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In-Depth Discussions => In-Depth Haiku: Free Discussion Area => Topic started by: AlanSummers on September 26, 2012, 10:12:57 AM

Title: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on September 26, 2012, 10:12:57 AM
My experience of haiku in the 1990s was that there was a plethora of clichés.

This came to pass (cliché) when one writer would create a fresh haiku and it would be copied sometimes a hundred fold.

Another reason for clichés occuring was our laziness in using shortcuts with keywords such

•  still
•  shadow
•  old
•  herons, and stillness of herons in particular
•  cherry blossom
•  Basho/frog pond verse allusions

The Late Peter Williams, born in Watford, England, brought out some marvellous and humourous verses gently poking fun at the innumerable number of clichéd oft-repeated themes or keywords/modifiers that abounded.

These particular haiku were published in 2001 as a mix of fond homage to the clichés back in the 1990s.

They appeared in Blithe Spirit, Journal of The British Haiku Society: But it wasn't just a British disease.

I look forward to people brave enough to recognise and post their own clichéd haiku.



The lovely Peter Williams, now deceased, published these wonderful and subtle spoofs and satirical verses, taking the gentle mickey out of fads, clichés and trends in Western haiku over the years. ;-)


too tired to get up–
my shadow goes and makes
a cup of tea


midnight pond
a frog jumps over
the moon


cherry blossom–
time to polish
my shoes


branch above the river
the heron
moves about a lot


Peter Williams
Blithe Spirit Vol. II No.3 (2001)



n.b.

I was delighted when the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival included a haiku competition run by competent knowledgeable organisers and judges including Michael Dylan Welch and Carole MacCrury, so the blossom verses appeared fresh and original and never tired.
http://www.vcbf.ca/haiku/haiku-invitational-2012

I am also the very proud owner of Robin Gill's  Cherry Blossom Epiphany – the poetry and philosophy of a flowering tree – ISBN#  0-9742618-6-6 (pbk);  13 digit    978-0-9742618-6-7   740 pp
http://paraverse.org/newbooks.htm

Highly recommended: Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, and Robin Gill's Paraverse publications.




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Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on September 26, 2012, 10:21:30 AM
I've tried to excise my bad ones from memory and records, but here's one that should have never seen the light of day (cliché alert):


the old mouser
an empty sheepshed
hunted still

Alan Summers
Publications credits: Azami #37 (1996)

A lazy reliance on still to add depth, plus I have old!

It was indeed a retired  mousing dog, but he wasn't exactly haunting the sheepshed, either because he was dead or wanted to carry on.

He was a very happy retired dog in a sheep farm in Queensland. :-)

Alan


Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: John McManus on September 26, 2012, 10:36:27 AM
Here is a ku of mine relating to Basho's old pond . . .

plastic frog . . .
thinking of Basho
as my son plays

Published in Mango Moons, 2011.




Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Seaview (Marion Clarke) on September 27, 2012, 03:49:20 AM
I 've probably committed every cliché sin - apart from the pond one!  ;D But does this mean you can't write about a heron when that's what you're sitting looking at or it's what's standing looking at you?  :o
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Seaview (Marion Clarke) on September 27, 2012, 03:49:48 AM
Here is a ku of mine relating to Basho's old pond . . .

plastic frog . . .
thinking of Basho
as my son plays

Published in Mango Moons, 2011.

I really like this one! It's funny...
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Don Baird on September 27, 2012, 11:12:15 AM
Maybe, after all of the haiku that has been written, the only thing left to our pens is "unique cliche"?

frog
out of the water
out of Basho

spoof on Virgilio's lily poem ...
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on September 27, 2012, 11:45:03 AM
Hi Marion,

re herons and heron haiku:

In the 1990s there was a spate where almost every haiku writer, it seemed, banged on about the stillness of herons, whether they'd actually seen one or not.  The versions were so similar and numerous that finally someone like Peter Williams had to do a spoof which reduced the numbers which were heading towards epic proportions, almost going viral. :-)

Herons are actually very loud clumsy birds taking off and landing, often crashing into trees, and their own tree nests.

Most things are quiet and still when they are quiet and still, and so after reading about the 200th still heron in just one quarter spread across half a dozen of the best print journals, I wasn't the only one who wanted to leave the poor heron(s) alone for a while. :-)

Many of us have seen herons, and I had one published in a handful of stones, which has just been anthologised as a small  stones title (to be released shortly).  But I didn't say it was still! :-) The heron was actually gently shifting the silt by a nest of swans late at night.

