For National Haiku Poetry day, we decided to find out more about the canines who write Haiku by Dog. Below is a transcript from our interview with them.
Dogster: Sit. Stay. Speak. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us about your haiku.
Jasper: Are there treats involved?
Tucker: Did someone say treats?
Lilah: Note: I did not ask for treats, but if you are giving them out, I would be very happy to have one, or several.
Sure. There will be treats after the interview.
The dogs wag and smile. Tucker drools a little.
Let’s begin. We’d like to know a little more about you and why you write haiku. Tell us how you got started.
Lilah: It was my idea. The cats had begun writing haiku, and I thought we dogs could write better poems.
Wait a minute. Cats write haiku too?
Tucker: Yeah, the cats we live with also write haiku, but theirs is all about climbing and hiding and birdwatching and naps. Bo-ring.
Jasper: Though, I admit I like the part about naps.
Lilah: You would. We thought we could write about more interesting subjects, like groundhogs and deer poo and —
Tucker: Ball! Playing ball! I love to play ball. Want to play ball now? I could go get it. Right now. I could get the ball and you could throw it and I could bring it back and you could throw it again and —
Jasper: That’s enough, Tucker. We know you like to play ball.
Why haiku? And for that matter, can you explain to our readers what exactly haiku is?
Lilah: Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that is written in three lines. There are a set number of syllables for each line: five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five again on the last one.
Jasper: It’s short. Simple. To the point. A haiku captures the essence of something in just a few words.
Tucker: It’s perfect for dogs because we like to get to the point very fast. Did you say you would play ball with me?
Lilah: [To Tucker] Cool your jets. [To Dogster] To be completely accurate, traditional haiku tend to be about nature and have some underlying thoughtful and philosophical message. But there’s another type called senryu, which can be funny or dark. While we can be quite deep when we want to be, our subjects tend to be more pedestrian, so some might say we’re writing senryu as opposed to haiku.
Jasper: But most dogs — and people — have never heard of senryu, so we still call our poetry “haiku.”
Talk about your writing process. What inspires you?
Lilah: Personally, I’m inspired by nature. And hamburger.
Jasper: And turkey! I really like turkey.
Lilah: We write about things that dogs like us care about: going for walks, demon squirrels, the pleasure of rolling in something really aromatic, and when the humans are coming home.
Tucker: And chasing things. Like a ball. Want to play? [He picks up a green slobbery ball.] [To Tucker] Not right now. Maybe later, okay?[Tucker puts down his ball and sighs.]
Jasper: It might seem easy at first, just writing three lines, but sometimes it takes a while to get the right words with the right number of syllables.
Tucker: And we try to make the last line tie it all together. Kind of like a punchline in a joke.
We’re curious. How do you actually write the haiku down? How do they get posted?
Lilah: Normally we don’t like to talk about our lack of thumbs. It’s a bit rude to point out someone’s different ability, you know.
So sorry. We didn’t mean to offend. Would treats make it better?[A brief pause while cheesy dog biscuits are dispensed.]
We were talking about how your haiku gets written down and posted.
Jasper: [Talking as he crunches.] The way it works is, we compose our haiku in our heads, and then bark it at the human, who types it up.
Tucker: The human also takes a lot of pictures of us. Though, sometimes I can’t understand why she doesn’t just put down that camera and throw the ball already.
And now on Dogster, too. Thank you all for your time. We’re looking forward to reading more of your Haiku by Dog. Anyone want to play ball?
Read more Haiku by Dog:
About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with three dogs and four cats (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans — all of whom provide inspiration for her work. Refusing to take sides in the interweb’s dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home — like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Lilah, Jasper, and Tucker (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by Dog™, Haiku by Cat™, and Dogs and Cats Texting.