“….haiku as a contemplative practice….that is, to prepare yourself to be touched by beauty….” John Paul Lederach
When I’m out walking, I sometimes think about John Paul Lederach’s description of haiku as the finger-tapping choreography of life:
It combines the beginner’s mind — what we might call joy, with ancient wisdom — what we might call patience. How do you hold joy and patience, particularly when things fall apart and harm burrows in?
During my first winter in Alaska, I read a book by Kim Addonizio called Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within and was intrigued by her description of an American Sentence. Basically it is a seventeen syllable sentence invented by poet Alan Ginsburg. (Here’s a pretty good summary.) I don’t remember what it was about Addonizio’s presentation of American Sentences in her book that particularly resonated with me – I should get it again from the library and see if I can spark the memory. What I do know is that I experimented with the form and met the challenge. Recently I came across that notebook where I scratched down those 17 syllable sentences and as I read through them these years later, I was flooded with memory. That was a particularly hard season, yet there I was finger-tapping the choreography of my life.
Prepare yourself to be touched by beauty.
I was struck by late breaking inspiration on January 1 this year, and I posted a photo and an American sentence to my blog. The next day I did it again. Seventeen syllables (+ a title that I don’t count). Now it’s been 14 days. 14 sentences. I don’t know how long I’ll play, though it seems I’ve promised myself I’ll keep on till the end of the month. It scratches an itch and builds muscle.
But more, it helps me hold joy and patience in a finger tapping choreography of life.