Notes on the LĪGO HAĪBUN CHALLENGE, the Web’s Original Haibun Challenge

Come join us in our weekly LĪGO HAĪBUN CHALLENGE! Here’s some notes about haibun to help you get started.

 

  • Haibun is a passage of prose with at least one haiku.
  • Haibun usually relate to a journey, whether the travels are exploration or  internal, and/or should be in contact with nature.
  • They can and ought to contain an epiphany received through experience.
  • The concept of a haibun being part of the series, or an ‘episode’ is a very important one, and often overlooked. Your haibun should tie together by some strand, either theme, location, journey or other.
  • The haiku describes a moment or happening. As part of the haibun it might serve as a ‘mirror’ or look at the prose in a ‘different’ way.
  • Use of a ‘season’ word is a classical way of writing a haiku. These are words that signify a given season and give the haiku earthing or anchoring.
  • Each week, at the Līgo Haībun Challenge here is a choice of two prompt words, quotes, or visuals. Please choose one for your haibun.
  • Wear the Ligo badge below with pride on your blog! And pin the Circle of Appreciation to your blog  if your haibun is one of the monthly  Honourable Mentions in Dispatches

Click on the url below to join the challenge!

Haibun as a literary form really started when Basho, the ‘father’ of haiku set off on a 2,400 km walk through Japan, deliberately straying into the mountains when he could. The travel journals were a mix of prose studded with haiku, and were published titled ‘Narrow Road To The Deep North’. Frankly, it is a wonderful book, and started a very special form of writing. Basho claimed the art and heart of haibun as his with his reflective writing, awareness and sharp imagery.

While seen as a classical form in Japan, haibun has seen a revival in English over the past decades.

People should write their haibun in the way they like to write. However, I do think that the register of the language used, not the style, is important. There is a difference.

The above looks difficult, but in fact we are not talking about a story with a twist here – at all, though a moment of discovery or epiphany in a haibun fits very well.

The first thing I look to in a haibun is if the writer was at the scene or not him or herself.  The scene may be a memory, or a plan, merely witnessed or interacted with, or a mix of many or all of those.

It is not a story, though is a narrative. Personally I find it hard to read a haibun not interacting with nature. Indeed, an emphasis on emotion and not imagery is something that does not work in a haibun as a whole.

I am personally not a fan of direct speech, or lengthy direct speech in a haibun.

Remember that with the prose comes one or more haiku, and they must relate – when they do it is wonderful reading, but those who write a beautiful prose and don’t carefully tie it together with a powerful haiku miss something, I think.

I do very much see haibun coming in a series, rather like a diary, so would accordingly expect each haibun written by a given writer not be completely and totally separate from the one before. But if you are writing about your thoughts, actions, journey or a period in your life this seems logical to me.

A deeper meaning to the haiku might be found by the reader, but that is the reader’s prerogative, not the writer’s.

  • Līgo is the largest summer solstice festival in the world very much connected to nature, and located in Latvia. Of recent years a similar New Year festival at around the same time has been gaining popularity in Yakutia and will probably catch on in Kazakhstan.

 

 

Carpe Diem Haibun – Beach

Beaches don’t come much colder than Aberdeen beach, in the northwest of Scotland. But before people bustled onto planes to get drunk abroad, Aberdeen beach was a popular holiday destinations for hardy Aberdonians. They don’t make folk like that anymore. Nowadays, of course, none venture in such cold waters when their are holidays further south to be had.

Advances in technology have brought a fair amount of improvements to our lives, but for every action there is a reaction. Isn’t that the first law of Physics?

Our food is worse now, not better. Our health and fitness worse. The food is less nutritious, and there is much less variety of it, a little known fact. There are many less varieties of apples around than there used to be 50, or a 100 years ago, for example, as industrial production seeks the cheapest to produce, the farthest away. One day we will learn more by looking back, except that many of these varieties have disappeared, forever. In fact there are storage centres desperately being arranged and built in an effort to preserve seeds of disappearing varieties of foodstock. It is that bad.

Our ancestors never got to see and experience what we do, but not everything they believed and lived by was wrong. Our social fabric is torn. Today we have what has become the propagandist aggressive negativity of Feminism, for example, while before we had gentlemen, and decency towards women. Even, maybe, in Aberdeen!

