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New to Haiku => New to Haiku: Free Discussion Area => Topic started by: AlanSummers on April 01, 2013, 05:35:42 AM

Title: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 01, 2013, 05:35:42 AM
This will be a place where published haiku can be posted, where personification and anthropomorphism can have been considered as successfully incorporated into a haiku poem.

I hope this will become a useful resource to newcomers coming to learn about haiku.

Alan Summers

Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 01, 2013, 05:58:06 AM
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Haiku & Western Poetry By Peggy Willis Lyles

Haiku along with other poems deserve more than one reading. If possible, they should be read aloud. While they often spark immediate recognition and appreciation, they give up their full meanings more slowly. They are, in fact, the most compressed of all poems. I like to think that means they are charged with extra energy and vitality. Certainly, they engage the reader as a co-creator.

All good poetry is selective, leaving much unsaid. As Yoko Sugawa tells us: "In order to say ten things a haiku presents only two". Those two, though, are so carefully selected, simply and clearly presented and so interwoven with rich textures of suggestion and association that the receptive reader, willing to enter the poem and do his part, has what he needs to find the other eight things and possibly even more!
Western poetry often introduces additional sense imagery through figurative language. In his valuable essay "Toward a Definition of the English Haiku" George Swede examines various criteria or "rules" governing haiku and concludes that the one which insists it "usually avoids poetic devices such as metaphor, rhyme, etc." is unnecessary. 1

Why, then, are newcomers to haiku writing urged to avoid simile, metaphor, personification and other traditional tropes? There are many good answers, I think, but the most important is that haiku poets place high value on the creatures and things of this world just as they are, each unique in its essential nature and worthy of unobscured attention. Comparing one thing to another often seems to diminish both.

Consider Speculation 813 by Robert Spiess 2: "Although simile occasionally occurs in Japanese masters' haiku, it is rather rare. Perhaps for us the main reason that good haiku seldom use simile is exemplified by the proverb 'Comparisons are odious'. Haiku is the comparison-less poetry of Suchness."

Writing on the subject of poetics and personification in haiku in 2001, Christopher Herold said: "The haiku is capable of taking us to a place of simplicity and thusness that cannot be even closely approached with the use of flowery Western poetic devices. For the most part I find that those devices, used as lavishly as we tend to use them, block our reaching to the very crux of an experience. Simile, personification, overt metaphor, personal pronouns, narrative constructions, all tend to be jewelled fingers. We gaze at them rather than the moon towards which they point."

Please don't get carried away, though, and start drafting a strict rule prohibiting figurative language. Instead, let's look at a delightful haiku:

night rain
the small serrated song
of a frog
             - Ferris Gilli 3

The nine words tell me enough that I can recreate the essence of the experience. Can you? I can imagine it as either an inside or outside moment. I am conscious of darkness and of the sound of rain, and perhaps the sight, touch, and smell of it, too. Then the frog song starts - small in the context of night and the rain, but this is not a weak sound. Not a smooth one either. I would like the haiku if it read "night rain/the small song/of a frog". But I like it ever so much better because Ferris has included the figurative adjective "serrated".

How can a song be serrated? It is not a thing with saw-like teeth or sharp projections. A frog doesn't even sound much like a saw. Besides, don't we usually trim adjectives from haiku whenever we can? I happen to know that Ferris counts this among her personal favourites. Both the experience and the words to record it came simply, clearly, and naturally as true haiku gifts. How do you "see" the haiku? How do you "hear" it? Thoughts of patterned roughness, and of ability to cut slowly, expand sensation and meaning. What other associations do? What does the haiku say about nature and the poet's response to it? How do you enter the poem and participate? What do you find there?

As you are considering "night rain" and collecting your thoughts, please have a look at this award winner which also suggests more than it says:

June breeze
a hole in the cloud
mends itself
              - an'ya 4

(It might help Southern Hemisphere readers to be reminded that June is a summer month in the author's American home.)

Ferris' essay about it might help you decide how to approach an appreciation of "night rain". Even if you don't need that sort of model, reading an'ya's haiku and Ferris' commentary side by side will be a fine experience. You will find them here.

Now let's think a little more carefully about the figures of speech we would want to use sparingly, if at all, in haiku. Laurence Perrine describes them clearly and well: "Metaphor and simile are both used as a means of comparing things that are essentially unlike. The distinction between them is only that in simile the comparison is expressed by the use of some word or phrase, such as like, as, than, similar to, resembles, or seems; in metaphor the comparison is implied - that is the figurative term is substituted for or identified with the literal term". 5

Personification gives "the attitudes of a human being to an animal, object, or concept". An apostrophe "consists in addressing someone absent or dead or something non-human as if that person or thing were present and alive and could reply to what is being said". Probably you are already thinking that you would not want to waste valuable words setting up a formal simile in a haiku. 6

Maybe you are thinking, too, that juxtaposition in haiku sometimes calls attention to similarities between two essentially dissimilar things. That is a much more compressed and efficient way of doing so, isn't it? It seems to show more respect for the reader, too, letting her draw her own conclusions instead of directing or spelling things out.

Are you also thinking about Issa's use of personification and apostrophe? Maybe you have some specific examples in mind from other haiku masters, too. There are many of them. Such tropes are seldom used in contemporary English-language poetry, though, except perhaps to create humour. Most of us would feel awkward and a bit silly using them. That's probably just as well because our readers would be likely to find direct address to an owl, lily, or moose pretty far out.

Perrine says, "a symbol may be roughly defined as something that means more than what it is".. Then he goes on to clarify various figures of speech in a passage that I find especially relevant to haiku: "Image, metaphor, and symbol shade into each other and are sometimes difficult to distinguish. In general, however, an image means only what it is; the figurative term in a metaphor means something other than what it is; and a symbol means what it is and something more, too. A symbol, that is, functions literally and figuratively at the same time. . . . Images, of course, do not cease to be images when they are incorporated in metaphor or symbol." 7

We know the importance of sensory experience to the perception of haiku and the value of concrete images in presenting those perceptions to readers so that they can recreate the experience and share the feelings it evoked. We know too that words and images stir associations in perceptive readers and suggest more than the haiku says. Some simple words, "home", for instance, or "forest", or "snake" may call up deep images with associations that touch the universal or archetypal. Colours often mean more to us than we can explain. Tastes and smells are powerful in raising memories.

Some haiku mean what they say and nothing more. If they recreate a given time and place in clear sensory detail so that readers can go there again and again - and continue to find value in doing so - that is certainly enough. I don't think good haiku mean something different from what they say. Haiku have a way of being honest and true. They don't mislead us. Most, though, mean what they say and more as well.

Let me say that again: Most good haiku mean what they say and more as well. Take season words, for example. Frogs, herons, chrysanthemums, and snowstorms mean what they are in haiku, but they also enrich the poems with a whole context of the season they represent and whatever the poet and reader may associate with that season. Spring suggests youth and beginnings; autumn ripeness and completion - and we could write pages and pages about the connotative, suggestive, associative, and symbolic possibilities of each season.

We often hear comments about the metaphorical qualities of kigo. According to Perrine's definition we would do better to think of them in terms of symbol. For those who know traditional Japanese literature, season words stir memories of earlier haiku, too. Sometimes a haiku alludes to a well-known earlier one that uses the same kigo. Image, metaphor symbol, allusion? There is little to be gained by quibbling over definitions and distinctions. What matters is that season words can expand the meaning of a haiku and deepen its emotional resonance. Please have a close look at another exceptional haiku:

a curtain billows
before the rain
scent of roses
            - Ferris Gilli 8

Beautiful, isn't it? I feel the motion, sense the coming rain, smell the roses. If there were nothing more to the haiku than that, it would be a gift and a pleasure. The specific details create a strong sense of anticipation, too. Pleasant anticipation. "a curtain blows" means what it says . . . and much more. Christopher Herold's appreciative Heron's Nest Award essay presents a fine reading of it. You will find it here. For enjoyment and to learn more about good haiku, I recommend all The Heron's Nest essays. The haiku discussed are of high quality and are varied in subject matter and technique. The essays underscore many ways that haiku can succeed and excel.

