In order to become Master Kawazu's student, Kaeru must write one haiku a day for a month.
These 28 comics were written during the first National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) from February 1-28, 2011 (one haiku-comic a day for a month!)
(*) Written, drawn and posted online on NaHaiWriMo's Facebook page between February 1-28, 2011.
1. Why is Kaeru writing the haiku, and not you?
I was curious to see what kind of haiku my character Kaeru (a frog) could write, so I decided that it would be Kaeru who would participate in the NaHaiWriMo challenge this month. I was surprised to see that Kaeru's style was very close to Issa's - who loved flies and had lots of compassion for small creatures - while his master Kawazu follows the style of Basho.
2. Why the names Kaeru and Kawazu?
Kawazu is the ancient Japanese word for "frog". It's the word Basho used in his famous poem (a frog dives in / kawazu tobikomu. Master Kawazu represents tradition, the rigid rules of the 5-7-5 syllables.
In contrast, Kaeru means “frog” in contemporary Japanese. As an apprentice, Kaeru will learn the rules (5-7-5, season word, etc.) to later break them. He is intrigued by modern haiku. This difference will create friction between the Master and the student.
3. The combination of a haiku and a comic is interesting. What comes first, the comic or the haiku?
I'm making the comic first, then I'm adding a haiku which must be related to the comic without repeating its elements. The exercise is similar to creating a haiga.
For example, in comic #6, Kaeru finds a toy: the wind-up fly. Instead of adding a haiku about a fly (which would have been too repetitive), I chose to add a haiku about childhood (from the point of view of a frog, of course): full moon / tadpoles growing / legs and arms.
4. Is it your first participation in a challenge like NaHaiWriMo?
No. In October 2010, I participated in 24 hour comic day (the goal was to create 24 comics in 24 hours: created 25!). A couple of years ago, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and wrote a (very bad) 50,000 words novel in 30 days. Since 2010, I am posting a weekly comic every Monday. Having a deadline helps a lot. It's important to set objectives in order to attain your goal.
5. Is it too late to join NaHaiWriMo?
No, it's not too late. NaHaiWriMo is a personal challenge, a goal you are setting for yourself to write one haiku a day for a month. On Facebook, NaHaiWriMo started on February 1 and will end on February 28, but you can start at any time of the year. ***Update: NaHaiWriMo is continuing in March 2011. Join "NaHaiWriMo" on Facebook***
6. Any advice for the participants?
Post your haiku, even if you are not satisfied with it. Sometimes, you will be surprised to see that the haiku you weren't sure of is receiving positive commentaries and that it wasn't that bad after all. Doubt it the enemy of the beginner.
7. What lesson will the NaHaiWriMo participants learn?
Discipline. Perseverance. Self-confidence.
1. You received a lot of comments this week. Any favorite?
I particularly like this one: "OUAHAHAHAHAHA!" (Rahmatou Sangotte). Making people laugh is what I like the most.
2.How do you know a joke will be funny?
I never know but if a joke makes me laugh there's a chance it might make someone else laughs.
3. Humor is very important in your work?
Yes. You could say I have a tendency to write senryu, the funny cousin of haiku. One day, I sent some haiku for a theme anthology and the coordinator told me she never laughed so hard reading a submission. Funny thing is... they were erotic haiku! (L’Erotique, Editions biliki)
4.What is your favorite comic so far?
I like the wind-up fly because it's about childhood. We all had these toys you had to wind-up, even cats have windup mice, so why wouldn't a frog have a windup fly? I love the tac-a-tac-a-tac sound to indicate it's an old toy.
5. Are we gonna see that toy again?
No. Kaeru swallowed it.
6. You created some comics using the themes (prompts) suggested by NaHaiWriMo (hand, hummingbird, childhood room, fish). Is it because you lacked inspiration?
Not at all. It's partly because I wanted to prove that my comics were created day by day, not pre-fabricated. It would actually be impossible to do 28 comics in advance. Every morning, I wake up 3 hours before I have to go to work to make the comic.
Also, I love challenges. Making a comic on a suggested theme stimulates me, forces me to think outside my usual topics. It helps me keep the pace.
7. NaHaiWriMo is a very demanding challenge. A word of encouragement for people who gave up, or are thinking about it?
Even though you missed a couple of days of writing (or more), you can still continue. You are not "disqualified". NaHaiWriMo is not a contest. It's a personal challenge you give yourself to write one haiku a day for a month. You missed the 12th day? It doesn't matter. Continue!
NaHaiWriMo is in its first year. It's the year you will be able to compare yourself to next year. If at the end of this month, you wrote only 17 of the 28 days well, this will be the score to beat next year. And 17 haiku, it's better than no haiku at all.
To avoid writer's block, try to write according to the suggested themes (prompts), or open the dictionary and pick a word randomly.
1. You are participating in the NaHaiWrimo challenge which means you are writing one haiku per day during the month of February. Are these the first haiku ever written by a frog?
Master Kawazu says his ancestor co wrote Basho's famous haiku but there is no written proof, so yes they might be the first.
