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June 24, 2011

Poetry Friday--Getting Deep into Haiku with Keanu Reeves

Last week I came across several online articles with the title, "Keanu Reeves Plans Haiku Collection." All of the articles basically relayed the same information: Reeves, after the recent publication of his "comedy" book, Ode to Happiness, has decided to try his hand at haiku. (Read a short interview with the book's illustrator, Andrea Grant, here, and a more in-depth article about Reeves and the book, which seems to be the source of all the other short articles, here.)

Here's a memorable quote from Reeves,
I'm considering another idea I call Haikus of Hope. Basically like, 'I want to kill myself', and go from there. Going into such a dark place that you can somehow surprisingly find the light at the end of the tunnel – but a nice end of the tunnel. Not the end of the tunnel.
Wow, I can hardly wait for this sure-to-be-a-bestseller poetry book. Sounds "interesting," doesn't it? I wonder what's at the end of the tunnel? Or maybe Keanu's a little mixed-up, he's probably looking for the end of the rainbow--a nice little pot of gold. Hmmm, I have my doubts...

I give Reeves credit, though, he at least acknowledges that he is planning to read some traditional haiku. He says,
I'm gonna get deep into haiku, because oftentimes people construe that in English it's five-seven-five syllables, but that doesn't have to hold true, so I want to play with the traditional Basho form. I like that: Haikus of Hope.

I guess I'll have to wait for this next book to be researched, written, and published before I can review it. Until then, I'd suggest that everyone "get deep into haiku." At the very least, read some Basho poems. Here are three that were translated by R.H. Blyth and appear in Haiku selected and edited by Peter Washington, ("Everyman's Library Pocket Poets" series), Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

From what flowering tree
I know not,
But ah, the fragrance!

The hanging bridge:
Creeping vines
Entwine our life.

How admirable,
He who thinks not, 'Life is fleeting,'
When he sees the lightning flash.

This week's Round-Up is at Carol's Corner.

Woodcut print of the traveller, Basho, courtesy Library of Congress.


  1. Haikus of Hope by Keanu - ouch! but I love the ones you posted today, Diane.

  2. Thanks, Diane, for the warning - er, the heads' up. Love the woodcut and Basho selections.

  3. Love the Basho haiku! Keanu's collection should be "interesting" at the very least . . .

  4. I just finished Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" this morning. I'm seeing it everywhere, including in that last Basho and in Keanu's I-want-to-kill-myself Haikus of Hope. Must find something uplifting.

    Thanks, anyway, Diane. ;)

  5. I love your Basho selection, D. I had a dream about a year ago -- it featured me walking through something I seemed to know as Basho's garden. Basho himself was nowhere in sight . . .


  6. Getting deep into haiku sounds like a fine plan, Keanu or no Keanu...

    (word verification: clowd...a message about the topic for a future haiku???)

  7. Andy, I fear you are too negative today. The last haiku was totally uplifting:

    How admirable,
    He who thinks not, 'Life is fleeting,'
    When he sees the lightning flash.

    Most people tremble and fear being struck, Basho is celebrating the one who stands in awe of the brilliant light show. At least that's the way I read it!

    Mary Lee-- clowd?

  8. A little Keanu match for your entertainment:

    Love the Basho!

  9. Whoa! Dudette! That's awesome.

  10. NICE!

    my spring
    is lucky, lucky!
    this morning's sky
    -Issa, 1814

    much love

  11. I love the upbeat tone of this Issa haiku, Gillena. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Well, I will want to kill myself if the title is actually Haikus of Hope!!!! I tend to cringe every time I see the plural form of haiku with an s...lol.

    Gisele :)

  13. Hello. I agree this haiku book sounds odd. I actually stumbled across someone on Twitter who's writing entertaining haiku under the name @haikusbykeanu. I'm guessing it's not the real Keanu, but worth reading nonetheless.


  14. Thanks, Wayne. I'll look for haikusbykeanu.