhyme:

counting
the yeas
the nays

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa

Jacobson’s works partly because of its extreme brevity – it is a tightly written poem that can be read in two ways: as a list (counting the yeas [and] the nays), or as a comment on how one side keeps track of the other side’s position (counting the yeas: the nays), counting to see if they are outnumbered.

summer breeze
the gentle rhyme
of a wind chime

Teji Sethi
India

 

wandering
moth’s shadow
on the window

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

Sethi’s poem incorporates rhyme as part of its meaning. By commenting on the musicality of the wind chimes, the rhyme itself works to echo that effect. Suzuki lines up shadow and window effectively so that the words on the page look like reflected images of each other, a moth and its shadow, one on top of the other.

night drive catching snippets of crickets

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, California

This one is technically internal rhyme, but if the poem were broken into three lines, the natural breaks would put snippets at the end of line two and crickets at the end of line three, giving it the same effect as end rhyme, and it works because, like Sethi’s haiku, it is about sound, and it captures that sound and rhythm very well.

a lone loon
serenading
the moon

Dan Campbell
Virginia, USA

 

widow’s moon
the piercing call
of a night loon

Meera Rehm
UK

These two struck me for their similarity in the use of moon and loon, but each stands on its own as a great example of how perfect end rhymes in lines one and three can be effective even in haiku. Once again, the poems are centered on sound, and the sound of the poems themselves captures that elegantly.

Here are a few favorites that use internal rhyme:

hardly old enough
to shoulder a casket
Ukrainian son

Seretta Martin
USA

Martin’s poem is one of the subtlest uses of rhyme, connecting “old” with the first half of “shoulder,” each placed in the middle of two different lines, allowing the reader the pleasure of the repeated sound without any interruption to the poet’s strong imagery. The boy’s shoulders are forced to bear the weight of the older generation, prematurely forcing him to age in turn.

tracing the river
through the meadow
window seat

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan

 

magnolia petals
settle in her hair—
winter moth

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

Mughis’s enjambment of “meadow / window” seems to me a great way to incorporate rhyme into haiku. The words are, in a sense, side by side, but because the pause comes after the phrase ending with “meadow,” and the fragment starts with “window,” the poem reads fluidly from start to finish. It sounds great. Evershed does something similar with enjambment – “petals / settle” –, but here the words are both part of the phrase. The iambic rhythm keeps the language flowing, though, making the rhyme musical and not at all jarring to the ear.

heavy rain at last…
we sleep beneath
the sheets tonight

Tony Williams
Scotland, UK

Williams’s phrase also employs iambic meter to keep the various slant rhymes from overwhelming the poem (“we sleep beneath / the sheets tonight”). It is lulling and comforting, like listening to a much longed-for rainfall.

And finally:

pottery gallery—
exploring wabi-sabi
in a wasabi bowl

Keiko Izawa
Japan

Izawa’s poem uses a little bit of everything, starting out with a same-line internal rhyme (“pottery gallery”), heading into a slanted end rhyme (“gallery” and “wabi-sabi”), and finishing with an internal rhyme (“wabi-sabi” and “wasabi”). It is a fun poem to read, and the language ties everything together in a satisfying way.

And here are some other favorite selections:

stormy hues
after the thunder
a fresh bruise forms

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

lunch hour
an art of turmeric and flour
on mom’s apron

Nitu Yumnam
India

 

minding her own business autumn mist

marilyn ashbaugh
Edwardsburg, Michigan

 

winter chill
even the long-lived spider
shriveled on the sill

Ruth Holzer
Herndon, Virginia

 

spring physical
the warmth within
a urine sample

James Gaskin
Fukushima, Japan

 

snail trail nothing left to say

John Pappas
USA

 

dusk–
the lingering scent of musk
in the sheets

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio

 

of this world
or the one to come –
white plum blossoms

Deborah Bennett
Carbondale, Illinois

& here are the rest of the selections:

dreary path
i walk in the warmth
of her memory

Vishnu Kapoor
Chennai, India

 

The sky is grey,
an old duvet to
shiver under.

