Month: February 2015

Culturally and Linguistically Authentic Haiku

This week’s prompt will not ask you to rehash your old elementary school writing assignments.  Instead, you will be composing works that strive towards an authentic form and sound.

Let’s start with form because this will be the easy part.  An authentic haiku does not necessarily conform to the old “5 in the first line, seven in the second, and 5 in the third” syllable count.  A haiku can have fewer than 3 lines or more than 3 lines.  Also, the total syllable count need not equal seventeen.   (For more information, check here.)  Poetry is not math, so don’t treat it that way.

Next, you should try to conform to an authentic syllable structure because English tends to be bulkier than Japanese.  In Japanese, syllables usually have only two sounds: a consonant followed by a vowel.  If you want an increased challenge, restrict yourself to the consonants used in Japanese: k, w, n, t, h, m, y, r, and s as well as /sh/, /ch/, /ts/ and the KY in “Kyoto.”

Last but not least, your subject matter should conform to traditional haiku.  You’ll be writing about nature, not about shampoo or Vladimir Putin.

How can this not be inspirational?  (Photo credit: josstyk)

How can this not be inspirational? (Photo credit: josstyk)

However, haiku isn’t simply about nature.  Here’s a succinct explanation of what you’re trying to accomplish:

So one thing that I think makes a real haiku is when the changes in nature reflect deep transformations in oneself.

Steve McCarty

May your poetry be as deep as the forest.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

Bonus instructions: When you’re done, go back and check out some of the older challenges.  New responses to those challenges still come in on occasion and it would be a shame if everyone missed them.

Advertisements

Divergent Meanings

For this week’s challenge, please examine the following image:

This is a Hindu temple in India.  (Photo credit: Victor Radziun)

This is a Hindu temple in India. (Photo credit: Victor Radziun)

Many of you surely noticed the swastika first and reacted more strongly to it than anything else in the image.  You already know the reason: it served as Nazism’s most prominent symbol and, as such, it represents hatred, war, and Fascism in many Western countries.

However, this picture comes from a distant cultural tradition in which the symbol has a more admirable history:

It was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being.” The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures.

Quoted from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website

If you’re familiar with the symbol’s longstanding role in Hindu culture, you were surely more appalled to see the graffiti on this Hindu temple than you were to discover swastikas on prominent display.

For this week’s challenge, think of another object or event that projects radically different meanings depending on the viewer or participant.  Then, write a true or fictional story (or even a poem) that incorporates the differing perceptions people have of your chosen topic.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

A Box of Chocolates

Valentine’s Day arrives this week and many of your waistlines will be encountering a delectable box of chocolates.  For this week’s challenge, you will be reimagining the box of chocolates as a writing form.

To help you along, here’s a picture:

They may look similar but they're all different.  (Photo credit: ProjectManhattan)

They may look similar but they’re all different. (Photo credit: ProjectManhattan)

A collection of unique and separate chocolates forms a greater whole.  One rarely finds a single small piece of chocolate that ascends to the heights that the variety provides.

With that in mind, you will be writing a dozen mini-pieces in a single post.  Each mini-piece should be 25-35 words and be self-contained.  In other words, they should not form a dialogue, advance a plot, or otherwise interact with one another.  However, they should be unique.  You might vary the style in each one, offer viewpoints from 12 different perspectives, or devise 12 different formatting techniques.  Whatever strategy you choose, the twelve pieces should look like a coherent whole when they’re juxtaposed in your post.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.

The Character of Music

For this week’s challenge, you’ll be listening to music.  Before I provide the tune, you ought to know what you’ll be doing with it.

You may remember cartoons, movies, and other media and artistic forms in which a song either represents or accompanies a character.  You see the same thing with some sports in which music accompanies athletes as they enter the arena, stadium, or other venue.

With that in mind, feel the music. What characteristics does it have?  What kind of thoughts and emotions does it inspire?  What ideas and personality might have gone into the creation of the music?  What kind of person might use it as their theme music, so to speak?  How might those details translate into a flesh-and-blood (or maybe not so flesh-and-blood) character?  Might it remind you of a real person instead?

After reflecting on these questions, you have two options for your post:

First option: write a post describing the character.

Second option: write a story featuring the character.  If you choose this option, you need not provide an explicit explanation of the character you extracted from the music.  You can if you like, though.

And now for the music.  Please be aware that the lyrics don’t translate into English or any other language, so you’ll be wasting your time if you try to find that kind of information.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.