My teaching method is simple, but not at all new. It is the same method used by Onitsura in the 17th century, and it is traditional in the teaching of hokku. I present the student with good hokku models, which I draw from the best of the old writers, and I translate and present them in English-language hokku form.
Students who carefully study the models and use them as patterns for their own verse will quickly learn, as long as they are careful to keep in mind the inherent aesthetics of hokku.
Hokku are traditionally written and read in season, and so I generally use verses appropriate to the season in which I am teaching. Occasionally I will use an out-of season verse to explain or illustrate a particular point, but that is only for learning purposes.
We are now at the ending of summer and the beginning of autumn, so I will be using many autumn hokku as models, showing how they are constructed and the aesthetic principles that underlie them. Just how much a student will learn from this depends on how much he (or she) is willing to put into close attention to both the patterns and aesthetics of hokku. And of course one cannot write hokku without regularly connecting with Nature, whether in the countryside or in a city park or a backyard garden.
I waste little time on discussion of the Japanese language in which old hokku were originally written, because we do not write in Japanese and hokku can be written quite well in any language. The translations I use are generally my own. And I emphasize that in writing hokku, one should forget about their Japanese background, because when writing hokku in America, our hokku should be thoroughly American; in Wales thoroughly Welsh; in Scotland thoroughly Scottish; in Switzerland thoroughly Swiss; and the rest applies to all the other countries of the world, no matter what their language or climatic region.
In the coming weeks, as already mentioned, we shall be studying the patterns and aesthetics of old Autumn hokku. So it will be a chance for those who really want to learn hokku to do so in a systematic and gradual way. I suggest that you read back through the previous articles as preparation for that.
Those who are long-time readers here will notice that some time ago I removed the earlier archives. That is because I want to start afresh this autumn, so that those who wish to begin at the beginning may easily do so.
Occasionally I will include an article that may not seem directly related to hokku, but you will find that it is in some way, even if it is only through the bridge of Nature or of spirituality or of common aesthetics. That is in order to help us broaden our understanding of hokku and its place in the world.