Scottish Comedian Billy Connolly gives an account of Aberdeen beach in his particular style which gives a fair idea of Aberdeen beach – start at 4.40 mins for his account of swimming in Aberdeen.

And the emptiness of Aberdeen beach today…

88beach_1

loneliness by the sea
what is found over horizons
is found here too

dVerse – Let It Rain

soft rain
takes me home

to watch drops
roll on a window pane

grey skies
waves caress sand
-a background refrain

I walk the forest
bathed
hesitate not
in my step
it leads me away
from where I came

the passion
of the Amazon has gone
the storm that lashed my skin
nectar of native fruit sinned

her arms tightening
under the lightning

I know
I’m not tamed

for the soft shores of a final destination
that to roam is my home

that my peace is found
in the eye of the monsoon

Ligo Haibun Challenge – Quote Prompt Week

Winter on one side, summer on the other, we drift into December. There were some beautiful haibun last week, making the choice of Honourable Mentions absurdly difficult again. Thank you again, wonderful contributors.

This week is quote week again. Please choose one as always continued…

Weekly Ligo Haibun Challenge – Word Prompt

The Ligo Haibun challenge is here. This week is the word prompt challenge.

Now, regarding the Honourable Mentions. Again difficult this week, maybe even more so, as contributors have been cultivating the style. This means that you know haibun, and have decided how you will write your own. We looked at these haibun closely first.
the need to be out in nature is exemplified in this haibun here, and one emphasises with it very much.
The interaction with nature was exemplified in http://nicolethelocalartist.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/ligo-haibun-challenge-a-handful-of-earth/. Just look at how nature has influenced the people in the haibun personally – in the prose and seamless verse.
In a similar way, but using well selected objects, http://bastetandsekhmet.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/ligo-haibun-challenge-picture-prompt/ creates tension so well, and again her verse and prose work together so well.
http://julesinflashyfiction.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/a-ligo-haibun-regrets/ also pulls emotion to the reader, in again a haibun where the prose and verse interact so well.
http://seraphim6.me/2013/11/26/cold-stone-mountain/ did something very interesting. Her haibun was based around a message to the reader, something I’m normally a bit wary of in habun, but she has put her style onto the haibun, and created her genre, and I enjoy her writing so much. I think many would agree with what she is saying, and the writing flows very nicely.
  • The Honourable Mentions. We like to select no more than 3, but will go as far as 1/3 of participants in a given week, which is what I have done, so we have 4 this week.
http://twoscamps.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/ligo-haibun-challenge-7/ a very poignant piece, with an underlying theme that really resonated. I also liked the idea, simple but effective, of looking at a moment in the past, but this haibun goes further than that.
http://creativemetaphor.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/exhale/ this haibun is a journey itself. I am always quite surprised, to say the least, when writers can write a beautiful piece then go on and better it the week after. This haibun is quite beautiful, and I almost do not want to say anything more about it – would much rather you went to the site and read it, then you’ll agree.
http://peripateticeric.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/ligo-haibun-challenge-misty-mountains/ a pause in an exotic location high in the mountains. There is only one writer who masters these moments so well. He is mentioned for this one and the others he wasn’t mentioned for, all of a high standard.
http://friendlyfairytales.com/2013/11/26/letters-from-japan-haibun/ this haibun is as orginal as they come, and looks deceptively easy to do, as everything that is done so well. A very impressive haibun, for its originality.
Continue reading for this week’s  word prompt…

The Flight of the Oryx

During those hot sultry nights, when the humidity and heat were so high that the air conditioning immediately condensed, and sent billowing clouds into the cabin, that familiar music would somehow pacify the background and bring a cool freshness to the surroundings.

Entering a Qatar Airways plane at some exotic city in the globe was like an instant massage, be it Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Buenos Aires, Katmandu or any number of desert destinations. There were the stewardesses, usually from Eastern Europe or South Africa, with their bewitching accents, or from Asia, with their enigmatic smiles, and the immaculate burgundy and grey decor. But it was the Qatar Airways tune, piped along with the air conditioning that seemed to really work the magic; when that soothing feeling, of entering the cabin to take a flight from desert to Europe, or desert to more jungle, seemed like real therapy. There is just something in that music they played, better than any James Bond theme song, or Tchaikovsky ballet score, or Rolling Stones latest.

