Techniques Used In Haiku:
The technique of the Simile:
Some purists and diehards in the haiku world have made things very difficult for the poets. They have insisted since ages past that simile is taboo in haiku. Jane points out that such obstinacy is uncalled for because, as she points, even the Japanese Masters have used similes in their verse. However, haiku poets the world over found a way out of this impasse, by cleverly juxtaposing similar images so that even without using the sinful words ‘like’ or ‘as’, the similarity between them is conveyed to the readers.
riding the waves
---- Payal A Agarwal in A Hundred Gourds, Sept 2014 Issue
The above haiku says that a crescent moon looks like a dinghy riding the waves, or at least its reflection looks like one. It does this without using the sinful words ‘like’ or ‘as’.
soap bubbles —
all the dreams
I blew away
---- Vinay Leo R in A Hundred Gourds, June 2014 Issue
This haiku talks about, ‘all the dreams I blew away’ like ‘soap bubbles’, without using ‘like’. Another haiku of this type is:
mother’s kiss —
the dew drenched breeze
on my forehead
----- Arvinder Kaur in A Hundred Gourds, Mar 2014 Issue
The technique of the Sketch or Shiki’s Shasei:
This technique gives a description of the natural world, rather like a sketch. Shasei, simply means, ‘to depict as is’. Shiki’s haiku utilizing this technique says:
waves come into the cove
one at a time
Very often, the physical description has more than one layer of interpretation. It is Masaoka Shiki who insisted that haiku should ‘show’ and not ‘tell’, suggest without stating. Shiki is credited with having pioneered this technique. Here’s a modern day haiku which uses the sketch from nature technique:
through an empty nest
on a bare branch —
pieces of moon
---- Geethanjal Rajan in A Hundred Gourds, Sept 2013 Issue
a baya weaving
a green nest
---- Ramesh Anand in A Hundred Gourds, Mar 2014 Issue
Yet another, this time a slightly contemporary or modern day sketch:
the expanse of sunlight
---- Arvinder Kaur in A Hundred Gourds, Dec 2013 Issue
Although this haiku appears to merely describe a piece of furniture, there is more than one level of interpretation. If the setting was more orthodox, I would have classified it as the mysterious type or Yugen type of haiku.
The technique of Double Entendre:
Here, certain words/images having a double meaning are used. Many Japanese expressions had sexual connotations and were used for their double meaning in haiku. ‘Spring rain’, for example, meant sexual emission.
The technique of the Pun:
The use of puns in haiku dates back hundreds of years, but even today haijin delight in their use.
black tea —
I search in vain
for the milky way
---- Pravat Kumar Padhy in A Hundred Gourds, June 2014 Issue
Here’s a haiku from the quill of the prolific Kala Ramesh of Pune, wherein she has used a pun very effectively:
tower of silence
the cawing of
a hundred crows, not one vulture
One has to be singularly ignorant not to know what the tower of silence is. The pun used here is not for humorous effect but to give the reader food for thought. One more, with a pun, from Angelee Deodhar:
the new baby finally asleep
--- Silent night
The technique of Wordplay:
Similar to double entendre and puns, though in this case they are language or culture specific, which is to say that each country/language has certain expressions, typical to it, which are used in a humorous way. Generally, these are place names which can cleverly be used for a double meaning:
now it’s right — how it fits
Half Moon Bay
----- Jane Reichhold
In the above, Half Moon Bay is a place name, the name of a bay, to be precise.
The technique of Verb/Noun Exchange:
Here, a verb is interchanged or exchanged with a corresponding noun, or vice versa, for a certain effect.
stringing memories —
now I fly the kite
---- Yesha Shah in The Heron’s Nest, Dec 2014 Issue
Obviously, here, ‘a string of memories,’ in the first part of the haiku wouldn’t have been as effective.
The technique of Close Linkage:
Similar to Comparison, Contrast and Association techniques. In order to connect the two different images in a haiku, the leap made can be a small one, a close one, and even a well-known one. The leap being a Close one, this technique is called one of Close Linkage.
finding on a beach
an open knife
---- Jane Reichhold
The leap from ‘winter road’ to ‘open knife’, and the resultant connection made is a close one. Here’s another example of Close Linkage:
each peak wrapped
in its own mist
---- Sanjuktaa Asopa in A Hundred Gourds, Sept 2013 Issue
This haiku may arguably be using the technique of Comparison rather than Close Linkage, but it is a moot point. In any case, there is bound to be an area of overlap between the two types because of their close similarity.
The technique of Leap Linkage:
Here too, there is a leap between images, but a much greater leap. Haiku employing this technique use an almost surrealistic leap between images. Examples are,
the early spring sunshine
in my hand
---- Jane Reichhold
Note the huge leap made between the first image and the second. Another haiku, with a similar fragment is:
I breathe my
---- Pravat Kumar Padhy in The Heron’s Nest, Dec 2014 Issue
The leap leaves us almost breathless. Another one, using the Leap Linkage technique, is this gem from Kala Ramesh’s pen:
the rising sun between
What a gigantic leap, indeed, from ‘rising sun’ to ‘between my hands’!! The uninitiated might be inclined to dismiss this as balderdash…until, that is, they let the words and images sink in. That’s the beauty of the poem… this elusiveness!