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Mendoza-Navasan Meets Haiku

While in seventh grade, I can remember our teacher speaking about the Japanese form of poetry, Haiku. Even as a child, I was intrigued by its simplicity of form while also possessing the possibility to be profound and beautiful. Sitting with my classmates that day, I was pleased to see a 16mm projector set up in the back of the room. For me, educational films represented a break from the hum-drum of an afternoon class. Having finished her opening remarks, Miss Brennan walked to the back of the room and started the film. We turned to see illuminated on a screen, pulled down in front of the chalkboard, the film's leader as it passed along its predetermined route. The projector’s arc lamp shone as bright as the sun revealing markings written in black Sharpie. Then the countdown commenced.

The sound of the motor hummed as the chain-driven mechanism turned the sprocket wheel, gripping the celluloid and moving it along the track rollers. We could hear the flapping of film at the points where it was looped, keeping it loose to prevent it from tearing apart as the motor and reels tugged at it.

Fade to black. We then heard the subtle tone of Japanese music as an image of a maple tree’s fall foliage appeared. “HAIKU.” As I sat watching and getting comfortable for a nice respite, suddenly the unexpected - "Music by Jaime Mendoza-Nava" faded in and out. "What? Dad did the music for this… Japanese music?" Suddenly, this audio-visual aid was becoming interesting.

Now, many decades later, I continue to enjoy Haiku and appreciate the creativity and beauty that so often can be found in this art form.

Here is an excerpt from that educational film.

Some interesting reading:

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