But Qatar Airways offered more: the Japanese stewardess, when I was getting off the plane, who had slipped off shoes to stand on a seat, to bring down a heavy piece of luggage, who gave a small shriek, stumbled and fell into my arms when I offered her a small package, for in those days, with such good service on board, I often brought some small gifts from Europe for the hard-working flight attendants: ”I thought it was a bomb!” the Japanese stewardess had said to me, red-faced, as she sat caught just in time in my arms.

And there was the Slovakian air stewardess, on September 11th, 2002, who when I told her how much I’d enjoyed trekking in the Tatra mountains of Slovakia, had purred:  ”therrre arrre two good things that come from Slovakia; the beerrr, and the wommmen,” and slid her hand into my open shirt and wiped it up my chest – electric. And that was on September 11th 2002, heading to Pakistan from Munich,after a couple of people had left the plane, one a woman screaming we were going to crash and the other a bearded Pakistani in pashtun hat after he answered a mobile phone call, both causing the delay which allowed the delicious chat.

Other airlines in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region had their strong points too; Etihad and Emirates, Oman Air, Gulf Air and Royal Jordanian, who brought a plane back to the gate for me when I was late, a plane I boarded with razor blades in my bag, having passed the bag through the x-ray, the security guard asking me if they were there, and I mistakenly answering ”no”, and him replying ”I trust you.”

But Qatar Airways just seemed to be a touch different. And those electric feelings? That’s why I write. I like to set my books in wonderfully exotic locations, but the trips taken to get there are also a secret delight. It was Robert Louis Stevenson who said that it is the journey, not the destination, and he travelled by donkey. I am sure he would have had a few more interesting words to say about his journeys had he been sitting waiting to take off to Tahiti, or Samarkand or Cape Town in those planes with the oryx on their side.

This Week At The Ligo Haibun Challenge

Haiku is the  customary close to a haibun’s prose, and fits so well, but in our innovation week we are not obliged to limit ourselves to haiku. What we must not forget is that the haiku, either one or more, is a distillation of the prose, in a contrasting form, and seems to enhance the prose, while of course the prose itself raises the haiku up.

In saying that, there are other forms that might also work with prose to create a particular magic.

So this week, in innovation week make a choice between haiku or tanka, or pathya vat from Cambodia, orthanbauk from Burma, now Myanmar, to go with your prose. You may also choose another form, though I would hesitate to go much further in volume than a tanka, which does make me slightly uneasy, as the balance just may be ‘wrong.’ 

Pathya vat is a four-line poem, with 4 syllables each line – and line 2 and 3 must rhyme. Here’s one I tried.

my forest walk
is long enough
to stop my rust
-meditation

XXXX
XXXA
XXXA
XXXX

Yes, I know, not very deep – but there isn’t prose behind it, and to be honest a couple of paragraphs describing my feelings among the trees might go nicely with this.

Thanbauk is poetry of three lines with four syllables on each line. The rhyme pattern of thanbauk can be seen below, with 4th, 3rd and 2nd syllables rhyming in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd lines. Here’s my first attempt, without any prose to give it more depth as a haibun.

X X X A
X X A X
X A X X

a coffee poured
eyes adored, hers 
her, bored, so tired

As you have noticed I haven’t mentioned syllable requirements for the tanka. Let’s generally label the requirements frameworks. In tanka they are  (notionally for Ligo Haibun) 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. 

Should you prefer to use the haiku as is customary, there are 3 forms that are variants. One is the 5-7-5 syllable English language format, which stresses form over meaning. another one that is popular is the haiku over 3 lines with no more than 17 syllables in total, but no line requirement, and the third is freestyle with no syllable count over 3 lines.

This week is quote prompt week. You do not need to include the quote in the haibun, and normally it is not included but used as inspiration for your haibun. As always, choose one.

