Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Haiku A to Z: J is for Juxtaposition

spring day walk 2016
"Haiku juxtaposes seemingly unrelated observations in order to glimpse the hidden connections between things. It relies on mood and suggestiveness." --John Drury, Creating Poetry

.Juxtaposition (n): "the action of putting close together; place side-by-side."

This dictionary definition of juxtaposition is fine, as far as it goes. But one writer, speaking on the subject of haiku, takes the definition to a higher level. Michael Dylan Welch in his article Becoming a Haiku Poet speaks of juxtaposition in terms of a spark plug. I love the analogy:

"A haiku," Welch says, "also centers structurally on a pause or caesura ('kire' in Japanese). By juxtaposing two elements or parts (with one of the elements spanning over two of the poem's three lines), the two parts create a spark of energy, like the gap in a spark plug. The two elements of a good haiku may seem unrelated at first glance, but if the reader lingers on them sufficiently, he or she may notice a reverberation. When you realize the connection between the two parts (sometimes called an 'internal comparison'), you have a 'spark' of realization, an 'aha' moment. As a writer of haiku, it's your job to allow the poem to have that spark--and not spell it out for the reader. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do with haiku, as well as its most important--yet often least understood--structural characteristic."

Juxtaposition equates to a spark plug? Now that's a way to express a concept in a visual way! I'm still processing but hope to incorporate the technique as I continue to learn.

Joining in with a Day Ten Haiku:

jumping children grab
grandpa's hand and pull to creek...
robin wrestles bait
--Kenda Turner


  1. Now this is a fun way to look at Haiku! Glad you shared this. I remember learning about Haiku for the first time - I was in 6th or 7th grade, I think. At the time, I thought it didn't make sense and was hard to write. I can't say that I've mastered it at all, but I do have a greater appreciation for it. :)

  2. Karen, I'm kind of late to the game in this, too, but enjoying the experience. It's a way to exercise writing muscles, especially when not getting a good word count in on other projects! Have a great rest of the week :-)