Getting Inspired

Hope you enjoyed a pleasant Thanksgiving Holiday.  It’s been only a handful of days, really, since the last of the leftovers was eaten and the office email back under control.  And during this relatively short period of time, meanwhile, we’ve endured Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and GivingTuesday!  If you’re worn out already, you’re not alone!  

Having trouble finding poetic inspiration from a good sale?  Look no further than your favorite electronic device.  Whether it’s an iPhone, an Android, an iPad, a laptop or a desktop, there are plenty of websites and apps out there to help nudge your creative juices flowing again during this somewhat stressful time of year!

For instance, Poets & Writers, a not-for-profit organization, offers a variety of online tools and services for writers including their excellent source of inspiration,  The Time is Now E-Newsletter.  Delivered straight to your online mailbox, the e-newsletter offers weekly Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction prompts intended to kick-start your imagination.  

HaikuJAM is a relatively new app whose approach is a little different – rather than working by yourself to come up with a complete haiku, HaikuJAM offers you an interesting opportunity to collaborate with other writers to help you create – and finish – a unique piece of poetry.

There are hundreds of poetry blogs out there, too.  Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century, mentioned on these pages before, offers interesting reading and thematic challenges including, an Ekphrastic Challenge – Art Inspiring Poetry. Similar to our annual Syracuse Poster Project Challenge, Rattle issues a monthly challenge using paintings or photographs to inspire poetry.  Results are fascinating!

You are likely to find inspiration right here at Syracuse Poster Project, too. Thanks to the creative work of our own database development intern, Yingxue Xiao, we recently introduced Haiku Of The Day on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  Reading these daily selections is a wonderful opportunity to read, reflect and become inspired.

Happy Writing!IMG_3224



Meet Our Blogger

Carroll, Rosalyn (7)
Rosalyn Carroll

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve noticed a lot of new energy. That’s thanks to our blogger, Rosalyn Carroll, of Manlius. Now that she’s gotten things rolling, we figure it’s time to introduce her. An aspiring writer and poet, Rosalyn has been writing haiku, poetry and short stories since high school. She enjoys music, theater and walking along the Erie Canal. We think you will like how she incorporates a variety of themes with haiku selections from our archives and with select posters from our collection of illustrated haiku. Rosalyn affords us new, creative opportunities, and we encourage you to participate by following her posts, reflecting, and commenting. In short, please join the conversation.

Rattle #47 – Japanese Forms Issue

Back in the Spring of 2014, we announced on our Poetry Blog, the call for submissions of Japanese forms of poetry (including our favorite: Haiku) from Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century.  The results have been published in Rattle #47.  You can find this colorful edition at   Some selections may surprise you!


Listen To John Ashbery Read his poem 37 Haiku

In his 1984 book A Wave, the great American poet John Ashbery published a poem titled “37 Haiku.” This influential poem is composed of, as you might guess, 37 haiku, each presented as a single line of the poem. Come to the edge of the barn the property really begins there In a smaller tower shuttered and put away there You lay aside your hair like a book that is to important to read.


Thanks to PennSound the wonderful online resource of recordings of poets reading their own work, you can listen to a recording of Ashbery reading his poem at Harvard University on November 10, 1987.

History of Haiku & Basho: Haruo Shirane at Coldfront

View this little overview of some of the elements and history of haiku and Basho from this 2012 post at Coldfront about a Poets House lecture given by Haruo Shirane, the Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University.



While Western audiences tend to think of haiku as a “special genre” that is practiced by trained experts, Shirane argued that haiku was never an exclusive aesthetic form but has always functioned as an important means of social interaction in Japan. These poetic exchanges took place both between individuals and in groups. Haiku in fact became a popular art form precisely because of its accessibility.

Shirane took the audience through a number of poems, introducing a list of key Japanese terms such as hokku (opening verse), kigo(seasonal word), and kireji (cutting word). He lingered at length on the key notion of ga-zoku which connotes the mixture of the elegant and the vulgar, or the classical and the popular. While classical Japanese poetry deals primarily with elegant topics, the emergence of the urban commoner class in the 17th century led to the mixing of the vulgar and the classical that made up the heart of haiku poetry. Here is an example from a well-known poem by Basho:

An old pond—
A frog leaps in,
The sound of water

While a frog is often associated with singing and music in the classical tradition, this poem illustrates the sound of the frog as it leaps into the water, suggesting the arrival of spring after a long winter (“old pond”).

Read the rest of the post here

Rain Taxi Review of The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku

The summer 2014 free online issue of Rain Taxi features a review by Peter McDonald of the recent haiku anthology, The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku, edited by Allan Burns.


It begins:


Casual readers and practitioners in English-language haiku often assume this brief poetic form, imported to the West from Japan at the turn of the 19th century, is indelibly associated with elegiac snapshots of nature in three-line poems of 5-7-5 syllables. They might also have heard of the great master haikuist Matsuo Bashō, who elevated haiku to an art form in the 17th century. It was Bashō who stressed quiet attention to the immediacy of an image taken from seasonal nature, where the “haiku moment” must be spontaneous, shorn of adornment or simile, with no intrusion of the authorial ego.

Today, of course, in its burgeoning western tradition, haiku has evolved into multiple creative strains, far removed from the lockstep syllable count of its early years and often with only an incidental focus on nature.

Read the rest of this thoughtful review at Rain Taxi