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haibun for big tent poetry

September 24, 2010

This week at Big Tent Poetry we are writing haibun. (The full prompt is here.)

I confess I did not do a thorough job of researching the form, using instead the cliff notes: a prose section (journey, essence, epiphany) followed by a loosely-related haiku. I confess I wrote about walking around my house this week at night instead of a journey. I confess there isn’t really a major epiphany, and I confess I composed the haiku in my head Wednesday night while I was trying to fall asleep. I was petting my old, gray tiger cat, who sleeps on my pillow every night, who has always done this. She is 15.

In a cool coincidence, a couple weeks after putting this prompt into the “feed” for BTP, I won a drawing for a free online haibun class. I’m excited to learn more about the form and see where it can take me.

For now, we have to take this one. It is my first, and it is without study or guidance. 🙂


  1. September 24, 2010 7:59 am

    Very nice haibun. I love seeing the same face out of every window! How wonderful that you will take a haibun class. I enjoyed this form – my version – and hope to try more.

    • September 24, 2010 9:01 am

      thanks, mary! i enjoyed the form, too. it seems like so many of us did. all of us wondering: why haven’t we done this before?!

      • ladynimue permalink
        September 24, 2010 12:21 pm

        exactly this was my feeling .. why did i never try this !

  2. September 24, 2010 8:16 am

    I love it. The moon and his ladies, the sweetness of your long acquaintances, your tabby (of course I love your tabby cat).

    Enjoy the class. I’m envious!

    • September 24, 2010 9:03 am

      i do think i’ll enjoy the class. it has started with us learning about haiku. to which my brain says, “of course! to learn a combined form, you have to learn its pieces first.” but i never would have done it that way on my own. funny.

      • September 24, 2010 9:03 am

        oh! and i want the fog to have ladies, not the moon, so i have to figure out a way to make that clearer.

        • September 25, 2010 4:27 pm

          Yes. I had to read these comments to realize how to read your work. To me some unexplained man and a bunch of women showed up. I would never have thought of the fog as masculine without a lead.

          You are not the only one who has made fog masculine. Now that it is pointed out I distinctly remember a masculine fog doing one of the ladies of myth, in Jupiter and Io by Corregio ca. 1530.

          (God, another time that Google came through for me)

          If you had brought out that Jupiter (Zeus) was impregnating the tall grass ladies it would have been perfect, transforming your haibun clearly to the realm of myth.

  3. Rallentanda permalink
    September 24, 2010 8:20 am

    This is very lovely writing Carolee.Beautiful soft images.

    • September 24, 2010 9:04 am

      thank you, rall! and i’m not used to doing the soft image thing so i didn’t realize i had. but you’re right. this is soft. thanks!

  4. September 24, 2010 8:47 am

    I think you have nailed the haibun perfectly: having read all those posted so far, the most successful, including yours, are where the prose is poetic, as well as the haiku. I hope you will share your learning experiences with us – it is such a versatile form of poetry.

    • September 24, 2010 9:06 am

      thanks, viv! i did read in the materials online that the prose should be poetic, as well.

      though i think several of the pieces this week, used prosey-prose and it still worked for me in many cases. i think it depends on the subject matter and since we’re playing and making the form our own — because we are the opposite of strict — it gives us lots of possibilities!

  5. September 24, 2010 9:33 am

    The imagery is just delightful, Carolee.

  6. September 24, 2010 9:47 am

    “I know it by its hang-low, its unclear, its subdue.” I love how you used these words as nouns! I was walking around the house with you; your images are that clear! And I like how the “tabby” can stnd for many things!

    • September 24, 2010 12:17 pm

      i wondered if i pulled off those words as nouns — thanks for weighing in on it, linda!

  7. September 24, 2010 9:51 am

    the moon’s been extra fine this month. a full harvest moon on the equinox.

    Never would have imagined fog as masculine…and with a harem!

    • September 24, 2010 12:19 pm

      until the moment of the poem, i didn’t imagine it, either. that’s why i love doing this!

      (except that i do think of fog as masculine, i guess.)

  8. September 24, 2010 10:50 am

    We must have been wandering our separate abodes at the same hour only, my tabby is a black, white and tan Border Collie named Aengus. Carolee, I enjoyed your haibun and the appealing imagery you created in your words.

  9. September 24, 2010 11:22 am

    I like this a lot. Whether it would satisfy some purist definition of haibun, I don’t know, but it sure as hell works for me.

    • September 24, 2010 12:20 pm

      yeah, purists have it rough. not a lot of stuff in the world for them to like. 🙂

  10. September 24, 2010 12:10 pm

    I particularly enjoyed what I see as the first two lines of your prose, up to “alien upon”. Beautifully descriptive. And, for what it’s worth, I did see the fog as having the ladies!

  11. ladynimue permalink
    September 24, 2010 12:20 pm

    I really loved reading this .. makes me think parallelly of my walks on the terrace at nights sometimes .. And yes ! I liked this form .. going to write a few more times for other prompts !

    • September 24, 2010 4:29 pm

      lady nimue, i’m glad you could relate to it. and i’m going to try to use (or abuse) the form more often, as well. i’d like to try a longer piece so i can hear the back & forth of the prose and haiku. my attention span is short, however, and i lose my momentum for longer pieces. 😦

  12. September 24, 2010 4:33 pm

    I like what you wrote a lot. The way a house can feel so different yet oddly familiar at night is well captured. There’s an eeriness but at the same time it’s comforting too. I like that.

    I’d like to learn more about haibun tool, though I’m enjoying my nontraditional approach at the time.

    • September 24, 2010 4:35 pm

      That should be “too” not “tool.” I wonder what a haibun tool would look like.

  13. September 24, 2010 5:17 pm

    Wonderful, Carolee. It may not have been epiphanic in the flesh, but it feels so in the word.

  14. September 24, 2010 6:36 pm

    First time I would have never know this is lovely and eerie and almost mystical, I really like your use of gray for the cat, in the word metallic and of coarse most of us think of gray for fog,it set the mood/tone wonderfully

  15. September 24, 2010 7:06 pm

    I really enjoyed this. It connected to my own experience of night-house-walking and finding comfort in my faithful, stalwart feline friend, before settling back into what might be a sleepless night.

  16. September 24, 2010 7:29 pm

    Not a cat-lover, myself, but aI’ve been known for some late night house wandering. Tabby or no, haibunish or not: Salute!

  17. September 24, 2010 9:43 pm

    I enjoyed this, and more because it opened for me the idea that the travel of the haibun can be a metaphor.

  18. September 24, 2010 11:36 pm

    nicely done Carolee.. and thanks for the prompt also

  19. September 25, 2010 8:08 am

    What I learnt about a haibun, (which is not much) this works for me. The poetic prose is so good. Liked the images.

    Haibun: seedy deeds

  20. September 25, 2010 10:31 am

    I did enjoy the stretch of the challenge and although as I worked my way through it, I thought the haiku was a bit awkward and edgy, I certainly liked the overall finished product, the two distinct voices coming together to make a wider place, a more complete view. Your experience seems similar to my own. And I definitely like where you came out with the fog and the tabby, the mysterious and the comforting. Good prompt, good stuff.


  21. September 25, 2010 7:39 pm

    The fog and his ladies– what an evocative image! And the faithful tabby cat waiting.

  22. September 25, 2010 9:02 pm

    I love what you do with fog in the prose – “its unclear” really sticks with me – and the delightful surprise of the tabby in the haiku. Beautiful!

  23. September 25, 2010 10:02 pm

    Soft and edgy. I enjoyed reading this one, to be sure!


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