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4th POSITION

the blogspot for The Haiku Foundation’s academic journal
Juxtapositions: A Journal of Haiku Poetics & Culture (JUXTA)

4th POSITION

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ENCOUNTERS will be a section of JUXTAPOSITIONS that features the dialogue between contemporary poetry and haiku. We encourage you to submit essays about the encounter of contemporary poets and poetry and haiku. We are also currently seeking individual papers that introduce haiku to students. For further information about this and other open topics at JUXTA, contact the editor Tom D’Evelyn: juxta _at_ thehaikufoundation _dot_ org (replace _at_ and _dot_ with the appropriate symbols). —Tom D’Evelyn

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4th POSITION

by Matt M. Cariello

The following “Quiz” is meant to follow up on the conversation begun with Positions 1 and brought to a boil with Postions 2; please play along and answer at least one of the questions in the spirit in which it is posed before expanding on your own ideas.

Is Haiku Poetry?
A Quiz

1) Please circle all that apply:

All haiku are poetry.
Some haiku are poetry.
Poetry and haiku are completely different.
Poetry and haiku are indistinguishable.
None of the above.
All of the above.
Don’t be stupid.

2) Is this a haiku?

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.

(William Carlos Williams)

Please discuss your answer, using these questions as a guide: Why is/isn’t this a haiku? If it is a haiku, why? If it isn’t a haiku, what could you do to make it a haiku? Why would you want to do this?

3) Is this a poem?

the winter fly
I caught and finally freed
the cat quickly ate

(Issa, trans. Sam Hamill)

Please discuss your answer, using these questions as a guide: Why is/isn’t this a poem? If it is a poem, why? If it isn’t a poem, what could you do to make it a poem? Why would you want to do this?

4) How many journals/magazine publish both poetry and haiku, or review books of both poetry and haiku, on a regular basis? Please list:

5) Billy Collins’ 2006 book of haiku, She Was Just Seventeen, received which kind of response from readers and reviewers:

Favorable.
Unfavorable.
It was not reviewed.
That’s not haiku.
Who is Billy Collins?

6) Jane Reichhold’s 2008 book, Basho: the complete haiku, received which kind of response from readers and reviewers:

Favorable.
Unfavorable.
It was not reviewed.
That’s not poetry.
What’s a Basho?

7) Complete this sentence. Haiku is…

…what gets lost in translation.
…not the record of an event: it is an event.
…should not mean but be.
…just the evidence of life.
…being, not doing.
…an orphan of silence.
…a Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.
…minimally brief, semantically enfolded, clever, surprising, resistant, collocationally unusual or unique, mysterious, suggestive, humorous, clashing, disjunctive, irruptive, rhythmic, imagistic, sensual, and has a readily understandable vocabulary.
… a short poem.

8). (Circle all that apply.) Haiku written in English…
…isn’t really haiku.
…isn’t poetry.
…isn’t really in English.
…would give Basho fits.

9) (Circle all that apply.) Poems written in America are…
…advertisements for western imperialism.
…life distilled. (Gwendolyn Brooks)
…debased products of the university workshop system.
…giving Basho fits.

10) In conclusion, which of the following appear to be true?

All poetry is haiku.
All haiku is poetry.
It’s complicated.
It’s simple.

Sources for question number 7:
Robert Frost
Robert Lowell
Archibald MacLeish
Leonard Cohen
ee cummings
Charles Simic
answers.com
Richard Gilbert (in Positions 2)

Matthew M. Cariello teaches in the English Department at Ohio State University; his essay on metaphor may be found in the 2010 summer issue of Modern Haiku.

1st POSITION

2nd POSITION

3rd POSITION

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POSITIONS is a section of the blog for The Haiku Foundation’s haiku academic journal Juxtapositions: A Journal of Haiku Poetics & Culture (JUXTA), edited by Tom D’Evelyn. The space will be used for updates and topics related to the journal. Oftentimes, the posts will be excerpts from papers scheduled to appear in the journal. It is hoped that the posts/excerpts will inspire feedback that will help the author with revision of the piece for final publication in JUXTA.

This Post Has 98 Comments

  1. The only way to approach the essential mystery of true haiku is through an instrumental understanding of MA. If this is not clearly understood, both intellectually and in application, most theories of haiku are simply nonsense.

    — jp

  2. To be fixated, as in a stupor or trance, by a flat earth notion of things is reassuring. Only natural that any challenge to our cognitive comfort zones tends to produce dissonance, followed by a flurry of denial and/or aggression.

    Nevertheless, we all need to be brave and, for the sake of future generations, scrape the barnacles off of global haiku, for fear that our ubiquitous little boat of fast-track enlightenment for the people, sinks under the encrusted weight of an appallingly ignorant and spiritually opaque received ‘wisdom’.

    MORE ON HAIKU IN THE LIGHT OF DAY HERE
    http://www.facebook.com/notes/haiku-crossroads/haiku-in-the-light-of-day/155009504538038

    — jp

  3. Hi Lorin, and thanks for sending me back to Four Quartets: a work to return to, for sure, with renewed sense of surprise and recognition (well, at least in parts!). I particularly like your sense of “the kind of spaciousness in which connections seem to come of themselves rather than connections we have to ‘figure out’.” As you say, there’s “much musing and spelling out” there too, though much of that is very compelling; hardly a matter of “opinion” (to borrow a word Paul used in connection with Longfellow), but profound, sustained thought. Committed haikuists sometimes sound suspicious, even almost dismissive of anything other than direct presentation of the thing, etc., but passages such as the one beginning as below (from the 1st of the Quartets, ‘Burnt Norton), show, I hope, that to go from Eliot’s musing on non-duality to passages in the poem such as those you quote, or to haiku, may enhance appreciation of both kinds of poetic utterance.

    At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
    Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
    But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
    Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
    Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
    There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
    I can only say, *there* we have been: but I cannot say where.

  4. Hi Paul and Phillip,

    In relation to your discussion, I can’t resist the temptation to quote a few lines from *the* poem which really grabbed me in my mid-20s and no doubt left an indelible impression. These lines come as a surprise and as a palpable relief straight after a section written more in the manner of ‘blank verse’ which incorporated some Biblical diction and spelling from Chaucer’s time:

    Dawn points, and another day
    Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
    Wrinkles and slides. I am here
    Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.

    … from ‘East Coker’, part 1, from Four Quartets – T.S.Eliot

    (Similarly to what Paul writes in relation to his Longfellow, “I feel I am there” when I first read this I felt “who is this writer who seems to have been there on the beach with me or looked out of my bedroom window over the ti-tree to the sea on those Summer early mornings,and wrote this for me?” An eerie feeling, that sort of recognition!)

    ‘Four Quartets’ is written in a variety of verse styles and voices which work like counterpoint in music, and Eliot was a pioneer of the ‘Modern’ period of poetry, early to mid 20th century. The ‘Modern ‘ poetry followed (and tolled the passing bells for) the previous Victorian and Georgian styles of poetry. This is not to say that the poems of eg Matthew Arnold, Tennyson (in England) and in America, Longfellow are ‘no good’. It simply means that times, and human consciousness of the world, had changed so much that it was no linger viable to *write* more poems in the old way. There was the First World War. It changed things!

    These lines are not, of course , haiku, but I find in them (in the two distinct parts, that of the observations of the natural world and the statement about self which builds like a slow swell on an otherwise calm dawn sea) the kind of spaciousness in which connections seem to come of themselves rather than connections we have to ‘figure out’. (and in Four Quartets there is much ‘figuring out’, much musing and spelling out and interior monologue) I also find that these lines are a short poem, despite the fact that they are part of a much longer poem, a sequence of four long poems.

    There is also a sense in which I find haiku to be like the various ‘voices’ , in harmony and in counterpoint, which Eliot brought together in ‘Four Quartets; and ‘The Wasteland’. Different to renga/ renku, which are collaborative poems, haiku are still usually read with, or at least in relation to, other haiku: though each ‘stands alone’, each memorable haiku gains resonance from other memorable haiku, other voices.

    ” . . . The sea has many voices,
    Many gods and many voices.
    ……………………………………. The salt is on the briar rose,
    The fog is in the fir trees.”

    from ‘The Dry Salvages’, part 1, Four Quartets

  5. Paul, thanks for the intro and insight into Longfellow, whose work I’ve hardly read. I’m not sure how apt the comparison with late 20th and early 21st century haiku is, though. I agree that good haiku tends to do little of the ‘telling’ found in lines like “skeletons of leaves … Shuddered and danced their dance of death”; but it is unlikely that any writer of image-based poetry, post-Pound, would write that way. You show how an appreciation of Longfellow’s writing can relate to, and so enhance, an appreciation of haiku (particularly that of the mainstream American variety). And more could be got out of consideration of haiku in relation to more modern poetry. I find it hard to agree that “such discussion” does not “have much to do with haiku.” That may be so, as you say, “in the general sense” (when it comes, I mean, to generalizing about haiku), but when it comes to the specific ways in which haiku works as poetry? I agree, it is “hard enough to discuss haiku,” but does it necessarily get harder if one tries to see it in a broader view; to speak, that is, as readers and writers of poetry, with a particular interest in haiku? I find it hard to see how it is possible to speak realistically of haiku in English alone, as though it had little or nothing in common with other poetry in the same language.

    Sorry to be brief (it’s late here); likewise, if I’ve misread any of your comments.

  6. ” This is why we say: “True haiku is a form of literary magic (NOT literary art, where poetry abides) and true haiku is it’s own distinct genre, therein.” ” jp

    I’d be interested to know who the *we* are, who say this. Or are you using the Royal pronoun?

  7. True haiku is of and in the present, the now. Yesterday and tomorrow may only be implied. Eternity is always the background, from our time-bound perspective, that is. This becomes apparent as we enter the now. We stand between two worlds of experience The living moment of immediate perception allows this when we do true haiku. This is why we address the now. All the rest follows, naturally. This is the primary juxtaposition* which ensouls the living moment’s intuitive presentation of contrasting sensory entities. This is peculiar to haiku, Zen haiku anyway. This is why we say: “True haiku is a form of literary magic (NOT literary art, where poetry abides) and true haiku is it’s own distinct genre, therein.” Of course we use minimal poetic and prosaic devices to indicate (signpost), clearly and without embellishment, the living image of a true haiku in words. Do not be confused into thinking that this means true haiku is a poem or a prose piece, this would be perpetuating the great error. A true haiku is a set of magical instructions. A form of Zen sorcery, some might say. A benign spell.

    Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
    The world was all before them, where to choose
    Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
    They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
    Through Eden took their solitary way.

    ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

    NOTES
    *Between separate and combined we have ‘juxtaposition’.

    For more on juxtaposition scroll back from here :
    https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/2010/10/03/quicksilver-hg4-learning-about-comparing-two-images/comment-page-2/#comment-4104

  8. Hi Philip. I appreciate your question. I used capitals for a purpose, and might, in retrospect have modified the tone the capitals send (to some). My sentence might even do well without the first one, “OUR,” entirely. Yet the point I tried to make and emphasize still holds for me.

