Haiku Conference to Spin Beauty at the Queen Mary

Writers and lovers of Japanese poetry gather for a wordsmith weekend.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013  |  Updated 3:58 PM PDT
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Haiku Conference to Spin Beauty at the Queen Mary

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Haiku North America gathers on the Queen Mary for its 2013 conference. Dates? Wednesday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 18.

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Any haiku writer worth their brevity-embracing salt can tell you one thing for sure (and possibly say it in seventeen syllables to boot): Haiku is not simply a time-honored and rich form of Japanese poetry. Rather it is a beautiful way of life that's nearly indistinguishable from life itself.

If you see the world in poetic form, many short -- very short -- stories and moments tend to flicker in your mind not as anecdotes but as artfully delivered haikus.

You might even create a haiku from this post, as you're reading it.

Why not start with the word "conference," if so: Haiku North America will hold its annual meeting aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach from Wednesday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 18.

The theme of the 2013 conference is the haiku-perfect "Intervals." Yes, the short form very often deals with nature, but time and life passages are common themes as well. There will also be a few events open to the public, like a Thursday, Aug. 15 presentation called "My Father's Poetry." The free evening includes a film about Japanese-Americans during the WWII internment (and the poetry written during that period).

Over 80 poets are registered for the conference. "(P)anel discussions, readings, haiku-writing walks, haiku contests" are just a few of the activities listed on the schedule (you'll need to be registered as an attendee to join, please note).

As mentioned, Thursday night is free and parking is discounted.

And, it is true, we often think of haikus as existing in syllables -- 17 in all -- over three lines, but there are so many layers beyond this definition. The parts are called onji and how a full and fruitful idea is constructed in so short a space has long held many a poet's rapt attention.

Which it will again on the Queen Mary. Surely a few poems will be written about the ship itself over the conference weekend, the water, the harbor seals, the light. Once you begin to see life around you in this form, it has a rather wonderful way of becoming a way of life.

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