Now that the February edition of National Haiku Writing Month–Michael Dylan Welch’s response to NaNovWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)–is winding to a close, I thought I might reflect on my experience with the phenomenon that brings an international community of haiku writers together to celebrate one of poetry’s shortest forms during the shortest month of the year.
This year, in addition to participating in writing daily haiku to prompts offered in English, I also decided to stretch myself by translating my haiku into French. Thanks to Facebook’s NaHaiWriMo en français, as well as a Facebook group called Un Haiku par Jour, I was able to cobble together my poems in French as well as English. Much to my delight, I discovered that some of my haiku actually worked in French as well as in English.
More importantly, this exercise gave me the opportunity to look more closely at how language works: how difficult it can be to translate from one tongue to another; how, on occasion, one language provides an opportunity for double entendre not present in the other; how internal rhyme, assonance and alliteration may present themselves to the poem in one language but be obscured in the other. The list of revelations goes on, but I won’t bore you with what, I realize, might be exciting to me (a certifiable language nerd who, from time to time, grapples with the vagaries of literary translation) but not necessarily to anyone else.
Suffice it to say that the experience was fulfilling on many levels. And I’d encourage anyone else who has an interest in writing haiku to take the time to explore these Facebook sites. (NaHaWriMo continues with haiku prompts throughout the year.) Particularly because they offer support, a sense of community, and joy in what often can be the most solitary of pastimes–writing. The added benefit is that you get to read a wide variety of voices with their own unique takes and styles on subjects as varied as love, death, moonlight and madness . . . just to mention a few.
I previously posted my first day of haiku for NaHaWriMo here in both English and French, but I’d like to share a few more I wrote this month that I think were (for different reasons) fairly successful in both languages. The first one, I am honored to report, will be included in moderator Jessica Tremblay’s review of NaHaiWriMo en français–slated to appear in the April issue of the French Haiku Journal Gong.
mountain climbing . . . escalade . . .
I try to write J’essaie écrire
in two languages en deux langues
arpeggio . . . arpeggio . . .
blurring the lines brouillant les lignes
black and white noir et blanc
. . . and today’s haiku (my last in this month-long endeavor) which, thanks to Un Haiku par Jour compatriot Giordano Genghini, I also have an Italian version of:
no way to separate
the head from the heart
manger dans la cuisine mangiare in cucina
impossible de séparer impossibile separare
la tête du coeur la testa dal cuore