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Friday, January 16, 2015

What I’m Reading: Redneck Haiku

I found the little book Redneck Haiku by Mary K. Witte on the shelves at my local public library.  I added it to the pile of books that I borrowed, mostly on a lark.  I didn’t expect too much from it.  But since I’m reading a lot of poetry books recently, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The 100 verses collected in this brief volume explore the various stereotypes of the redneck, white-trash lifestyle:  beer, Wal-Mart, pickups, hunting, NASCAR, beer, guns, and beer…  A few of them are amusing enough to elicit a chuckle, but not many.

When Flo goes to Mom’s
    Bubba dines on canned chili,
        Pepsi, and Pop Tarts.  (page 24)

But calling them haiku is really a stretch.  They adhere to the 3 line / 17 syllable (5 – 7 – 5) formula that many of us were taught in elementary school.  But that’s not really enough to qualify a poem as a haiku.  That rule is really only the barest outline of what makes a haiku (and isn’t entirely accurate, even…) For a better sense of what makes a haiku, you would do better to read another book that I found at the public library – Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands on Guide by Jane Reichhold. 

I decided that I would try to rewrite one of these redneck (not-quite)haiku – to try to make it more like an actual haiku. 

Pickup, shiny red
in Grandpa’s dim memory
now rust in tall weeds. (page 65)

This one is probably the best of them – or at least it comes closest to actually being a haiku.  It’s not perfect, but here is my reworking of those lines:

grandpa’s pickup
in weeds and rust

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