2. Besides writing one haiku a day, did you set other rules or restrictions for yourself?
No, except that Master Kawazu just forbade me to write more haiku on flies (comic #7). I love flies. They are my favorite subject. Fortunately, I still have fireflies, dragonflies, hummingbirds...
3. Hummingbirds are not insects.
That's what I learnt recently (comic #8).
4. Your haiku are very short.
5. Is this your personal style?
No. I was given a calendar to write my haiku but the boxes are very small so I have to use as little words as possible. It forces me to be brief. However, the danger of writing such short haiku is that the haiku be so bared down that it feels empty and meaningless, or not a haiku anymore.
6. The wind-up fly in comic #6, is it a real toy?
Yes, it's an educational tool to teach us how to catch flies.
7. You love flies?
I could eat one, right now.
1. Why did you ask Kaeru to participate in the NaHaiWriMo challenge and write one haiku a day for a month?
2. What do you think about Kaeru's work so far?
He procrastinated a lot at the beginning of the week. I wasn't happy that he went to the beach on the 11th day but if he didn't go, then perhaps he would not have written a haiku, so I guess it's good in a sense. A writer must step out of his routine if he wants to find inspiration. He has to experience new things.
3. Which one of Kaeru's haiku do you like most?
"gust of wind / a leaf rises / to the nest" written on day 8 is a great tribute to the haiku "a fallen flower / returns to it's branch / no, it's a butterfly" from Moritake. It's a beautiful image, this leaf-bird rising to the nest. However, I'm not sure Kaeru knew any of that when he wrote his haiku. Kaeru, do you know this haiku by Moritake?
Kawazu: That's what I thought. Beginners often write extraordinary haiku, and they are not even aware of it.
Kaeru: I wrote an extraordinary haiku?
Kawazu: Without knowing it.
4. Any advice for beginners?
Start by reading the classics: Basho, Issa, Buson, Shiki... Too often, beginners start writing haiku without really having read any. They read the definition of haiku somewhere, but haiku is more than a short poem of 17 syllables.
5. What books do you recommend for beginners?
Haiku (Patricia Donegan).
6. Kaeru wrote some sad haiku around Valentine's Day. Why is that?
Kaeru fell in love during his trip to the beach but summer love doesn't last. Life also means moments of sadness. You have to accept it. If you don't take chances, nothing bad will happen to you, but nothing good will happen either. You have to take chances. Live a little.
7. Will you accept Kaeru as your student?
It's too early to say. I'll decide at the end of the month.
Next Chapter: The Apprentice >>
"I love your work. Your comics express so much. Really should be on the comics page of every newspaper. Great! Bravo!!!" -- Howard Lee Kilby
"A great way to teach and generate interest in haiku." -- George O Hawkins
"Hilarious!" -- Cara Holman
"So funny I'm now cryin' over my laptop..." -- Rahmatou Sangotte
"Original and clever." -- Belinda Gibson
"Great fun!" -- Mike Montreuil
"Funny and useful." -- Rahmatou Sangotte
"I enjoy these cartoons so much!" -- Merrill Gonzales
"The haiku are great too, they stand by themselves!" -- Kris Kondo
"All in one breath too." -- George O Hawkins
"Super!" -- Denise Therriault- Ruest
"I love your ku toons." -- Kat Creighton
"These cartoons are just sooo fab." -- Alan Summers
"This is so great!" -- Annie Juhl
"This is excellent!" -- Bette Norcross Wappner
"Listen to the wisdom of Master Kawazu!" -- Rahmatou Sangotte
"Clever!" -- Judith Gorgone
"Love your work!" -- Kathy Uyen Nguyen
"This is great. I hope you publish them in a book!" -- Abigail Friedman
"Put me now on the buying list of the first publication." -- Claire Chatelet
"I want to have a haiku comic book from you. And I'll set it along with Calvin & Hobbes and the rest of the poetry books and literature books I have." -- Kathy Uyen Nguyen
"I love your comics!! They are fantastic!" -- Daphne Purpus
"LOL" -- George O Hawkins
"Oh my... this is really really funny." -- Annie Juhl
"ROFL. Love this!" Kathy Uyen Nguyen
"I loooooove your frog!" -- Rahmatou Sangotte
"This frog is having so many little adventures" -- Kris Kondo
"Your Old Pond comics are a good spirit splash." -- Louis Osofsky
"Great! So hilarious!" -- Rahamatou Sangotte
"So damn good! Adding a spoon of sugar (humor) makes understanding of haiku far better than without." -- Tetsu Kashiwaya.
