I was very pleased to be invited to participate in this series, however, I found myself wishing I had done what I told myself to do a few years ago – write down the haiku I really liked when I first read them. Since I did not do this, there are many favourites that were never considered for this list. That being said, I was still able to come up with ten favourites. A few are ones that survived my memory deficiencies, and the rest are either rediscoveries or first-time discoveries as I searched online and through journals to complete my list.
The first three haiku on the list are my top favourites in the order of preference. The remaining seven haiku are in no particular order.
snapped line –
the salmon’s full length
in the air
– Francine Porad
This one is a long-time favourite, and perhaps my all-time favourite. I see the image as a snapshot, or a video in slow motion. It draws me in every time I read it.
Since I am an avid fisherwoman, I can relate to the frustration and loss of having a “snapped line” – wishing instead that the “full length” of the salmon was on the kitchen cutting board.
However, there is also a beauty and power to the image – this almost-doomed salmon finally snapping free in mid-air before it disappears back into the water.
a pine cone fell
and some bird flew off
last day of spring
– Neal Whitman
I discovered this haiku recently and I immediately added it to my favourites list. The carefree nature of this haiku is like no other I have read. It takes simplicity to a whole new level; especially evident in the second line – “some bird flew off”. By presenting a commonplace scene with such commonplace wording, Whitman has created a most unique haiku. I just love it!
of her black pearls
– Sandra Simpson
This may be the most sensual and evocative haiku I have read. The first line begins with an image that fills the senses: the feel and sound of slicing through a ripe papaya, the aroma that is released, . . . The second line adds a yet-unknown movement that draws the reader in even more. The third line reveals the “swing” and propels the reader back the first line and the moist papaya seeds: black and shiny. Together, each line magnifies the impact of the others. Extremely captivating.
mating dragonflies –
– Aubrie Cox
I sure can relate to this one. It has taken me some effort to reduce my own use of dashes in haiku. I just love that someone actually wrote about it! And what an unusual and humorous comparison – “mating dragonflies”. Fantastic senryu!
of the spider’s web
– Quendryth Young
I admit I “stole” this favourite from another poet’s favourites list. Its tone is somewhat reminiscent of the sentiment in many of Issa’s poems (one of my favorite poets).
As an arachnophobe, I have found several spider haiku that I have thoroughly enjoyed. However, as someone who also finds spiders interesting, I thought this haiku was quite successful at capturing those conflicting emotions. Upon reading this, I cringed at the thought (and memory) of walking into a spider’s web, as well as empathising with the suddenly displaced spider.
muddy lakeshore –
on the monarch’s wing
– Michael Dylan Welch
This is an incredibly visual haiku. For me, it feels more like an illustration; I envision a wonderfully composed photograph or painting. Many haiku have imagery that resonates for me, but the strength of the visual artistry in this haiku is what I find so unusual and so appealing.
gone from the woods
the bird I knew
by song alone
– Paul O. Williams
I had just entered the haiku world when Paul O. Williams departed in 2009. But it wasn’t long before I began seeing his name and his writings, particularly his essays, which I used in the haiku group I began that same year. The first time I saw this haiku, it was reprinted in a memorial to Williams. The poignancy of this stuck with me, as did this haiku.
in pine shade
for a while I forget
this life will end
– Robert Epstein
Most people I have met during my life, rarely, if ever, contemplated their mortality – or at least never discussed it. Once I began writing and met other writers, I was glad to find this subject wasn’t so taboo.
I have read, and written, many death awareness haiku, but what I particularly like about this one is that it addresses one of those moments when nature has you so fully absorbed, perhaps even fulfilled, that you temporarily forget about that mortality.
of my own voice
– Brendan Slater
I cannot easily put into words why this is one of my favourites, but no matter how many times I read it, it continues to intrigue me. The second line was a surprise – the discovery the author made being that of his own voice rather than someone else’s. The final line has an ambiguity that invites deeper exploration. Perhaps its appeal for me is that I still remain as curious about it as when I first read it. I keep coming back to it.
no one grew old
– Melissa Spurr
This one sure catches you in the moment, and what a joyous moment to be caught in. Not much more needs to be said; it speaks for itself. What a wonderfully delightful haiku!
Editor’s note: Seren Fargo, once a wildlife researcher, now writes poetry, particularly Japanese-form. She finds this form best satisfies both her creative side and her scientific side. In 2009, she founded the Bellingham Haiku Group in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Her work has won several awards and been published in many journals in the US and internationally. Her writing largely reflects two major aspects of her life: her passion for the natural world and her struggles with chronic illness. She lives in a rural setting with her two cats and two snakes.