Today is National Haiku Poetry Day, and a familiar college town can be found on the list of nearly 20 cities participating in the inaugural celebration of the poetic form.
State College will be home to the new Seven Mountains Haiku Club of Central Pennsylvania. To coordinate with the National Haiku Poetry Day’s events, the group’s first meeting will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday in the community room of the Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St.
Though the meeting is not being held today, the Seven Mountains Haiku Club founder Anne Burgevin hopes the formation of the new group will contribute to the national celebration.
National Haiku Poetry Day is sponsored by The Haiku Foundation — a non-profit organization whose mission is to archive past haiku and promote and encourage new work — and is in correspondence with National Poetry Month.
Jim Kacian, the founder of The Haiku Foundation, said the foundation was hoping for a few venues around the country to hold meetings like the one for the Seven Mountains Haiku Club on Wednesday in the Schlow Library. He was pleasantly surprised when nearly 20 venues decided to host meetings.
Kacian said the date falls on April 17 because the haiku’s traditional form has 17 syllables with five syllables on the first and third line and seven on the second.
But, the haiku no longer follows this pattern strictly and, instead, is usually a shorter poem that uses imagery.
Burgevin referenced a quote from author Terry Ann Carter, who described a haiku as “a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience. It is what is happening now.”
She described the format as two images that are juxtaposed. The last line in a haiku is “the cutting line,” serving to introduce the second image in a contrasting way, she said.
Burgevin hopes the Seven Mountains Haiku Club’s first meeting will serve as a jumping-off point for future meetings and encourages attendees to share haiku they have written or talk about haiku they appreciate.
The invitation extends to people of all ages, and Burgevin hopes the convergence of age groups will create unique conversation and learning.
“I hope there is an array of beginners and experienced poets, so everyone can bring a different perspective to the table,” she said.
In the age of new technology, Burgevin said she hopes writing poetry will help people of all ages to reconnect with the natural world, since being outside is vital to writing haiku.
Julie Hannan said she thinks most college students do not stop texting to look up and cross the street, let alone write poetry.
“This meeting could provide Penn State students an opportunity to get away from their laptops and iPads,” Hannan (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said.
Kacian said haiku should be appreciated for many reasons, but he joked that it is perfect for the world’s short attention span since it is short in length and can fit on an iPhone.
“In three short lines, haiku encapsulate wisdom and insight and allow us to pay attention to things we normally wouldn’t think twice about,” he said.
Burgevin said that haiku is especially important in a society that is in constant motion. She said the meeting provides an outlet for creative thinking and also allows for a pause in people’s otherwise busy schedules.
“We are constantly thinking about the next thing,” she said. “This will give a chance for people to slow down and become aware of their surroundings.”