IDA JONES REFERS DEAN CODY CASSADY to the poetic form known as ginko, following correspondence on writing whilst travelling. Travel, it seems, can be what we do anywhere with our eyes open.
(IJ): A ginko is a haiku walk, usually as an organised group. However, it is not necessarily a group event and can be an enjoyable experience on one’s own. Set off on a walk with a theme in mind. Make sure you have a notebook and pen, or pencil, with you to make notes or write your haiku en route. Focus on the theme and your surroundings and you may surprise yourself at how observant you become of things both small and large.
Another alternative is to join a friend in spirit. This is what I have done following a suggestion to do a ginko each day for a week on the theme of spring: my friend was in Bhutan, I was in France.
(DCC): When you write whilst on your travels (if you do this), where and how do you write? I’m a sucker for stories of how Kerouac might have sat at the back of a Greyhound bus from someplace to someplace else. He wrote and just kept writing. I do this. I did this from Boston to New York, on a Greyhound, coming down through Harlem on a Sunday morning, passing down by the Lower East Side, just writing it as I saw it.
Do you write as you go? Do you write when you get back home? Do you write in your head, or in notes and sketches? How does how you write where you’ve been affect what you see and what you remember? In Harlem I missed things because I was writing down the last things. It’s the only way I could do it. In Zaragoza I sat above a church courtyard and wrote the day just gone whilst my friends enjoyed siesta, and as the children and the churchgoers got ready for the Easter parades below. In Denmark I wrote on the plane and wished I’d written more of what I’d actually seen.
How you write affects what you write. Don’t you think?
Further Information on Ginko
Groups walks – an explanation from Haiku Spirit:
‘A ginko is a walk with haiku writers, usually held at the start of a season or at a ‘special’ time in the season (blossoms, equinox, solstice, anniversary, etc) in a chosen place (originally in nature). There is usually a ‘leader’ who has knowledge of the place (nature, animals, plants, history and background). During the walk the haiku writers discuss, take note or write haiku.’
Report from North Carolina:
Ginkos (haiku walks)
North Carolina Haiku Society
‘Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), one of the ‘Big Four’ of the Japanese haiku masters, thought that haiku poets should practise shasei – ‘sketching from life’ – in order to develop their powers of observation and description. A traditional way to develop these skills is to participate in a ginko, a haiku walk . . . We gather at a location, usually a scenic or historic place, and walk about. We jot down notes about what we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste – as well as thoughts and feelings that arise. After the walk, we turn our notes into haiku and read some of them aloud to the rest of the group. The goal is not to ‘impress’ but to respond to what is around us.’
– Ida Jones and Dean Cody Cassady