    I was motivated to indicate that haiku poets, and “this” haiku poet write, commit to paper, or to read (as many now do in recording) aloud… a haiku. If as I believe Art is expression, then creator and perceiver are more than implied — they are necessary to Art. Communication has participation, even if passive. Art can run the gamut of sound (speech and music), sight (words and visual art), even touch, if museum directors, and their guards, allow touching sculpture for example. At least when I visited, the Dallas (Texas) Museum of Art had a central display of stone sculptures by British artist Henry Moore. One can tell by looking, but oh! to touch the smoothness, and sense the curves he used is wonderful (and allowed there within reason).

    In haiku, unlike at least some kinds of other poetry, the point is to not give much of the mind/ opinion of the haiku poet. I absolutely do not profess any expertise on other forms of poetry. I do not think such discussion has much to do with haiku in the general sense. Plainly both forms use our language and many skills of expression. The sound of a haiku, the pace, the order of elements, the focus, the placement of the poet/observer — are all variables manipulated consciously or unconsciously. If a poet of, say… the stature of Longfellow (at one point the most famous American in the world) can spend stanza after stanza in pure description in a sense of Charles Dickens (the most famous Englishman in his time) filling a novel’s page with one paragraph which is at once only one sentence. Perfectly punctuated.

    Longfellow’s “Tales of a Wayside Inn” page two of the Prelude of the First Part:

    Deep silence reigned, save when a gust
    Went rushing down the country road,
    And skeletons of leaves, and dust,
    A moment quickened by its breath,
    Shuddered and danced their dance of death,
    And through the ancient oaks o’erhead
    Mysterious voices moaned and fled.

    [pwm again]

    Well I feel I was there. How smoothly he works all into 8-meter … well maybe except the poetic contraction of “over.” We also get a dose of the poet’s imagination in his metaphors. He tells/instructs us what to feel. Strongly seasoned, late fall, early winter…. in Sudbury Massachusetts, a day’s ride by horse from Boston… on the “road” to Connecticut and New York. Longfellow has pace, and mellifluous sounds if you’ll read it aloud to yourself. The Inn and bar room are still there to visit.

    Longfellow again for the sound and emotional tone … “Evangeline” part of first page and last page:

    This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
    Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
    Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
    Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

    90 pages later:

    Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches

    While from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced, neighboring ocean
    Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

    [pwm again] Forgive the extent of the digression. One can certainly understand H.W. Longfellow’s feeling here. It is all laid out and explained; metaphor rampant. But the language is masterful. Again, read it aloud. One of my favorite lines: Still stands the forest primeval. The whole of Evangeline is quite a story, too. The English kicked the French settlers out of Eastern Canada… forcibly resettled many to Louisiana… and “Cajun” French was born. The forest on the coast of, and the ocean is the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy.

    Back to your question, and your last line, Philip, if I might take out the whole word (of mine) OUR, leaving it to read: “… bare bones of experience …” Letting me recede into the distance and part of the theory of haiku to come to the fore, it is to share without the depth of Longfellow’s detail, with opinion pushed out of the limelight, likewise not _telling_ that the leaves remind him of skeletons, or that oaks remind of ancient Druids who speak prophetically. Really? These are distinctions that any good Sophist can whittle away at, posing questions that show only the trouble with definition of either “poetry” or “haiku poetry.”

    In a sense, haiku is a poetry that invites participation. Some subject material will not be accessible to all people. Yet, the haiku poet bears a bit of responsibility to show something, w/ enough detail, that might at least be imagined by a reader. A haiku with one image as, wild example, a cardinal sitting on a garden bench…. may not be understood as a bright red songbird, rather as a red-hatted Catholic prelate. Slightly different is to use redwing –with — blackbird at least in the US. In Europe redwing might suffice, especially if flight is mentioned or implied. One cannot be successful if too “bare bones,” or unnecessarily confusing. To the extent that a haiku, a brief thing, can invite a reader/listener in, perhaps to voyage around a bit in the image(s), perhaps to find the flick of recognition, the awareness of a synthesis, an interaction of the haiku’s elements, then can its success be measured as communicating by sharing.

    “Other poetries” Philip? Not for me to say. Hard enough to discuss haiku.

    ***

  9. Paul, earlier you made the point that “To share is why we write haiku, and in some way show to another person. We share the bare bones of OUR experience so that a reader/listener can bring her/his own experience to bear and share with US, the writers.”

    This idea of sharing interests me; writers of haiku often appeal to it. Would you say that haiku, being so brief and so often to do with “the bare bones of our experience,” invites the participation of the reader/listener more keenly than other kinds of poetry? (I am thinking not only of haiku’s lending itself to linking and collaboration, but also how it tends to work as a free-standing poem.) And/or – as your emphasis might indicate – are you suggesting that such bare-bones experience is somehow more “ours”, more essential or shareable, than that shared by other poetries?

  10. Dear Scott, you wrote:

    “Folks, please move on. if it doesn’t have to do with the actual post, or is in that general vicinity, then i’m going to have to start playing the role of placing posts in the trash. and if things continue, then i’ll have to place your posts in the spam filter and no one will read your posts on this log again.

    please stay on topic and make nice and stuff.

    thank you.”

    I completely agree that THF is no place for vituperative language. I also put it to you that the gist of the discussion was directly on point — of #4. Questions of what is a haiku. and, are haiku poems…

    Days ago, I wrote a rather lengthy piece to the points, and also responded, rather politely I feel, to intellectually challenging contentions by “The Haiku Master.” Despite my asking him politely, and even lightly and humorously, he did not identify himself or reply to the serious points of my essay. Several other writers did. He seemingly is actually named John Potts. Now, as he says, haigo have a long tradition. And John (Potts), most of us do know the word… it is the beginners that may not. No need to wrap yourself in the cloak of Old Basho himself. I am still confused by your contentions about “true” haiku (as opposed to untrue haiku?). magical haiku, and haiku not being poetry. I asked before, a few days ago — yet I think “magical” has appeared, popped up, since then. Let’s agree I add it to my queries.

    Scott, One thing I think of, but probably do not worry about too much, is the title of Haiku Master as John comments on the beginner thread and others like this one. A reader might need to know if this is wisdom of a “Master” not just self-proclaimed. Is there a body of work, published haiku by editorial process? Books of haiku not self-published? Critical essays in books or ELH journals? Published haiku chosen for ELH anthologies? I mentioned the late Peggy Willis Lyles as a “Master” — but I assure you, my friend resisted the honorific and did so strenuously. I doubt the late Robert Spiess and Elizabeth Searle Lamb ever held notions of their own “Masterhood” of haiku — although they both certainly were. The three were authors, theorists, widely published in journals and books and anthologies, and longtime Editors of established journals. These two plus Peggy were all great teachers, humble and effective. There are others living and dead in ELH, but as I said a few days ago… best not for me to single out too many. I expect these three sit in the pantheon by near acclamation. So, John, who thinks you a master, and perhaps you are… I do not know you or your name, but I am maybe too parochial in the USA. You are known in British and Antipodean realms …

    You also mention in the same breath… that your haigo may be ironic, but may be based upon truth, a serious thing.

    Scott, I’m not interested in character or scholarship besmirchment, rather in the discussion John touched off with haiku not poetry, magical haiku, true and untrue haiku, etc.

    I do not mean haiku veteran as one with any greater skill than some newcomers, but it might help for some openness to allow both veteran and beginner to learn of the standing of a Master making interesting but controversial statements (correct, true, or otherwise). Those with good memories may recall I agreed with at least two of John’s assertions.

    I “don’t know from Twitter or Facebook” — pardon the vernacular. Say what you mean right here, defend, attack, or agree. Moses brought down the 10 commandments (10 Haiku Commandments?). Didn’t he wander the Negev for 40 years, and never did see/cross the river Jordan? Ha! Sorry, I couldn’t resist the humor, even if off-topic. Pace, Scott. I hope we all can have a lighter tone.

    – Paul (MacNeil), listed in the THF Haiku Registry

  11. folks, please move on. if it doesn’t have to do with the actual post, or is in that general vicinity, then i’m going to have to start playing the role of placing posts in the trash. and if things continue, then i’ll have to place your posts in the spam filter and no one will read your posts on this blog again.

    please stay on topic and make nice and stuff.

    thank you.

  12. ” Whatever haiku is it’s certainly not poetry.” – THM, 29th September

    “. . .*haiku as magical poetry* (my current–provisional–solution for what a true haiku is).” – THM, 6th October

    So haiku *is* poetry, now, is it, John? ‘Magical poetry’?

    Well, maybe we’re getting somewhere, though that somewhere feels to me to be a bus stop somewhere in the foggy marshlands between Martin Lucas’s ‘poetic spell’ and Ken Jones’s ‘existential magic’, where we might expect to be entertained by the old pea-and-thimbles-trick.

  13. Haigo : A haiku writers pseudonym or haikai pen name.

    There are countless examples of stage names in the haiku zone, the broader literary world and elsewhere. Matsuo Bashō is a haiku example. That great man was born with the name Matsuo Kinsaku. We know him as Bashō because of a banana tree his students planted next to his hut. I guess he liked the fun ‘anonym’ : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsuo_Basho#Rise_to_fame

    This haigo business has a certain bearing on *haiku as magical poetry* (my current–provisional–solution for what a true haiku is). The adoption of a name which examples a specific personality state is common practice in the history of human cultures. Think: ritual mask. It’s based on the fact that we become what we think and influence as we appear. It’ may also be used to service good natured irony.

    — jp
    http://www.facebook.com/haikucrossroads

  14. “More seriously I have no idea who you are or if, as a previous writer postulated, you are goofing on us. A self-proclaimed Master? ” Paul MacNeil

    Well, ‘Free the Haiku’ , whomever he/ she might be, did everyone a favour by clearing up any doubts about ‘The Haiku Master’ being another avatar of John Potts, who has a reputation which has preceded him even unto the Antipodes. The reputation is not for his wisdom on the subject of haiku.

    Thank you, FtH, for confirming that.

  15. Lorin, Philip, thanks for picking up the debate here. I have some thoughts and questions of my own which I hope to share in due course.

    Sandra – I agree, it would be nice to keep the personal spats away from these comment threads.

    Megan – I shouldn’t let that comment get to you, “Free the Haiku!” is a one-off poster so far as I can tell.

    On the matter of whether anyone is simply falling into tired old philosophies or actually thinking for themselves… so far as I can tell the whole point of this website, unlike some others, is to encourage thinking for oneself, and being actively critical of the ‘old and tired philosophies and theories’. That’s why there’s so much lively debate here, and so many interesting articles such as the one we are commenting below right now.

  16. Speaking personally, I, would appreciate personal spats being kept in some other part of the web.

    Also, I don’t wish to read coarse language.

    Thanks.

  17. In response to the quoted post below: Anyone who knows mmm, Megan McMurray McGowen, will know that she is no sychophant (sic)! Clearly the author of this defensive and angst ridden post (who I have no knowledge of) is feeling threatened by anyone who has a opinion that differs from his/her own. Too bad ….so sad that anyone who THINKS for themselves, instead of resorting to old and tired philosophies and theories, is regarded in this way. Cowards always hide behind nom de plumes ….never have the courage of their convictions. They remind me of yippy-yappy little dogs that go for ones ankles, and then piss themselves when they get a response. Stand up and be real, Free Haiku.

    Free the Haiku!
    October 5, 2010

    John Potts thinks of himself on a high horse .

