Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Hoik a Haiku and Spit out a Song

 I don't have a dominant sense. Some people have a tendency to be either more visually, aurally or kinaesthetically orientated. Not me, I got 'em all in equal portions.  This means that I often get quite disorientated with sensory overload. My world is a noisy place. There's just too much to look at, hear, and experience at any one time. So, I am always looking for ways to still this busy mind of mine.

One of my poetry teachers, taught me one way. Write Haiku.

Haiku is a Japanese miniature form of poetry. Three lines, no more than 17 syllables. No metaphor or personification or any other clever poetic conceit. You simply write what is.

One afternoon, a few years ago, this poetry teacher organised a Gingko, which is a walk to collect Haiku. I had never been on one before. We went to the Botanic Gardens and The Shrine of Remembrance in St Kilda Road. We stopped at various locations around the grounds and wrote Haiku.

I found it fiendishly difficult.  It took quite a while for my mind to stop looking for metaphor and meaning and simply observe what was there. Once I got there, I began to see the world afresh.

Pardon the metaphor but it was as if I'd had a really satisfying cough after a throaty smoke (not that I smoke these days). Here's some of the work that I hoiked up that day:

shrine forecourt
a soldier stands by the flame

in the crypt
exit sign
above the door

grey city skyline
the pine tree
is evergreen                                                                                                                                                                                                    

They're not the greatest Haiku's in the world but when I got home that night, I felt more alert and my mind felt sharper than usual. The Gingko had inspired me to try it again, perhaps around West Brunswick. I imagined what I might write about from my neighbourhood. I started jotting down some of those imaginary observations, and before you knew it, I'd spat out a song! Here it is:

(NB: I don't have a speech impediment, just dodgy video sound!)

West Brunswick

Standing on the over pass in winter
The icy wind will slap you as it blows
The cars rush to the gorgeous city
West Brunswick’s not the pretty from this road
On the local creek bed made of concrete
Philosophers leave words in thick black paint
Saying, “Dream as if you’ll live forever
And live as if you’ll die tomorrow

As I lie awake on lonely nights
I hear the rumble of the 55
And the braking trucks on their freeway drive
A woman screams, “You killed my life.”

The buses don’t run east to west on Sunday
Old ladies and their gentleman stay home
Waiting at the garden gate
For someone walking by to say, “Hello.”
The houses all get sold off at a profit
Commission flats defy the market boom
But for all the talk of free for all
What cost of living in four tiny rooms

As I lie awake on lonely nights
Creatures rustle in the leaves outside
And icy wind takes its freeway ride
Qantas plane is on its midnight flight
And the braking trucks
The screaming wives
The rumble of the 55
Rushing to the gorgeous city
West Brunswick’s not that pretty
West Brunswick’s not that pretty

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