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Writing Haiku

"in its fruitless pecking I know there resides a poem"

Published onJul 16, 2023
Writing Haiku

Photo by Jonas:

“It’s a pleasure to name things
as long as one doesn’t get
hung up about it.”

-Jeffrey Harrison, “The Names of Things”

I have spent much of the past year
immersing myself in haiku—taking long walks
along the ponds north of campus, a notebook
in hand; meeting monthly with a trio
of seasoned haiku poets to learn
from their vision; reading the classics
like Basho, whose poems I rehearse as I lie in bed
and fail to slip into sleep.

But in trying to write my own haiku,
I have struggled to reckon with my astonishing ignorance 
of flora and fauna, the precise naming of which 
is central to evoking an original experience 
for the reader. Even now, I am being tested: a large black bird
struts in front of me in the slush, and in its fruitless pecking
I know there resides a poem—but I am unable to write it
because I cannot tell a raven from a crow.

Evan Vandermeer is a writer and graduate of the MA English program at Indiana University South Bend. His work has appeared in Eunoia Review, Jersey Devil Press, Twyckenham Notes, and elsewhere. His haiku and haibun have appeared in contemporary haibun online, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Presence, The Heron's Nest, and elsewhere. His haibun "Pippin" was awarded 3rd place in the 2022 Haiku Society of America Haibun Contest. He currently live in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and their daughter.

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