April – Come What…May

April.  The word itself elicits all things Spring: April showers that bring May flowers, soft breezes and memories of April in Paris, cherry blossoms and lilacs, love poems and songs…think Simon & Garfunkel, April Come She Will and Frank Sinatra’s rendition of I’ll Remember April.  

Joan Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu’s (Syracuse) 2007 haiku easily describes an April scene some of us woke up to this morning:

 High walls of Spring snow                                                                                                                                            Line the roads of the city.                                                                                                                                        When will the tulips bloom?

April is also a month of celebration.  In fact, Syracuse Poster Project is celebrating its 15th year!  Bringing together community poets and Syracuse University artists and illustration students,  Syracuse Poster Project creates an annual series of poetry posters which are hung in kiosks throughout downtown Syracuse.  Be sure to catch our annual haiku-poster unveiling event on Thursday April 14 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall Commons, 201 E. Washington Street.  

Coincidentally, this April marks the 20th Anniversary of National Poetry Month; and it also marks the Smithsonian’s 14th annual celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM).  Speaking of Jazz, a Syracuse shout out to this year’s SAMMY’s Music Educator of the Year, jazz guitarist, Mark Copani and to Andrew Carroll on his Syracuse SAMMY Award for Best Jazz Recording for his debut album, Alliterations.  

April is also the start of fishing season and the first heady days of baseball season.  We think you’ll agree that our featured Syracuse Poster Project haiku poster from our 2007 collection beautifully depicts an April scene. The haiku was written by poet Claire Bobrycki and illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Wei Hsing.  

Cold hands, smoky breath / Brown trout jumping Nine Mile Creek / in the April dawn

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Our thanks to one of our readers, (Anonymous), for this wonderful Spring haiku:

March into April,                                                                                                                                                      Shed the outer cloak, breathe and                                                                                                                         Take the umbrella….

Responding to our recent question, What is your favorite sign of Spring?, we think you’ll agree, this beautifully descriptive haiku evokes all the hopes of Spring that April brings.  

Happy Spring!

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

 

We Take a Poetry Hike

Poem inscribed on log
“Off the earth’s long contour, her river-veins” Environmental art installation by Alastair Noble.

As you’ve seen by our recent posts, Autumn can be a sensory experience inspiring thoughtful haiku and beautiful art.  Autumn can also be a peaceful time whether it’s reflecting the dramatic change of view outside your window or wandering through a wooded park or sanctuary.  But, it’s not just about haiku.  Poets, artists, musicians, scientists, writers—all of us, really—have something to say about nature and its effects on us.

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Sunset along the Old Erie Canal—the stone wall at Cedar Bay Park.

Locally, you can discover art and poetry in nature by walking any of the trails along the Old Erie Canal.  The rough, hand-hewn stone bridges and aqueducts built by our immigrant ancestors are still a thing of beauty…as are the walkways and paths along which one can still become inspired by the surrounding natural beauty of the old waterway.  Or, you might find the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia more to your liking.  With beautiful vistas and inspiring installation art, the park offers many opportunities for your inner artist or poet to come alive.

Speaking of installation art, you may remember Christo and Jeanne-Claude, whose masterful displays continue to inspire thoughtful reflection.  If you had the opportunity, you’ll agree that the singularly unique experience of walking through their 2005 installation of The Gates in Central Park was exhilarating!  

If you have travel plans over the holidays, or even next Spring, check out the more subtle experience of installation art found at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont.  In 2013-14, the park’s artist-in-residence, Alastair Noble, installed environmentally styled works throughout the park. Consisting of ten large ash and pine logs—planed on one side—Noble inscribed them with fragments of literature and poetry using Poe, Nietzsche, T.S. Eliot, Wittgenstein, and Shakespeare as his inspiration.  As you walk around the park, you come across the logs here and there—at first impression, mere logs.  It’s delightful how they turn up randomly, and the brevity of their inscriptions reminds us of haiku.  This incompleteness invites a kind of filling in, especially in association with the natural setting.  For a newspaper story about Noble’s art residency, CLICK HERE.

If you like your environmental poetry more fleshed out, you can also hike around the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Park’s Robert Frost Poetry Trail.  Thirteen poems—complete and presented in conventional page-like formats—line the walking trail. They seem a little like homework assignments dogging you into the woods.  One wonders what Frost himself would say about these woodland installations.  Would he prefer them here to, let’s say, his poems printed on subway placards?

Robert Frost Poetry Trail
The poem, Come In, is one of 13 poems found on the Robert Frost Poetry Trail.

We are, of course, very proud of our own distinctive version of installation art.  Our beautifully illustrated haiku posters can be found year round in the many brightly decorated kiosks dotting downtown Syracuse NY.  If you like discovering poetry in the environment, or are fascinated by installation art, send us your photos and thoughts—we’ll share them here with our followers.

Happy Trails!

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 http://www.rattle.com/poetry/print/40s/i47/.   Some selections may surprise you!

Enjoy!

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.

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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.

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.

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It begins:

quote:


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