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How a haiku is like a sonnet

Say what now? Is Kelly on crack?

Well, no.

Allow me to explain:

Both are poetic forms with requirements about the number of lines (a sonnet has 14, a haiku has 3). And both contain something like a turn.

In the language of sonnets, the turn usually comes around the ninth line, turning further still at the closing (which may be a couplet, if it's a Shakespearean sonnet, or may be the last few lines in an Italianate or Petrarchan sonnet that is using an eight-line followed by six-line rhyme scheme). And technically it's called a volta, which essentially means turn, although it was also the name of an Elizabethan dance move that you can check out from Elizabeth, The Golden Age or from Shakespeare in Love, when the man essentially picks the woman up and spins her around and puts her down again. (Note that it's Joseph Fiennes in both films - he must be a modern volta expert.)

Just like that dance move, a sonnet is supposed to leave you in a slightly different place than you were when you started. And so is a haiku. There should be some sort of transition or break (sometimes including a physical break, like an em-dash or colon or comma) between the first and second or second and third lines that moves you to a different viewpoint, perspective, mood, feeling, or impression than you had when you started. Some people think it should have a feeling of surprise, but at least it should have some sort of revelation, however mild.

The cut, or kiru, in a haiku is basically a way of juxtaposing two ideas, without using a simile or metaphor indicator (such as "like" or "as").

Here is one that I wrote that does not succeed well in having a sort of turn or revelation:

rush of wind
spring snakes through tree tops
a river of air

It has its kigo (the word spring) in the second line, in keeping with yesterday's post about kigo. But it's pretty one-note, sort of an "all of one piece" poem. The rush and snake terms both apply readily to water and air, the comparison is there pretty much all along. Mind you, I don't hate this haiku, but it doesn't have that sense of revelation I prefer.

Here is another take on this one:

rush of wind--
spring snakes through tree tops
devouring blossoms

Now the wind has become a snake, eating the blossoms off the trees. (Note that both "spring" and "blossom" are kigo. Further revision of the poem might replace spring with the name of the month, or dispense with it altogether. Nevertheless, I think this version works better for bringing something less-expected to the table.



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