Caroline Ridley-Duff
UK

 

suddenly caught
by this love song
mourning dove

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

in spring
male pigeons
do their puffed-out-chest thing

Ann Rawson
Scotland, UK

 

all that birdsong
in Putin’s ear
he doesn’t hear

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Washington

 

one chance
at chivalry—
bee allergy

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

strong wind
blows behind the windows
of my house

Vincenzo Adamo
Italy

 

dancing in the rain –
old age refuses to restrain
the inner child

Paul Callus
Malta

 

Father Goose shoos off
his living children. Will choose
his swim, his sky blues

Sarah Davies
Bedford, UK

 

monsoon wind
wind blown petals
settle in wrinkles

Padmasiri Jayathilaka
Sri Lanka

 

what the puppy does–
chew marks all over
my leather shoes

Jackie Chou
USA

 

monsoon clouds
the moon appears
and disappears

Ravi Kiran
India

 

my pyro phase a blaze of glory

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois

 

morning hint a mint on my pillow

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, Maryland

 

raking the leaves
feeling one more falling
on his back

Herb Tate
UK

 

meteorites and
carcasses hidden in
summer grass

Masayuki Sato
Kashihara, Nara, Japan

 

silence hung
like mockingbirds
afraid to sing

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, California

 

lo mein
for lunch—a prayer
for rain

Matt Robison
Ohio, USA

 

forest fire
a church spire breaks
the water’s surface

Alan Peat
Biddulph, UK

 

cutting bread
suddenly afraid
of what’s ahead

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand

 

fishin’ trip—
bear gits a glimmer
o’ dinner

Stephen J. DeGuire
Los Angeles, California

 

light falls
on the crest of a wave
whiter than gulls

Adrian Bouter
The Netherlands

 

morning gecko
already a group forms
around tossed crumbs

Pris Campbell
USA

 

around a stone bell,
under moonlit spell, stars
dance, daisies

Patricia Furstenberg
South Africa

 

in the eye
of the brown barbet
a mayfly

Neena Singh
India

 

autumn breeze
my bucket list frees
wish after wish

Daya Bhat
India

 

twittering birds
but grandma muttering
to herself

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

dirt road
cars trundle to
the cows’ ramble

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India

 

a shallow bay
the little fish tickle
bare feet

Dejan Ivanovic
Lazarevac, Serbia

 

slap
in my lap
autumn leaf

andrew shimield
UK

 

sudden dewbow
on the blooming meadow…
nostalgia

Tsanka Shishkova
Bulgaria

 

my spine fused
the gift bonsai left
unrefined

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina

 

a regret –
on a light street
a night shadow

rimorso –
su una strada luminosa
un’ombra notturna

Maria Cezza
Italy

 

a silent splash
and this roaring breeze wash
my stagnant heart

Dean Okamura
Torrance, California

 

shared sour dough starter friendships grow

Susan Farner
USA

 

gran’s hand
trembles in mine
burying gramps

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

wheelchair-bound
the drift of smiles
as sunbeams shift

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa, NZ

 

pruning . . .
a little branch
goes on blooming

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania, Italy

 

whistling thrush—
with a final brush stroke
the painting ends

Rupa Anand
New Delhi, India

 

farm well-
water striders criss-cross
over the moon

Ram Chandran
India

 

all alone …
an aimless one
in the crowd

Natalia Kuznetsova
Russia

 

room sweep
disturbing an ant
in deep sleep

Chen Xiaoou
Kunming, China

 

rain pattering
on the skylight
tonight a rhapsody

Luciana Moretto
Treviso, Italy

 

nine months
within her then
without her now

Vandana Parashar
India

 

an old brick —
two chiffchaffs frolic
after the rain

Wendy Gent
Bristol, UK

 

carpet grass…
my footsteps
swept under

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

clear sky
a dragonfly perching
on my thigh

Daniela Misso
Italy

 

cotton candy –
the Sunday clothes
of my daddy

Mircea Moldovan
Romania

 

piano lento
slow blooms of light
grow in blue nightfall

Dustin Hackfeld
Ingleside, Texas

 

lazy afternoon
lace curtains dawdle
in the whirr of a fan

Vidya Shankar
India

 

little deaths
from awake
to a wake

John Hawkhead
UK

 

night owl
prowling in the dark
locked-out cat

Hla Yin Mon
Yangon, Myanmar

 

alone time likes and dislikes time alone

Jianqing Zheng
Mississippi, USA

 

travelling farrier
two new blue words
forged from a burn

simonj
UK

 

cooing cuckoo
flowers bloom
along the lagoon

Stoianka Boianova
Bulgaria

 

cicada song
a cadence along the edge
of sundown

Sue Courtney
Ōrewa, Aotearoa New Zealand

 

soft hour
through the asphalt crack
a flower makes its way

Marianne Sahlin
Sweden

 

in tune
with the moonlight
my old turntable

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York

 

winding breeze…
leaves finding their way
onto the train

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, Texas

 

down under …
a satin bowerbird dances
to the tune of blue

Carole Harrison
Australia

 

first cast
he catches
my eye

Sarah Metzler
USA

 

choosing
the looser option
muscle tension

Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
Tucson, Arizona

 

high tea
the wasp and I
share clotted cream

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, California

 