    He has an agenda and that is control
    he wants his sycophants like -mmm and her sock puppet to try and control individual freedom and brilliant potential haikuists. He is known by reputation as a bully,he needs to chill and quit destroying the writers out there. He spams every place he visits ,just bad manners He needs to quite himself by looking in the mirror and apologize for his ego.

    Freedom for the Haiku and shame to any master that thinks he can control her.

  18. On just the one point. I primarily write free verse, but also haiku. My best free verse is image driven and ‘happens’ in the present tense, two components of haiku that have helped me immensely. I have no problem in calling haiku poetry. It’s simply one form of poetry.

  19. well, I’m amused by the cat ears, John Potts … ^_^ …

    But judging by this last post of yours, you don’t seem to be an experienced teacher of the English language, nor even a competent copy editor. For a title or a slogan or an adopted name for a movement, it is quite correct to have it as ‘Freedom for the Haiku’, quite as correct as your ‘The Haiku Master’.

    All of which you surely must realise.

    Are we having fun yet?

  20. John Potts thinks of himself on a high horse .

    He has an agenda and that is control
    he wants his sycophants like -mmm and her sock puppet to try and control individual freedom and brilliant potential haikuists. He is known by reputation as a bully,he needs to chill and quit destroying the writers out there. He spams every place he visits ,just bad manners He needs to quite himself by looking in the mirror and apologize for his ego.

    Freedom for the Haiku and shame to any master that thinks he can control her.

  21. “true haiku is NOT poetry” – jp

    Are the words of haiku not chosen for their sound, as well as sense, and arranged carefully, often in short lines (drawing here on a simple dictionary definition of a poem)?

    (“Signposts” sounds so wooden…)

    Is the appeal to Basho for support of (arguable) injunctions a bit like complaining that contemporary English-language poets, particularly those of Christian faith, do not write enough like John Milton?

    jp, how do you view modernist developments in 20th C. Japanese haiku? Would you object to haiku in English being influenced by such writing?

    “Some haijin argue we can enter into a Zen communion with the mystery of being which envelopes us all. A form of active meditation and time travel . . .”

    Which haijin you have in mind and where can I find their arguments for time travel? (Or is the master taking the mick again?)

  22. When we magically conjure a living vision into consciousness, triggered by the word signposts of a haiku, a vivid diorama comes into focus that we may (in dream mode) step into. At this point we’re doing much more than simply ‘reading a little poem’. Some haijin argue we can enter into a Zen communion with the mystery of being which envelopes us all. A form of active meditation and time travel . . .

    MORE
    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=146572158715106&id=124507644228482

    — jp

  23. I have long believed, written, and taught the following, quote pwm: “ELHaiku are short poems; not all short poems are haiku.”

    I do not think this is a hollow syllogism. Nor it is the whole definition of ELH, or ELPoetry. Both are amazing ethereal to define in words without 100s of pages of Doctoral Theses, footnoted, and probably not fine answers even then. On the coarse classification level, what else is haiku? Commentary (Essay), Criticism, Biography, Parody, Lyrics, Script, History, Fiction? No, what’s left is Poetry. And I’m not at all interested in defining “poetry” or entering the associated battles there. The subject is ELHaiku.

    Not sure I understand T. H. Master’s use of “true” haiku. Good haiku, successful haiku, perhaps? Oppositely indicated by failed or poor haiku attempts?

    ***

    a digression . . . may I call you “The?” — tongue in cheek here. More seriously I have no idea who you are or if, as a previous writer postulated, you are goofing on us. A self-proclaimed Master? The late Peggy Willis Lyles was, I posit, an ELHaiku Master. I called her such in life. There are others in our language, living or dead, but to identify too many is to slight others who might have that status conferred by others upon them.
    End of obvious digression/ Pace The, I’m not speaking personally.

    ***

    I do think the hoary aphorism “show; don’t tell” has life and value in understand haiku. It leads to the underlying usage that haiku is Art (Capital A), and that ELHaiku as such is an attempt to share emotion, expressed and received (by reader/listener). I agree with Mister Master’s use of mile posts… another old expression in ELH. To share. To share is why we write haiku, and in some way show to another person. We share the bare bones of OUR experience so that a reader/listener can bring her/his own experience to bear and share with US, the writers. Why we write something down? Perhaps because of an awareness of some connection of things perceived, something large or small caught the haiku poet’s attention; something unique to that haiku poet, in a unique time and place. Not limited to some juxtaposition of two concrete or here-and-now images because certainly memory, dream or remembrance, may be partnered with the actual observed. We are not chroniclers in the sense of Thoreau counting Eastern white pine cones piled by red squirrels as in his notebook entries. Yet, without use of the form or any poetic form, Thoreau saw the squirrels, and the rhythm of the pines — cones ripened, nutritious seeds, how they sail on the wind, how the cones are on the uppermost branches, and how squirrels stockpile and prosper or not as a species in a given year. How easily Thoreau could have written haiku, and what a rich book of haiku it could have been.

    Frogs make sounds, toll booths are open on Christmas Eve, crows roost, beginning of wind moves wood shavings, poets sneeze, turtles climb onto turtles.

    These are images that are the stuff of poetry and haiku. How a haiku poet employs them makes a haiku a successful haiku: Creator and Receiver.

    – Paul (MacNeil)

  24. “In most cases it would appear that ritual words are at least as important as other kinds of ritual act; but besides that, and this is an intriguing point, very often (but not always) if the ethnographer questions his informants ‘Why is this ritual effective?’ the reply takes the form of a formally expressed belief that the power is in the ‘words’ even though the words only become effective if uttered in a very special context of other action.

    In attempting to solve this puzzle the first point I want to make is that ritual words cannot be treated as an undifferentiated category. Rituals exploit a number of verbal forms which we loosely refer to as prayers, songs, spells, addresses, blessings, etc. It is necessary to study whether a ritual is composed of such recognized categories and to analyse their distinctive features in terms of their internal form and their sequence…

    scrutinize the spells used without the mediation of material substances, spells which the Trobrianders call ‘mouth magic’ (o wadola). A good example of this category is the magic of growth performed in the middle phase of gardening. The natives are aware that nature must do its work and that the crops have to sprout and grow by themselves. The magician’s function is described by Malinowski thus: ‘In a rapid succession of rites, he has to anticipate each stage in the growth of the gardens, and stimulate the various crucial phases in the development of the plant . . .’ (I965a: I39).

    In the following examples, taken from formulae I3, I7 and I8 in ‘The magic of growth’ (I965a: ch. 4), I state some suggestive lines and then in parenthesis the native commentary upon them.
    Formula I3. ‘O dadeda tree that sprouts again and again’. (The native commentary is that the ‘dadeda is a plant of extremely rank growth; we cut it, already it has sprouted’.) The same formula contains other metaphors suggesting speed of growth: ‘Thy shoots are as quick as the eyes of the kapapita, the quick bird, Thy shoots are as quick as the kababasi’a, the quick black ants’.
    Formula I7. ‘Thy head, 0 taytu, shoots along as the millipede shoots along’. (The natives say that the millipede is noted for its rapidity of movement.) Formula 18. ‘Thy open space, the open space between thy branches, 0 taytu, the spider covers up’. (‘The natives told me’ reports Malinowski ‘that as the spider spins his web, so should the taytu plant produce many branches’.)

    It is obvious that the mouth magic depends entirely on suggestive metaphors and similes which the Trobrianders themselves recognise as such.”

    S.J. Tambiah, “The Magical Power of Words”
    Man, New Series, Vol. 3, No. 2

  25. Martin Lucas, editor of ‘Presence’, in his essay ‘HAIKU AS POETIC SPELL’ notes that “…the pressures toward conformity” in the haiku movement today ” are acute enough to make it difficult to remain true to your own original inspirations, poetic preferences and little awkwardnesses that resist hammering into shape.”

    Part of the problem, as Martin sees it, is that ELH developed largely on the models of translations and as a consequence, “poets writing original haiku in English have focused on what is said and paid relatively little attention to how it is said.”

    The great difference in Martin’s idea of ‘Poetic Spell’ and THM’s ‘magic spell’ is of course implied in the two qualifiers, ‘poetic’ and ‘magic’. Martin is calling for an awareness that haiku verse *is*, at its best, poetry and that ELH might benefit from its writers considering it as such a little more often.

    Chant, incantation, poems and the Japanese haiku do have something in common: rhythm and the sound of words (whether heard with the outer or the ‘inner’ ear)

    “…what I mean by poetic spell. Words that chime; words that beat; words that flow. And once you’ve truly heard it, you won’t forget it, because the words have power. They are not dead and scribbled on a page, they are spoken like a charm; and they aren’t read, they’re heard. ” – Martin Lucas

    http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/node/456

    This essay is based on his presentation at the 4th Pacific Rim Haiku Conference in N.S.W. last year.

    Something to think about?

  26. The words of a true haiku deliver the haiku vision according to the primary formal injunction: *SHOW not tell* – only this and nothing more.

    The words are, in other words, signposts.

    This is peculiar to true haiku.

    Although we find the notion of showing to be a widespread supplement to broader literary technique, when employed in true haiku it is absolute. Not an option amongst many options, as in poetry, for example. That is to say, the evoked image does all the work. Not some of the work. ALL of the work. If this is not the case then, whatever it is, is not a true haiku.

    This is why true haiku is NOT poetry, though it might appear to be to the lay person, at first (or last) glance.

    Nor is true haiku, prose.

    Prose-poetry?

    Not this either!

    A magic spell comes closer, though.

    Ask yourselves this: “Is a magic spell poetry or prose?” The answer is, of course, neither – though an incantation may use some very basic formal presentational techniques common to both poetry and prose.

    How much more so true haiku?

    Thus, with a true haiku, do we conjure a living moment, cast in a spell (sic), for all to enter into and to return to and to be charmed by, and this forever.

    old pond
    a frog jumps in
    sound of water
    — Bashō

    You see?

    *SHOW not tell*

    Only this and nothing more.

    — jp
    http://www.facebook.com/haikucrossroads

  27. Hi Dafne,
    No, no offence was intended, as Chris has noted for me

    I didn’t have time to check whether you were quoting from THM’s site or not (you didn’t use quotation marks) But I did want to make it clear that ‘show, don’t tell’, though very useful advice for haiku, is not advice peculiar to or exclusive to haiku.

    Also, Chris and I cross-posted. I’m a slow old typist at best, and his post immediately before mine wasn’t there when I started.

  28. Hi Dafne, I’m sure Lorin meant no offence. It is often difficult to know what people are really saying, thinking, or intending when posting messages in comment threads, forums etc. For example, it’s not clear in your posting paraphrased quotes from THM whether you mean to condone them yourself, or just to present them for general information relevant to the topic. It can easily get quite confusing! Anyway, hopefully THM will drop by some time and share a few of his own thoughts on this.

    In the meantime, no need for such formality – you can call me Chris!

    Lorin, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hoped someone would mention the widespread use of this idea in writing workshops of all types!

    Chris

  29. Ms. Ford, I was just quoting from the THM’s site, in reference to Mr. White’s question to the THM, not making a judgment on its merits.

  30. “The use of the word ‘poetry’, in relation to haiku, obscures the visionary injunction to ’show not tell’, which is peculiar to haiku. ”
    ” – Dafne (quoting ‘The Haiku Master’?)

