The link between the muse and nature is irrefutable. Poets and artists have known this throughout the ages, and contemplation of the natural world has brought forth some of the greatest artistic accomplishments throughout human history.
On April 28, from 1 to 3:30 p.m., the Horatio Colony House Museum and Nature Preserve in Keene will be celebrating this connection, as it hosts the first Nature Preserve Haiku Hike, led by Meggie Donovan, project assistant. The program will begin with a short lesson on poetry writing techniques, before the participants explore the West Hill.
There, they will experience the preserve and collect picturesque words for a writer’s notebook. The program will explore language and learn how poetry is connected to their everyday lives. Participants will then compose original three-line haiku poems using word collections.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite pen or pencil and warm clothing for the outdoors. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
“I’m really excited to be doing this,” Donovan said. “I’ve been doing some poetry work at the Keene Middle School through Antioch University and the Horatio Colony House Museum and Nature Preserve for the past two years. I was recently approached by Anita Carroll-Weldon, director of the preserve, to host a public program focusing on poetry and the natural beauty found at that site.”
Donovan said that her studies at Antioch University, where she is majoring in environmental science and education, have given her a foundation with which she can help attendees focus on the wonders of nature.
“I have found that poetry can be a really beautiful way of bringing out emotions into a field that most people think is largely science-based,” she said. “It’s helpful in letting us express ourselves about how we feel about the earth and establishing a connection to place. This really helps us push people to express their feelings through words.”
For those unfamiliar with the form, a haiku is a traditional Japanese three-line poem with 17 syllables, written in a five/seven/five syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity and directness of expression.
It is one of the world’s oldest regularly written forms of poetry, and Basho (1644-1694) is recognized as its foremost poet. In the early 1850s, people in the western world learned of Japan’s incredible art, and Japanese artists were fascinated by the west’s own techniques.
“Haikus are the original nature poems,” Donovan said. “I also think they’re very accessible to a wide range of writers, as they are a syllable-based form. It’s not an overwhelming type of poem to learn at all.
“I think that people are sometimes a little intimidated when it comes to writing poetry, because they think it has to be kind of flowery, like a Shakespearean sonnet. The beauty and simplicity of the form really lends itself to natural description.”
Donovan said that the precision of the form is actually an aid to writing, as it compels the writer to think holistically about the emotions they wish to convey.
“Haikus force you to really stay in the moment,” she said. “To write one, you have to think about the word you’re going to be using, as you only have a very limited number of words to work with. The form will actually force you to change your writing into the most basic element.
“The haiku is really the first step to dealing with nature, and how you feel about it in that particular time.”
Donovan said that, upon graduation, her hope is to teach high school English, bringing her background in environmental science into her courses.
“I really want students to be grounded in the place where they came from,” she said. “I think that there’s something in the environment that lends a layer of understanding that they don’t get when they’re sitting inside a classroom.
“Bringing people outside to experience the wonder of nature is something that we should all be doing more often.”
The Nature Preserve Haiku Hike will be held at the Horatio Colony House Museum and Nature Preserve, 55 Daniel Hill Road in Keene, Sunday, April 28, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, although registration is required. To register, call 283-2115 or email email@example.com.