Saturday, October 21, 2006


The Whaletown Commons will emerge from the collective imagination and vision of the Cortes Island community. To help spark this vision, the Whaletown Commons Society is sponsoring a series of creative walks through the proposed Commons site.

Each walk will focus on an image-making medium — photography, poetry, and drawing, for starters — and participants will be invited to contribute their images to an on-line gallery and to the Whaletown Commons Project's on-going outreach and archiving efforts.

The walks are an invitation to appreciate this unique piece of land and to make an imaginative investment in its future. Every person will experience the Commons uniquely, and from this diversity we hope to build a common vision of our community’s future.

HAIKU POETRY WALK – with Ruth Ozeki

I’d like to invite people to come on a HAIKU WALK on Sunday, October 29, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. On the walk, we’ll talk a little about haiku, and then wander through the Commons in search of poetic inspiration. At the end, we’ll regroup to share the poems we’ve written, or just to listen, and then maybe go for a cup of tea.


Haiku is an ancient Japanese poetic form, dating back some 700 years. Traditional haiku are very short poems, usually three lines, in a pattern of 5-7-5 syllables:

At daybreak, softly,
trees exhale a common sigh—
Today. Tomorrow?

But traditional haiku were of course written in Japanese, which lends itself to this concise rhythmic structure in ways that the English language may not. Many English haiku poets, including the Beat poets, choose to deviate from the strict form and write haiku in a looser style:

Desolation, Desolation
so hard
To come down off of

            -Jack Kerouac

Haiku is a poetic form that is relatively unintimidating and easy to start writing — I mean, how nervous can you get in seventeen syllables? But it’s a form that is subtle and elusive as well, and haiku poets work lifetimes to master it.


The haiku we write on our walk will be inspired by what we see in the Whaletown Commons — the ravine, Burnside Creek, the plant and wildlife. The poems may turn out to be serious or funny, political or poetical, elegant or abrupt, profound or profane. They might not adhere to the strict haiku form, but we’ll work to keep them brief and pithy, and to capture the haiku “feeling.”

Anyone interested should plan to meet at the entrance to the proposed Whaletown Commons site, on Whaletown Road, next to the Firehall. Please bring pencil and paper and the desire to write. No experience necessary!

If you have any questions, please email Ruth at


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