“If you love riddles and puzzles, we are sure you would love the fun of fitting a haiku together” says the introduction to My Haiku Moments: An Activity Book for Young Haiku Lovers, one of an an imaginitive pair of small, square books by Kala Ramesh and illustrated by Surabhi Singh (Katha, 2010). The other is called simply Haiku and while the Activity Book is a conventionally formatted booklet, Haiku is anything but! Opening Haiku for the first time and you are presented almost literally with a cascade of color as you gradually find a fold that opens flat, to reveal one of several large square areas filled with an abstract flow of lines and color – and poetry. Close it up, and then open it again and you find yourself on a different “page”. Specifics emerge from Singh’s gorgeous swirls to reflect some aspect of the haiku scattered throughout – and there’s humorous bathos too – one string of lines, on closer inspection, reveals an electricity pylon; and one of the haiku ends with “bird droppings”. Indeed, the haiku themselves offer plenty to capture young poets’ imaginations, making them fly, but always from a familiar starting place, such as:
the rise and fall
of ohs and ahs
The activity book takes you through the formula of creating a haiku and gives interesting background snippets. I learned for the first time, for example, that hai means humor and ku means poem. I also learned that haiku never have a title – so we’ll know better next time… There is no insistence on fitting your haiku into the 17 syllable pattern, although there are “tips” to make it work: the emphasis is on having fun and creating poems that give an interesting slant on reality. There’s a “Word Dance” page and then, at the end, a broadening of the already wide haiku horizons with “Meet Haiga, Haiku’s sister”.
Haiku and Haiku Moments make a delightful pair and I’m sure that those who follow its path into creating haiku will also be inspired to try out a bit of interesting presentation. If you’re looking for a creative activity for your kids this summer (or winter), look no further.