Of Haiku, Heart and Art

I belong to a haiku group on Facebook. Though this may conjure up images of a cardigan’ed bunch who bend back the spines of leather-bound volumes as we compare Bashō to Blyth, I assure you, dear reader, the reality is far from it. Ribald and sometimes bawdy, this virtual roundtable was founded by a Dorothy Parker in the form of Milla Goldenberg, who, with a wide-open mind, enforces only one rule: 5-7-5. (or, 17 sounds if you’re feeling more Issa and experimental.)

“Haiku are best appreciated through the intelligence of the heart.” — Robert Spiess, American haiku poet.

Ruth Grayson’s Haiku. Concept and styling by Ruth Grayson, photography by Joshua Fogel (www.joshfogel.com.)

Multi-national, -gendered, -cultured, even multilingual, this group posts once a week or more, be it a cheeky observation, confession, an offload of grief or anxiety, to assuage a broken heart or, just because they’re really gifted at the art form. It’s a creative safe space where everyone’s warm-hearted, has a broad sense of humour, and is allowed to express oneself without criticism. Find us at Haiku Wednesdays on Facebook, and slam a poem or two down. (And yes, we all admit to counting syllables on our fingers.)

“Haiku is not a shriek, a howl, a sigh, or a yawn; rather, it is the deep breath of life.”
— Santoka Taneda

Photography by Joshua Fogel.

LA-based editor and writer who’s been published in The New York Times (Modern Love), Milla, who also blogs at MillaTimes.com, came up with a rather creative project for the inaugural volume of Haiku Wednesdays: The Book, which will showcase the best of the first year. She went through volumes of verse and handpicked the 50 best examples. The writers of those 50 were then required to provide original art to accompany their haiku, whether it take the form of graphics, illustration, painting, sculpture or a photograph. Those who felt challenged by this aspect were invited to lean on marketing wiz-kid and graphic designer Joe Luna (Joe at Monkeypickles) for assistance. Yours truly was charged with the layout and design of the book. When the deadline closed for art submissions, the three of us were audibly blown away by the originality, creativity and enthusiasm of all involved. The book is still very much in production, but here is your sneak peek.

Our space is open to all. So come see, stay awhile, look for the book and, as Milla says in the group’s tagline:

Let’s make poetry / Once a week or any time / Just because we can.

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