Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Season Words (for haiku artists).

Season words for Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway Poetry Trail. 

There are many characteristics of haiku, and the one we’ll focus on here is the “season word.” 

Most forms of haiku include a “season word” – which is a reference to season or in some ways geography.  There is actually a list of a hundred “season words” – but some are pretty specific to Japan, such as the spring word that means “nightingale”.  If you read or hear a haiku about viewing cherry blossoms, you likely are hearing a spring poem.

Winter might be represented simply by “snow” or some variation on “cold.” But there are other concepts associated with the season – some of them cultural, like the “viewing of cherry blossoms.”

Japanese is a deliciously contextual language, and the different Japanese poetry forms often include a great deal of wordplay based on how a character can be pronounced, what it means in Japanese or Chinese, and a great deal more. In English traditions there have been a number of attempts to create a set of season words. Sometimes the traditional season words work fine for us, but sometimes they don’t. That’s why this exercise is to generate “season words” you could associate with the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway area and the “poetry trail” in particular.

            Example: Winter: Snow, cold, slush, warming fire smoke, skiers panting, elk breaking ice …

We are now creating a list of seasonal allusions relevant to this place and geography – which will also inform the official “season word list” for the poetry trail.
For those of you “from here” or familiar with the area, you might want to branch out to the other seasons. For those of you “not from here”, we invite you to imagine “what that word might be if you knew.”

In either case, submit your season word (and season you think it best conveys!) to, and we'll post them here.