    Dafne, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but whether the “injunction to ‘show, not tell’ ” seems ‘visionary’ to anyone or not, it is certainly *not* “peculiar to haiku”. The adage (or advice) is quite common and has been around a long while before its application to ELH. It’s still applied, to this day, in the context of writing classes for fiction and playscripts, as well as poems.

  31. Thank you Philip, haha. We slaves live in hope.

    Dafne – thank you for posting the link. I have visited his website several times already though, and am familiar with his Haiku 10 Commandments project.

    There are several points which seem to be rocky here. Two of them:

    1) the claim that “show don’t tell” is an injunction “peculiar to haiku”. Is this true? There is a lot of poetry which follows this sentiment in various forms besides haiku. We could start with the movement of Imagism…

    2) the claim that ‘show don’t tell’ is actually an injunction at all. Whose injunction? Is it part of haiku’s ‘heart’ (if there is one), as it were, or is it an injunction imparted by an authority of some sort which is external to this ‘heart’?

    Just a couple of thoughts…

  32. Well, Mr. White, perhaps THM will answer your good question himself, but in the meantime, here is what he has on his site, on this subject, as part of a longer explanation of what haiku is (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=113182588730000&id=107928292589235&ref=mf

    The use of the word ‘poetry’, in relation to haiku, obscures the visionary injunction to ‘show not tell’, which is peculiar to haiku. This is a major stumbling block for most would be haijin, particularly in the prosaic, literary and somewhat egotistically occluded, Western world. Perhaps ‘visualisation’ is more apposite a term to signal a haiku. In the magical sense of conjuring an image to enter into and engage as real.

  33. Apparently, the poet Frank Samperi hated the term “masters” because “if there are masters then there are slaves!” An interesting point, though I imagine THM is just having some fun with his masterful stance. Of course masters, particularly Zen ones, are not generally obliged to give clear explanations, but we slaves live in hope of receiving a reply!

  34. The Haiku Master – please could you give a clear explanation of why haiku is certainly not poetry?

  35. “Whatever haiku is it’s certainly not poetry… Maybe we can call it: ‘zazen in motion which pauses to make a note’. What would be the word for that?” THM

    There is an Australian word for that but I would not use it in polite company.

    Haiku, at its best, is poetry, as is any other kind of verse. It may be other things as well: different things for different people of various persuasions, but that doesn’t make it not verse or, when the verse is good, poetry.

  36. Whatever haiku is it’s certainly not poetry, meta-poetry perhaps – but, this still begs the question. Even calling haiku a magic spell simply swings to the other side. No. Haiku is something else again, perhaps whatever forms the apex of these two complementary opposites. Maybe we can call it: ‘zazen in motion which pauses to make a note’. What would be the word for that?

    — jp
    http://www.facebook.com/haikucrossroads

  37. quote from : NPD Punctuation Haiku Contest

    Exclamation points
    And question marks together?
    Only in comics.

    The apostrophe:
    Found on both sides of letters.
    The right side and wrong.

    Em dash or en dash.
    On typewriters it’s easy,
    On keyboards, less so.

    Serial comma.
    What is your philosophy?
    To use or not to?

    While I like to write,
    Punctuation is a drag.
    That’s for editors.

    http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/

    Is Haiku Poetry?
    A Quiz
    .

  38. Michael,

    Yes, of course. Haiku is always being defined with each new haiku written. In my answer to the question: Is haiku poetry? I immediately said–absolutely haiku is poetry. . .and so much more. Then, of course I fell into the perennial issue of trying to define haiku.
    In my attempts to describe what haiku is to many non-haiku poets, I try to go beyond the definitions they can get online. I try to offer a personal expression of what haiku can also be, from someone who writes it. Haiku is a way of seeing the world, a way of being in the world, recognizing interconnectedness–and I say that without getting all philosophical /religious.
    In my response I was trying to convey that haiku is poetry without the human drama and ego which can be found often enough in mainstream literary journals.
    Also, I would argue that there IS an increase in “redefining haiku” if for no other reason than the increase in internet usage and hand-held devices. How many subscribers get a haiku or some other micro-poem delivered to their cell-phones each day via tinywords.com, for example. Or, 7 X 20, the small poem literary zine via Twitter. Simply, more people are seeing it and therefore more people are asking the question: what is it?
    And, given the new initiative of the HSA Education Committee to do haiku outreach, this increase will continue. I hope.

    Peter

  39. Peter, don’t you think haiku is ALWAYS in the process of being defined — or redefined? I think this is true in Japan as well as in Western languages, because poetry atrophes and dies if it remains static and definable. Here’s to haiku never been fully definable!

    Also, I don’t think there’s any particular increase in “redefining” haiku right now — just a standard percentage of people who are new to it who encounter a lot of perennial issues (perennial only because an ever-refreshing wave of newish folks are continually rehashing the same issues as *they* first encounter them).

    Michael

    Michael

  40. haiku is poetry
    without the stage directions
    without the stage
    without directions
    haiku is poetry
    without the play
    offering the opportunity
    for the reader and writer to breathe
    haiku is
    a sigh of relief
    in the world of western free verse
    and formal poetry. At least for me.
    For what it’s worth
    I look at myself as a lyric poet
    who writes haiku, meaning I want to sing
    about what matters to me, be that birds, trees or people and how we co-exist. Yes, there are guidelines and excellent example from which to learn. But haiku is in the process
    of being re-defined in America, I’d say.
    An exciting time to be a student of haiku.

    –Peter

  41. Coincidentally, at least I think it’s coincidental, here are 2 haiku that are musical in my ears … and are about birdsong (maybe it’s suggestive, good haiku though):

    the whipbird
    this side, that side …
    fogbound wattles

    – Lorin Ford

    first the black notes
    then the white
    magpie song

    – Graham Nunn

    (both published in Famous Reporter 41 (Walleah Press, Tasmania, Australia), 2010.

  42. “I would be fascinated to be given ELhaiku examples containing musicality complete with all the other ingredients necessary to make a poem.” – Alan

    The previously quoted Seamus Heaney haiku has musicality. It helps to know he’s Irish, as it sounds even better in the brogue.

    But so does (& this almost at random from ‘frogpond 33:2’)

    worm on the move do the math

    Jim Westenhaver, Washington

    No, it’s *not *lyrical, to be sure, but it *is* musical. I can almost hear the snare drums over those last three words, the sharpness and speed, and what a contrast with the image of a worm moving of the first part.

    Look in the coming December’s issue of ‘Notes From the Gean’ for some beautifully lyrical haiku by English haiku writer John Barlow. (can’t republish them here, of course)

    And with Mark, I’d say that there are many and varied haiku by Peggy Willis Lyles that are musical and lyrical. Peggy had a great ear for sounds in their function of supporting content and helping to create mood, imo.

    …and of course there are many others.

  43. There is more to musicality than rhythm, of course (and I’m no musician) But rhythm is part of music as well as of everyday speech… a drummer might say it’s the bone structure that holds the body of a piece of music together. Vowels in general play a part in rhythm, I think, and assonance does as well as the more obvious end-rhyme.

    Some rhythms annoy some people, ‘catchy’ rhythms which can become an ‘earworm’, playing & replaying, overwhelming the content (including the emotional content) It depends, according to Oliver Sachs, on how the brain is ‘wired’. Such, for me, are the ‘jingly’ rhythms of Kenneth Yasuda’s translations of the Japanese masters, especially:

    On a withered bough
    A crow alone is perching:
    Autumn evening now.

    I didn’t even have to look it up, once I’d thought of it, and it will probably play in my head all day now, driving me crazy! Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’ had a similar effect on me in childhood (and on my mother, since I said it aloud around the house and she threatened to kill me)

  44. ah, thanks, Tom. Yes, W.C.W was *the* great promoter of ‘the American vernacular’ and his legacy for all EL poets, everywhere, is to remind us to listen to the real voices around us, not only read ‘old poems’. I understand the lineage of your phrase, ‘American haiku’, now.

    And yes 😉 if more of us ELH writers, world-wide, were to consult W.C.W. and others who have an ear for the vernacular, there’d be less archaisms, less eg. ‘Spirit of Spring!’ and the like appearing in beginners’ haiku. Fine in 1899, but exasperating in 2010. Also, our poems would almost certainly echo more the rhythms of spoken language.

  45. American haiku — I didn’t meant to separate it out from ELH. I suppose the aesthetic I was pointing to is “transcultural.” No doubt in my experience Williams is the great begetter here. I dreamily remember the night I discovered him in the stacks of the tiny East Bakersfield Public Library; that was in oh 1958 or so. His short lines and clean “prose” diction are essential background for many ELH poets, don’t you think?

  46. Lorin writes (in response to Michael):

    ” ” …but I believe it’s possible to make music in haiku — and we see this all the time…” Michael

    Yes, I agree, Michael, and in ‘free verse’ as well, of course.”

    and Alan adds:

    “Can EL attempts at haiku always succeed with musicality, content, syntax etc… Or does there need to be sacrifices made?

    I would be fascinated to be given ELhaiku examples containing musicality complete with all the other ingredients necessary to make a poem.

    I have my own examples of course, but would like to see others supply their own.”

    Alan, earlier in your comment you put “musicality” in quotation marks, I think to emphasize that the word as we are here using it has limitations. With that in mind, here are a few poems I hope might further the conversation.

    fallow field
    in one flash the redbird
    and the wish
    – Peggy Lyles, from “To Hear the Rain”

    the river the river makes of the moon
    – jim kacian, from “orbis tertius”

    Hibernaculum

    Hail on the roof
    repeats, repeats

    in and out of sleep,
    winter’s rough

    translation
    of itself

    and a dream’s
    drowsy

    disassembly.
    The rubble

    I recover.
    – Joseph Massey, from “Exit North”

  47. Lorin said:
    ““It is certainly a challenge to include rhythm in such a short poem as haiku is, and to touch on memory …Japanese haiku with its advantage of using non-alphabetic language systems.” – Alan”

    —————————-
    From my earlier post:
    —————————-

    Tom D’Evelyn says:
    “doesn’t “rhythm” and “musical phrase” refer to complex phenomena of which memory is a constituent part?”

    Both Tom and Michael Dylan Welch add some really good points.

    It is certainly a challenge to include rhythm in such a short poem as haiku is, and to touch on memory and what Tom says as:

    “If that’s so, rhythm REMINDS readers of an intertextual fold (or field), semantic echos.”

    This is why haiku is endlessly fascinating and attempts to emulate Japanese haiku with its advantage of using non-alphabetic language systems.

    ============
    Lorin’s question:
    ============

    > Hi Alan,
    > Can you tell me how, in relation to rhythm ( a quality of sound
    > sequences), what advantage a non-alphabetical language
    > would have over an alphabetical one?

    That would be a great question to ask a series of experts. I was only speaking of haiku in languages other than Japanese, but mostly English-language haiku.

    We all pretty much know here that haiku is a short poem “time length” wise. I’ve time recordings off the BBC recordings I have, and noticed that most of the Japanese women readers, as well as Western men and women haiku writers, moreorless read out a haiku in six seconds. As I used to do a lot of performance poetry, alongside poetry readings etc…, I timed my poems down to the nearest second. I found that the majority of my own haiku tended to be six seconds long, and that didn’t deviate in any of my live readings as far as I could tell.