Susumu Takiguchi has posted an especially fine discussion of Yamaguchi Seishi's superb 1944 haiku about winter wind blown out over the sea and unable to return, a poem of deep imagery and profound sadness. That universal, perhaps archetypal, sadness of winter and loss deepens almost unbearably as we realise the poet was thinking of young Japanese airmen flying toward their deaths at sea. They were given enough fuel to reach their targets but none for return or escape. I agree with Susumu that this may be one of the best haiku ever written.

blowing itself over the sea,
there's no place for winter wind
to go back

Haiku thrives world-wide. It can be both accessible and profound. It celebrates moments of human life and establishes bonds among poets and between poets and readers. For many, it is at least as much a way of life as a form of literature. There is every reason to believe it will become even more popular in the 21st century and that among the millions of haiku composed and shared there will be many that should be recognised as great literature.

Is it safe, then, for haiku poets to remember some of what they know about Western poetry and even, perhaps, to have a fresh look at its characteristics? I think so. If haiku poets keep the basic criteria firmly in mind, they are not likely to go astray as they consider the many ways that haiku communicate experience and the many levels on which some of them can be read. It won't hurt us either to review ways we can make sound reinforce meaning. But that is a topic for another time.

For now let me go on record as one who will continue to use overt figurative language and other poetic devices sparingly, if at all, while concentrating on openness, participation, and discovery. At the same time, I believe that genuine haiku are likely to be multileveled and not easily exhausted. I would expect perceptive observation, deep feeling, and fresh insight to result in images that mean what they say - and much more. English-language haiku is a valuable part of world literature with an audience capable of nurturing great poets.

Footnotes:
1: Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-wide, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks (Mosaic Press 2000).
2: Modern Haiku, Vol. XXXII, No 2, page 89.
3: The Heron's Nest, Vol. II, No. 1, January, 2000.
4: The Heron's Nest, Valentine's Awards 2001
5: Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, fifth edition, Laurence Perrine with Thomas R. Arp, (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1988).
6: Ibid.
7: Ibid.
8: The Heron's Nest Award, Volume II, No. 8, August 2000

Peggy Willis Lyles (Sept. 17, 1939 - Sept. 3, 2010)

To Hear the Rain: Selected Haiku was published in 2002 (Brooks Books www.brooksbookshaiku.com/brooksbooks/selectedlyles.html).
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/peggy-willis-lyles-70-revered-haiku-poet/nQkCn/

Alan's Extra note:


umi ni dete kogarashi kaeru tokoro nashi

Yamaguchi Seishi

blowing itself over the sea,
there’s no place for winter wind
to go back

(version by Susumu Takiguchi)

Yamaguchi Seishi, Susumu Takiguchi, World Haiku Review, Volume 1, Issue 2, August 2001.


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 01, 2013, 06:52:56 AM
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Some of these haiku may or may not contain personification and anthropomorphism.  My concern is that if haiku writing becomes too proscriptive with certain writing techniques we may lose out as readers, and constrain our writers.

If we narrow the writer's choice do we narrow our readers and their choices, and do we not also narrow haiku and haikai literature itself?



february moon
not one single flying fox snared
on its horns

Alan Summers
Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac, Kodansha International (William Higginson and Penny Harter, Japan 1996)




bright breeze
the kettle warms up
a cloudless day

Alan Summers
Presence #44 (2011)




snowing
through the blizzard
particles of me

Alan Summers
The Haiku Calendar 2012 (Snapshot Press); The Humours of Haiku (Iron Press 2012); The In-Between Season (With Words Haiku Pamphlet Series 2012)

Award credit:
Winner, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2011 (Snapshot Press)




Published as a one-line haiku as originally intended:


snowing through the blizzard particles of me


Cornell Library, Mann Library Selection (Selection by Tom Clausen for March 2013)




this delicate rain
the petal makes a typo
of a gravestone date

Alan Summers
tinywords, haiku & other small poems ( July 2011)





dandelion wind
mending bridges
in the mist

Alan Summers
Blithe Spirit (British Haiku Society journal Vol 22 No. 3 2012); Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)





this small ache and all the rain too robinsong

Alan Summers
Modern Haiku vol. 44.1 winter/spring 2013





lullaby of rain
another pinch of saffron
in the pumpkin soup

Award Credit: Editors' Choices, Heron’s Nest (Volume XIV, Number 4: Dec. 2012)




pull of stars turning cold the snail's navigation

Alan Summers
Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012); Blithe Spirit (British Haiku Society journal February 2013)







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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: Gabi Greve on April 15, 2013, 08:29:52 PM
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船と岸と話してゐる日永かな
fune to kishi to hanashite iru hinaga kana

a boat and the shore
are talking together . . .
days getting longer

Masaoka Shiki 
Tr. Gabi Greve

a boat and the shore ... Japanese haiku-shorthand for
a person on the boat and a person on the shore.
This is not a personification of the boat and shore doing the talking.

- - -
Yosa Buson has this

春雨やものかたりゆく蓑と笠
harusame ya mono katariyuku mino to kasa

spring rain -
a mino-raincoat and a rain-hat
talk to each other

Again, no personification, but the people who use the coat and hat.

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Anthropomorphism (personification, gijinka 擬人化)
is usually avoided in traditional Japanese haiku, since it collides with the idea of "shasei", but of course, there are exceptions when a very special effect is aimed at.
The skilfull use of a juxtaposition can be used.
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MORE
http://wkdhaikutopics.blogspot.jp/2007/02/anthropomorphism.html
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and some samples by Matsuo Basho

植うる事子のごとくせよ児桜 
. uuru koto ko no gotoku seyo chigo-zakura .


予が風雅は夏炉冬扇のごとし
. yo ga fuuga wa karo toosen no gotoshi .


鮎の子の白魚送る別れ哉 
. ayu no ko no shirauo okuru wakare kana .
Basho (the whitefish) at Senju, departing from his young disciples (ayu no ko).


降らずとも 竹植る日は 蓑と笠
. furazu tomo take uu hi wa mino to kasa .
farmers described by their outfit, a raincoat and rain hat


山吹の露菜の花のかこち顔なるや
. yamabuki no tsuyu na no hana no kakochigao naru ya .

>
MORE
http://matsuobasho-wkd.blogspot.jp/2012/06/names-of-persons.html
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Greetings from Japan
Gabi
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:04:54 AM
Anthropormophism - Some Thoughts by Jane Reichhold

    Jane Reichhold's answers to my question:

    Rosa Clement:Many times I have heard from reviewers and publishers that anthropomorphism and personification are not good in haiku. However, Basho, Issa, Buson and others wrote haiku using anthropomorphism...

    Jane Reichhold:

    Dear Rosa,

    You have put your finger on a very sore spot in haiku-writing rules. And you are right to question the rule concerning personification.

    FOR THE USE OF PERSONIFICATION:

    1. The personification of inanimate things is a basic part of our language. We so easily speak of the head, feet or legs of the beds, tables and chairs; rivers run, and we even allow that 'time flies.' Thus, it becomes very hard to determine when the author has broken the rule by personifying something which shouldn't be.

    2. Personification of things does make a positive connection the author and the thing which seems to be an actual haiku technique.

    3. The old masters occasionally did it.

    4. Modern authors do it.

    5. It often adds a lyrical or deeper aspect to a poem.

    6. Haiku written due to the influence of tanka (or even cut off of and out of a tanka) - especially those written by the Japanese - may have personification in them because it is an acceptable technique of tanka and many of the old masters based their haiku on tanka examples.

    AGAINST THE USE OF PERSONIFICATION:

    1. English language haiku rules have been handed down to use requiring that we avoid personification. This could have come about from the idea that haiku were not poetry and should not use poetical techniques (such as metaphor and simile). When the pioneers were introducing haiku to English writers they were reacting against the prevailing poetry fashions and wished to present haiku as something very new and different - non-poetry poetry. Therefore, Spiess and others made rules hoping that if they were followed our haiku would be more like the Japanese examples and much less like the poetry being written in English at the current time. Not using personification does separate the haiku from lyrical poetry - which many people see as a definite plus.

