f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 29, 2006

lawyers appreciate good haiku

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 6:23 pm

Our often tardy and absent Editor tagged his f/k/a alter egos this afternoon with an invitation to the Lawyers Appreciate Countdown — a ten-day event, in which lawyer webloggers have been closing out 2006 by discussing “what lawyers appreciate” (find links here).   Mr. Editor posted at the shlep self-help-law weblog today, neglecting loyal f/k/a readers and colleagues (as he’s been doing since the summer).   You can find his resulting shlep contribution to the Countdown in the posting “lawyers appreciate pro-se-friendly courts” (Dec. 29, 2006).

yinyang Because we have only until December 31st to fulfill our Appreciation obligation, Prof. Yabut and dagosan have decided to plagiarize/reprise a posting by Mr. Editor from December 2003.  In Yes, lawyers and haiku, he explained, from his perspective as a retired lawyer-mediator, why

Lawyers [Should] Appreciate Good Haiku:

I wish I had found haiku when I was a busy, driven lawyer-mediator.  Like many other attorneys, I rarely found time between career, family and civic activities, to enjoy art or literature, and couldn’t even conceive of creating anything artistic.   But, haiku is perfect for the hectic professional, or any other overwhelmed member of our hyperactive society.   And, it is especially perfect for the busy lawyer:

  1. brevity removes the not-enough-time excuse — open a good haiku book or web page and in a few moments you can have a worthwhile artistic experience (insight, joy, humor, serenity, etc.);
  2. lawyers love words — especially words that have layers of meaning, connotation, and denotation, where distilling an image to its essence is crucial, but a little misdirection is allowed (and even encouraged);
  3. and rules: not only are there lots of rules, but they are in dispute, constantly evolving, often misapplied, and frequently defended or attacked beyond all reason.
    creation: lawyers often feel (and are often told) that they don’t make or create anything (besides controversy and money).  The haiku concept is complex enough to be a challenge but manageable enough to be mastered by anyone who gives it a little quality time.  Every lawyer may not have a great novel inside her or him, but every lawyer can create some very passable haiku, and maybe even some great haiku.
  4. balance: haiku can help lawyers achieve the balanced lifestyle prescribed by Professor Patrick J. Schiltz, in his landmark article , On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 871, which we discussed at length here last September.

gullsS I hope you’ll catch haiku fever from this weblog and the resources mentioned here.  Since most Americans are mistaken about the “rules” of English-language haiku, please take a look at “is it or ain’t it haiku?” to learn more about the haiku genre, and its cousin “senryu“, which focuses (often with humor or irony) on human nature. [Senryu can be particularly enjoyable for lawyers and other city folk — who are frequently far more attuned to human foibles than to the human connection to nature’s essence.]  Browse this site, and our Guest Poet Archive, for examples of fine modern, English-language haiku, and related genre.

Quick (draft) Definition of Haiku:  Haiku is an unrhymed “one-breath” poem (no more than 17 syllables) that relates nature to human nature, and usually compares or contrasts a pair of images, which are separated by a pause.  At its best, haiku lets the reader share in the poet’s “haiku moment” — a moment of insight or awe.

Quick (draft) Definition of Senryu:  Senryu is a short poem similar in structure to haiku but featuring ironic, humorous and/or coarse observations on human nature.

[Yabut Note:  As we proved recently, Lawyers Appreciate Humorous Pseudo-Haiku, too, with genre definitions violated openly, notoriously, and in the spirit of fun and misadventure.]

gullsSF Haiku Appreciates Lawyers:  Our favorite haiku-writing lawyer is Roberta Beary, who lives and practices law in the D.C. Metro area.  The haiku world definitely appreciates her work, as she has consistently won contests and acclaim in the past decade. Here are some of Roberta’s best (you can find more using the links found in our Roberta Beary Archive); the first poem is not necessarily about lawyers:

early spring walk
your hand
in my pocket



first snow snowflake
at every window
a child’s face


far from home
an empty swing
half my size


not hearing it
til the cat stirs

custody hearing
seeing his arms cross
i uncross mine

family picnic
the new wife’s rump
bigger than mine

snowed in
the dog clicks
from room to room


ice patch
the surprising strength
of mother’s grip


. . . by Roberta Beary  BearyRoberta


“far from home”: Published in Frogpond XIX:3 (1996) (for Anita Virgil) 
“not hearing it”: Honorable Mention, National League American Pen Women Palomar Branch, Vol. 8 (1997)
“first snow”: Published in Haiku Happens (1998)
“early spring walk”: Included in “A Kind Neighbor,” Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology (1997); and in Snow on the Water: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku (1998)
“custody hearing” – from pocket change & A New Resonance 2 
“family picnic” – favorite senryu award, modern haiku 34-3
“snowed in” – winner, Snapshots Press 2006 Haiku Calendar (February); “ice patch” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:4 (Dec. 2006)

snowflake By the way, all that attention to shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress by our Editor has won that weblog the title “Best Law Blog in the Public Interest” from the Blawg Review Awards 2006.  We (his many alter egos) expect him to remain as humble as ever, and hope he starts attending to f/k/a again.



  1. […] Law ExPress — David Giacalone (Lawyers appreciate courts friendly to pro se parties) f/k/a… — Prof. Yabut and dagosan (Lawyers appreciate good […]

    Comment by Joining in the “Lawyers Appreciate…” countdown « Life at the Bar — November 17, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

  2. […] Law ExPress — David Giacalone  (Lawyers appreciate courts friendly to pro se parties) f/k/a… — Prof. Yabut and dagosan  (Lawyers appreciate good […]

    Comment by Life At the Bar » Blog Archive » Joining in the “Lawyers Appreciate” countdown — December 19, 2007 @ 7:46 am

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