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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v16n02)
Poetic Thoughts - Two Japanese Forms - by C.W. Pruitt II
posted: Jan. 18, 2019

Poetic Thoughts header

Two Japanese Forms

Haiku is a short ancient Japanese poetry form that is traditionally about nature. Beatnik poet Jack Kerouac popularized the haiku form in America. Etheridge Knight (from Indianapolis) was awesome at haiku.

As a poetic discipline, I wrote over 250 haikus from the Gospels in a six week period in 2002, Here is one of those haikus:

In the wilderness
Of human understanding
Ego was beaten

C.W. Pruitt II
August 20, 2002

Notice that the haiku form is 5-7-5 in terms of beats per line.

In 2003 I was talking to my poet/friend Richard Jones at CATH, Inc. He encouraged me to attempt a tanka. The tanka is an ancient Japanese form which begins with a 5-7-5 haiku. It ends with two 7 beat lines that are meant to shed light on the haiku above it.

I asked Richard to suggest a passage in the Bible which contained imagery of nature. (Richard is also a theologian). He turned to Isiah 55:12-13. Immediately the words of the prophet formed a tanka in my mind. Here is what I came up with:

Go with joy and peace
Mountains break into singing
Trees shall clap their hands

Nothing sharp is left to hurt us
Everlasting sign of Love

C.W. Pruitt II
June 2003


cw@broadripplegazette.com
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