    2. Part of the charm of haiku is the pure is-ness of things. In order to create a personification, the intellect and imagination must be engaged by both the author and the reader. This moves the haiku off the basic element of the simplicity and clarity of is-ness. In figuring out the personification one must use fantasy - a facility one usually tries to avoid using in haiku. The cool, calm, rational aspect of haiku is then lost.

    3. Haiku seek to flow gently in the calm creek of reality. The jerk of the jolt of creativity can, for some people, yank them out of the contemplative mode.

    4. Creating a personification can be seen as 'showing off' - something egoless authors never do.

    As I see it, when we question these English rules which someone made up, we open up incredible possibilities for our haiku. It is very well known that non-Japanese haiku ARE different from those written in Japanese, and given our questioning natures, our inventiveness, our urge to make everything anew, it is practically a given that in our hands haiku will end up very different from the ones written in Japan in either the 1600s or yesterday. Again, I think each writer has to decide which of the many rules to follow or not. And our degree of tolerance for understanding and accepting when another author has different rules is one of the lessons we need to practice as our world grows smaller.

    Blessed be!

    Jane

http://www.sumauma.net/haicai/haiku-anthro.html
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:11:27 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret . . . It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.

Albert Einstein

Heike crabs -
long ago they moon-gazed here
on boats

Koybayashi Issa
Translated by David D. Lanoue

Who is it in Japan that first said man is superior to animals? Who's the haiku poet who first shed his cultural memory, what his ancestors taught his family throughout time, and let the rice field snails eat what the tree spirits planted in his reflection?

Was it the Chinese who colonized and introduced civilization to the indigenous people inhabiting the archipelago today called Japan, who convinced those who later became poets to write down for posterity that what had been taught to them via Animism and later in the Shinto doctrine, wrong in seeing life in both the animate and inanimate, proclaiming themselves god-like and superior to everything that didn't mirror the illusions they painted of themselves?

Was it Anglo-English speaking poets from across the ocean who introduced laws regarding what in Japanese haiku should be followed with their conceptualization of haiku and what had to be jettisoned, telling Westerners that Japanese cultural aesthetics and their own were in many ways incompatible, necessitating changes that have changed what we read, understand, and write regarding English haiku to the point where it is beginning to look like a different genre than what was first introduced to Westerners when Japan opened up its shores to foreigners in 1858?
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:12:29 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...

Occidental poets, especially those in the United States, were early on influenced by R.H. Blyth, Harold Henderson, Kenneth Yasuda, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Amy Lowell, Ezra Pound, and other contemporary 20th century poets. The majority of these poets believed haiku to be the bi-product of Zen Buddhism, with the exception of Harold Henderson, who focused on the suggestive clarity of well composed haiku, especially when it came to the use of a cutting word, which does two things: encourages ma (what publisher, educator, and poet, Denis Garrison calls “dreaming room”) and divides the haiku in half allowing the reader to put together two contrasting sections of a haiku (opposites) to form a whole that creates deeper meaning that is symbiotic in meaning.

The understanding of haiku and like genres were primarily limited at this juncture in time to the translations and research in English penned in a series of books by a handful of Occidental scholars that naively developed rules that conformed to the studied illusions of these authors coupled with their own individual illusions of viewing life, people, and poetic meter.

Available were only a few anthologies of Japanese haiku translated into the English language, one set published by Peter Pauper Press in New York in 1955. There were other resources, but not enough written in English to give educators and readers as thorough a knowledge of haiku as we have available today.

Few original manuscripts written by Basho, Issa, Chiyo-ni, Buson, and other poets and teachers of their era in a form of Japanese that is different than the Japanese language as it is spoken and understood today had been translated into English or made available for translation, as many of these manuscripts were the property of private families who were unwilling to share with foreigners what their heirs had bequeathed them or with rival poetic schools.

Let’s examine some of the teachings regarding the writing and definition of haiku by Occidental educators and poets during the first half of the 20th century when haiku began to be noticed in any real depth. Some are valid and some are not.

Examples:

Kenneth Yasuda said haiku

“eschews metaphor, simile, or personification.”

Wrote R.H. Blyth in A History of Haiku, Chapter One:

“Haiku being poetry of sensation, ideally speaking, what happens is this. We [Western writers of English language haiku] receive, or create, a sensation, a mere sensation, almost entirely physical and mechanical. It then becomes humanized, and at that stage is called Zen. To these are added emotions, and then thoughts, and more emotions and more thoughts, so that we get dai-ni-nen. Haiku is dai-ichi nen but is not mere description, just photography, and to divide the haiku in half allowing the reader to put together two contrasting sections of a haiku (opposites) in order to form an entity of it's own.”

Wrote James W. Hackett, a close friend of Blyth, and one of the founders of the haiku tradition in English, in his Introduction to That Art Thou: A Spiritual Way of Haiku, a manuscript in progress as of March 2005:

“As applied to haiku poetry, ‘That Art Thou’ (or ‘spiritual interpretation’) refers to a sense of identity intuited between poet and subject. Basho was influenced by this ancient spiritual principle and urged its use in creating haiku poetry. Zen interpenetration is, in a very real sense, the consummation of the haiku experience . . .”
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:14:55 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...



Counters Professor Haruo Shirane, Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature at Columbia University, from an interview entitled “The Shirane Tapes” (Blithe Spirit, Vol 11:4, December 2001):

"I’m not saying that the Zen inspired model is not haiku, because that would be a misunderstanding. It’s fine, but it’s not necessarily the essence . . . I guess my own motive was that I saw these American scholars looking at Japanese culture that way. That was a serious misunderstanding. This was something that had been imported and was then being re-imposed on Japan. To me, that was unbearable.”

Dated and poorly researched articles and statements regarding English Haiku are still being used, especially in regards to the use or non-use of personification and anthropomorphism in English language haiku, which for some is a subject area necessitating serious perusal.

George Frost, the author of Teaching Through Poetry: Writing and the Drafting Process, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1988, in Haiku Lesson #7, The Knowledge of English Haiku, on his website "In The Moonlight A  Worm," writes:

“We try to avoid projecting human viewpoints into natural things. So as not to humanise (and so patronize) the things of Nature, the English haiku poet is wary of personification and anthropomorphism, even though their use is tolerated in ancient and even modern Japanese poetry.”

Tolerated? Based on what information and resources? Animism is deeply ingrained in the cultural memory of the Japanese. We versus a weak reluctant they?

Continues, Frost,

“Haiku is the poetry of meaningful touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell; it is humanized nature, naturalized humanity, and as such may be called poetry in its essence . . . when the word and the object are divided or divisible, when the man and the thing are in any way separated or separable, no poetry, and especially that of haiku in any language, is possible.”

The Haiku Society of America (HSA) defines haiku as a:

“short poem that uses imaginistic language to convey the essence of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition.”

In the notes below HSA's definition, the assertion is made:

“Most haiku have no titles, and metaphors and similes are commonly avoided. Haiku do sometimes have brief prefatory notes, usually specifying the setting or similar facts; metaphors and similes in the simple sense of these terms do sometimes occur, but not frequently. A discussion of what might be called "deep metaphor" or symbolism in haiku is beyond the range of a definition.”

This, of course, would include the usage of personalization when saying haiku is an imaginistic short poem “intuitively linked to the human condition.”

Wrote poet, Anita Virgil, in an unpublished manuscript, who was a member of the HSA’s original definitions committee, about the HSA’s official definition of haiku:

“Although haiku often includes images of nature, it strives to convey the significance of the poet’s experience, his thoughts and feelings, in accordance with the object or event . . ."