It is not enough to know how to ride – you must also know how to fall.–Mexican Proverb
It is solved by walking. –Algerian Proverb

WEEKLY LIGO HAIBUN CHALLENGE HERE

A Writer’s Lair @ Starý Smokovec

Despite an ex-boxer prime minister who arranged to have the country’s president’s son kidnapped, beaten up, and dumped at the border, Slovakia was one of  my favourite destinations some 15-20 years ago. More particularly, Starý Smokovecin the Tatra mountains.

Slovakia was a country with an attitude in the early 1990s. In next-door Hungary the prime minister had just announced he was not prime minister of Hungary, but of all Hungarians; tantamount, just about, to a declaration of war. With its sizable Hungarian minority, history of being invaded by Hungary (the last time in 1968, as fighting strafed the streets of Prague during the Prague Spring), and while Yugoslavia nearby crumbled, Slovakia tensed.

Mercier, the infamous Slovak prime minister, argued for Slovakia joining the newly formed CIS, formed from the ex-USSR, to become the”richest state in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) instead of the poorest in the European Union, and banned shops using only the Hungarian language on their signs.

I loved the atmosphere of turmoil in Eastern Europe at the time. Writers need tension, conflict and pressure – just ask the Czechoslovak authors who wrote the masterpieces they did under the communist regime, permanently fighting censorship or worse.

But most of all I loved coming to Starý Smokovec.

Starý Smokovec

I was in various locations in Eastern Europe in those early years of the decade, but whenever I wanted to add a few more chapters to my burgeoning book, I would head straight for the mountain town for a few weeks, in summer, winter, spring and autumn. I stayed in various different pensions, each one clean, charming, with a table in a room with a view. Considering the pensions started around €5 per night at that time, I was able to spend all my breaks ensconced in a room, coming out for breathtaking walks among trails, or a few Tatran beers, surely the world’s finest beer, made on site.

Tatran beer advertisment

Tatran beer advertisment

Starý Smokovec

Starý Smokovec church

Starý Smokovec was the ideal writer’s retreat. A small town in the Tatra mountains, with clean air, not too much to do except walk, and write, a language that I did not understand but was charming to the ear, and prices that meant I was able to concentrate on the book without worrying about where my next meal would come from.

Starý Smokovec train station

One of my ‘residences’ in Starý Smokovec

The Tatra mountains were just right for the writer – easily accessible but out of the way, with those great mountain hikes and lubrication. Even the tea was good. I wrote in all seasons, in chalets and pensions and bars, over garlic soup, cheese and bread. I took trips to Moldavia, in the new Czech Republic, just as Dubček, one of the architects of the 1968 Prague Spring died in a mysterious car crash. I took trips down to Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, where I travelled with false documents as the Serbs in Belgrade tried to get rid of Milosovic and his Lady Macbeth, until the Serb police got rid of me. I took trips to Romania, during those infamous days when miners were paid to come to Bucharest to crack a few demonstrating student heads open, after the fake ‘revolution’ that got Ceaucescu and his Lady M out of the way (more about that in my book!). And I travelled to the Ukraine, with its visas issued not to the day of departure, but hour.

And I returned to Starý Smokovec to write. Those were special days of change.

Mountain chalet above Starý Smokovec – for short writing excursions

You can set your dramatic assassination scene at the cable car station at the mountain top above Starý Smokovec

Starý Smokovec town lay-out

Ese’s Quote & Shoot – Vibrations

114

Ah the buzzing butterflies, the shudder as the plane takes off, the tingle of anticipation to be travelling again…the sudden vibrations and smooth landing in an exotic land. How I enjoy to travel, and dream of Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Morocco, Iran…

‘In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.’
Christopher Morley

Mmm…true…

ese’s challenge

Free & Pirate, circa 1980s

In Memory Of Free, From A Pirate

a young pirate took to the seas
With a compatriot
a guy whose name really was ‘Free’
except he didn’t make it…
captured, as he was, by the ocean
and the young Pirate was me…
that’s why the name stays
in honour of a friend, taken by a storm
a long
long time ago
in those darks days
of splintering, crashing wood
water gushing in
a friend stretching out a hand
then water sweeping him away
…water sweeping him away
and if you ask me if it feels like yesterday
‘yes,’ I’ll say
and I will smile wistfully
for the seas we shared
and the nautical miles
…and the nautical memories
they run deep

Free & Pirate, circa 1980s

Free & Pirate, cigar in mouth, circa 1980s

I miss ye, Free, ye bastard, even if you’d cuss me out for saying I do.

