Fridays With Dale: It’s My Job

Title with image of author

Dale Angel

 


It’s My Job

By Dale Angel

 

‘Grandmother’ is a titled position. Their duties are varied and executive in nature. You can’t run a company without experts, and Grandmothers are…especially at such things as the irrelevancy of what matters.

Think how deprived you’d be without parental re-enforcements, or as the case may be, undermining the house rules. If youths are to be individuals, they have not been educated unless the Grandmother has…re-evaluated situations…asking old outdated questions like “Who’s going to pay the freight?”

She is at liberty to ask questions no one else will touch, and when it comes across as ‘personal’, it can with confidence be laid to the dotty old grandmother who has not learned to text. What does she know?

Only, the blood lines during your life time all the family secrets and situations no one else will go near, like if it was a power struggle to wash the graffiti off the walls at three, why at fifteen it’s called ‘art’, and it’s ok to mark up your body with it?

Then, there’s the sweet question—do you believe that? It’s a snow job. This is where reverse challenging is often useful to weak kneed parents to help them cope with that infectious disease common to most youths…hearing loss. Parents need comforting and reassurance it will return in a few years….Reminding them… theirs did.

How privileged to have a Grand Dame in the family. As a practicing Grandmother, it’s my job to undermine and dismantle some present day errors, like if I’m paying, I get to dictate and say “No, I don’t buy sweetened sodas. You may have milk or juice.”  If the princesses and princes have no concept of what no means, the whining follows with threatening intent. These darlings are skilled negotiators… I yield… and offer choices …’’ lake water, spring water, mountain water, or…. river or stream water?…. the most popular.

 By the time we have gained Professional Status, this power diminishes. The texting thing does damage and out date ones credibility.

 Like all CEO’s… Part of the perks is, I get the credit for all successes and none of the mess’s left behind for the next in line for this job. …  

Dale Angel


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Haiku: A New Appreciation

leaves encased in ice

Haiku is a Japanese poetry form that many Americans admire. However, I have found very few adult Americans attempting to write it. Many of us learned about haiku in grade school English classes. We were taught the proper haiku form:

  • Three lines
  • Seventeen syllables
  • Broken into 5-7-5 syllable lines
  • Has to contain a ‘season’ element, indicating spring, summer, winter, or fall

Writers who do tackle haiku are challenged by the constraints of the form, like those who enjoy writing sonnets, or quatrains. Many other writers don’t like the constraints, and therefore, prefer to admire haiku from afar.

I recently read two books about writing haiku by experts in the field: The Heart of Haiku, by Jane Hirshfield, and Write Like Issa: A Haiku How-To, by David G. Lanoue. They have each translated thousands of haiku from Japanese to English.

I read Hirshfield’s book first. She focuses mainly on using the work of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694), the poet who developed the haiku form in the late 1600s. He gave it the 5-7-5 form. Hirshfield says that Bashō elevated the form from simple playful verse into something more substantial. Hirshfield says that “he wanted to renovate human vision by putting what he saw into a bare handful of mostly ordinary words, and he wanted to renovate language by what he asked it to see.”

Interestingly, I noticed that very few haiku translations from Japanese to English seem to follow the 5-7-5 pattern. This Bashō haiku on aging is a great example:

growing old:

eating seaweed,

teeth hitting sand

 

The line pattern in this translation is 3-4-4. However, how could one change this without changing the conciseness of the piece? Without disrupting the elegance?

Later in the book, Hirshfield quotes Bashō as saying, “If you have three or four, or even five or seven extra syllables but the poem still sounds good, don’t worry about it. But if one syllable stops the tongue, look at it hard.”

Even the guy who created the form tells us not to stress over the precise form, but to go for the poetry of the language.

Lanoue’s book focuses on the work of Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), who built upon the artistic base that Bashō had started. Lanoue also includes many contemporary haiku written in the Issa style. Another important part of the haiku style is that “the most important part of the poem isn’t stated outright but gently implied,” as in this contemporary example by Greg Longenecker:

abandoned farm

the dandelions make

their own wishes

 

The elegance in this piece is in what is implied, not in what is directly stated. At the abandoned farm, there is nobody around to pick the dandelions and blow the seeds into the air and make wishes on them. The tone seems melancholy to me, and is implied rather than stated.