wingbeats …
sycamore seeds spinning
in the breeze

Lori Kiefer
London, UK

 

making light
of my nightmares
morning glory

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

razzle-dazzle
fall colors wield
their powers

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio

 

staghorn fern—
the multitasking chores
of the nurse intern

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India

 

thunder fades …
wet birds feasting
at the feeders

Al W Gallia
Louisiana, USA

 

driftwood swan
all she ever wanted
was a wand

Kath Abela Wilson
USA

 

soft hands
a strawberry lands
softly in straw

Mark Gilbert
UK

 

urban sketching
white doves
perched on the church cross

Anthony Rabang
Manila, Philippines

 

winter chill
the cold silence
still between us

Lafcadio
USA

 

junk drawer
life’s debris
haunting me

Sharon Martina
Warrenville, Illinois

 

campaign season
the water faucet
runs out of reasons

ron scully
Burien, Washington

 

a bomb
in the womb
of my word

Pippa Phillips
Kansas City, Missouri

 

twilight
kind of blue
through the moon roof

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

it still lingers
on my fingers
your wild fennel

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles, California

 

dusty cloud –
a herd of hooves
passes along the country road

Tomislav Maretić
Croatia

 

winter rain
I finally come to terms
with my pain

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

selfie
what an ocean
behind me

Zelyko Funda
Hrvatska

 

turmeric stains…
eau de curry
on mum’s sari

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

 

sauntering through the woods
I discover
my childhood

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

death of a stray
the stain of a curl
on the pathway

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

singing a line
from summer of ’69
college reunion

Daipayan Nair
Silchar, India

 

nothin’ but net
the sweat it takes
to lose

Jonathan Roman
Yonkers, New York

 

thoughts
mired in muck
geoduck closes up

petro c. k.
Seattle, Washington

 

the morning
of her mourning
—heart-breaking moon

A.J. Anwar
Jakarta, Indonesia

 

Guest Editor Alex Fyffe teaches high school English in the Houston area. Although he has been writing haiku off and on for a decade, he only started submitting his work during the Global Event known as 2020. Since then his haiku and senryu have been published in various journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, and the Asahi Haikuist Network. Alex’s first glimpse of haiku was in a collection of writings by Jack Kerouac, and he found the work of Issa while studying abroad in Japan, but he didn’t fall in love with the haiku until he discovered the free-form work of Santoka Taneda. Currently, Alex uses haiku in the classroom to ease students into poetry and build their confidence as readers and writers. Alex also posts haiku on Twitter @AsurasHaiku.

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Managing Editor Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada, and her debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019). Find her at: kjmunro1560.wordpress.com.

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.

Please note that all poems & images appearing in Haiku Dialogue may not be used elsewhere without express permission – copyright is retained by the creators. Please see our Copyright Policies.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Apologies for joining in late. It was an enriching experience working out haiku poems based on your interesting prompts, Alex! Thanks for giving my poems a space every week! Such good poems are featured every week. So much to learn!

  2. out of the classroom into the playground’s field ….. ready for the next shot…..welcome john s. green…

  3. Thanks, dear Alex for the literary devices prompts, it was a great learning experience reading all the poems and your commentary. Honoured to have my ku included every week. Grateful to you. Hope you will come back in the future to challenge us again! Best wishes!
    Welcome, John.

  4. While working on a blog post about this week’s column, I re-read Alex’s opening comment. It was then that I noticed all the rhymes he included. Did anyone else notice this? I may have missed a few, but in no particular order: haiku/you; time/rhyme; okay/day; explore/door; and be/see. Clever, Alex! Thanks for this series of literary devices; it has been educational. Best of luck with this year’s classes.

  5. Thrilled and honoured to see my haiku included in this amazing column. Many thanks to Alex, Kathy and Lori for their efforts, time, and dedication. This series was indeed informative, enlightening, challenging(for a beginner like me) and interesting. And I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this. I truly enjoyed reading everyone’s poem, and I have learnt a lot from this amazing series of literary devices. I wish this series had continued and Alex had stayed longer… So sorry to see you going, Alex. Hope to see you again soon, Professor. May God bless you 🙂

    My best wishes to the whole team and congratulations to all the poets.

  6. Thank-you Alex for selecting my haiku to be included in your last column. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts each week and learning from them. Thank-you also to Kathy and Lori for all they do. Congrats to all the poets. Welcome John.

