Today is the 15th day of our poetry journey! I was re-reading Basho's Oku no Hosomichi, or The Narrow Road to the Deep North. In this momentous work, he creates the haibun - a prosimetric form. It consists of a brief, biographical part ended with a haiku. I was struck again by his spare yet deeply moving prose and the haiku at the end. This haibun beautifully illustrates the Japanese concept of Mono no Aware - sadness or wistfulness at the passing of "things".
In the west, we tend to add much flowery description of the prose portion, making a very long poem to read. In its original form, the haibun is brief. His haibun run between 98 to 150 words. Each is complete and descriptive, humorous, wistful, sad. These are basically the first poet becoming a journalist! The haibun below shows his loneliness on the road, towards the end, his feeling his age, his offering of a poem - all he had at this point.
Write a haibun of 44 - to 150 words of some event in your life - a love gone wrong, birth of a child, a daily walk, a day out of a vacation...anything will work! Remember: haibun are based on a true experience in your life; it is NOT flash fiction.
"Wherever I travel, wherever I happen to find myself, I am not from there. In fact, the whole world is just such a place to me. I have spent the past six or seven months on the road, a nocturnal traveler who has survived, so far, many devastating illnesses as I made my way onward. I found the more alien I came to see myself, the more I missed beloved faces, lifelong friends and aging students, until my steps were drawn irresistibly back toward the outskirts of Edo. And sure enough, day after day they appeared, coming to sit in the small hut of a poor man and talk to me. I had nothing to offer in return except my poem,
I am still alive
silvery grass that
at the touch of the snow"