I realized that there is far more going on with haiku than I had ever been led to believe.

I discovered that Lanoue has a haiku website. At this website, I think Lanoue gives us the best definition of haiku for English speakers based upon what Bashō and Issa wrote in their haiku, and what they wrote about haiku. Lanoue defines haiku as “a one-breath poem that discovers connection.” When he discusses the 17 syllable, 5-7-5 form, he says,

“Japanese words for the most part are polysyllabic, consisting of multiple syllables. English, in contrast, has loads of one syllable words (“spring,” “rain” and “duck” for instance). For this reason, most haiku poets writing in English don’t follow the 5-7-5 syllable rule. Seventeen syllables of English could potentially add up to seventeen separate words, making the “haiku” too long, lessening its intensity.”

Lanoue also says that the reason haiku is taught in the 5-7-5 form so emphatically in our grade schools is because at that stage of learning, they are used in English-speaking schools to teach the concept of syllables to children. For some reason, I believe that our knowledge and appreciation of haiku never advances beyond that understanding, and so haiku is very misunderstood and underappreciated in America today.

I think I have a better understanding of the potential of haiku after reading these two books. Much thanks to Jane Hirshfield and David G. Lanoue for showing us the way.

And now that we have been shown the way, why don’t we all take a shot at using the loosened haiku guidelines suggested by Lanoue? Work on three concise lines. Remember the goal is “a one-breath poem that discovers connection.” Focus on that. If some of the lines have five, or seven, or five syllables, great…but don’t force it.

Feel free to post your haiku in the comments, or you can send them to me at writersforumeditor@gmail.com for compiling into another post in a month or so.

I’ll start. Here is a haiku I wrote one cold morning after seeing some dead oak leaves trapped in ice in a puddle.

fallen brown leaves
yesterday swimming
entombed this morning

 

Let’s see what you can do!

 

George T. Parker

Webmaster/Newsletter Editor


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Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction. 9.) Poetry.

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Fridays With Dale: Precious Time

Title with image of author

Dale Angel

We ring in the New Year with a new story from Dale Angel.


Precious Time Eating Up Life

By Dale Angel

 

It was a small place in need of repairs, sitting near the road. Scattered across the yard were unfinished projects, small endeavors that could be done with little strength: landscaping out of control, small piles of leaves and twigs raked into mounds, little stacked rocks waiting to be the next project.

 

The empty porch furniture, comforting only to the neighbors cats. Few come to sit there. Propped up awnings and taped, improvised temporary make do’s…. years past remembering what needed to be fixed.

 

The family’s bloodlines could fill a village,

 

The news, of the many trips across distant parts of the earth, miles traveled to beaches and mountains and vacations and their lives busy to visit others.

 

Only a few miles away sat the little house ….unvisited.

 

Weak hands trying to open jars, frustrated tears. It makes happiness to be remembered   personal interest. Where are you?

 

Decades are passing in 24 hour increments. Precious time is eating up life spent in activities of detachment from the frail breaths, whether living under the bridge, or dark rooms with little recognition of their existence, maybe a perfunctory ‘hi’ from acquaintances.

 

A whole village size of humanity is asleep as invisible life breathes and feels the…isolation. A third and fourth generation grow, unacquainted with their heritage.

 

A world in turmoil are passing laws to force, under penalty, acts of kindness toward family throw-aways. Can love be legislated? We cry out at the cruelty of others we see on TV, yet practice it ourselves with self-soothing reasoning. “Someone else is there to care.”

 

The mornings come with acceptance. Today will be better. Maybe someone will bring the most expensive gift: time.

 

Waiting on a park bench, or someone waiting in the house along the road with repetition of old rusty mind sets and outdated information, that’s as new as yesterday to them, Will you tolerate it? Or…

 

Look in their eyes, you may see flames waiting to catch fire with experiences you never knew existed. There is a heart living nearby.


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Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.