One Writer’s Journey

July 11, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:09 am
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Since I’m playing around with the idea of writing an alphabet book, I’ve been doing a lot of reading in that area.  One of the books that I read last week was Hi, Koo! by Jon Muth.  He wrote this book in haiku, but that iisn’t what makes it an atypical alphabet book.  The “alphaebet” word on each spread isn’t necessarily the first word in the poem.  It may be the last and very often is somewhere in the middle.

It is also a rule breaker in terms of its haiku.  Here is one of the poems:

water catches
every thrown stone
skip skip splash

What’s going on here?  The 5-7-5 pattern of U.S. haiku is missing.  There’s a good reason for that.  In his instroduction, Muth explains that traditional Japanese haiku is not composed of syllables in the same way that U.S. haiku is.  Instead, it is based on a count of 14 on.  An on is a sound unit, either a vowel, a vowel/consonant pair, or an “n” at the end of the word.  Thus, in English, haiku is two syllables but 3 on.  On is one syllable, but 2 on.  

I’m still not 100% certain that I fully understand the on vs the syllable but I like knowing something about the traditional Japanese form, the culture in which the form was born.




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