“The deep sense of the transient nature of all existence present in haiku is,” according to Virgil, “rooted in its close associations with the religion of Buddhism and the Japanese concept [abstract aesthetic} of Yugen . . .”  [depth and mystery]

Stated Lorraine Ellis Harr, in one version of her famous Guidelines for Dragonfly: East/West Haiku Quarterly (Harr was the editor of Dragonfly from 1972 to 1984):

“Haiku isn’t figurative language. It typically avoids figurative devices like similes, metaphors, and personification. These artificial devices attempt to humanize life. Try instead to naturalize man. Symbols, however, do exist in nature. Cherry blossoms, with their multitude of fragile petals lasting only three days, represent of themselves the brevity and beauty of life. Let an object speak for itself instead of superimposing a value on it.”

Will each reader of a haiku making use of Symbolism using anthropomorphic terminology see it as such, since each reader's job is to interpret a haiku according to his or her cultural memory and life conceptualization?

Is Harr privy to the beliefs and inner workings of the haiku poet's mind during its composition, and positive without doubt that poet is using symbolism and isn't an animist or a person with a metaphysical visage who views the world contrary to accepted Western norms?

Due to its metamorphic, transient nature . . . one thing becomes another, which in turn forms another and another, always changing, although, as recent research has proven, haiku equally enjoys a close association with the animism passed down through the centuries by Japan’s original indigenous inhabitants, the Ainu, the anthropomorphic beliefs of the Shinto religion, Daoism, and the philosophy of Confucianism.

Not buying into this kind of reasoning, Bruce Moss wrote in his book Haiku Moment, An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku (Boston: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., 1993), xii:

“The movement from a special attention toward non-human nature to some kind of union with that nature is a central facet of Japanese culture and is derived from Taoism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. This movement from attention to union at the heart of the haiku tradition is for the most part alien to Western culture."

“This point was recently addressed,” wrote Moss in his book, ”by Sono Uchida, President of the Haiku International Association."

"Haiku has also developed as a poem which expresses deep feelings for nature, including human beings. This follows the traditional Japanese idea that man is part of the natural world, and should live in harmony with it. This differs considerably from the Western way of thinking, in which man is regarded as being independent of, and perhaps superior to, the rest of nature.”

The use of anthropomorphism (personification) in English language haiku, some claim, is to describe something human and should not be taken literally. A question to consider:

Who in the West came to this conclusion; and from what culture, since most nations in the West are multi-cultural?
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:16:41 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...



Haiku is a minimalist poem aiming at the raw, simple truth as interpreted by the reader via his own frame of reference and cultural memory. Minimalism is a catalyst necessitating that every word, every pause, and the unspoken are important to a haiku’s meaning. The poet must say in a few words what an Occidental poet says in several words, hinting, not telling all; drawing the reader into a haiku’s essence; and not necessarily a photograph of the moment, since not all haiku are a poet's now.

Too many today say haiku is an "aha" moment, a metaphysical now, an illumination, based upon personal experience that can't allude to the past tense nor be fictional even if used as a parabolic lesson, a merging of nature and the poet, a common belief held by Imagist poets including Amy Lowell, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and e. e. cummings.

Writes Michael Dylan Welch, in his online Captain Haiku column:

"It's a poem  (haiku) recording a moment of heightened awareness of nature or human nature. It should come across like a moment of realization, producing an 'aha!' moment in the reader in the same way that it gave you that moment of realization when you, as the writer, experience the haiku moment in the first place."

Professor Haruo Shirane, one of the world's leading authorities on haiku disagrees with Captain Haiku's assessment:

“One of the widespread beliefs in North America is that haiku should be based upon one's own direct experience, that it must derive from one's own observations, particularly of nature. But it is important to remember that this is basically a modern view of haiku, the result, in part, of nineteenth century European realism, which had an impact on modern Japanese haiku and then was re-imported back to the West as something very Japanese. Basho, who wrote in the seventeenth century, would have not made such a distinction between direct personal experience and the imaginary, nor would he have placed higher value on fact over fiction.”

Beyond the Haiku Moment,
Modern Haiku, XXXI:1, Winter Spring 2000, 48.

The writer of the introduction in the Peter Pauper Press book, Japanese Haiku, notes:

“ . . . the haiku is not expected to always be a complete or even clear statement. The reader is supposed to add to the words his own associations and imagery, and thus become a creator of his own pleasure in the poem.”

This is the beauty of haiku. It is the reader who completes the poem. No one can interpret a haiku for you as each reader has his or her own way of understanding and viewing life. Here is where the “Zen” some adhere to haiku comes in.

Taught D.T. Suzuki in The Manual of Zen Buddhism, excerpted from the 2nd edition of The Complete Works of D.T. Suzuki (available online at:

http://www.terebess.hu/english/suzuki.html:

“By ‘what is seen of the Mind-only’ is meant this visible world including that which is generally known as mind. Our ordinary experience takes this world for something that has its 'self-nature', i.e. existing by itself. But a higher intuition tells us that this is not so, that it is an illusion, and that what really exists is Mind, which being absolute knows no second. All that we see and hear and think of as objects of the vijnanas are what rise and disappear in and of the Mind-only.”

THE IS AND ISN’T: myths, truth, and the in between . . .

Wrote Blyth:

" . . . even where an English haiku lacks a season word, when they are too long, or have too many adjectives, or tend to morality or emotionality or philosophy, they have something in common with the Japanese haiku. This common element is sense in thought, thought in sense, the thought that is not mere thought, but the thought subsumed in sensation; the sensation is not simply sensation, but the sensation involved in real thinking, that is poetical thinking. When they are divided or divisible, when the word and the object, the man and the thing are separated are in any way separated or separable, no poetry, and especially that of haiku in any language, is possible.”

Looks like Frost had been studying Blyth.

In Blyth's statement, he expounds a belief that many in the West blindly believed when his writings were published and are still believed today, that English haiku doesn’t necessarily need a season word or have to conform to the metric structure indigenous to the genre, thus weaving into Western poetic thought the concept that English and Japanese haiku don’t have to follow the same rules but follow a Zen-like free fall pattern of thought, which was culturally hip though not thoroughly comprehended in the circles Kerouac, Ginsberg, Snyder, Corso (the Beat Generation), Imagist poets, and those who were part of that generational - cultural mindset . . . a mindset that is and isn’t, each poet painting illusions on paper that differing from one another and only loosely complimenting the other, given the complexity of human thought, cultural memory, lifestyle, education, and physical chemistry, that, at times, strays due to mental illness, alcoholism, and illegal drug use.

They were and are, dead or alive, sailors sailing through what each perceives or has perceived, as Heaven’s River (The Milky Way), laughing, smiling, sharing this and that, each one a rule breaker, a free spirit, and oddly, with many skeletons in their closets, each bone a scale from a dragon’s tail, taunting them with what was, could be . . . and too few who commit or have committed themselves seriously to Japanese short form poetry which requires study, and a non-psychedelic understanding of Asian aesthetics (to understand the essence of the form) that will never become the flavor of the moment.

Wrote Jack Kerouac, who some claim fathered the Hippie Generation via the publishing of his book On The Road, probably under the influence of alcohol, a tormented drunk, who sought release from almost all forms of responsibility through drug use, alcoholic consumption, wandering through the halls of this world experimenting with this and that without a definite except when he was dying from alcoholism and was, at the time, a strict political conservative:

"The American Haiku is not exactly the Japanese Haiku. The Japanese Haiku is strictly disciplined to seventeen syllables but since the language structure is different I don't think American Haikus (short three-line poems intended to be completely packed with Void of Whole) should worry about syllables because American speech is something again... bursting to pop. Above all, a Haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi's Pastorella."

Kerouac is talking here from his hat and according to the biographies written about his life, hadn’t taken the time to study haiku in any depth except for his brief tutelage under the poet Gary Snyder (a genuine scholar and Buddhist), and via the reading of Blyth’s books on haiku, and Harold Henderson’s book An Introduction to Haiku while visiting Snyder in his home upon his return from Buddhist monastic studies in Japan. Keruoac was a transient, unwilling to stay anywhere for too long.

One doesn’t become overnight, or in a few short, unstable years, an expert on haiku, especially when it comes to comparing the linguistically and metric schemata of a poetic genre as given to the world originally by the Japanese with the intricacies of English language poetics and how the American version can differ from the Japanese conceptualization, then telling us the American conceptualization is hip and ready to “pop.”

