Fluttering their way into my head

Among Gabriel Rosenstock’s many accomplishments is his mastery of the haiku as a form and a way of life. This is his latest book of and about the tiny verse-form, an expanded version of an Irish-language book from early in 2014. It’s aimed at young people, and specifically addresses teenagers. It deserves a wider audience, too – writerly younger children as well as teachers will find inspiration here. I’ve facilitated writing classes for decades, and often use the haiku form to encourage older children and teenagers to create their own poetry. The strict 5-7-5 syllable haiku is a challenge for already capable writers, but it’s also a novelty for reluctant writers, and the sight of a whole class counting syllables on fingers is always fun for teacher and students. Rosenstock concentrates on the content rather than the strict syllabic form, and takes the work of haiku master Issa as a main focus, along with his own haiku, rensaku and senryu. He introduces readers to the combination of observation, stillness and movement that goes into the perfect haiku. His tone is one of delight and wonder in the art-form and the world that inspires it, and his enthusiasm for both is infectious. His opening haiku is Issa’s: wild goose/where did your journey/begin? ‘Three lines, and yet a haiku can contain a whole world. A world full of mysteries and new beginnings,’ says Rosenstock. ‘So, tune in!’ Tune in, indeed, and travel hopefully – this little book will broaden your mind.