Welcome to those of you joining me from Pursuing the Magic or those of you who have just hopped aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.
Thanks for hopping aboard this special Magical Blogorail loop! We have a Guest Conductor on the train today, poet J.B. Conway. Mr. Conway’s book, Mouse of Zen, available at Lulu.com and amazon.com, contains numerous verses of “Disney inspired, mouse-sized poetry.” He took the Japanese art form of haiku and plussed it, Disney style!
A 2006 trip to Walt Disney World Resort created a turning point in Mr. Conway’s life. Seeing Cinderella’s Castle through the eyes of his kids rejuvenated his own passion for the Disney Parks. Already possessing a love of poetry and a knack for writing verse, Conway’s Mouse of Zen was a natural outlet for all the “feelings, sights, sounds, smells, beauty, love, and passion found deep in the nooks and crannies of Disney parks, movies, and attractions” inspired.
Haiku may appear a simplistic form of poetry. It is anything but! Haiku is a true Japanese art form, with its origin dating back to the 17th century.
The term haiku is derived from the first element of the word haikai and the second element of the word hokku. A haikai is a humorous form of renga (a linked-verse poem), of which a hokku is the initial stanza. Tradtion required hokku to reference in its condensed verse such subjects as the season, time of day and features of landscape. Being so refined, it naturally evolved into its own recognized, stand-alone form of poetry.
Because the Japanese language differs structurally from most Western languages, Western (European and American) efforts differ somewhat from authentic Japanese haiku. True Japanese haiku consists of 17 sound units divided into three parts and written all on one line so as to give the reader a complete mental image with no breaks in thought. Because English syllables are a bit lengthier than Japanese sound units, English versions, while containing 17 syllables—the shortest sound units in our language, are written out on three separate lines. The first consists of 5 syllables; the second 7; and the third 5.
Early 20th century poets, such as Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell, experimented with haiku, merging the art form into Imagism and Dadaism. Today, Western haiku has become a sort of sub-set of the Minimalist movement, and does not always focus on aspects of nature. Sometimes, as with Japanese haiku, Western versions evoke humor, as Mr. Conway has shown above.
J.B. Conway has expertly brought this art form into the 21st century by presenting Disney entertainment in compressed, concise verse. Way to kick haiku up a Disney notch!
For more information about J.B. Conway’s haikus, go to the Mouse of Zen Facebook page.
Poet J.B Conway has offered a very special gift to ONE gifted Magical Mouse Schoolhouse reader: a FREE pdf download of his book, Mouse of Zen.
We are running a haiku contest today! Have your kids write their own haiku! They can choose their subject or follow Japanese tradition and write about nature’s seasons. Just remember, 5 syllables – 7 syllables – 5 syllables. Be sure to visit the other links on the Magical Blogorail to be inspired by more of Mr. Conway’s poetry.
Email your entries to jod(at)magicalmouseschoolhouse(dot)com by midnight Friday. Mr. Conway will be the judge, and the winner will be announced MONDAY morning. The GRAND Prize winner will receive a Magical Mouse Schoolhouse T-shirt in addition to Mr. Conway’s book. 2nd and 3rd place runners up will receive a Magical Mouse Schoolhouse lanyard (perfect for pin trading!).
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Language Arts
SKILL LEVEL: All
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is A World View.
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