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HAIKU DIALOGUE – The Haiku Mind – School Days

The Haiku Mind 

Recently, my five-year-old daughter was comforting her younger sister when she spontaneously composed this haiku as a source of solace:

leaving
all that’s left
the fog

I was shocked! I haven’t shared much haiku with her yet thinking it was a bit beyond her ability to comprehend. Well, she showed me! This beautiful haiku came from a heart that knows no poetic rules nor has had any training. It flowed out of a haiku mindset that I believe is inborn in all of us.

Unlike adults, young children do not carry around the concerns and worries of the world. They have yet to have years of self-consciousness weigh down their creative efforts. Their first impulse is followed without wondering whether it will be “good enough”. They simply create. It is a freedom many of us long for in our own writing. So, let’s regain some of that innocence. Let’s write from that first spark that alights within us. Let’s throw off what we believe what a haiku “is” or “isn’t”. Let’s let go of trying to “follow the rules” and allow ourselves the satisfying joy of creation.

Each week I will provide a simple prompt for your imagination and memories to springboard off of. I’d like for you to try to clear your mind, breathe deeply, and follow the first image or feeling that comes to mind. Take a minute to jot down your impressions and see where it goes. Try not to take too long or spend too much time on revision. Allow yourself to trust your own inborn haiku mind.

noticing
the sunset first
her innocence

Please send one to two unpublished and freshly created haiku by clicking here: Contact Form, and put Haiku Dialogue in the Subject box.

I will select from the entries, providing commentary for a few each week, with the rest being listed in the order they are received.

next week’s theme: Signs of Spring

For those in the Northern Hemisphere spring arrives tomorrow and with it all the beauty and promise of new life. What are the signs of spring where you live? What animals do you see or hear? What plants do you see or smell? Is there anything about spring that is special to you? Do you have any personal celebrations or observances during this season?

Let yourself follow the first thought that comes to mind and engage that idea with all of your senses. Allow yourself to create and throw off what you think “should” or “should not be” in regards to your haiku. There is no right or wrong here. Bring yourself into the moment and stay there awhile. Let it linger.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday March 21, 2020.

Below is my commentary for School Days:

More than anything my sincere hope is that this week finds you healthy and safe amidst the pandemic. My desire is that Haiku Dialogue can be a place of solace today, even for just a moment, as you enjoy the wonderful haiku and senryu of your poetic family. It seems a bit out of place for this week to be all about school days when so many schools around the globe have closed, including in my community. I wonder what memories our children and grandchildren will have from this time and what poetry they will write about it.

There were many common themes this week from bullying…

bullied girl
her lopsided braids
asking for it

Roberta Beary, County Mayo, Ireland

There were many haiku sent in about bullying this past week. It seems that most of us have suffered at the hands of others or watched as others have been ridiculed or physically hurt. What drew me to this one in particular is the last line. For me there is a strong reference to the oft used excuse for rape “she was asking for it”. I think this line creates a powerful parallel between the violence we experience as young girls and the violence we continue to experience as we grow older. A gut-punch of a senryu.

to frustration…

full time job
all the school books I wish
I hadn’t read

john hawkhead

It can certainly seem pointless, all the studying and memorizing, once we are in our careers. My husband and I were both French majors and now only use our knowledge of the French language to talk to each other without the kids being able to understand us. Knowing how to conjugate in the subjunctive was pretty useless for me during potty training. It makes me wonder what else I could have been doing instead of reading all those extra books about Paris…

and anxiety…

still feeling
the disappointing sting
my first A minus

Kath Abela Wilson, Pasadena, California

As a recovering perfectionist this one hits home. School was always a great source of anxiety for me and it seems like it was for many of you as well. Whether it is from an internal drive or external pressure, the desire to be perfect is a powerful lure. Many of us define our self-worth by our ability to achieve a certain grade or measure of success. How different the world would be if we prized kindness and peace-making instead!

As with each week I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Happy reading!

popularity
the bullied teen tosses coins
in the wishing well

Jackie Chou, Pico Rivera CA USA

 

first day
waving to his mother
as the school bus pulls away

Stephen A. Peters

 

biology class
preoccupied
till this day

Michael Henry Lee

 

shy looks
and notes under the bench –
my husband’s smile

Zdenka Mlinar, Zagreb, CROATIA

 

class photo
behind my head
bunny ears

Olivier Schopfer, Switzerland

 

third grade
the trade value
of my homemade lunch

Pat Davis, NH

 

failing social studies
a new school
every six months

Nancy Liddle

 

old school yard
still hearing the cries
of insects

Bryan Rickert

 

school desks-
..a new love blossoms
without notice

banchi di scuola-
un nuovo amore sboccia
senza preavviso

Angela Giordano

 