States Susumu Takiguchi:

"Initial exploration of HAIKU by non-Japanese was like gunmo taizo wo naderu (a lot of blind men feeling a great elephant) whereby one says that the elephant is a tree trunk and another says that it is a giant fan, and so on. The loud voices saying that HAIKU was Zen, or HAIKU was not poetry, or HAIKU was Here and Now, or HAIKU was the product of the HAIKU moment, or HAIKU was nature poetry, or HAIKU was a verse in present tense, or HAIKU was devoid of ego, or HAIKU was an extremely serious and sacred business, or HAIKU reached some mysterious and profound truths captured in a few words, or HAIKU was not anthropomorphism, and all other hundreds of things rang out across the world and muffled any other voices saying things to the contrary." (World Haiku Review, 2008)

No one is one. No one is apart. All live in the collective mindset of what was, is, and will be, as interpreted individually by human beings, some who think they are superior to Blyth’s “objects” and some, those with animistic views, who do not feel superior to what is and isn’t around them, and are not threatened by what they don’t understand like some do who belong to specific spiritual sects, scientific ideologies, and educational institution: the same mindset that laughed at the idea that the world was round.

Blyth was a serious scholar who gave much to the understanding of haiku, and without him, haiku may not have become as popular as it has become in the West. He had great insight when it came to haiku but was limited to the knowledge accessible during his day.

I wonder what people will think of the writings of modern scholars like Makoto Ueda, Donald Keene, and Steve D. Carter fifty years from now, when even more is known, and more manuscripts are translated and made available to Western scholars including insight into the secret coding integrated into many Japan poems centuries ago (and today?) by competitive poetic societies in the Japanese Imperial Court when haiku made its debut, causing a stir, as it became the poetic voice of the people instead of a pastime limited to society’s elite.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:18:11 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...



Blyth, and other Western haiku scholars in the 1950’s and a few decades before, wrote insightful informative books about haiku but at the same time made some mistakes in their assessments that linger today that have become doctrine to some highly visible Occidental poets who publish journals, e-zines, author books of poetry, and hold leadership posts in well  publicized poetry societies. They do not speak for or represent the majority of Western poets (public and private schools have the most influence), but their voices are authoritative.

Unfortunately, many with authoritative voices have different interpretations regarding the English expression of Japanese short form poetry. These disagreements weaken the credibility of English language Japanese poetic expression.

Thus, the basis for this paper: the use of anthropomorphism in Japanese haiku and related genres and whether or not they can be a part of Occidental English language haiku.

David Landis Barnhill, in the chapter he contributed to the book Matsuo Basho’s Creative  Spaces, entitled The Creative in Basho’s  View of Nature and Art (©2006, Palgrave Macmillan), tells us that:

"The role of Shinto and folk religion in Basho’s religious-philosophical mindset is poorly understood by many. Basho was influenced by Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and folk religion (animism). We should not impose our western tendency to metaphysical specificity or logical consistency on the complexity of Basho’s experience or the multi-faceted expressiveness of his language.”

Merrian Webster‘s dictionary defines personification as:

The “attribution of personal qualities; especially: representation of a thing or abstraction as a person or by the human form.”

Personify: “To conceive of or represent as a person or as having human qualities or powers.”

Anthropomorphism:  “An interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics.”
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:19:29 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...



In essence, the two terms, personification.and anthropology are one and the same and often used interchangeably. Interestingly, the word anthropomorphism comes from the Greek, meaning "human form," and it was the ancient Greeks who first made the use of anthropomorphism (personification) in literation and oration a social taboo. The philosopher Xenophanes objected to Homer's poetry because it treated Zeus and the other gods as if they were people. Xenophanes thought it arrogant and irreverent to think that the gods should look like us? If horses could draw pictures, he suggested mockingly, they would no doubt make their gods look like horses.

Much of Occidental philosophy is derived from Greco-Roman influences: politics, poetry, literature, art, architecture, and Judeo-Christian theology. Few realize that Judeo-Christian beliefs were influenced also by oral transmissions from traders and travelers, let alone the Coptic beliefs from Egypt and the metaphysical Gnosticism of Irael's Essenes.

I am reminded of the thinking of highly influential Occidental psychologists and behaviorists like B.F. Skinner who thought of animals as lower forms of life without personality or reason. This kind of thinking has also influenced Occidental theology (re: The Scopes Monkey Trial).

The dichotomy of the following statement by Blyth regarding the British poet, William Wordsworth, is just that, a dichotomy. He says Wordsworth believed the main purpose of a man’s ability to think was to distinguish between what is and isn’t alive (as if the West and the East shared the same perceptions regarding poetry).

Wrote Blyth, “Haiku is at its best when Wordsworthian, that is, Wordsworth at his most simple, a sort of thought in sense"
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:20:37 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...



Coupled with what Blyth called the common element between English and Japanese poetry, Blyth believed that man and nature are one and cannot be separate; one is a thing, the other, a human being with his ability to describe and speak of nature by using symbolism, metaphors, parables, and symbolism. A poet looks at something in nature, associates himself with it, literally becomes it, and then entertains illusions as to that “thing” in nature feels.

Buson did this very thing when he took walks in nature. Something would capture his eye and he’d stop, and with an emptied mind, and, momentarily, become the object he focused on.

Did Buson believe he was superior to the “thing” in nature? Did he assume human traits when he became the object of his focus? Did he metaphysically become both human and what he was viewing with an empty mind, in a sense, the two forming a symbiotic whole? And more importantly, did he view life with the same mindset of an Occidental?

Even more
because of being alone
The moon is a Friend

Yosa Buson
Translated by Yuki Sawa and Edith Shiffert
Haiku Master Buson
Heian International, Inc. ©1978

What is Buson saying in this haiku? Am I to interpret it from my cultural memory and viewpoint or should I try to understand it from Buson’s mindset? Did he make use of personification by saying the moon is his friend? Did the poet/painter consider the moon to be his friend or a temple from which a spirit lived and communicated with him? No researcher then or now will know as no human being has direct access to another person's inner thoughts except for possibly an identical twin.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:21:34 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...


Personification can be used metaphorically to represent or paint one's feelings; and Buson was an artist. Anthropomorphic thought can additionally transcend its use as an aesthetic tool, and be in concrete terms, animism personified.

Sometimes late at night, when I am alone, and feeling lonely, I talk to the moon, and, in a metaphysical moment of transference and positive self-talk, it answers me in my mind:

”Robert, you’re a good person, but because you’re different than most, people think you’re a jerk. We both know they're wrong, but you let what they say about you behind your back, get to you. Ignore the idiots. They aren’t you. They don’t know what or how you think, they just think they do. Why? Because they don’t like themselves and transfer their fears and inadequacies on you.”

Is the moon really talking to me or am I using the moon subconsciously as an aide to get me to think more positively?

Isn’t this like a small child talking to his teddy bear? Have we come to the point in western culture where we jail our inner child and forbid him to go outside and play?

Are we at a point where we don’t believe anything we hear, believe half of what we see, and in our own metaphysical illusionary journey, check things out for ourselves?

Have we become so educated that we buy into everything a professor reads or writes, although what he or she is teaching may be a theory based upon the current beliefs of the day, or what I call, “The flavor of the month?”

Look at the field of psychology. What is the right theory for a psychology major to follow and eventually use in his practice? This field is classified as a Social Science.

Is the field of History consistent, or does it too fall victim to a variety of interpretations?  History too is labeled a Social Science.

We must always be students; never satisfied with the status quo, know that all is in motion. Yet, we must also accept some things as fact. A bone is a bone. A fish is a fish. A cat is not a dog.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:22:16 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...


Cubism is an artistic genre of painting with room, of course, to be creative and explore but also has a definition and a set of rules that help us to distinguish it from other artistic genres such as pop art or Dadaism. Is Haiku a genre of poetic expression given to the world by Japan? How do they define a haiku? Does a haiku remain a haiku when it is changed into something it wasn't when it was first created?