    I suppose a haiku could be, for instance, five iambs long? But would we want that, and nothing else?

    Are ELhaiku musical? Some are, with some narrative driven, some lyrical, some in each camp “musical”. Could you string a number of haiku together to make a ‘musical’? Anything is possible, and many haiku have been set to music over the decades. I’ve read out English versions of contemporary Japanese women’s haiku while a (electric) bass guitarist played improv with me, and vice versa. This was particularly successful with Madoka Mayuzumi and her “Summer on the B Side” haiku.

    I hasten to add this wasn’t a paid gig, and I promoted the book.

    momochidori  百千鳥
    1. –common noun
    1. all sorts of birds; hundreds (and thousands) of birds—Archaism.

    I’ve read somewhere that it means more than just a vast body of birds, but includes their groupings and regroupings, the time of day, and dusk drawing in, etc…

    A whole paragraph of meaning, in poetical language too. I just think that the Japanese and Chinese language systems have an advantage over us in both sound and being able to say a paragraph of meaning in just one combined word construct.

    Also, not all of us have the prime reason to create musical poems, or poems with musicality. I find haiku comfortably contradictory, constantly challenging, because it can’t really be pinned down, even by seasoned Japanese experts. Even Basho was looking into new things as he lay on his deathbed.

    > Leaving European languages aside for the moment, it
    > doesn’t seem to me that either Arabic or the Indian written
    > languages would have less advantage in relation to rhythm
    > than non-alphabetical languages.

    I can only speak for haiku for the moment. Most of only read Arabic and Indian haiku in a English language version or it’s originally written in English from the start.

    I do know that the Indian Renku I’ve published is an absolute delight to read, and retains much of India’s classic cultural musicality. But renku is different from haiku. 😉

    > Neither would languages without a written form, such as the
    > Australian native languages before colonisation. Where I live, I
    > hear many languages spoken, including these two, quite
    > regularly, though I don’t understand them. I’m not in a position
    > to hear Japanese being spoken in real life, though.

    All languages have one thing in common: a native speaker can butcher their own language, or make it sound like the most beautiful of all languages. I’ve travelled widely through India; Japan; Australia (Queensland and Northern Territory, but worked with Aussies from all over, in landcare); Europe; and places in Malaysia; USA; and Britain.

    There’s ugly speaking of a language, and beautiful speaking, and everything inbetween. 😉

    > Spoken languages have rhythms. One of the functions of
    > written language is, to varying extents, to notate rhythms of
    > the spoken language (when it’s not just a list eg)
    > Playing/working with rhythm is part of the craft of writing,
    > whether one is attempting to render dialogue in a play or
    > novel or an inner or outer ‘voice’ in a poem. Written language
    > plays with our memory of sound patterns (as Tom mentions),
    > our understanding of/ familiarity with the sound patterns within
    > the language/s we know.

    We all know that different languages can create marvellous unique literature. I wish I knew Danish intimately because I know that no-one has caught the flavour and extreme wordplay of HC Andersen.

    I’ve heard that Shakespeare has been translated into Klingon, and I bet that is fascinating, and possibly the “Henry” plays would be fantastic, although Christopher Logue has done a terrific job in capturing the musicality of brutal battle in English of course.

    But haiku remains a challenge, even to national/international mainstream poets who attempt to force their perceived musicality into haiku and often fail in my opinion.

    > We all have an ‘ear’ for ‘false notes’ in our own language…eg. ‘Tontoism’ in ELH…. which disrupt the rhythm.
    >
    > I have no other language, only English, so I’m interested to
    > hear from you and anyone else in a position to help me
    > understand this.

    Just relating to haiku, nothing else, I wonder if we add both ingredients: “musicality” and “content”?

    Possibly French haiku is more successful than ELhaiku? The French have been writing haiku longer than other European countries or N.American countries, other than the Dutch of course.

    Can EL attempts at haiku always succeed with musicality, content, syntax etc… Or does there need to be sacrifices made?

    I would be fascinated to be given ELhaiku examples containing musicality complete with all the other ingredients necessary to make a poem.

    I have my own examples of course, but would like to see others supply their own.

    Alan

  48. ” …but I believe it’s possible to make music in haiku — and we see this all the time…” Michael

    Ye, I agree, Michael, and in ‘free verse’ as well, of course. I wonder whether some people might equate rhythm and metre/meter in poetry? (I realise by what you write that you’re aware that they’re not the same thing)

  49. Tom, one of the characteristics of Bruce Ross’s *Haiku Moment* anthology is that it’s very nature-focused (I think he makes a statement about the book needing to be “corrective” in that manner). I consider this to be a weakness in the book, although others might consider that to be a strength. Either way, I think that focus is at the heart of the reason why you find a lack of echoes to other poetries in its selection. Its narrowed focus on “nature haiku” might be why many of its poems lack those other echoes you sought, especially cultural echoes (which are necessarily human, if one insists on thinking of human as separate from nature). I think you’ll find more variety (and perhaps more music?) in Cor van den Heuvel’s anthology.

    Haiku, to me, is a lyrical genre of poetry. Some people may not think of it as lyrical, or even capable of lyricism, but I believe it’s possible to make music in haiku — and we see this all the time in both Japanese and English-language haiku.

    Michael

  50. Tom, are there any major or clear differences between what you call ‘American haiku’ and the haiku of eg. the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries?

    One reason I ask is that I recently received a submission of haiku (to ‘Notes From the Gean’) prefaced with a note that the ku were to be regarded as ‘American short poems’. I was a tad nonplussed, as the poems appeared in every way to be of the ELH genre and submissions to the journal are required to be accompanied by the country of residence of the author. Also, it seemed, well, odd, to ask this of an Australia haiku editor.

    I can’t imagine myself prefacing a submission with a note that the editor should regard my work as ‘Australian short poems.’ If any of the subject matter was particularly Australian and I felt it might be obscure, I might include a short note or reference.

    I am not talking about haiku written from a sense of place vs generic ‘haikuland’ or ‘Japonaise’ ku, I mean what are the characteristics of ‘American haiku’ which distinguish it from other ELH?

    Am I missing something?

  51. Trying to find “echos” from other poetries I flipped through Bruce Ross’s old anthology. I was struck by the LACK of such. The immediate poetics of American haiku is that of the free verse revolution: cleaning the diction, busting the meter, etc. There’s also the fact that the brevity of the units sacrifices “tune” for what is there in the field of perception of the Cartesian ego, the so-called “object.” The “memory” of phrase and image one sees in Basho (say of Saigyo) — which is one of the “vertical”
    struts of the haiku form — has been replaced by a different muse. Interesting!

  52. “It is certainly a challenge to include rhythm in such a short poem as haiku is, and to touch on memory …Japanese haiku with its advantage of using non-alphabetic language systems.” – Alan

    Hi Alan,
    Can you tell me how, in relation to rhythm ( a quality of sound sequences), what advantage a non-alphabetical language would have over an alphabetical one? Leaving European languages aside for the moment, it doesn’t seem to me that either Arabic or the Indian written languages would have less advantage in relation to rhythm than non-alphabetical languages. Neither would languages without a written form, such as the Australian native languages before colonisation. Where I live, I hear many languages spoken, including these two, quite regularly, though I don’t understand them. I’m not in a position to hear Japanese being spoken in real life, though.

    Spoken languages have rhythms. One of the functions of written language is, to varying extents, to notate rhythms of the spoken language (when it’s not just a list eg) Playing/working with rhythm is part of the craft of writing, whether one is attempting to render dialogue in a play or novel or an inner or outer ‘voice’ in a poem. Written language plays with our memory of sound patterns (as Tom mentions), our understanding of/ familiarity with the sound patterns within the language/s we know. We all have an ‘ear’ for ‘false notes’ in our own language…eg. ‘Tontoism’ in ELH…. which disrupt the rhythm.

    I have no other language, only English, so I’m interested to hear from you and anyone else in a position to help me understand this.

  53. Tom D’Evelyn says:
    “doesn’t “rhythm” and “musical phrase” refer to complex phenomena of which memory is a constituent part?”

    Both Tom and Michael Dylan Welch add some really good points.

    It is certainly a challenge to include rhythm in such a short poem as haiku is, and to touch on memory and what Tom says as:

    “If that’s so, rhythm REMINDS readers of an intertextual fold (or field), semantic echos.”

    This is why haiku is endlessly fascinating and attempts to emulate Japanese haiku with its advantage of using non-alphabetic language systems.

    The fact that non-Japanese poets are getting better and better at delving into this area is a fascinating process, and we have moved on so far from “Western haiku” in the 1990s and earlier.

    If you have any examples Tom, I would be delighted to see them, as would other readers here.

    It has been a challenge to attempt to use “kigo” in the same way as a Japanese writer does, and the ongoing development of “keywords” by both Japanese and non-Japanese haiku writers is essential as a “para-kigo” mechanism within haiku.

    all my best,

    Alan, With Words

  54. This is probably too late to get into the swirl of the conversation, but doesn’t “rhythm” and “musical phrase” refer to complex phenomena of which memory is a constituent part? If that’s so, rhythm REMINDS readers of an intertextual fold (or field), semantic echos. Most poets have signature rhythms (for a reductive example, just think Jimi Hendrix!), and these help construct a reader’s memory of their texts. So a given poem is among other things a tissue of memories (not conscious for the most part) of other poems, other intentions. Certain of these “musical phrases” can be isolated and become thematic, thus poems become part of “poetry.”

  55. The question of what form or rhythm might be the best approach for haiku in English is an endless discussion because I don’t believe there’s any single answer at all. Without their even needing to think consciously of the matter, what are the leading English-language haiku poets and translators doing? What they do over and over is come up with “musical phrases” (as Pound exhorted — thanks to Lorin’s post for bringing that up). How do you define the musical phrase? They’re as varied as all of music itself. And that’s the way I think haiku should be in English, while the poem also considers additional targets such as season word, a two-part juxtaposition, and so on.

    Perhaps there’s less variety in Japanese rhythms, but that’s because the Japanese language itself consists almost entirely of very short speech sounds, all spoken more or less with the same duration, whereas English is not that way — and much more variable. Quite simply, 5-7-5 syllables is an inappropriate target for haiku in English. (Again, I’m not saying a 5-7-5 haiku is necessarily wrong in itself; I’m saying that *aiming* just for that is problematic.)

    I should also add that I don’t see any deficiencies in English rhythms compared with Japanese — in fact, I see English as being far richer in this regard. Both languages have different strengths, and we should take full advantage of the strengths of English and use the various rhythms at our command. We need not pretend to be Japanese with our haiku, nor fall into a dull metronome rhythm, as Pound also warned against. The Japanese rhythm of 5-7-5 is not a dull metronome rhythm, but it is a *Japanese* rhythm, not an *English* rhythm. Here’s to the variety of rhythms in English-language haiku.

    Michael

  56. This may have some bearing on ELH and the current discussion.

    Ezra Pound on ‘Imagisme’:

    I. Direct treatment of the “thing”, whether subjective or objective
    II. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation
    III. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of metronome.[32]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Pound#CITEREFParini1995

  57. Very interesting, Christopher, thank you, and I’d like to hear more, too.

    So every Japanese sound unit is counted as a beat? I’d got the impression that Japanese didn’t have the variety of stressed and unstressed sounds or that of longer and shorter vowel sounds which English has, but I certainly hadn’t realised that every Japanese sound unit counts as a beat! That in itself would make Japanese and English so very so very, very different.

