Gogyohshi …

Today I shall write a gogyohshi about my daughter who is visiting. Then for NaHaiWriMo I shall write a haiku extracted from the gogyohshi.


Daughter’s Visit

it is yet early
my daughter sleeps soundly
soon she will awaken
we shall have coffee together
sharing the whole day

sleeping daughter – smiles in the sunlight

Taro Aizu and I have been sharing and communicating on Facebook. I have been learning from him. As I have earlier mentioned he is from Fukushima. When I read his story of Fukushima about his home, his loss, his disaster, the whole tragedy of Fukushima came much closer to me. His story was written in a combination of prose and gogyohshi poetry. Initially I did not know this. Being a beginner with Japanese poetry I thought perhaps that he had written a haibun, even though I knew that it included no haiku. Perhaps prose and tanka, I thought to myself. But no, Taro informed me that it was a poetry form called gogyohshi. I love this form as it has only one restriction, that of 5 lines. Otherwise it is a free form poem … right up my alley. Below is the explanation of what a gogyohshi is, copy and pasted from Taro Aizu’s comment to me on Facebook that can be found here:  Taro Aizu has just shared with me the WiKi article on gogyohshi, spelled differently.  He also has a gogyohshi poem in the wiki article found here.  His poem is beautiful and so very sad.

In the words of Taro Aizu Gogyohshi is:
What is Gogyohshi?

Gogyohshi is a poem written in five lines. Writing a poem in five lines is

its only rule. The content of gogyohshi is free, its themes are chosen by the

poet. There are other five-line poetries in the world, for example, gogyohka,

tanka, cinquain, and limerick. These poetries have certain rules such as number

of permitted syllables, line lengths, and rhyme. Gogyohshi has no such rules.

It is the freest form of five-line poetry in the world.

But gogyohshi doesn’t permit to be written in 4 or 6 lines, though gogyohka

occasionally permits this. Gogyohshi is written only in five lines. If the

poem is written in four lines, we should call it “Yongyohshi”meaning a poem

written in four lines. If the poem is written in six lines, you should call it

“Rokugyohshi” meaning a poem written in six lines.

As for a title, some Japanese poets add it to gogyohshi and others don’t.I will

always add a title to my Japanese and English gogyohshi because I can’t tell one

gogyohshi from the other. If I add it to my many gogyohshi, I will be able to tell

them apart. I will write a short title in all capital letters so that readers don’t

misunderstand the title as one line of 6 lines poetry. Gogyohshi is for me 5 lines

poetry with a short title. But it isn’t the same as cinquain because it has no

syllabic restraints unlike cinquain.

While Gogyohka is trademarked in Japan, gogyohshi is not so. Because gogyohshi

doesn’t belong to any special person but to everyone. Most Japanese gogyohka poets

belong to gogyohka groups and follow the leaders of such groups. Most gogyohshi

poets do not belong to any group and write as they please. In conclusion, among

world five-line poetries, gogyohshi is closest to gogyohka in form. The primary

differences between them lie in gogyohshi’s adherence to the rule of 5-line. Adding

a title to them depends on the poet. A gogyohshi poet has no rule except writing

a poem in five lines. This is a Declaration of Gogyohshi.

27 thoughts on “Gogyohshi …

  1. Lovely daughter-poems, kiddo. So wonderful to have them near, isnt it? Enjoy. I love hearing about your friendship with Taro Aizu. Someone right there on the ground where such disaster befell him. Somehow, in your haiku explorations and this friendship with him, I suspect you just may have a Japanese soul 🙂 Does he have a blog, Liz?

  2. Hope you have a wonderful time with your daughter. The sentiments of your gogyohshi and haiku are beautiful. The haiku is short but effectively communicates peace, contentment and love.

    What an interesting post about this form. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  3. very cool…i did not know about this form…and it def seems like something i could do….hope you enjoyed that coffee and are having fun with your dau…smiles at the haiku…that was warm and made me smile.

  4. You’ve gifted me in many ways here–a taste of envy because I’d love to see my mother, knowledge of gogyohshi of which I’m not familiar, and a chance at a new friend and teacher in Taro Aizu. I found him on FB. Now to find you. 😉 Happiest of days and visits to you and your daughter.

  5. So many interesting things here. (Do I sense more energy? Ah, when our children come it is healing and energizing. The Gogyohshi is beautifully homey, and I like that you also shared your experience with your FB friend.

    Have a beautiful day, dear Liz.

  6. sleeping daughter – smiles in the sunlight….this is just awesome… and coffee and sharing the day together is both..so basic in a way and so breath-takingly special..

  7. Hi, Liz and everyone,
    I’m Taro Aizu from Japan.
    Liz’s gogyohshi is lovely as it expresses a happy friendship between the mother and her daughter quietly. Gogyohshi is the simplest and freest form of all five-line poetry such as tanka, cinquain and limerick. I’ll introduce my representative gogyohshi to you because it will be published in an anthology of five-line poetry in English in May. This is one of the best 300 of five-line poems of 18,000 in 2011 which American,British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealander editors chose.


    Picking ten pink roses
    from our garden
    I float them secretly
    in the bathtub
    for Mother’s Day.

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