Should we as Westerners cut up haiku like a cubist cuts up reality and reassemble them and still call them haiku?

If Westerners remove the kigo, ignore the S/L/S metric schemata, and write three verses anyway they want to: long, long, short; short, short, long, etc., and eschew metaphors, similes, and personification, can Westerns call what they are writing, haiku?

Or, are Westerners writing a haiku-like genre, that is not a haiku but a genre they’ve invented but insist on calling haiku? Are they instead writing what they call haiku in a way that subscribes to what the Imagists thought haiku was, such as Ezra Pound who wrote In A Station Of The Metro in 1913:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Jump back as section

Pound's poem belongs to the Imagist school of poetry that is not describing in concrete terminology as he sees but is using imagery to make a point via the juxtaposition between the first line and the last two.

Of note is the length of each line. Pound's short three line is the same as the number of lines in a sonnet. The words are distributed with eight in the first line and six in the second, mirroring the octet-sestet form of the Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnet.

Pound's poem at first was 31 lines in length. Impressed with the minimalism and tightness of haiku, Pound kept paring down the primary poem until it consisted of three lines. Pound never claimed to be a haiku poet but openly identified with the Imagist school of poetry.

According to Literature Dictionary:

"Influenced by the Japanese haiku and ancient Greek lyrics, the Imagists cultivated concision  and directness, building their short poems around single images; they also preferred looser cadences to traditional regular rhythms."

Explains Dr. Donald Keene:

". . . the haiku, for all its extreme brevity, must contain two elements, usually divided by a break marked by what the Japanese call a 'cutting word' (kireji). One of the elements may be the general condition – the end of autumn, the stillness of the temple grounds, the darkening sea – and the other the momentary perception. The nature of the elements varies, but there should be the two electric poles between which the spark will leap for the haiku to be effective; otherwise it is no more than a brief statement. That is the point which has been missed by such western imitators of the haiku form as Amy Lowell, who saw in the haiku its brevity and suggestion, but did not understand the methods by which the effects were achieved."
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:23:05 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...


Two of Amy Lowell’s haiku-like poems:

If I could catch the green lantern of firefly
I could see to write you a letter.

Brighter than the fireflies upon the Uji River
Are your words in the dark, Beloved.

In these examples the words are poetic, but the verses do not have the quality of a haiku, for the reason I have given.
       
Japanese Literature:
An Introduction for Western Readers, 1955

Pound was a firm believer in the Imagist outlook on poetics until he changed allegiance and joined the Vorticism poetic school in 1914.

If you compare The Station of Metro with some of the poems Westerners are labeling today as modern English haiku, you will discover a semblance closely associated with Imagist poetry:

Starry night . . .         3 syllables
Hot popcorn              3 syllables
In white paper cups   5 syllables

Carol Raisfeld

sigmoidoscopy        5 syllables
reading the comics  4 syllables
in the waiting room  5 syllables

jerry ball
Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:23:52 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...



Haiku or Imagism?

Did Imagists follow the metric schemata of S/L/S found in Japanese haiku?

Do a lot of poets claiming to be haiku follow the same metric schemata?

Did Imagists believe in brief statements?

Do a lot of so-called haiku poets write what are in actuality brief statements that lack real depth, meter, or memorability?

Is it a sign of madness to talk to an animal or a flower, to feel equal with another form of life, flora or fauna?

Can a western poet believe and write differently than the average Occidental, being that every poet, regardless of his geologic biosphere, have their own specific cultural memories and illusions based upon their own experiences, education, upbringing, and tradition?

Just as it is wrong to say that Westerners should become Japan-ophiles and adhere only to Japanese aesthetics, it is equally wrong to expect a western poet to become an English-ophile?

Poetry in any form is an expression of the creator and the creator should have the freedom to express himself with integrity and his own voice.

Wrote Fujiwara Teika:

“... both the gifted and the untalented have an individual style that is congenial to them...  It would result in terrible damage to the Art of Poetry to insist that a person who has no disposition for it composes in a certain style that the teacher prefers simply because he happens to find it personally congenial to himself. A given style should be taught to a pupil only after careful study of the particular style of poem he tends to compose for with every style it is essential to keep in mind that it must be honest and right.” (Translated from the original manuscript by Robert H. Brower from the Maigetsusho /“monthly notes,” 1219?/ in NKBT /Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei/ Japanese book).

Animism as practiced by the indigenous people of pre-civilized Japan, the Ainu (who still exist), along with Buddhists, Daoists, those following Confucianism and practictioners of Shinto, believe that humankind and other forms of life are just that, forms of life, one no more superior than another.

Many also attribute life to the inanimate, believing that many were(are) inhabited by spirits.

Some North American tribes talk to spirits, and see animals as their equals. If one of these tribal people were to write haiku, would he have to write haiku that adhered to Judeo-Christian influences, and deny his real beliefs in order to follow the rules of writing English language haiku developed by scholars, poets, and others who relied and still rely on outdated beliefs unsupported by up-to-date research?

As of 1975, children from Native American tribes were required by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to attend schools in urban cities far from their tribal homes and required to speak only in English, dress in non-tribal clothing, and to give up their beliefs.

States F.B.M. de Waal in his 1997 article in the journal Discover, entitled Are We In Anthropodenial?:

“Logically, these agnostic attitudes toward a mental life in animals can be valid only if they're applied to our own species as well. Yet it's uncommon to find researchers who try to study human behavior as purely a matter of reward and punishment. Describe a person as having intentions, feelings, and thoughts and you most likely won't encounter much resistance. Our own familiarity with our inner lives overrules whatever some school of thought might claim about us. Yet despite this double standard toward behavior in humans and animals, modern biology leaves us no choice other than to conclude that we are animals. In terms of anatomy, physiology, and neurology we are really no more exceptional than, say, an elephant or a platypus is in its own way. Even such presumed hallmarks of humanity as warfare, politics, culture, morality, and language may not be completely unprecedented. For example, different groups of wild chimpanzees employ different technologies -- some fish for termites with sticks, others crack nuts with stones -- that are transmitted from one generation to the next through a process reminiscent of human culture. Given these discoveries, we must be very careful not to exaggerate the uniqueness of our species. The ancients apparently never gave much thought to this practice, the opposite of anthropomorphism, and so we lack a word for it. I will call it anthropo-denial: a blindness to the humanlike characteristics of other animals, or the animal-like characteristics of ourselves.”
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:24:56 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...


The other day, a poet friend sent me an e-mail asking me: “Isn’t personification a no no?”

Is it or isn't it? Opinions vary.

States George Frost, the author of Teaching Through Poetry: Writing and the Drafting Process, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1988, in Haiku Lesson #7, the Knowledge of English Haiku, on his website In The Moonlight A Worm . . .

“We [the English speaking poet] try to avoid projecting human viewpoints into natural things. So as not to humanise (and so patronise) the things of Nature, the English haiku poet is wary of personification and anthropomorphism, even though their use is tolerated in ancient and even modern Japanese poetry.”

I wonder who Frost was referring to when he used the term WE?

L.A. Davidson in an article he wrote for Feelings Magazine in 1996 was adamant when he stated, “One great difference between haiku and other poetry is that there is no anthropomorphism in it, no giving human attributes to non-human things. Each thing, whether animal, bird, insect, plant, even a physical form such as a rock, is viewed as it is in its own right. Other forms of Japanese writing and myth use personification extensively, but not haiku. Western poetry has reveled in portraying other forms of life and nature with human characteristics.”

Wrote Robert Spiess: “Simile, metaphor, personification, anthropomorphism, seldom are necessary, especially in the best haiku, for a genuine haiku poet is aware that every entity has to be the way it is and could not possibly be any other way.”

Spiess’s use of “a genuine poet” is opinionated based upon the recognized Judeo-Christian conceptualization of the relationship between human kind and other life forms of life of his age in the occidental world. His statement negates the use of imagination, inference, imagery, and other ascetic and descriptive tools in the composition of quality haiku.