Actually it became a running joke at the NftG Road events as we saw a still heron in Aberdeen, but daren't mention the 'still' word. And then I was the only one to see a heron at Winchester Water Meadows, and it was moving around a lot, being noisy, and yet I was the only one to notice. :-)

But if you've seen a heron, write about it, but try to not mention the 'still' word as a challenge. :-)

Alan

I 've probably committed every cliché sin - apart from the pond one!  ;D But does this mean you can't write about a heron when that's what you're sitting looking at or it's what's standing looking at you?  :o
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on September 27, 2012, 11:47:47 AM
There are such things as unique clichés, or using cliché in a fresh approach.  Your verse is at least a double cliché (in a good way) and as Van Gogh painted Japanese artwork, why wouldn't Basho sketch Monet?  8)

Alan

Maybe, after all of the haiku that has been written, the only thing left to our pens is "unique cliche"?

frog
out of the water
out of Basho

spoof on Virgilio's lily poem ...
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Don Baird on September 27, 2012, 08:19:15 PM
 ;D Alan! 

Fun stuff.
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Gabi Greve on September 29, 2012, 10:51:36 PM
You could say all of the kigo are "cliche" because they have been used so many times over the years ...
I prefere not to see them as cliche

but as a common heritage to the haiku poets (of Japan)
and some of them shared worldwide.

The Japanese saijiki does not feel like a collection of cliche haiku to me,
does it to any of you?
.
Sitting in the rain tempted to write a haiku about the cliche

typhoon

But that is more of a real threat just now ...
 >:(

Gabi
.
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on September 30, 2012, 04:15:38 AM
Dear Gabi,

The post isn't about kigo, or kigo as cliché but the craft of writing where cliché do not occur in the writing.

A kigo is a commonality which is made powerful by an entire race understanding it immediately and adding layers of meaning which are not needed to be explained in conversation or text.


Three of the modifiers which have been overused and not incorporated enough into fresh and challenging approaches are:

•  still
•  shadow
•  old

To my knowledge these are not kigo.

Cliché is referencing the lack of originality of writing around something well-known and respected.

Alan

p.s.

Please see my first post for links to cherry blossom.

I have clearly set out that I am delighted about two cherry blossom projects for haiku.  Also my Kigo Lab project shows my traditional side of things, please read this article A fold in the paper, Kire and kigo in haiku: http://www.multiversesjournal.com/the-thin-white-expanse.html

p.p.s.

Also I have a cherry blossom haiku published in two new books: The Humours of Haiku ed. David Cobb (Iron Press); and Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press) which contains gendai haiku with and without kigo.

edit reason: adding p.s. and p.p.s.



You could say all of the kigo are "cliche" because they have been used so many times over the years ...
I prefere not to see them as cliche

but as a common heritage to the haiku poets (of Japan)
and some of them shared worldwide.

The Japanese saijiki does not feel like a collection of cliche haiku to me,
does it to any of you?
.
Sitting in the rain tempted to write a haiku about the cliche

typhoon

But that is more of a real threat just now ...
 >:(

Gabi
.
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Scott Terrill on November 08, 2012, 05:49:14 PM
Nothing unique about this cliché:

old shed –
he claims 1966
for a pillow

A Hundred Gourds 1:4 September 2012
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on November 09, 2012, 06:12:55 AM
Thanks Scott,

I like your haiku very much,  and remember a version of this on the forum some time ago.  It will resonate with English readers of a certain age as well, because it was the first and only time that the England football (soccer) team won the World Cup.

Someone else recently posted a haiku that I really liked, despite containing a number of overused words, including 'old'.  It just shows that if we work that little harder we can uncliché our haiku.

Alan

Nothing unique about this cliché:

old shed –
he claims 1966
for a pillow

A Hundred Gourds 1:4 September 2012
Title: Re: cliché in haiku <Confessional Booth>
Post by: martin1223@comcast.net on April 21, 2013, 09:50:25 PM
“Forgive me Father; I have sinned.”


Today, I came up with one...Ha!

a stillness
under the strider's leg
dimpled star

...and another today ::)

April chill
through the old man
lake petals :D :D

...and what about over using a process like reflections:

Both of the above refer to reflections interacting and distorting with the environs. Eighty percent of my thirteen years of my haiku attempts use reflected something or other...

