Random Creativity (And Why It’s Important)

On Friday my Year 8 class were set the task of writing haiku.

The English approximation of a beautiful Japanese art form is known to most, if not all, primary school children. They learn it is a poem of 17 syllables broken into 3 lines (5, 7, 5) and it is about nature (or something…).

It is taught because it is easy and accessible for students. It gives definite boundaries and restrictions, confinements for words and their interplay of meaning.

But writing great haiku is difficult.

I told my students I wanted them to experiment and play with language. I encouraged them to enjoy the process, to have fun with language. And so I had a go at writing a couple myself.

Summer Haiku

Summer Haiku

A dance of barefoot (awkward) steps
Crossing the neighbour’s front lawn
Picking bindis out

Watermelon seeds
Spat for distance from the steps
You always beat me

Winter Haiku

Winter Haiku

Watching our breath
Condense in the morning air
Pretending we smoke

Are they any good? Probably not.

Why is random creativity important?

It can be done quickly and in spare moments, disposable as an empty soft drink container or laboured over and agonised and deliberated for each and every syllable.

This is why creativity is important. 



7 responses to “Random Creativity (And Why It’s Important)

  1. No doubt about it…creativity is important….manifestations are different….as long as we dabble and deliberate….I like your posts as they are short, terse and direction

    • I firmly believe everyone should do something creative whether its to write poetry or short stories or novels, plays, scripts. Or paint, draw, take photos on their smart phone, quilt, garden, cook, origami. Create something. It doesn’t have to be shared like I am doing here but done purely for the enjoyment of it.

  2. I think they are good and whether or not they are good haiku depends on which “school of thought” you might subscribe to ie what rules you use etc. I tend to see Haiku (and all form poetry) as tools for my expression. As long as I know what tools and rules I am using or breaking, then it’s all okay.

    My preference is for 12 syllables, phrase and fragment form, but the poem, the moment in time should direct the final form ie whatever serves the words best.

    so…I would take this – with your permission( or forgiveness 🙂 )

    A dance of barefoot (awkward) steps
    Crossing the neighbour’s front lawn
    Picking bindis out

    and make this

    a barefoot dance
    across neighbor’s lawn
    picking bindis out

    which is 14 syllables. Some might feel that it guts the poem. I could take another article out without doing to much damage but any more (ie trying to lose another couple of syllables) doesn’t serve the words. Does what is left have a balance of ambiguity and concrete imagery? Does it have an aha moment where the reader is led one way and then surprised by the ending?

    But then I like the original too (and there would be purists who would say neither are proper Haiku)

    it could also be written

    picking bindis out
    across neighbour’s lawn
    a barefoot dance

    But this sort of attention and play is probably beyond year 8. I think you could teach haiku at every year level and still make it challenging/fun. I like that in general Haiku focuses the attention on observation, on looking outside the self.

    Jane Reichhold has a great book that lays out the vast range of “rules” used in the construction of Haiku some 42 different techniques some mutually exclusive, if you want I can send you the link – good teacher reference.

    • Thanks for the insight, Sean. I was alternating between using “barefoot” and “awkward” to see which word I liked better for meaning and imagery.
      And I like your version of my poem better as it gives a better emphasis to the imagery and moment.
      I was scribbling on the board so didn’t have much time to rework it but done as an exercise to show the students their teacher goes through the same process.
      Would love the link.

  3. Adam, her website is here and this link actually gives you her approach http://www.ahapoetry.com/Bare%20Bones/bbtoc%20intro.html to Haiku. Her published book contains much of what is written here. The book can be found here http://www.booktopia.com.au/writing-and-enjoying-haiku-jane-reichhold/prod9781568365213.html and it’s a nice roughly A5 sized book that’s ideal for travelling. She’s a lovely person too.

  4. Believe me the scribbling on the board is the hard part 🙂

  5. I like your haikus! I am generally not a fan of the genre, mainly because it often does not fit in with the English language and culture. However, I did enjoy Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”. Yours seem to be slightly more lighthearted, which is a good thing. It fits!

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