The use of such tools were used by the Chinese who introduced poetry and written language to Japan. They were also utilized by Issa, Basho, Chiyo-ni, Buson, and other great haiku pioneers.

Skinny frog
Don’t give up the fight --
Issa is here

Kobayashi Issa
Translated by Makoto Ueda

The bush warbler
In a grove of bamboo sprouts
Sings of growing old

Matsuo Basho
Translated by Sam Hamill

Bowing
at the Buddhist altar --
the purple violets

Chiyo-ni
Translated by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi

Enroute to the monkey chief
On a cold night,
A visiting rabbit.

Yosa Buson
Translated by Yuki Sawa and Edith M. Shudders

Issa the rebel rouser! It was he more than any past Japanese haiku master who used personification without clothing it, and gave a liveliness to haiku that attracted the masses and their children.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 11, 2013, 05:26:28 AM
Personification: A Taboo In English Language Haiku?
by Robert D. Wilson
http://simplyhaiku.theartofhaiku.com/autumn2010/personification.htm

Continued...


Writes Art Durkee:

"Issa's body of work is full of 'rule-breaking' haiku. He often breaks away from purely imagistic haiku, and uses personification and anthropomorphisms in his famous animal and insect haiku, ascribing to them the same emotions humans have; some of his haiku are forthrightly humorous rather than contemplative; others are purely philosophical, and contain only one image, not the two contrasting images often required by the 'rules'; still others are one-sentence haiku, rather than two fragments with a turn, or hinge."
art durkee.blogspot.com

Exciting as Issa's openly animistic haiku are, he knew the dangers of overuse, and relied on multiple aesthetic tools and a variance in subject matter.

To be fair to Dr. Speiss, there’s validity to the segment of his statement regarding the necessity of using these tools, unless necessary. No tool should be overused. There is more than one tool in the toolbox.

States Dr. Gabi Greve:

“Anthropomorphism is usually avoided in traditional Japanese haiku, since it collides with the idea of shasei (Shiki’s term meaning sketch of life), but of course, there are exceptions when a very special affect is aimed at.”

She also writes, "Within the tradition of shasei, sketching from nature, it is better just to observe and not interpret your experiences.”

Dr. Greve’s statement works well for students of shasei, even though shasei’s a poetic school of thought that too experienced and still experiences metamorphism as the term, shasei, is further understood, defined, and explored, as was the case with Shiki. Shasei is one teaching and interpretation of haiku in Japan. There are other schools of haiku thought in Japan.

Greve is right when she advises a haiku poet to avoid the overuse of anthropomorphism in haiku. Every tool has its use.

The composition of a haiku is dependent on the poet’s frame of thought, and what he is conveying. Similes, metaphors, imagery, etc. all have their place in the composition of haiku, western or Japanese, and can or should not be used depending on what is said and/or referenced to.

Is the use of anthropomorphism (personification) a legitimate taboo in the composition of haiku?  Or, is this a thought patterned part of occidental cultural memories and social conditioning?

Over Blyth’s grave:
an offering of spring rain
muddy knees, and brow

J.W. Hackett
The Moss of Tokeiji
©2010 Deep North Press

Wrote David Landis Barnhill, the Director of Environmental Studies and Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh, to me two weeks ago,

“A thorough answer (regarding the usage of personification in English language haiku) would require an analysis of different ways and degrees haiku is similar to the western notion(s) of personification.”

Professor Barnhill also stated in the essay he wrote for the book Matsuo Basho’s Poetic Spaces (©2006, Palgrave Macmillan):
 
“While it is important to recognize the sophistication of the metaphysical elements in his [Basho’s] world view, we should not impose our western tendency to metaphysical specificity or logical consistency on the complexity of Basho’s experience or the multi-faceted expressiveness of his language.”

In an e-mail conversation between myself and Professor Esperanza Rameriz-Christensen, she stated:

“Personification was used in classical or premodern haiku, and in waka as well. In those times, haiku (a name that came into common usage only in the modern era) was known as hokku, same 17-syllable 3-line verse form but commonly occurring as the very first verse of the longer 100-verse linked poetry sequence known as renga or of the 36-verse renku favored by the Basho school. Personification is almost inevitable in hokku (or haiku) because this first verse was required to allude to the actual time and occasion for convening the renga or renku session.

Thus, for example,

na wa takaku
koe wa ue nashi
hototogisu

High is its name
and unsurpassed its song,
the wood thrush!

Murmured Conversations, p. 109
Stanford University Press ©2008,

. . . is one of the hokku for poetry sessions held at the residence of the Regent Nijo Yoshimoto in the Fourth and Fifth Month of 1355. The poet, Gusai, clearly means the wood thrush (or cuckoo) in the hokku to be in praise of Yoshimoto's poetic fame and talent and more important, his crucial role, as a high court official, in the promotion of renga. It is a greeting to the host of the sessions. In other words, personification was used to allude to actual persons involved in the occasion for the renga or haikai sequence, using natural images. In the hokku below by Shinkei the personification is more overt, as it is based on an analogy between the beauty of the poetic heart-mind and the plum blossoms:

Yo ni wa hito
hana ni wa ume no
nioi kana

Man's being in the world:
the radiant glow of plum blossoms
among all flowers.

Shinkei
Heart's Flower: The Life and Poetry of Shinkei, pg. 71."

"Modern haiku, continues Rameriz-Christensen, "composed outside the context of a session and occasion, have no need to allude to them, and so seldom employ personification. It is, I believe, the social occasion that generates personification. And even then, the hokku will not necessarily include it, if the focus is not on people but on the occasion or the actual landscape of the session. In that case, it is more likely to be metaphor or symbolism that is employed rather than personification.”

E. Ramirez-Christensen
Professor of Japanese Literature
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Michigan

In an e-mail a month ago, Robin Gill, the translator of several academically acclaimed books of haiku told me:

“In the case of Japan, haikai turned over the old use of nature as a backdrop and metaphor for the romance of old waka [tanka]. Actually waka was at first more interested in nature itself -- and used anthropomorphism to make the poetry of nature more interesting.

Even when more anthropomorphic, I do not find any fallacy there, as adult poets are not children, and they are not falsely reading nature, as their readers are not naive enough to think that a fly is praying for his life:

Don’t kill the poor fly!
He cowers, wring
His hands for mercy

Kobayashi Issa
Translated by Sam Hamill

and, while Issa’s poems are not early haikai, take note of the way I describe what he wrote as being anthropomorphic, yet not being so because of the ease of the metaphor which becomes grossly or childishly anthropomorphic when “englished” because of the accidents of language.

We [Westerners] find most of our early nature poetry was at first filled with Greco/Roman gods -- as much theo-morphic as anthropomorphic.

In the 1900’s and early 20th century, we see an enormous body of work mostly for children -- maybe that and the thought that the ancients were children to us with our science gave rise to the ridiculous anthropomorphism phobia in regards to western poetry.

When the Japanese were exposed to western literature when Japan reluctantly opened up its borders in 1858 to western influence, due to pressure from the United States and the presence of armed American warships, some Japanese poets and authors seem to have reacted in some cases by denying they anthropomorphosized and that was ridiculous as the critics who wrote that obviously did not read much of their own old poetry.”

1858 was an exciting time for Japanese intellectuals and writers, with many wanting to emulate, digest, and understand occidental literature. Even today, the Japanese people are influenced by western music, art, literature, fashion, etc. And equally the West is adapting some facets of eastern thought and culture.

Integrity was and still is an important virtue to the Japanese people, so when Japan opened up itself to western influence, and even though many immersed themselves in the newness of occidental thought, most then and now stay(ed) true to their cultural memory, especially when it comes to the writing of haiku, a genre they gave to the world. Today, over 5 million people in Japan study and write haiku.

In the synopsis for the Columbia University Press book Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (2006) by Lorraine Daston and Gregg Mitman, the publisher comments:

“Humans use animals to transcend the confines of self and species; they also enlist them to symbolize, dramatize, and illuminate aspects of humans' experience and fantasy. Humans merge with animals in stories, films, philosophical speculations, and scientific treatises. In their performance with humans on many stages and in different ways, animals move us to think.”