Or how about being too cute:

distant cries
the light goes out
with the tide

day moon
the night stays in the lake

clouded night
algae glow in the bow wave

but the one above is Shasei. No matter, it’s just a pretty picture and no depth or as they say with the over used word “layers”. I need to go to the mountain cave and think things over…

 :-X :-X :-X :-X :-X


Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 22, 2013, 01:23:50 AM
Dear Martin,

There is a skill in using what have become clichés, so they can become fresh again, and your examples suggest that. April chill and old man sound  right, rather than forced, for example, to add a superficial depth.

kind regards,

Alan
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on August 20, 2013, 03:17:05 AM
.

The Sword of Cliché: Choosing a Topic
by David Grayson

http://www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2011-issue34-1/essay.html




.
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Scott Terrill on December 24, 2014, 02:24:10 AM
An old pond ku

借景
in a letter from Minami Tadao
Basho’s frog

:)

I don't get much interest in this ku but I like it:)
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Carl on April 18, 2015, 06:35:08 AM
Hi Alan

I enjoyed reading this post very much :0)

I hope that what follows is of some use to move the discussion forward.

In my extremely limited haiku experience what I have noticed about my haiku is that cliches slip in when I am imagining a haiku moment as opposed to experiencing a haiku moment and simply recording it. In the latter even cliches seem to sound fine. In the former every word seems a cliche.

In western writing the advice to write what you know translates very well into write what you are experiencing.


Perhaps the exhortation to simply write what is happening there and now will overcome these problems. For me the reason for writing haiku is to be more aware (in both Japanese and English senses of the word) at every moment and not simply to produce poems for distribution. It deepens my practice and allows me to enjoy the world around me more. If a semi decent verse springs out of it fine, if not, I still have the moment.

My haiku experiences are a constant battle between stamping on my ego that simply wants to send out another haiku into the world and my aware-ness  that simply wants to let the moments be.

Hope this all makes sense :0.

Regards

Carl

Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 18, 2015, 08:25:24 AM
Hi Carl,

Hi Alan

I enjoyed reading this post very much :0)


Thanks for adding to the discussion.


Quote
I hope that what follows is of some use to move the discussion forward.

In my extremely limited haiku experience what I have noticed about my haiku is that cliches slip in when I am imagining a haiku moment as opposed to experiencing a haiku moment and simply recording it. In the latter even cliches seem to sound fine. In the former every word seems a cliche.

Thanks for adding to the discussion.

[/quote]

So, cliché presently feel okay if the haiku is built around a realised experience but not if the haiku is purely fictive?

Quote

In western writing the advice to write what you know translates very well into write what you are experiencing.

I do agree that if we write what we know well, we are bound to include actually-realised experiences and it will, or should, come across as authentic, and there shouldn't be a reliance on cliché in that case.

I wonder if cliché is an either/or a part reason around insecurity, meaning to please, and a mistaken idea that we would be a in group-animal scenario where we are safe and included?

It really is a challenge for us to move away from cliché, although I'm sure there's exceptions when we can incorporate one with tongue-in-cheek. :)


Quote

Perhaps the exhortation to simply write what is happening there and now will overcome these problems.


It's not the only way to write, in general, of course, or with haiku, but to write "what is happening there and now" interests and excites me as it's usually not allowed in the News programs for example which are heavily censored and 'spun'.   I don't like spin, which we also read in history.   It's often why poetry is feared.  Japanese haiku writers were tortured, some died, because they wouldn't write pro-war haiku, when the Emperor was being bullied by corporate entities to enter WWII for instance, and Mrs Bush Jnr's attitude and harm done to poets who were not pro-war.

Quote
For me the reason for writing haiku is to be more aware (in both Japanese and English senses of the word) at every moment and not simply to produce poems for distribution. It deepens my practice and allows me to enjoy the world around me more. If a semi decent verse springs out of it fine, if not, I still have the moment.

That's certainly a strong case for avoiding what's already been said, but to tackle your own moments of experience day to day.   That's what a discerning reader will look for, at least I hope so.

Quote

My haiku experiences are a constant battle between stamping on my ego that simply wants to send out another haiku into the world and my aware-ness  that simply wants to let the moments be.

Hope this all makes sense :0.

Regards

Carl

That's an excellent closing statement.  Of course our ego will show through, but it needn't be shouting, and certainly not shouting me me me I'm over here! :)

It is a poet's duty to send out poems, into the world, and often the world won't be interested, but that we keep reporting from the front line regardless.

We need to restrain using any tired stock phrases, which might feel they gain access to a larger audience, but will that audience keep coming back to that poem, or just like it once but never revisit, never allow its impact to grow on them, grow into them?