    Iambic pentameter has been said by some to be the metre which most closely approximates the ‘natural’ spoken rhythm of English. But old English verse was based on rhythm, not metre.

    There is an essay somewhere by someone which, I’m told, demonstrates that Shakespeare, whilst writing in metre, also managed at the same time to embed the rhythm of the old sagas and ballads, which is counted in beats.

    I don’t have it, nor have I read it, but I will try to find it.

  58. “Which raises the question, at least for me: what is a ‘natural’ form regarding haiku in English? Is there an ‘organic’ form that is ‘natural’ to English?” – Larry Bole

    This is interesting to me too. A few thoughts:

    In an interview with Hasegawa Kai on Simply Haiku (http://www.simplyhaiku.com/SHv7n1/features/Kai.html), Hasegawa called the 5-7-5 pattern of Japanese haiku the rhythm or heartbeat of the language:

    “First of all, please remember that the 5 / 7 / 5 rhythm of Japanese haiku is not of seventeen syllables but seventeen beats. These seventeen beats are like the pulsing of the heart of the Japanese language.

    Given this, two things are apparent. First, a Japanese haiku composed of seventeen beats is acceptable, even if it does not necessarily have seventeen syllables. Moreover, there are also haiku with 5 / 5 / 7 and 7 / 5 / 5 beats. However, if rhythm is considered unnecessary from the start, the result is not a haiku. Haiku is poetry, and rhythm (beats) is the life of poetry.

    Second, the 5 / 7 / 5 beats are the rhythm of Japanese haiku only, and thus the requirement does not apply to haiku written in other languages. To begin with, it is meaningless for haiku in other languages to adhere to the Japanese 5 / 7 / 5. What should one do then, when writing haiku in another language? It is best to determine the rhythm of the heartbeat of that particular language.”

    If the governing principle of the 5-7-5 pattern is rhythm, then in English could it be something like iambic pentameter? Obviously there are an array of common sound patterns littering our language and the iambic pentameter is but one… are there an inherently greater variety of rhythms in our language than in Japanese? That is a question I would be interested to hear more discussion about.

    Also, in Japanese, are there other very common, near-fundamental, rhythmic patterns beside 5-7-5 or 5-5-7 or 7-5-5? Does anybody know anything about that?

    Finally, Hasegawa’s linchpin seems to be that “rhythm (beats) is the life of poetry”. However, that is contestable, and presumably if we choose to take a different opinion we would still be able to produce haiku… or would we not? How essential do we feel rhythm to be in our haiku? How essential is it to the Japanese? (Other than Hasegawa Kai).

    It is not unheard of for poets in our language to actively speak out against rhythm in poetry… George Oppen was one who did precisely this. I imagine there may also be many in the Language Poetry movement with similar views, and numerous others from elsewhere too… in any case, if rhythm goes out the window for whatever reason, where would a haiku stand?

    There are probably many other questions which could spring out of this, but I’ll leave it at that. Any thoughts which anyone may have on these matters would be of great interest to me, and I look forward to reading any responses.

    Chris

  59. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Lorin !
    (I admire your good memory !)

    Well practising archery without bow and arrow does not help me understand the difference between free verse and ELH …

    but my legs ache when I do the sit and stand exercise and my arms ache when I strech the invisible bow and my heart is quiet when I can keep “in touch” and hit the target once in a while.

  60. “I still have a hard time determining the difference between free verse and ELH.” – Gabi

    Speaking of poetry & tennis nets in relation to poetry/ EL haiku, I wonder if it might be helpful, Gabi, as someone who has been taught a certain form of archery & these days practises it without bow & arrow or target, if you could determine, from your own experience, the difference between these two ways of practising archery? Though bow, arrow & target are gone, you still call it ‘practising archery’.

    Your current practice can be likened to ‘playing tennis without a net’ that Frost wasn’t keen on, can be likened to ‘free verse’.

  61. ” Which raises the question, at least for me: what is a ‘natural’ form regarding haiku in English? Is there an ‘organic’ form that is ‘natural’ to English?” – Larry

    hmmm… which English & of which era? 🙂

    Just as there are those who would like haiku to be 5-7-5 or 3-5-3 syllables, there will be those who would like to tell EL poets which way of speaking, spelling, pronouncing and writing the English language is the most ‘organic’ or ‘natural’. One thing you can bet on is that it’ll be ‘MY way’. 😉

    Another thing you can bet on is that the real EL haiku poets will not obey such dictates. They will be too busy exploring the possibilities of EL haiku in their own ways and will want to be authentic to their own understandings.

    ‘Free verse’ and the ‘New Formalism’ can and do survive side by side, and they have more in common than those who take a superficial, disparaging glance at ‘free verse’ would even suspect. All poetry has recourse to some elements of prosody.

    I think that this can apply to EL haiku as much as to any other kind of poetry.

  62. whoops…Tonto strikes again! Amendment:

    “…the difference *between* a Japanese haiku and a Japanese community bus stop announcement,…” – Lorin

  63. There have even been a couple of well-known ‘mainstream’ free-verse poets who were syllable-counters in some of their mainstream ‘free-verse’ poetry: Marianne Moore and Kenneth Rexroth, as well as a more recent, less well-known, sometimes syllable-counter, Bill Knott.

    And there may be others I’m forgetting.

    And regarding haiku, there is the editor of the Asahi Haikuist Network, David McMurray who, the last time I checked (and it’s been a while) is an ardent proponent of ELH written in a 3-5-3 syllable format.

    I know I have read articles castigating ELH written in 5-7-5 syllable count for the mere fact of being written that way, regardless of the quality of the haiku written that way.

    Even being shorter, and therefore more like a Japanese haiku (in some people’s eyes), would the regularity of a 3-5-3 haiku make an ELH less acceptable as a haiku, since it still has a ‘set-form’ in English?

    I have read definitions of ELH that say ELH should be no more than 10-12 syllables (or even 9-11) in length in order to approximate the brevity of a Japanese haiku (a prescription which has always struck me as a bizarre attempt to somehow erase the differences in grammar and syntax between the two languages). Isn’t putting an upper limit on the acceptable number of syllables in an ELH a modified form of syllable counting?

    Rightly or wrongly, the editorial standards and contest rules I appreciate the most are the ones that, while encouraging the writing of ELH in as condensed a manner as possible, still permit ELH of as many as seventeen syllables, even though seventeen English-language syllables is a rather artificial (given the grammatical and syntactical differences betewen English and Japanese) hommage to what seems ‘natural’ in Japanese.

    Which raises the question, at least for me: what is a ‘natural’ form regarding haiku in English? Is there an ‘organic’ form that is ‘natural’ to English?

  64. “I still have a hard time determining the difference between free verse and ELH.” – Gabi

    To be able to determine whether such difference existed or not, one would have to have a good understanding of what ‘free verse’ is, in its origins and its variety.

    Is everything written in 5-7-5 English syllables haiku?

    Is everything written in 5-7-5 Japanese sound units haiku?

    How would we determine the difference a Japanese haiku and a Japanese community bus stop announcement, if both were written in the pattern of 5-7-5 Japanese sound units?

    Are there any Japanese haiku, recognised and noted as haiku, which do not strictly observe the 5-7-5 sound units pattern? (The answer to this last, I believe, is ‘Yes!’)

  65. In response to the Robert Frost quotation, here are a few lines from Canadian poet George Amabile (from Rumors of Paradise/Rumors of War, 1995):

    Robert Frost,
    I tell you it’s harder to play
    tennis with the net
    down. You have to
    use your whole
    mind, you have to love
    the soul of the game
    more than personal glory.

    And yes, so-called “free verse” is hardly free — because you have to reinvent the form for each new poem you write. That stance, akin with Levertov’s notions of organic form, make it far more difficult than casual observers might realize. To quote again from George Amabile, “technique . . . is best understood by its absence.”

    Michael

    P.S. Regarding the reasons why 5-7-5 persists in English, I think one of the reasons is because of the influence of the Japanese themselves. I think it is often they who don’t sufficiently realize the difference in languages. That being said, writing 5-7-5 remains a choice, just as one could choose to write 3-5-3 beats or short-long-short, or something else. But while making that choice, one had better also hit some of the other vital targets too. The problem with the “myth” of 5-7-5 is that it causes the vast bulk of the public to think that’s the ONLY target. It’s that exclusionary aspect that’s so damaging — not the specific pattern itself.

  66. “Of course, one *can* write good haiku in a 5-7-5 pattern. The “myth” is that that’s the only target for haiku,…” Michael

    True.

  67. Yes, Larry, the reason that most mainstream poets today, if they try writing haiku, usually write with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5 is *because* of the urban myth. That’s all they know. I’ve had the occasion to casually ask numerous famous poets about their understanding of haiku — and they’re nearly all victims of the urban myth. It’s pervasive, and very sad. Of course, one *can* write good haiku in a 5-7-5 pattern. The “myth” is that that’s the only target for haiku, or that 5-7-5 ever should have applied to English in the first place. There may be people who yearn for structure, but that’s an individual poet’s issue, not an issue of the poetic genre itself.

    Some people claim that they like the “discipline” of counting syllables in the 5-7-5 pattern. Okay, fine. Yet nearly always their poems are slovenly undisciplined (or, more accurately, ignorant) regarding the more important aspects of season word, cutting word, and primarily objective sensory imagery, etc. I’ve seen this a thousand times for every time a person who IS aware of these other necessities. These other disciplines are far more difficult — as is, I would say, the discipline of fitting haiku to an “organic form” (as described by Denise Levertov).

    I continue to be puzzled by the deep-rooted psychology that makes so many people cling, and so tenaciously, to what they learned (mislearned) about haiku while in school.

    Michael

  68. Dangerous pavements.
    But I face the ice this year
    With my father’s stick.

    –from the book, Seeing Things

    …and what sort of general relationship between Man & Nature is implied in Heaney’s haiku, though done humorously? This haiku has layers and raises questions.

    Lovely quote from Auden, Philip.

    …re the ‘free verse’/ ‘formal verse’ issue Larry brings up in relation to haiku, perhaps it’s time to wheel out a couple of evergreen quotes from the two contemporary poets, T.S. Eliot (who wrote ‘free verse’) and Robert Frost ( who didn’t):

    Writing free verse ” is like playing tennis with the net down. ” – Robert Frost

    “No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job.” – T.S. Eliot

  69. It is interesting that, among the poets who’ve chosen to write haiku in 5-7-5, are some who knew/know Japanese. Presumably their choice reflects a wish to adhere to a structure as strict as the Japanese, regardless of equivalence. The pleasure of gaining, with practice, a consistent feel for it may also play a role. There’s a memorable comment from WH Auden’s foreword to Dag Hammarskjold’s Markings: “It makes me very happy to see that, in the last three years of his life, he took to writing poems, for it is proof to me that he had at last acquired a serenity of mind for which he had long prayed. When a man can occupy himself with counting syllables, either he has not yet attempted any spiritual climb, or he is over the hump.”

  70. So, why do some mainstream poets today, if they take a stab at writing haiku, tend to write their versions of haiku using a 5-7-5 English-language syllable count? Is it just because that’s all they know about what makes a haiku a haiku?