my first drawing
in art class –
the blue boy

Ljiljana Dobra, Sibenik, Croatia

 

schoolyard
rippling like the sea –
blue uniform

Milan Stancic Kimi

 

last class…
one quick glance
at the board

Willie Bongcaron

 

abandoned school
cherry blossom blooms
still there

Teiichi Suzuki, Japan

 

sir writes the symbol
for calcium carbonate …
in blackboard chalk

Karen Harvey, Wales

 

pulling the weeds out
early school lessons

Neelam Dadhwal, Chandigarh, India

 

late for class
a robin loops
through the ivy

Agus Maulana Sunjaya, Tangerang, Indonesia

 

windows shut
the empty classrooms
eerie

Christina Chin

 

last day. . .
fluttering wings of the sparrow
on the school gate

Aparna Pathak

 

physics class
I swear it was gravity
that made my head drop

Vandana Parashar

 

talking heads
squeezing pimples
between the lines

Saša Slavković, Slovenia

 

classroom
from the open window
..chirping

Nazarena Rampini, Italia

 

school days…
inside the backpack
a red apple

giorni di scuola…
dentro lo zainetto
una mela rossa

(N. B. Every day at school I ate a red apple. My classmates nicknamed me “Daniela La Mela”).

Daniela Misso

 

the teacher shouts
we learn to scramble eggs
as we tremble

Kanjini Devi

 

peering at my lunch box
their wrinkled noses —
homemade bread … and fruit?

Note: Post-war Britain was moving from food rationing, but my mother knew what was good for us, and this did not include refined white bread with crusts removed, nor the absence of green matter

Ingrid Baluchi, Macedonia

 

googling
my secret teen age crush
high school bad boy

Peggy Hale Bilbro, Alabama

 

school autograph…
the first signature
of a lasting friendship

R.Suresh Babu, India

 

learning process every off-school hour

Adrian Bouter

 

silvery voices
in my school chorus…
someone out of tune

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore

 

summer break-
a raindrop takes its turn
on the swing

arvinder Kaur

 

all still holding
a sweet-filled coronation mug
school photo

Ann Rawson

 

1st grade palm print
Christmas ’65
in my mother’s hand

Laurie Greer, Washington DC

 

college library
from a study carrel
a heavy sigh

Sari Grandstaff, Saugerties, NY

 

all I learned
about flowering cherries …
gone with the wind

Eva Limbach, Germany

 

Coronavirus –
first virtual school lessons
from the living room

Maria Teresa Sisti

 

daily uniform
missing my colorful dress

Radhamani sarma

 

parent-teacher meeting
taking the longer
way home

Tomislav Sjekloća, Cetinje, Montenegro

 

Father’s Day
A little voice is reciting
the poem

Elisabetta Castagnoli

 

spring break
the school bully shows up
in the obituaries

Rich Schilling, Webster Groves, MO

 

first day –
school bus empties
of new shoes

Roberta Beach Jacobson (USA)

 

recess again
her corner
her book

Ann K. Schwader, Westminster, CO

 

early to school—
the blackboard white
with my stories

Rashmi VeSa

 

teacher’s pet…
after all these years
still teased with her tag

Madhuri Pillai

 

class reunion
he reminds me of his scar
forty three years on

Robert Kingston

 

school stories
she never forgets
the bully’s name

Marisa Fazio

 

slowest reading group
putting her there
forever

Pamela A Babusci

 

class reunion. . .
does he remember
our first kiss?

Marta Chocilowska

 

whiteout . . .
school kids in the coats
we use to wear

Taofeek Ayeyemi, Nigeria

 

empty halls
she leaves
behind her tears

Margaret Walker

 

last day of school
holding hands
once again

Eufemia Griffo

 

school days –
the first I love you
on a note

Maria Teresa Piras

 

grade school notebook
my initials entwined
with yours

Michele L. Harvey

 

show and tell
praying the mantis
stays in its cage

Ronald K. Craig, Batavia, OH USA

 

scent of my childhood . . .
in the old school yard
blossoming graffiti

Ivan Gaćina, Zadar, Croatia

 

carved school desk
I wonder what happened
to E W

Andy McLellan

 

still getting
the occasional nightmare
school days

Nadejda Kostadinova

 

classmates…
again
together

Tsanka Shishkova

 

dropping out of college
to get married
Golden Anniversary scrapbook

Greer Woodward, Waimea, HI

 

dance night
my crinolines swish
to go johnny go

Pris Campbell

 

picking teammates
that one girl always chosen
after me

Terri French

 

assigned textbook
his brother’s name written
in the front cover

Deborah P Kolodji, Temple City, California

 

long division
the race to be
first

Nancy Brady, Huron, Ohio

 

1st
school day
standing on a stool
to sharpen my own pencil

wendy c. bialek, az, usa

 

old school
still carved on a bench
my initials and hers

cezar-florin ciobîcă

Guest Editor Tia Haynes resides in Lakewood, Ohio, near her beloved Lake Erie. She was featured in New Resonance 11: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku and has appeared in journals and anthologies worldwide. Much of her inspiration comes from the landscape and people of the American Midwest as well as life with her two small children. Her chapbook, leftover ribbon, (Velvet Dusk Publishing) is available on Amazon. Follow her on Twitter: @adalia_haiku

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).