We need to distance ourselves from cliché and tired over-recognised stock phrases so that there's just the poem, and an audience to discover that they do have a connection, and it needn't be by rapidly recognised common-a-garden references but fresh paint on the fence that we can't sit on, or our readers.

I'm delighted that you added such a strong contribution to this thread, I really appreciate it.

warmest regards,

Alan
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Maya on April 18, 2015, 10:32:42 PM
Hi, Allan!

I enjoyed reading the thread too.

In my opinion experience by itself cannot prevent us from writing a cliched haiku. Most of the moments I experience are just like the moments many other people have experienced. It would be a good idea when I can't find a fresh approach not to write a haiku, a poem, take a photo or what so ever, but sometimes I simply can't resist  ;D

As you talked about Basho's frog, here is one I wrote years ago:

dusty road...
a green toad flattened
into silence

Credit: WHR, 2008, Shintai

I hope I managed to freshen the cliche. And yes, it was written out of experience.

Since English is my third language, when I started writing I realized that we were taught mostly cliches at school. I think it's much more easier to recognize cliches in one's native language and to try to move away from them. I try to read as much as I can and I also use google to see how often people use a particular phrase - I find that very helpful.

I sometimes grow very tired of certain haiku "constructions" like this one:

something -
the blah blah blah
of another thing

But we have limited space and limited number of versions so it is not easy to avoid them.

Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 20, 2015, 05:17:59 AM
Hi Maya,

Allan's not here, so I'll speak on his behalf. ;)

Hi, Allan!

I enjoyed reading the thread too.

In my opinion experience by itself cannot prevent us from writing a cliched haiku. Most of the moments I experience are just like the moments many other people have experienced. It would be a good idea when I can't find a fresh approach not to write a haiku, a poem, take a photo or what so ever, but sometimes I simply can't resist  ;D

Thanks for enjoying the thread. :)

We default to cliché I guess because we are group animals and feel safer, perhaps, using group phrase usage?

I often take photos with my iPhone as a record, and a visual note, to check up the name of a plant etc... Also, it's valuable source material for shahai. :)


Quote

As you talked about Basho's frog, here is one I wrote years ago:

dusty road...
a green toad flattened
into silence

Credit: WHR, 2008, Shintai

I hope I managed to freshen the cliche. And yes, it was written out of experience.


Nothing wrong with writing other than an actually realised experience, otherwise they'd be no novels in the world. ;)

Before the New Romantics it was accepted practice in Japan and outside to strongly allude.  Even Basho did this by only changing one single 'word' in a classic haikai verse.

I'm reminded of the season when cane toads flood the road, and some drivers enjoyed making sure they could squeesh as many as possible.

Quote

Since English is my third language, when I started writing I realized that we were taught mostly cliches at school. I think it's much more easier to recognize cliches in one's native language and to try to move away from them. I try to read as much as I can and I also use google to see how often people use a particular phrase - I find that very helpful.

Often people where English is their second or third language produce the freshest use of English, perhaps because they don't know as many clichéd phrases perhaps?  The clichés I was taught in French were so bad they were unuseable.

That's the key, to read as much as we can.   I often read a hundred or more haiku a week, sometimes more when I can.

Research is always invaluable for any kind of writer, we are in isolation, and if we want our words to be read more widely, we also have to read and study more widely.   Good advice for those who want to write in absolute isolation where we are more likely to pick up street cliché anyway.


Quote

I sometimes grow very tired of certain haiku "constructions" like this one:

something -
the blah blah blah
of another thing

But we have limited space and limited number of versions so it is not easy to avoid them.

Yes, too many, and I catch myself out doing too many frag/phrase.   We need to think in terms of completing a collection of our poems, and variety is king and queen. :-)

Thanks for the post.  I'm delighted the post has been refreshed.

warmest regards,

Alan
Title: Re: cliché in haiku
Post by: Seaview (Marion Clarke) on June 04, 2017, 03:06:22 AM
Good grief, how time passes, Alan. I've just come back to this thread via the mentoring section and can't believe it was five years ago that I joined in on the discussion. However, I have remembered your advice in this time but must admit that I may have snuck in the word "old" when I couldn't find an alternative!  ;D

Great to come back to this topic as it will always be relevant. Oh, and your heron comments have just inspired my first ku on the subject in five years ...

clumsy since birth
I grow up to become
a heron


:D :D :D

marion