An Artist

picture by Semprevento

La sua bellezza sta nelle parole che soffia
Come foglie, gettato al vento
Il suo calore è nelle avvolgenti ombre di raffreddamento
La sua memoria indugia sempre nella mia mente
Come se fossero orme nella sabbia, non proprio lavato dalle onde
Eppure

Lei è esotico, le sue voci sussurra da tutti i mari
Nella brezza, profumata dai profumi toscani
Una donna, un artista che sa come respirare
La sua musica dipinti, le sue foto poesie
Le sue fotografie emozioni, creando sensazioni
Sentita

<>

Her beauty lies in the words she blows
Like leaves, cast to the wind
A warmth  in the enveloping cooling shadows
And her memory always lingering in my mind
As if they were footprints in the sand, not quite washed by the waves
Yet

She is exotic, her voice whispers from across the seas
In the breeze, scented by Tuscan perfumes
A woman, an artist who knows how to breathe
Her paintings music, her poems pictures
Her photographs emotions, creating sensations
Felt

<>

the wind blows ~ I am a tree ~ the waves whisper to me

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boston-bombers-chose-troubling-date-for-attack-130417-670x440-130417

Picture It & Write ~ Max Sidebottom-Smythe’s View

boston-bombers-chose-troubling-date-for-attack-130417-670x440-130417There are those born to explore, and there are those who have exploration thrust upon them. Max Sidebottom-Smythe had shifted to the latter, he realised, as his island sank slowly beneath him.

Worse than that, he was nude, as any self-respecting marooned explorer would soon find him or herself in his position, he had told himself many times, but he knew it was not going to be mermaids attracted to floppy parts, but rather sharks. He could always keep his legs still, he sighed, but even a small shark…

He was now shoulder-deep in water, soon to be neck-deep. As an unabashed optimist he could have said his head was still free of water for surely a few wonderfully air-full hours, but as Max could not swim, his reserves of optimism were drawing thin, he had to admit.

Still, the view was nice. Kind of.

__________________________________________________

pictureitandwrite

An Armenian woman near Artvin (in present day Turkey), circa 1910.

Five Sentence Fiction – Edge

“Hola Christopher, where you been these days; it’s been a long, long time.”

“Ciao my friend, well, I been to the East Indies!”

“Oh don’ be crazy my friend, you know if you try to go there you’ll sail straight off the edge of the world!”

“Yeah, like you’d know; instead of sitting here in this taverno drinking vino, why don’t you try some tobacco!?”

“Tobacco, what’s that, some kind of new craze?”

f i v e s e n t e n c e f i c t i o n

Friday Fiction ~ A Career Change

Ol’ Pops Dawson had been a cleaner at Brisbane Airport as long as he’d been cleaning, but had never been in a plane. So it seemed natural when he saw the pilot’s hat and jacket behind the desk at the gate that he would just try them on in the walkway.

When he boarded the plane he remembered not to look too joyful, and when he slipped into the pilot’s seat and put headphone on, he happily replied to the control tower:

“Uh…yeah, this is Tango Lima 332 ready for departure.”

He okayed the purser’s request to close all doors and let the copilot fire up engines.

Captain Olson, returning from the bathroom, was somewhat perturbed to see his jet pulling out of the stand.

  _ _ _   ___ ___ ___   _ _ _   ___ ___ ___

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS 100 WORD STORIES

Friday Fictioneers ~ The Code

copyright-renee-homan-heath

Step by step.

A grand last view, if not grand last words: “Keep movin’ ye rat!” A shove in the back.

As if I’d stumble so easily!

And even shady palm trees. .

Step by step. T’wards my necklace of rope, and my ocean, looking suspiciously calm today.

No more maraudin’ when swingin’ from the gallows. No more saucy wenches, teasin’ me of my gains as I hang…

Ah, but I imagine by now you’ll be thinkin’; “what’s a dead man doing writing?”

Did you forget the pirate’s code, and really think the bushes were free of my crew?

…Tut tut…

~~~~~~~~~~~~

100 Words

Friday Fictioneers – welcome aboard!

Picture Renee Homan Heath