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Having taught elementary school for over 50 years, I have seen firsthand how teachers drive the creative spirit out of children. Just look at their drawings in KDG and in grade 6.

    Be sure not to give your daughter any sage advice on how to write a haiku. 🙂
    She’s already there.

  2. Such an enjoyable selection of haiku. The bullying poems do stand out (that line of Roberta’s “asking for it” is so terribly powerful!) and I’m so glad I didn’t experience this. I absolutely loved my school days and spent as much time as possible in the art room. I wasn’t too bothered about my results and was fortunate to be a high enough achiever to satisfy my father (a geography teacher) but as in Kathabela’s poem I did feel the sting of disappointment when someone got higher marks than me in art.

    Some also reminded me of my children’s experiences of school (they are both at uni now) and Steven A. Peters’ boy waving at his mother from the bus on his first day at school takes me back to my son’s first day, when he shed silent tears as he waved goodbye to me through the window of the classroom door. It was awful–I couldn’t stop to speak to any of the other mothers on the way out because I was in tears myself! And the leaving behind of tears in Margaret Walker’s poem was very much my daughter’s experience last June as she left the school at which she’d spent the previous seven years of her life. And in these exceptional times for education she had her first virtual lecture with a professor in our living room years, as described by Maria Teresa Sisti. I could go on, but would like to finish by saying how recognisable the visual was in Andy McLellan’s initialled school desk–who doesn’t wonder about what happened to some of their classmates, particularly those who we might have loved from afar.

    1. Marion, thank you for commenting on my empty halls!

      I hope to have a chance to read and make some comments today.

  3. Very appealing read. Congratulations everyone.
    Thank you for including mine.

    bullied girl
    her lopsided braids
    asking for it
    —–Roberta Beary, County Mayo, Ireland
    *
    popularity
    the bullied teen tosses coins
    in the wishing well
    —-Jackie Chou, Pico Rivera CA USA
    *
    first day
    waving to his mother
    as the school bus pulls away
    —Stephen A. Peters
    *
    school desks-
    ..a new love blossoms
    without notice
    —-Angela Giordano
    *
    abandoned school
    cherry blossom blooms
    still there
    —-Teiichi Suzuki, Japan
    *
    sir writes the symbol
    for calcium carbonate …
    in blackboard chalk
    —-Karen Harvey, Wales
    *
    Coronavirus –
    first virtual school lessons
    from the living room
    —Maria Teresa Sisti
    *
    school stories
    she never forgets
    the bully’s name
    —-Marisa Fazio
    *
    slowest reading group
    putting her there
    forever
    —Pamela A Babusci
    *
    last day of school
    holding hands
    once again
    —Eufemia Griffo
    *
    school days –
    the first I love you
    on a note
    —Maria Teresa Piras
    *
    grade school notebook
    my initials entwined
    with yours
    —Michele L. Harvey

    1. Elisabetta, thanks for listing my haiku.
      Tia, thanks for choosing my haiku.

      Aboundone school lies still by my old house.
      Cominghome always reminds me of school life.

  4. Yes, Pamela. I can appreciate your haiku! One of my sons in secondary school, at registration class, each morning, was told to go to his “special learning class” (all the other children could hear this).
    Eventually, he said (loudly), “I don’t need it any more”. He did need it but couldn’t stand the shame.
    We never heard that he’d stopped attending until the next paren-teacher evening. We were proud of him!
    Thank you for including my haiku, Tia , which was, for me, a happy one.

    1. Good for your son! And your haiku reminded me of some of my old school photos. I met my husband in college and we have some lovely photos of being inducted into the same honors society. When I see them now I’m shocked by just how young I was! I thought I knew everything back then, lol.

  5. So much poignancy and youthful anxiety here; you brought me right back. Thank you all for your contributions. As Tia said, clearly our school years hold some vivid, often negative, experiences that many of us share. Roberta Beary’s “bullied girl” hits me the hardest.

