Tuesday, August 5, 2014

To the Lighthouse: Cherita, A Haiku / Tanka Inspired Form

(with thanks to ai li and Larry Kimmel for their kind permission to reprint their articles here)


                                                                                                   his bedtime story

                                                                                                   the never ending tales
                                                                                                   of enchantment

                                                                                                   now you see them
                                                                                                   now you don’t
                                                                                                   night fairies
                                                                                                 
                                                                                                   ai li


Cherita, the Wikipedia Entry Written by ai li

Cherita (pronounced CHAIR-rita) is a linked poetry form of one-, two-, and three-line stanzas.

Cherita is the Malay word for "story" or "tale". A cherita consists of a one-line stanza, followed by a two-line stanza, and then finishing with a three-line stanza. It can either be written solo or by up to three partners.

The cherita tells a story. It was created by ai li on June 22, 1997 in memory of her grandparents who were raconteurs extraordinaire. It was also inspired by Larry Kimmel's sensitive recognition of a shorter form contained within the opening three-verse stanza of ai li's LUNENGA, which was created May 27, 1997.

The cherita arose out of the English-language haiku and tanka tradition, but is more anecdotal, or nano-narrative, in nature than are the “momentary” haiku and the more lyrical tanka, though it is easily adaptable to lyrical expression. It is imagistic and depends on conciseness and suggestion for its effect.

Example

4 pm
   
a cuckoo clock
bringing forest into afternoon

the crumbs i leave
sitting on
their own shadows

References

Gilli, Ferris, "A Cherita Journey", Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America, Fall 2012, Vol. 35 Issue 3, p 55
Sketchbook, 4:2, March/April 2009

Published examples

Shards and Dust by Larry Kimmel
Sketchbook March/April 2010


Excerpt from "Flexible Forms: a personal speculation" by Larry Kimmel

"in thinking about what a cherita has been to me, one thing I've noticed in writing them is that they have a 'beginning' a 'middle' and an 'end.' and one way [in which] they work well, is to have that [first] line be brief and [used to] set the scene, [give] the tone, etc. the next two lines are the body of the poem, and then (and I think this is important) the last 3 lines, obviously the end, should be fairly short, the climax and denouement in one. this gives it impact. even if the ending is one phrase, it can be broken to fit the form. i think that when the end spreads too much, say, into Whitmanesque lines, what one has is a free form poem put into 1/2/3/ line verses. the essence of the cherita is brevity. it grew out of the haiku [and renku] experience, and I feel it should retain something of that brevity and elliptical phrase and fragment quality. to me that is the essence of cherita. it often has a story, or anecdotal, quality, though I believe it can be used as a lyrical form, as well. but I stress it needs the same care as in writing a haiku. though no exact syllable count has been imposed, it is about haiku length or less in each of its verses. the first line, perhaps, being the exception. it is as short as a single line of a haiku. of course, this is my own opinion, and as it is a new form there is a lot of room for experimentation. to me the beauty of the form, and the game, if you like, of the form, is to see how concise i can be. there is power in conciseness."


Examples of Cherita from Larry Kimmel's Webpage, Cherita:

after seeing you off

taking the path along
the canal

a rustle of
leaves
underfoot

Larry Kimmel


loveless

under
a stingy moon

the cotton sheets
between my legs
are wet

ai li


unruly sun

this tangle of sheets
about me. . .not my own

from the ceiling
a stranger's reflection
smiling down

sheila windsor


Selected Cherita by Chen-ou Liu


faint mist, gloomy clouds

sorrow surrounds the day
who can take a poem

beyond the Pacific
a calligraphy of geese
flies against the sky

Sketchbook, 5:1, January / February 2011


a night of Haitian ruins

the silence grows teeth
grinding noises

pierce my throat
but my hand
ends a sentence

Sketchbook, 6:2, March/April 2011


Note: The Wikipedia definition of cherita has been tweaked by Larry Kimmel. Below is the original definition by ai li:

CHERITA [1--2--3]
[pronounced CHAIR-rita]

Cherita is the Malay word for story or tale. A Cherita consists of a single stanza of a one-line verse, followed by a two-line verse, and then finishing with a three-line verse. It can either be written solo or with up to three partners.

The Cherita tells a story. It was created by ai li on the 22 June 1997 in memory of her grandparents who were raconteurs extraordinaire. It was also inspired by Larry Kimmel's sensitive recognition of a shorter form contained within the opening three-verse stanza of ai li's LUNENGA, which had been created on the 27.

1 comment:

  1. ai li just emailed me a new cherita below:

    his bedtime story

    the never ending tales
    of enchantment

    now you see them
    now you don’t
    night fairies


    If Michael Andreas Helmuth Ende, a German writer best known for his epic fantasy ,`'The Neverending Story,' were alive and read the poem, he would have a big smile on his face.

    ReplyDelete