Haiku poetry is more often associated with its simplicity than its beauty. A five-syllable line, followed by a seven-syllable line, followed by another five-syllable line. Poetry so easy anyone can write it.
The Japanese form dates back centuries. And it probably won’t surprise you to learn that there’s more to it than a beat count. Haiku is about juxtapositions. It’s about two ideas or images in sharp contrast. A kireji – or cutting word – serves precisely the purpose its name suggests.
There must be a seasonal reference, from a prescribed list that I will leave it to you to research. And by the way, not all haiku poetry is five-seven-five. An alternative form consists of three, five and then three syllables.
London-based Naviar Records is four years into a kind of love affair with haiku. It hosts an ongoing web contest that invites artists to compose music based on posted poems. They’re given one week to produce their work.
The label released a gorgeous collection of live and studio recordings in December. Naviar Haiku Fest – Live at the Old Church features work from Audio Obscura, Ikjoyce, sōzuproject, Daniel Diaz, Detritus Tabu, Ed Mundio, Jesus Lastra, Yum Haruki and Night Note.
Last week, the label delivered a remarkable 93-track pay-what-you-like digital collection of work entered into its haiku challenge. The package runs an astounding 8 hours and 47 minutes, and it is packed with extraordinary recordings. You can shuffle this for hours and not find a single unlikable piece.