Sun plays on the stream
and reflects on every tree
its shimmering dance.
–J. W. Hackett (Haiku Poetry: Volume Two, Japan Publications, 1968)
I want to help students choose valuable verbs, and I see guided practice with haiku as a way to aid them–a fun way to challenge young writers in this poetic microclimate, where choice especially matters because of the tight-fitting form.
For example, I see the first verb in Hackett’s haiku. What else might work in place of “play,” I can ask students. What does this verb give us, by way of description and potential? What does it mean, and how can we build on it, with it?
A note on adjectives: when recording this haiku from (imperfect) memory, I wrote “brilliant” in the last line. This mistake shows me the value of “shimmering” because it includes the movement implied in “play,” as well as the brilliant reflections.
Therefore, as students, including myself, sharpen a verb, they build a skill that transfers across parts of speech. In turn, they can more clearly see connections among elements of their descriptions. They open themselves and readers to ever-more-shimmering sentences.
photo credit: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4124/5061612905_50bc56dd0e.jpg