    My theory is that a lot of poets, even free-verse poets, yearn for structure, secretly or sub-consciously. That is why even the freest of free-verse poets will try their hand from time to time at writing ghazals, sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, triolets, even syllable-count haiku!

    Changing topic and going back to Williams’ haiku-ish poem, The Red Wheelbarrow, I wonder if it might be interesting to look at what I think is an even more haiku-ish poem of Williams’:

    Between Walls

    the back wings
    of the

    hospital where
    nothing

    will grow lie
    cinders

    in which shine
    the broken

    pieces of a green
    bottle

    Does “where nothing / will grow” have the same problem as “so much depends / upon” from The Red Wheelbarrow?

    Larry

  71. Yes, Catherine, I believe 5-7-5 is an urbran myth — and it has become an urban myth BECAUSE of its being taught incorrectly or superficially in schools (a problem that has been going on for decades). Nearly all textbooks and curriculum guides are deeply ignorant of what the majority of leading poets and translators are doing with haiku in English, and have been doing for 50 years. They are blithely unaware that haiku in Japanese count sounds, not syllables (the word “haiku” itself is two syllables, but counts as THREE sounds in Japanese). What’s more, the way haiku is mistaught in English has led to an almost uniform lack of knowledge of season words and juxtaposition, let alone primarily objective sensory imagery — and it’s also commonly taught as a nature poem, when “seasonal” is more accurate. If 5-7-5 isn’t an urban myth in the English-speaking world, then it comes mighty close.

    Michael

    P.S. Perhaps an old essay of mine, “What Is a Syllable,” online at https://sites.google.com/site/graceguts/essays/what-is-a-syllable, would be of interest?

  72. In the Heaney, it’s that through his use of language the pavements and the ice become animate threats, or on the verge of being animate threats. There is the ordinary, mundane world and there is also, co-existing with it, this other, stranger world, though it is done with light humour. The world of ordinary perceptions and another world glimpsed at the edges of ordinary perception.

    If one aspect of haiku is that haiku create a breach, gap, caesura in our usual reading of the world which momentarily fills with a different kind of perception, then Heaney’s is a haiku which does this very well.

  73. sidewalk ice
    the old man slides past
    the youngsters

    December, 2005

    Larry

    🙂 This one gives me a smile, too.

    I’ve been recalling a sign up in the Grampians, obviously placed there out of kindness to tourist campers. Something like, ‘Danger: Gum Trees Shed Limbs Without Warning. Do NOT Camp Near.’ and imagining the difference if it had’ve been, ‘Warning: Dangerous Trees’. The best & clearest danger sign I’ve seen was a home-made one up near Cooktown, painted on a bit of tine and nailed to a post, also out of kindness to tourists. It read just ‘danger’, painted in red, but underneath was a graphic green & yellow painting of a crocodile’s open jaw & eye. I know I made tracks back to the car very quickly.

  74. Lorin, I like your analysis of Mr. Heaney’s haiku.

    I have been thinking about how this haiku might be re-written to conform to how the ELH haiku world thinks a haiku should sound / appear, at least as I understand it.

    The version I have come up with is:

    icy pavement (colon? dash? no punctuation?)
    I face it this year / facing it this year
    with my father’s stick

    (second line option offered for those who have a prejudice against the pronoun “I” being used in haiku)

    I think this pared-down version makes the reader do a little more work than the original, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    But it does seem to me to sound a little ‘flatter’ than the original. And icy pavement isn’t always seen as dangerous–just watch kids (or adults for that matter) having a good slide!

    Speaking of which:

    sidewalk ice
    the old man slides past
    the youngsters

    December, 2005

    Larry

  75. “Dangerous pavements.
    But I face the ice this year
    With my father’s stick.

    –from the book, Seeing Things

    Is this a haiku? I remember hearing Mr. Heaney read this, and then hearing him state how proud he was of the fact that it conformed to a 5-7-5 English syllable count.

    Is his use of the descriptive adjective “dangerous” too much telling rather than showing?” – Larry

    I agree, it’s a haiku and a very good one at that. Not *because* it conforms to a syllable count, but I think that using a 5-7-5 syllable count is *one* of the possibilities, one of the choices of form in ELH. This one flows in the natural rhythms of the language, is not ‘padded’, has great humour and pathos as well..

    ‘Dangerous pavements’… while the general advice that adjectives are better avoided in haiku is good advice, here the adjective is central to the ambiguity which allows the humour. Here is a writer who shows us the delightful potential of the word.

    Pavements are an artifact of civilization, of cities (ask the Ancient Romans) Nothing could be further from the unexplored wild. Yet here they are ‘dangerous’. In what sense could a pavement be dangerous? Ah, when they’re covered with ice, there’s the danger that one might slip and fall over. For an older person, this could lead to broken bones and complications, yet still the pavements aren’t *actively* dangerous in the sense that eg. a crocodile or a taipan is.

    Or are they?

    “But I face the ice this year/ With my father’s stick.”

    What does it mean to ‘face the ice’ with a stick? Yes, common sense will have us arrive at the conclusion that here is someone who has his father’s walking stick to help prevent him from slipping.
    But not before an only slightly absurd image of an adventurer of earlier centuries facing wild animals in the jungle with an inherited stick occurs. The two images, a man on slippery pavements with a walking stick and an adventurer facing the dangers of jungles in deep Africa or the Amazon, straight out of ‘Boys’ Own’ stories, remain inseperable.

    So on the one hand we have a scene of ordinary human pathos: the “I” of the poem seems to have inherited a walking stick from a father who’s passed away. He is no longer young, but gains a sense of courage and comfort from facing the normal dangers of Winter (Winter of life as well as the season) with his father’s walking stick. We are reminded of old age and death, but we live in a civilized place, a town or city, where the most dangerous thing is a slippery pavement.

    On the other hand we have an adventurer actively facing an active, aggressive danger, wielding a potent stick.

    There seems to be quite a bit of ‘Walter Mitty’ in the persona, the “I’, of this charmingly humorous haiku.

    I would be proud to have written such a haiku.

  76. I apologize for making so many posts on this thread, but I remember why I don’t have Billy Collins’ book, She Was Just Seventeen. I heard him read from it at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park in Manhattan back in May of 2007, as part of the reading for Cor van den Heuvel’s book, Baseball Haiku. After I heard Mr. Collins read from his book, I wasn’t interested in buying it. After all, $20 here, $20 there, and soon enough you’re talking about real money.

    Larry

  77. 5-7-5 is not just an “urban myth;” it is what is taught in many classrooms, which is one reason why Berry Blue is so necessary.

  78. Since Billy Collins’ attempts at English-language haiku has been mentioned, I’d like to add to the discussion an English-language haiku written by Seamus Heaney:

    1.1.87

    Dangerous pavements.
    But I face the ice this year
    With my father’s stick.

    –from the book, Seeing Things

    Is this a haiku? I remember hearing Mr. Heaney read this, and then hearing him state how proud he was of the fact that it conformed to a 5-7-5 English syllable count.

    Is his use of the descriptive adjective “dangerous” too much telling rather than showing?

    I think it is a haiku, as much as any close approximation of the Japanese verse form called by the Japanese a haiku can be in the English lanaguage.

    Larry

  79. 1) All haiku are poetry, as much as all tanka are poetry. Haiku are a genre of Japanese poetry.

    2) The Red Wheelbarrow is an English-language poem written by William Carlos Williams. I don’t believe his intention was to write an English-language haiku in writing this poem.

    Could this poem be a haiku? It would be interesting to see it translated into Japanese, in a way that would make it seem like a haiku to a Japanese reader, if it could be.

    If I were translating this poem into a Japanese haiku, I would probably do away with the white chickens as being extraneous but I would try to keep some sense of “so much depends / upon.” I have no problem with Williams telling us that the wheelbarrow has more importance than its mere existence as a wheelbarrow. He leaves it totally open-ended as to what this dependency consists of.

    I don’t find this kind of ‘telling’ much different than the ‘telling’ by Basho of how he feels in the following haiku–in a way meant to persuade us to feel the same way (translations by David Landis Barnhill):

    gu anzuru ni meido mo kaku ya aki no kure

    in my humble view
    the netherworld must be like this–
    autumn evening

    shiragiku yo shiragiku yo haji nagakami yo nagamkami yo

    white chrysanthemum, white chyransthemum
    all that shame with your
    long hair, long hair

    monohoshi ya fukuro no uchi no tsuki to hana

    so desirable–
    inside his satchel
    moon and blossoms

    omoshiroote yagate kanashiki ubune kana

    so fascinating,
    but then so sad:
    cormorant fishing boat

    etc.

    3) If haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry, a view I suspect a majority of Japanese commentators / critics would accept, then this haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry.

    4) I have no idea, but I suspect there are. If one is interested, one could check Poet’s Market published by Writer’s Digest.

    5) I have no idea how Billy Collin’s book of haiku has been received. The few reviews of Sonia Sanchez’s book of haiku, Morning Haiku, that I have read have been favorable, but those reiews I have read were written from a ‘mainstream’ poetry perspective, not from an ELH poetry perspective.

    I have browsed through Ms. Sanchez’ book, and most of what she has written there would not be considered haiku by historic or contemporary generally-accepted standards of ELH definers and editors.

    6) I have only read one review of Ms. Reichhold’s book, and it was unfavorable. It was written by someone fairly knowledgable about haiku.

    I own the book, and I refer to it. As with any translator, from any language to another, some of her translations seem and sound more successful than others.

    7) A Japanese lyric verse form, etc. However, this definition is by no means all-encompassing. Have Japanese scholars agreed on an all-encompassing definition of this Japanese verse form?

    8) None of the above.

    9) Being an admirer of Ms. Brooks’ poetry, I will go with “life distilled.” However, I’m sure there have been many other equally-charming definitions of poetry made by equally well-respected poets.

    What I find interesting about the ‘distilled’ part of “life distilled” is its uselfulness as a way of differentiating lyric poetry from prose fiction. Hwoever, this differentiation doesn’t preclude some overlap, especially when lyric poetry gets longer, and prose fiction gets shorter. There are always exceptions.

    10) It’s complicated. But since I have been espousing the position that haiku is a form of poetry, then I have to say all haiku, provided that what is being referred to as haiku is in fact haiku, is poetry.

    And haiku being a form of poetry is not contingent on whether or not the haiku is a good haiku, or even a good poem. I think a good haiku will tend to be thought of as a good poem, but even a mediocre haiku might pass muster as being a good poem. In other words, a haiku that may not conform to the broadly accepted requirements for what makes a haiku a haiku could still be a good short, free verse poem, or even turn out to be a short poem of a recognizable non-haiku genre, such as a poetic epigram.

    Larry

    P.S. the above has not been carefully and thoroughly proofread, so please excuse any typos, misspellings, etc.

  80. ‘The problem is not “is haiku poetry” but the idea that anyone can define what “poetry” is in such a way as to include or exclude any form of writing.’

    Leaving only the problem of distinguishing good from bad poetry?

    In response to question 2, I’d say that Williams’s poem has an important, foundational place in the tradition of haiku in English, regardless of what haiku “traditionally eschews”. Bearing in mind the debt American haiku (particularly as represented in the Norton anthology) owes Williams, it seems fair to say that “so much depends”, along with poems like “Between Walls” and “The Great Figure”, belongs with haiku. (This sense of “belonging” is more meaningful to me than exact definitions of E-L “haiku” — which, if we were being sticklers, would have to remain in quotation marks.)

