More Seeds

Yesterday’s haiku (I’m late posting!) is by writer and poet Clark Strand, whose book on haiku leaped into my hands one rainy summer day and changed my life. As if his book wasn’t gift enough, I had the good fortune to meet Clark in person, and he inscribed my beloved copy with these seventeen syllables:

eager to get back
to the business of the world–
wiggling earthworm

Sadly, Seeds from a Birch Tree: Writing Haiku and the Spiritual Journey is out of print, but you can still find used copies around. Trust me, it is worth the hunt. Here’s a blog post I wrote about the book back in 2011, in case you need further convincing. And here’s some happy news I learned just yesterday: a revised and expanded edition is in the works!

Haiku for April 2

Author and poet Liz Garton Scanlon has challenged herself–and the rest of us, too–to celebrate National Poetry Month  by writing one haiku every day. I’m SO in. Here’s my offering for today:

holy smoke follows
the casket and the mourners
outside; crocuses

Join us, won’t you? Liz offers a few tips on writing haiku in this blog post, and here is a glowing review of my favorite book on the form, SEEDS FROM A BIRCH TREE, by Clark Strand, in case you need inspiration.

Happy haiku-ing!

Seeds from a Birch Tree

Writing Haiku and the Spiritual Journey
By Clark Strand
Hyperion, 1997

Category: Adult Non-fiction (Craft)

I found a copy of SEEDS FROM A BIRCH TREE on the used book sale shelf of the Peacedale Public Library, where my kids and I passed a rainy August afternoon during our vacation on the Rhode Island coast. For fifty cents, it was mine, and our (wet) vacation took an unexpected and sunnier turn. The things I’d brought to read sat neglected as I communed instead with this little masterpiece. And wrote haiku.

(Me? Writing haiku? I know it sounds crazy, but …)

Strand’s thoughtful look at the form and his zen approach to creating it is perfect for the tentative beginner. He doesn’t talk about composing poems so much as experiencing nature in a purposeful and meaningful way and, if the words come, recording the experience in seventeen syllables.

(Hey! Even I can do that.)

And Strand frames reading haiku as a spiritual practice, an idea that completely resonated with me.

(Slowing down? Looking deeply? Honoring the spiritual? What better time for that than a vacation?)

SEEDS was as inspirational to me as any book I have ever read. I wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t expect it. But there it was. I’ve taken to carrying a notebook when I’m outside in the woods, an idea taken from Strand. Now I walk, and watch, and count syllables off on my fingers. It’s an addicting habit, a lovely practice, and I hope it stays with me.

silent, unmoving,
pine trees cast their hopes to wind
forest seedshower

© Loree Griffin Burns, all rights reserved

For a hefty dose of nonfiction, check out this week’s Nonfiction Monday roundup, over at Wrapped in Foil.