  6. For me

    bullied girl
    her lopsided braids
    asking for it

    Roberta Beary, County Mayo, Ireland

    still feeling
    the disappointing sting
    my first A minus

    Kath Abela Wilson, Pasadena, California

    pulling the weeds out
    early school lessons

    Neelam Dadhwal, Chandigarh, India

    physics class
    I swear it was gravity
    that made my head drop

    Vandana Parashar

    Enjoyed reading the collection. Loved the nostalgia that the prompt generated. Thanks everyone. Thanks Tia

  7. For me, the school years are the time when we watched and felt part of nature. I was pleased to find the haiku that was returned to me these days

    all I learned
    about flowering cherries …
    gone with the wind

    Eva Limbach, Germany

    classroom
    from the open window
    ..chirping

    Nazarena Rampini, Italia

    late for class
    a robin loops
    through the ivy

    Agus Maulana Sunjaya, Tangerang, Indonesia

    1. One of the strongest memories I have related to nature and school was the year we had a new student who had lived in the south all her life. We were on the playground when it started to snow and it was her first time ever seeing it in person. Her excitement and joy has stuck with me all these years later.

  8. Amazing that even decades later if we choose to look back, our school days fill us with memories, sad, tough, fun, thrilling, amusing, competitive. It was good to read through these and, recognize that whatever our circumstances, we probably each of us have had similar experiences.
    A pleasure to read, and thank you for including mine, Tia.
    .
    I was taken by this one:
    .
    parent-teacher meeting
    taking the longer
    way home
    .
    Tomislav Sjekloća, Cetinje, Montenegro
    .
    Time for some analysis, to thrash out some problem learning area? My father called it ‘pacing the carpet’, a gut-wrenching experience which usually followed a negative P/T meeting.
    .
    slowest reading group
    putting her there
    forever
    .
    Pamela A Babusci
    .
    Sadly it’s too often true that you don’t escape being tarnished by early experiences being in a minority group. We know children can be cruel and unforgiving, but so too can adults . . . even unwary teachers.

    1. We have parent-teacher conferences (via phone) on Friday for both of our children. I hope we do not have to have long talks at the dinner table! And Ingrid I very much enjoyed getting to know the stories behind your haiku this week. It was a delight to connect even deeper with your work!

  9. .
    I am grateful for the editors devising weekly writing challenges. To make haiku personal and universal about “School Days is a long leap over a deep crevasse.
    .
    So each poet made a successful leap with their ku. I say, “Huzzah!” to all contributing poets. This week’s examples blossom with reminders of mass education, struggle, and obviously their success as articulate persons.

    I appreciate and spotlight these well-tuned words, full of compelling emotion, and instant insight from their sparse verse.
    .
    We never fail, folk who dare, a challenge firmly taken. I my verse were absent here, then, I remain unshaken. Or words to that effect.
    .
    Cheers!
    .
    .
    schoolyard
    rippling like the sea –
    blue uniform
    .
    Milan Stancic Kimi
    .
    .
    daily uniform
    missing my colorful dress
    .
    Radhamani sarma
    .
    .
    whiteout . . .
    school kids in the coats
    we use to wear
    .
    Taofeek Ayeyemi, Nigeria
    .
    .
    carved school desk
    I wonder what happened
    to E W
    .
    Andy McLellan
    .
    .
    still getting
    the occasional nightmare
    school days
    .
    Nadejda Kostadinova
     .
    .
    the teacher shouts
    we learn to scramble eggs
    as we tremble
    .
    Kanjini Devi
    .
    LW 18-03-20

    1. Nadejda, I still get nightmares, too, from school days. Doesn’t matter how long it has been, either.

      1. Me too. I still have nightmares about not being able to find my classroom or my locker, or forgetting my schedule. All that anxiety is still roaming around inside me!

  10. Old school memories, brought to life!

    long division
    the race to be
    first

    Nancy Brady

    A vivid memory for me was multiplying fractions! And I always wanted to be first, and often was. In 6th grade I had my first male teacher and he was a tremendous influence on my education and life. Thanks for stirring these memories to life, Nancy! Nice poem!
    Ron

    1. Thanks, Ron for the appreciative comments,and for your fractions story. I always liked fractions. We had to do long division problems at the blackboard, and if you were last, ridicule by an abusive (in hindsight) teacher so being first was always a race to get the problems done quickly. No one wanted to be last.
      Loved yours as the praying mantis is kinda scary looking. Cool, but creepy, too.
      Returning to school through all these haiku is eye opening as so many of them resonate with me. Certainly there is a common bond,we all share. Thanks Tia for including one of mine.

      1. I was surprised by how much I connected with all of these haiku. We truly all have a common bond no matter the country or generation. It seems to be more on the negative side of common experience or maybe it’s just that those times are the ones we remember most.

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