  81. I believe that haiku (either Japanese haiku or Western haiku or whatever haiku) is poetry. The problem is not “is haiku poetry” but the idea that anyone can define what “poetry” is in such a way as to include or exclude any form of writing. I’ve seen those walls come tumbling down way too many times.

  82. I love haiku. This statement has confused even the Japanese poets with whom I’ve become friends. It is not easily comprehended that love can be applied to haiku, a form of poetry. My path, continued life experience, if you will, is by choice entwined with this Japanese genre.

    Answers to all the questions:

    I believe it is close to the ripe time to cut away from the Japanese genre haiku and claim a genre, although similar to haiku is in fact its own genre and not haiku because haiku is really an exclusively Japanese genre (for reasons I will not explore in this comment).

    So, let’s write in this evolving new genre and explore what it is and should become, with one firm restriction, the genre is not Japanese haiku.

    I agree with Gabi Greve’s, “It’s complicated.”; and, might add it’s getting unnecessarily complicated.

    Frankly, I’d really rather write poetry and am less and less concerned about my right to be right.

    Ciao… chibi

  83. Jack, what you wrote gives us a lot to ponder about the state of ELH haiku and the relationship between
    haiku and free verse. It’s a splendid way to answer, the questions which were provided, in an essay form. I’ll add “Anecdote of the Jar” by Wallace Stevens for the THF’s readers’ convenience.

    Anecdote of the Jar

    Wallace Stevens

    I placed a jar in Tennessee,
    And round it was, upon a hill.
    It made the slovenly wilderness
    Surround that hill.

    The wilderness rose up to it,
    And sprawled around, no longer wild.
    The jar was round upon the ground
    And tall and of a port in air.

    It took dominion every where.
    The jar was gray and bare.
    It did not give of bird or bush,
    Like nothing else in Tennessee.

  84. I think W.C. Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” offers, if not a contrast, then certainly something that ELH haiku has for the most part eschewed: and that is what makes for the essence of cultivation, what makes of the world a world, what makes disparate elements of nature communal, of humanity. This, I believe, distinguishes ELH from Japanese haiku, where the Japanese emphasize the so-called seasonal reference only inasmuch as it is a part of the human world. We tend to try to present, preserve the pristine view of nature, very much in keeping witht the position taken by Leo Marks in his classic book “The Machine in the Garden.” For Marks, and for Americans in the 19th Century and before, America was viewed as a new Eden and there was no need (at least in the imagination) of allowing the intrusion of technique, of instrumentality into this pure space, this second chance at Eden. It was God’s and we would not tamper with it, not again, no,we would forsake attempts to sully creation. And, I think, if we are looking for a reason why haiku took hold of the imagination of Americans, in particular, it was in order to continue this “natural” view of America, this initial view of an America still pristine and free of the intrusion of the machine and modernity.
    Whether “The Red Wheelbarrow” is a haiku or not is irrelevant to me from this perspective. What makes it such a strong poem is what a haiku poet would ordinarily object to: that phrase “so much depends upon.” While this might seem explanatory, it really is demonstrative of the subject, is the subject: a wheelbarrow is what is depended upon, is what things depend upon in order to be maneuvered, carried, carted; is what we, as humans, depend upon to join the world into a world.
    And the poem’s form is essentially tripartite, like a wheelbarrow; each stanza has three words, like the three wheels of the barrow, and ends with the emphasis on that one word, like the wheelbarrow depending upon that one wheel in front that makes the balance possible. And it is the wheelbarrow, that ancient and most human of inventions, that brings together nature into an order, an order it otherwise lacks.
    I don’t think we have a comparative haiku poem, because we do not generally view even rudimentary, ancient technology as admissable. There are exceptions, rare; I can only think, off hand, of Dee Evetts haiku about wood shavings, but the plane, the contrivance, the man-made is not the center of this poem the way the red wheelbarrow is in Williams’ poem.
    Williams’ poem is reminiscent of Wallace Stevens’ “Anecdote of The Jar,” where the jar, the human artifice and technique “made the slovenly wilderness surround that hill” and “took dominion every where.”
    The Japanese, on the other hand, have many poems about fulling blocks, and hoes and other devices that, like Williams’ poem, bring the seasons into the human order. I think our haiku,because it is written in a modern and post-modern period, is nostalgic for the time when America was first “discovered” and responded to as the new Eden.
    I think much, much can be learned from Williams’ poem about what makes of rain and chickens seasonal: and that is the human community and its contrivances. So much depends upon us to make the hill rise up to an empty jar.

  85. 1. Some haiku are poetry, as some of any other kind of poems anyone might care to name are poetry. But what is poetry?
    ” Many shaky answers/ have been give to this question.” – Wislawa Szymborska, ‘Some Like Poetry’, translated by Regina Grol

    2. No, it’s not a haiku. It has too many syllables, just for a start. 🙂 But it’s a good Imagist poem and can assist us when finding connections between haiku and other kinds of poems. You could make it into a haiku for demonstration purposes by cutting bits out and juxtaposing the images, maybe adding something, fiddling, but your demo haiku would be inferior to WCW’s perfectly poised poem, so why would you?

    3. I believe this is a translation of a Japanese poem. I believe that this translation gives us the content and something of the sense of the original, but probably the part of the poem played by sounds and rhythm have had to be sacrificed to a great extent..

    4. Adding to Michael’s list, ‘Famous Reporter’, published twice annually by Walleah Press, Tasmania, has had a dedicated haiku section since 1994. The haiku are not used as fillers, but are published with other contemporary poems, essays and reviews.published about 50 haiku. Saltlick Quarterly (unfortunately shortlived) out of Melbourne, published some sets of haiku along with other contemporary poems.

    5. I don’t know. I’ve not read it, nor the reviews.

    6. I believe it had a mixed response from reviewers but the sales have been good. It’s accessible and enjoyable to read.

    7. Pass…the question ‘what is haiku?’ is as loaded and as difficult as ‘what is poetry?’
    Yes, it’s a short poem but… so is a limerick, so is William Blake’s ‘The Sick Rose’, so is T.S. Eliot’s ‘Lines to a Persian Cat.’ Examples are better than definitions every time, as far as poems go, I believe.

    8. None of the above.

    9. Possibly all of the above, in someone or other’s opinion. I really don’t care for any of these opinions.

    10. um… I should’ve read the last question first. Being of sound mind, I’m obviously not qualified to answer this. None of the offered statements has any appearance of truth whatsoever.

  86. 1. Some haiku are poetry. But that’s because some attempts at haiku simply fail. As a genre, haiku is poetry, of course. I’m deeply puzzled by the assertion that some people have that haiku is somehow anything other than poetry. Haiku can be many additional things (diary entries, awareness practice, therapy, etc.), but they start by being poems. What’s the point or value in thinking that they’re anything other than poems?

    2. The red wheelbarrow poem is not haiku. Haiku traditionally eschews such concepts as “so much depends.” That’s exactly what a haiku should never say — because it ALREADY says it without saying it. Indeed, the point of every haiku is that “so much depends” on the image you experience therein, if we would wake up and pay attention. The rest of the red wheelbarrow poem is very haiku-like because of its imagism, however. I use this poem to illustrate specific differences between haiku and not-haiku. Another poem like that is Robert Frost’s “Dust of Snow,” half of which is somewhat haiku-like because of its carefully seen image, the other half of which is everything that haiku tries to imply rather than state. Also worth discussing is the form. Williams carefully places single words by themselves to end each pair of lines. This is a very conscious act (it makes me aware of the poem’s form and affects its pacing, both visually and aurally). While I wouldn’t object to a limited amount of this crafting in haiku, the extent of it here (repeated four times) seems a step away from haiku. The aspect of form here seems like a jewel on the finger, and I see too much of the jewel rather than the moon the finger is pointing to. I don’t think haiku has to be just in three lines or one line, but the form of this particular poem seems to be too far from haiku. I would also say that the last six lines, while a strong image, still aren’t quite haiku because that part of the poem lacks the juxtapositional structure common to most classic haiku.

    3. Hamill’s translation of the Issa poem seems a bit choppy and awkward in this translation, but it’s certainly in the continuum of haiku, with a clear image, and a bit of a twist/surprise/irony. It feels a bit explanatory for haiku, but I’m okay with it. Haiku has range, and this falls within that range, at least for me. But the question is whether this is a poem, not whether it’s a haiku. Of course it’s a poem. Why not?

    4. Well, there used to be Tundra and Hummingbird. Not sure if Brevities is still running. To that I would add, more currently, Noon and Lilliput Review. With Tundra, one goal was to integrate haiku with longer poetry. Haiku has kept itself in a ghetto of its own making for too long. I don’t quite like the phrasing in this question — to publish both “poetry and haiku”. Haiku IS poetry. So a better question would be to say “longer poetry and haiku”. I sure wish haiku books were more often reviewed by mainstream poetry journals. What we in the haiku community should do more often is send our reviews of good haiku books or anthologies to journals that regularly publish longer poetry.

    5. Billy Collins’ book, *She Was Just Seventeen*, received both favourable and unfavourable reviews (and discussion), as I recall. Some people think it’s only sometimes haiku. It’s still an important book (because Collins is an important mainstream poet), even if it might be on the fringes of haiku. Some of the poems are very striking, whether they are haiku or not-haiku. I think many of the poems are good haiku, although not necessarily great. I think it’s wonderful that Billy Collins has respected English-language haiku enough to give it a serious and relatively well-informed try, in contrast to various other poets who have written haiku in what might be called a very selfish or self-serving way, or in a way that thinks of haiku having only one target (how sad that so many people think that 5-7-5 syllables is the only target for a haiku, or even that that’s a target for English-language haiku at all).

    6. I believe the book has received both favourable and unfavourable reviews. Of the reviews I’ve seen, the ones that seem the most accurate and well-defended, however, seem to be unfavourable, calling into question the accuracy of the translations. Most of the favourable reviews I’ve seen seem to be less informed about haiku and translation. But of course it’s all still poetry, and I’m glad to have the perspective these translations offer.

    7. Haiku is . . . not the record of an event: it is an event. Of course, there’s much more to it than this, and each answer has its pros and cons.

    8. None of the above. Of course haiku written in English can be and IS haiku and can be and IS poetry. I believe Basho, if he knew English, or could read translations, would love English-language haiku (and haiku written in other languages).

    9. If any of these choices, life distilled. I note that the question ask about “poems” and not just haiku.

    10. It’s both complicated and simple. I sincerely mean that.

    Michael

    P.S. E. E. Cummings should have the proper initial capitals, as is the longstanding policy of his publisher (Liveright) and the E. E. Cummings Society, despite popular belief to the contrary. See http://www.gvsu.edu/english/cummings/caps.htm. This issue is like the urban myth of haiku having to have 5-7-5 syllables in English.

  87. I am tempted to post this …

    (Circle all that apply.)
    Haiku written in English…
    …would give Basho fits.

    What’s a Basho?
    are we talking bananas or sumo ?

    but no, I am not going to post this
    I am not hitting the submit button
    aaa

    “It’s complicated.”

    :o)

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