  7. Many thanks to Alex for encouraging us to explore these tools and apply them to haiku, and for including my effort. Rhyming especially lets us think about sounds, rhythms and individual words. I especially loved the sight rhyme in Pippa Phillips’:
    .
    a bomb
    in the womb
    of my word
    .
    and Sharon Martina’s, with its rhyme surprising in a different way (see below):
    .
    junk drawer
    life’s debris
    haunting me
    .
    If anyone knows what the opposite of a sight rhyme is I’d be interested. This is where visually two words shouldn’t rhyme but because of eccentric pronunciation they actually do. I’ve searched the totality of human knowledge (I googled it) and I couldn’t find the word, although I’m sure it exists.

    1. I suppose we could coin it a “blind rhyme”? It’s probably something much more boring, though, like a “sound rhyme,” or something (although that seems highly redundant in most cases…).

  8. Congrats to all the poets, well done especially those whose rhyme was almost disguised. Thanks to Alex for the whole series. I realize now that I have used some of these literary devices in the past when I am reading over older haiku I’ve written but never rhyme as I heard it was a no-no. Thanks, KJ, and Lori, for your continuing work with the column. The amount of work you do weekly is impressive.

    Daipayan Nair, I have to admit reading yours, I sang ‘summer of ’69’ and suspect I wasn’t the only one.
    Valentina Ranaldi-Adams, your razzle-dazzle reminded me of the scene in the movie, Stripes (Bill Murray).

    1. Thank-you Nancy for commenting on my haiku. Unfortunately I have
      never seen the movie Stripes and do not know what your reference means.

      1. Valentina, Stripes is a Bill Murray classic. Having joined the army in a spur of the moment, he and his whole misfit platoon mess up royally and will be going through boot camp again, but they manage to fake graduation through with a special gun salute that Murray yells Razzle Dazzle, earning them kudos and more.

  9. I’m sorry Alex, I completely missed sending mine in on your last prompt, I did so want to do it, my way of saying thanks for such an enjoyable series! It was a great experience using traditional poetry devices for haiku, some of which we try to avoid normally. Thank you so much, Alex!

    This ku by Izawa was so enjoyable, especially how wasabi feels like my tongue has slipped over wabi-sabi!

    pottery gallery—
    exploring wabi-sabi
    in a wasabi bowl

    Keiko Izawa
    Japan

  10. Dear Alex,
    I am sad to see your time here end. Your love and knowledge of literary devices brought such a unique perspective to haiku. Your generosity allowed so many more poets to shine. All signs of a most effective teacher and editor. I am excited for your return.

  11. Thank you Alex for including my haiku this week and for your thoughtful selections in rhyme haiku. I feel like I have grown creatively in trying the the various literary devices. I do like rhyme in poetry very much and I feel like it gets a bad rap sometimes. Thank you for guest editing these past couple of months. Welcome John!

  12. Thank you, everyone, for sharing your work over the past two months. I wasn’t sure whether or not this approach would be embraced, but I’m pleasantly surprised to hear all of the wonderful feedback from so many of you. It has been fun. I hope that, if I get another opportunity to edit again, I can come up with something as equally challenging and enjoyable.

    1. Thank you Alex for such lovely and stimulating prompts and editing. Your thoughtful words have been very encouraging and fun.

  13. I am pleased and thank Alex for including my haiku in the comments. I have an overwhelming compassion for youth in all generations who are forced to take on the tasks of adults in wars, in work or any other circumstance that deprives them of the important opportunity to play and have a happy childhood. Alex, I am grateful for your time and dedication in stretching the boundaries and including unappreciated poetic devises in the haiku conversation. I also teach and use haiku to ease students into poetry. Blessings!

  14. Dear Alex, Thank you for this wonderful series on literary devices in haiku. I remember early on, when trying to learn about how to write haiku, being told ‘you can’t do this’ and ‘you can’t do that’. Well, as you have taught us, yes we can, so long as we do it well. Your introductions and commentaries each week have been educational, insightful and inspiring.
    As well, for me, it’s been good to go back through my notebooks and find old writings that perhaps weren’t so bad after all, just needed your instructions to hone them into something that maybe worked. Thanks so much for accepting my hones. Looking forward to see what challenges you have in store for us if / when you return.
    Sue.

  15. Thanks to Alex for this week and all the preceding weeks of this literary-themed haiku dialogue. It has made me approach things differently… always a good thing.

  16. Many thanks Alex for the time and attention you dedicated to our verses and for the interesting challenges each week.

  17. Contentment inevitably implies nostalgia. Today I am amply grateful to be a small part of The Haiku Foundation mosaic, in The Haiku Dialogue column, but I am also sorry for Alex Fyffe. A goodbye and a welcome.
    This is life: a goodbye and a welcome.
    I loved the originality of the requested themes and this exploration of the rhetorical figures. Thank you.
    PS I never thought I’d be welcomed into a whole that required and included the rhymes, of which I’m not an admirer, but I tried to soften them between the lines.

    Maria Cezza

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