Did you read that article
about Kaavya Viswanathan
's admitting to unconsciously copying from Megan McCafferty
's books? That's wild!
Margaret: Yeah... I didn't know you read chick-lit, though.
Michael: It's one of my favorite genres. Speaking of genres, what would you call A River Runs Through It?
Margaret: Uh... good?
Michael: No. Crick-lit.
Margaret: Buh-dump-bum! Now on to the real topic of our post...
In honor of the convergence of National Poetry Month and (what many people are now designating as) Earth Month, we've been hosting a "Beastly Haiku Contest" on our web site. The challenge is to:
Write an original haiku about extinct, endangered, or cryptozoological wildlife ? or about an environmental problem like global warming or habitat destruction.
These themes also tie in with our recent book, Carnivorous Nights, which is about our obsession with an extinct animal, the Tasmanian tiger, and our journey through the island of Tasmania's rare and threatened ecosystems in search of the tiger's traces.
On the trip, we encountered some of the island's surviving creatures, such as the Tasmanian devil (which scavenges on animal carcasses and looks like a bear cub cut off at the knees), wombats, platypuses, and the Tasmanian giant crayfish (the world's largest freshwater invertebrate). All of these beasts are fit subjects for poetry ? and, we fear, in future, perhaps for eulogy as well.
The haiku contest has drawn some surprising entries ? by turns funny, enlightening, and heartbreaking. It's a strange feeling receiving poems from people we don't know around the country. Some are irresistibly charming and employ clever wordplay. Others ? the ones about endangered species ? are like 911 calls from the wilderness.
This haiku is sweet and sad:
Piglet and Pooh came
around, we all took a walk
all the wood was gone
? Adam Brightman, New York, NY
This one's political:
The state has fewer left than
people on death row.
? Lynne Wander, Oakland, CA
This one's uplifting:
Living fossil fish
Long ago I read of you
Oh, you coelacanth!
? Karl G. Siewert, Tulsa, OK
Haiku is a perfect medium for writing about the beauty and impermanence of nature. As former Poet Laureate Robert Hass wrote in his introduction to The Essential Haiku:
If the first level of a haiku is its location in nature, its second is almost always some implicit Buddhist reflection on nature....At the core of Buddhist metaphysics are three ideas about natural things: that they are transient; that they are contingent; and that they suffer...
If any readers are inspired, please send your haiku (or two) to the comments section, and we'll post them in our Haiku Zoo ? and, oh yes, there are prizes.
Michael: Now for my rant about the quoll...
Margaret: Oops, we're out of time. Bye for now!