"Really like." -- Cara Holman
"Quite excellent." -- Daphne Purpus
"Brilliant!" -- Stella Pierides
"Love this!" -- Terri Hale French
"I love it." -- Nu Quang
"This is great!" -- George O Hawkins
"The pictures always make me laugh!! and your ku are exquisite in their own." -- Kris Kondo
"Always delightful." -- Alee Imperial Albano
"I was just now, in the morning shower, laughing again, over your comic #19. I really love your haiku, and your humor is just absolutely wonderful. I was on your site the other day, and for sure I will be back there again and again. I love the one with the butterfly tasting like toilet paper." -- Annie Juhl
""LOVE YOU! Jessica (now just where did i put MY frog outfit????)" -- Kris Kondo
"You always brighten my day with your lovely cartoon haiku! Thanks!" -- Daphne Purpus
":D" -- Leena Rautio
"Love it!" -- Dejah Leger
"Wonderful!" -- Daphne Purpus
"You bang out these incredible cartoons (real art) so fast. It's a privilege to see so many." -- Alan Summers
"I agree wholeheartedly with Alan--your art is incredible!" -- Daphne Purpus
"Love this." -- Mike Keville
"Delightful, as always!" George O Hawkins
"Another terrific one!" -- Alan Summers
"Love this! (My first grandchild is due any day...)" -- Susan Murata
"So clever, this Kaeru!" -- Rahmatou Sangotte
"I just LOVE this one." -- Pamela Cooper
"I never get tired of learning from very wise frogs." -- Kathy Uyen Nguyen
"Very funny!" -- Cara Holman
"Wonderful!" -- Annie Juhl
"Oooo- this is a great haiku!" -- Katharine Grubb Hawkinson
"LOL!" -- Kathy Uyen Nguyen
"Love it!" --Alee Imperial Albano
"Jessica, I owe you and your FROG more than anyone and anything, for this cartoon offered me and others to observe how HE (Kaeru) could work in Issa's poetry as well. Your KAERU is much more eloquent than any translator, who worked on the haiku poem by Issa. Your FROG has returned to Issa's haiku what was lost in translation by the others. This is something special indeed!" -- Mariko Shimizu
"I like the punning around AirFrog." -- Alan Summers
"Hehehe!" -- Kathy Uyen Nguyen
"It's mad, bad, and dangerously froggy." -- Alan Summers
"A new dimension. Great!" -- Mariko Shimizu
Your kind words of support kept me going during NaHaiWriMo challenge. I couldn't have done it without you.
"What a treat! What talent! Such a panoply of enjoyment: words, drawings, humour, poetry, tiny stories -- absolutely fantastic. Frankly, just blown away. And a whole month!!!" -- Carolanne Reinholds
"Fantastic! Clever and amusing! Really enjoyed your month of haiku -- fabulous." Carolanne Reinholds
"Ah, many people like to make people laugh but not many are successful. You are. Very." -- Carolanne Reinholds
"Your comics and your haiku, individually, would have been an enjoyable read -- together they were delightful, thought-provoking, and in many cases, hilarious." -- G. Reinholds
"Very clever." -- Vicki McCullough
"Stunning. Incredible." -- Claudia Radmore-Coutu
"Great work! What a pleasure." -- Howard Lee Kilby
"I love your haiku cartoons. Great job on the February challenge." -- Marco Fraticelli
"Love your work" -- Pat Benedict.
"I was recently introduced to your cartoons about Basho. They are wonderfully lighthearted. Just wanted to say I enjoyed the cartoons and, if you will forgive my muse, coined them "kutooons". They are a great way to learn about Matsuo Basho." -- Dennis (chibi) Holmes
"Wow . . . I had never seen this . . . I am totally charmed. The comics are wonderfully done and professional. I would certainly read this everyday, if it appeared in a newspaper. Quite a few of the poems are more than just "good"! . . . the simplicity of the figures, the wonderful expressiveness of the faces in just a few strokes --- that is classic, cartooning talent ---- the sweetness of it all, the gentle good humor . . . I admire what Tremblay has done here: it is the best thing of its kind I have ever seen. I think I may have become an instant fanatic for this . . .!!!" -- Michael McClintock
A few months later, the cartoons were featured in Frogpond, Notes from the Gean and Lynx.
"I love your comics. They often make me smile and I can be curmudgeonish." -- Mark Brooks (editor of Haijinx)
"I love the way you build your characters much in little just like haiku." -- Colin Stewart Jones (Notes from the Gean)
"Love your work and think this is going to be an excellent addition to Gean." -- Melinda Hipple (Notes from the Gean)
"Until now I was unaware of your wonderfully clever and well executed work and and know that our readers will be delighted...as I am". -- Kirsty Karkow (Notes from the Gean)
"Very funny work, indeed." -- Lorin Ford (Notes from the Gean, haiku editor)
"Kaeru the Frog is interesting. What I saw on Old Pond is pretty witty". -- Tad Wojnicki (Haiku Pix editor)
"These are brilliant." -- Michael Dylan Welch (editor of Press Here and the creator of NaHaiWriMo)
"The Old Pond comics are masterful and everyone is sure to enjoy seeing them." -- Anita Krummins (co-editor of Frogpond)
NaHaiwriMo: Aubrie Cox interviews Michael Dylan Welch, Haijinx, volume IV, issue 1, March 2011
NaHaiWriMo 2011 report by Michael Dylan Welch.
to Michael Dylan Welch for creating the NaHaiWriMo challenge.