L’Ange Gabriel

I am so fortunate today to have a guest post by the lovely Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone’s favorite dilettante. She contributes a poem, but also takes time to let you peer into a writer’s mind for how something as seemingly simple as a haiku is created.  If you aren’t familiar with Helena’s work, you need to be. She has written a couple of books and is a regular blogger. Be sure and follow this link to find her blog and below to see her books. But enough from me, take it away Helena.

down heavenly stairs

gabriel drops pianos

now here comes the flood



Haiku, believe it or not, are difficult to write. Let me restate that — good haiku are difficult to write. And further, I’m not sure I’m a good judge of what makes a good haiku, as I can’t state with any confidence that I’ve ever written one. I usually try to be too clever, or overstate something in an obvious way. According to an old professor of mine, haiku conventionally approach their themes in very subtle and indirect ways, with very little in the way of explicit metaphor; rather, haiku presents a resonant image that evokes deeper ideas.

So, with that in mind as a starting point, the idea is subtlety.

Well, one night there was the most vicious thunderstorm and I woke with this stuck in my head. There were none too subtle bursts of thunder the likes of which I’ve never heard before — I thought there was a car crash outside my window.

So that’s where this haiku started, but that’s not where it went.

The first line that came to me was dropping pianos (5 syllables) and then down heavenly stairs (another 5 syllables) and then I had something like it’s starting to rain (another 5 syllables). So I was missing the 7 syllable middle, and it seemed too literal and lacked the subtle layers and it’s starting to rain was hardly a revelation of a last line.

So then I reconstructed it as down heavenly stairs/angels dropping pianos/it’s starting to rain, which is, quite honestly, what I was planning on going with this morning when I woke up and tried to remember it to write it down.

And then, just this morning, I heard a favourite song of mine, one that I am still counting on an old schoolmate of mine to play at my funeral, (We’re schoolmates of old, that is — not that we are of an advanced age — not yet, anyway) and two ideas superimposed themselves over one another.

So then angels dropping pianos became gabriel drops pianos and my initial, overstated and obvious self went to call it Peter Gabriel and the Thunderstorm. Yeah, I know, it only took me about 30 seconds to realize that was a horrible idea as well.

I had always intended that the name Gabriel can be read as the angel Gabriel, and it just works out nicely that it’s the singer’s name as well, and the french L’Ange Gabriel rolls like thunder off the tongue much better than the english The Angel Gabriel.

And so, I hope that this illuminates the process that goes into writing what seems like a simple seventeen syllables — anyone with fingers can count out random syllables, but it really does take some thought to come up with something that has layers of meaning. If that sounds pretentious, and you find that offensive, that’s okay, I find myself offended when people have no respect for the craft of writing. This was merely a deconstruction to give you a peek behind the veil, as it were.



down heavenly stairs

gabriel drops pianos

now here comes the flood

Here’s the Gabriel/Fripp version from Exposure

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

Available now! image06 JESSICA image07

BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia


17 thoughts on “L’Ange Gabriel

  1. Wonderful haiku actually. And I’m not into haiku, so very well done. It was very interesting to see how you deconstructed it and the inspiration behind it.
    And this is my funeral song…

    • There are all sorts of poetry groups on WordPress — I’ve often considered joining one just to learn new things, but in my experience, poets are VERY sensitive about critique, and I would be too scared to hurt someone’s feelings!

    • Me neither. I took a University writing class focused on poetry, and we had to write different types, and I thought haiku would be easy — but got told very differently by the professor. Apparently in Japanese they are even more interesting, because the really great Japanese poets incorporate the sounds of certain phrases to add meaning to the poems. That’s a lot of work for three little lines.

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