I sent a series of mail art items out recently, all to my son, over a period of maybe about 7-8 weeks. Each one featured a letter of the alphabet, one at a time, and not in order. I didn’t save images for very many of them, just didn’t get to it. Doesn’t matter – the main point was that each letter got its own haiku, based on some characteristics of the letter itself.
Since childhood, I have seen words as visual objects – I learned to read by recognizing words. Phonics meant almost nothing to me. I didn’t relate written words to spoken language – reading was something else altogether for me. You looked at the page and the meaning of a large chunk of text came immediately into your mind all at once, like looking at a pattern – that’s how I saw it.
Even better, each word looked like what it meant. I recognized each word as I would recognize an individual, immediately. The pattern of letters added up to a picture – change a letter, change the picture, not just the word and its meaning.
It all sounds a little strange, and I can’t explain this whole thing any further, except to say that my son shares this characteristic with me. We have had many conversations over the years (mystifying my husband, who does not see things this way at all) starting soon after my son learned to read, about the “expression” a word has, or its personality, and what about the word links its meaning and its visual image.
As an aside, I was curious how it would be to learn another language, if this process would happen – so when I studied Spanish as an adult, I was happy to learn that it did – it just seemed to me that the language expressed things in a different visual style. “Tia” and “aunt” mean the same thing, I understood, but with a whole different flavor.
Anyway, individual letters work the same way to me. Some are shy, some assertive – some push at other letters, some are friendly and open. These characteristics affect the words they appear in, maybe like changing colors in a pattern makes it lean one way or another as to the effect it has on the viewer.
As to these haiku offerings – I think I will not set out the whole alphabet at one time but will only do a few letters – give each one its moment to be a star, maybe. And I think I’ll put them in the order I sent them. I have a few pictures – I’ll post them along the way.
I wrote the haikus only one at a time for most of the alphabet, although I’ll say got impatient at the end and did several at once. Sorry to those letters, but now they can get their attention.
So, here are three:
The big letter “S”
sailing out of sight. But why
in such a hurry?
Letter “A”, at home
in upper left-hand corner.
Number one. Not shy.
“C” is essential
to composition. No “C”,
you don’t get started.