Are “things”, and other forms of life, props used to illustrate haiku with its limitations of space and words?

With this in mind, let us examine more statements made by major voices in the English language Japanese haiku arena:

In a personal e-mail, Professor Steven D. Carter, Yamamoto Ichihashi Chair in Japanese History and Civilization at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, wrote:

“Personification (of flowers, birds, the moon, etc.) is very common in hokku and in haiku. So is apostrophe, which is I guess a kind of personification. Now, someone might try to argue that what we are confronting is not really personification, because people actually believed the plants and birds had consciousness, but I don't think that approach will explain most examples.”

Writes David Landis Barnhill,

“The countless cross references to Chinese religious and aesthetic thought require that we place his {Basho’s} texts in the context of Daoism and Confucianism as well as in Buddhism {not just the Zen sect of Buddhism}, and in the context of the Chinese aesthetic tradition (both poetry and painting) as well as in Japanese literature.”

Basho wasn’t the only haiku pioneer who made references to Chinese poetry written during the Tang dynasty, nor was he the only poet influenced by a variety of Japanese and Chinese religious beliefs. Many combined their thinking into a universal mindset indigenous to the times and the great  influence China still had on Japanese philosophy, prose, and poetics.

George Frost, the author of Teaching Through Poetry Writing and the Drafting Process, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1988. in Haiku Lesson #7, the Knowledge of English Haiku, on his website In The Moonlight A Worm . . . entertains a different conceptualization regarding the use of anthropomorphism in modern English language haiku poetics:

“We try to avoid projecting human viewpoints into natural things. So as not to humanise (and so patronize) the things of Nature, the English haiku poet is wary of personification and anthropomorphism, even though their use is tolerated in ancient and even modern Japanese poetry.”

Is the use of personification in the composition of English language haiku a taboo?

Is the use of personification in Japanese haiku as Frost states tolerated? And if so, I wonder where he obtained that information. Taboos against the use of personification in western haiku are the inventions of well meaning prominent occidental poets (most of them Anglo-Americans) who distance themselves from the genre called haiku that Japan shared with the world, their justification, that the West has a different sense of poetic meter, cultural memories, and aesthetic taste; and as western poets, they should be free to adapt haiku to their culture.

North America, however, is a cultural melting pot without a dominant culture. In California, there are more Mexican Americans than Anglo-Americans. In the United States, there are large populations of Native Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Irish, Romanian, and other cultural groupings, each with their conceptualizations of aesthetics, religion, cultural memory, ethics, and background.

I think it's a mistake, therefore, to define haiku in a way different than what it is as defined by those who gave us haiku. Yes, there is a logic in using less syllables, but the S/L/S/ metric schemata is indigenous to haiku as is the unspoken, and other aesthetic terms that are used in both eastern and western circles such as ma (dreaming room), metaphors, imagery, suggestion, and so forth.

I also find it hard to buy into the reasoning of those advocating that English language haiku doesn’t have to adapt itself to Japan’s definition and understanding of haiku and, therefore, they have the freedom to alter it to a point where it more closely resembles American short free verse and imagist poetry, especially when I read excellent poems like these that adhere to the traditional form of Japanese haiku minus the use of less syllables:

even the fish
could lose a little
Buddhist temple

Peter Newton

Snow moon --
within the tunnel of trees
the wind takes refuge

Patricia J. Machmiller

Dawn --
the bullfrog with the moon
on his breath

Alexis Rotelli

a sunbeam
glistens in the tears
. . . of the snowman

Dana-Maria Onica

weeping cherry tree
fills the breeze with petals—
soft april shower

Denis Garrison

rain in gusts
below the deadhead
troutswirl

John Wills

States American haiku poet, Dennis Chibi:

“We must allow room for different mindsets especially those that differ from our own. I think this allows for the “western” taboo of personification in haiku-like poems. Ironically, I contend that there is no western haiku at all. Haiku is indigenous to and exclusively Japanese. Variations of short poems that embrace haiku aspects in other than Japanese are a different genre."

What amuses me is how serious the critics are of the use of personification on modern English language poets, yet none of them said a word when Cor Van den Heuval penned his famous one word haiku "tundra", published in Curbstones (1998). If this poem is a haiku, it means I can call a sonnet a limerick. The poem made western haiku a joke among serious scholars and a mockery in the eyes of the Japanese people. It was then that western haiku made the declaration that it would go in any direction it wanted to as long as it was a short poem of 31 to 1 syllable in length. It's the elucidation one could expect from someone on an LSD trip.

It is imperative that we as Western Haiku poets accept and respect haiku as a specific genre of poetry, and study it in detail, before looking at it and saying,

“Heck, I don’t want to write my haiku like this. I want to write it the way I want to write it, the rules from Japan be damned. We have our own metric schemata and the Japanese have their own. If I copy their use of meter and follow their rules, I’ll be, a “Japanofile [a derogatory term sailor, poet, M. Kei uses to call Westerners who adhere to the Japanese schemata and the use of aesthetics]. I’m a Westerner, for God’s sake!”

To this kind of thinking, which is becoming more and more prevalent, Thomas Hemstage wisely advices:

“ . . . during the time the West has been trying to come to terms with Japanese haiku, it has seldom been considered at all, and if at all, then not considered enough.”

Hail, Herbs, and Turnips
Modern Haiku, Vol. 35:1, Winter Spring 2004
Translated from the German language by David Cobb

Bright sun
The sheen of tall grass
When it bends

Jim Kacian
Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan
©2008 Shambala Publications

Says Donegan:

“Within the Japanese Shinto tradition, all of nature is sacred and imbued with a spirit called a kami. Every rock, tree, and blade of grass has a spirit. This exists in most so-called ancient, indigenous, spiritual traditions world-wide [including Native Americans] worldwide. However, this tradition goes even further, that this spirit is inherent not just in animate things, but also in inanimate things.”

She goes on to say that this belief “is ‘a sacred outlook’: to be able to see the sacredness or spirit with everything in our world without discrimination.”

The use of personification is allowable in English language haiku just as it is in Japanese haiku. A haiku is a haiku is a haiku.

The use of anthropomorphism should, however, as Dr. Gabi Greve wisely states, be used sparingly.

Personification: Why the taboo? Why is it wrong for another in the West to use this tool and/or to have animistic beliefs?

Is western haiku a follow-the-herd poetic dictum and not as free spirited or as liberated as many claim?

Writes Shirane,

“Nature exists as something concrete and living before the viewer’s eyes, as immediate, and is respected as such. At the same time, however, nature can implicitly have a semi-metaphorical effect, particularly as a projection of the poet’s inner or outer state or as that of the addressee.”

Traces of Dreams, Stanford University Press ©1998

Most important to haiku written in any language is as Cor van den Heuvel says so eloquently:

"The poem is refined into a touchstone of suggestiveness. In the mind of an aware reader it opens again into an image that is immediate and palpable, and pulsing with that delight of the senses that carries a conviction of one's unity with all of existence."

Discussions like this, especially in the West, upset some people. Why, I’m not sure.  Perhaps it threatens another to see something in the mirror they don’t want to face. Some are close-minded, convinced they are privy to the Way, and believe that any other thought patterning is heresy.

What I’ve written is my view. It is not doctrine but the studied illusions I have regarding haiku and the use of personification in this Japanese genre of poetry.

The mind is our canvas; our thoughts, the brush strokes painting the canvas, and like all art, no one painting is the same. And let us never forget, art is subjective. What one person likes, another may hate.

I’ll end this paper with something the American Buddhist Amy Gross said recently in an interview for Tricycle, an online Buddhist journal:

"At certain stages maps can be useful; they point out the way. But at other stages they can be a big hindrance, because we often get caught up in interpretation and judgment: ‘How far along am I?’ ‘Am I there?’ These thoughts simply strengthen the sense of self, while the whole path is about dissolving it. And particularly in our western culture, which is so competitive and judgmental, instead of adding more fuel to the fire of self-judgment – ‘Oh, where am I? I’m not good enough’ -- we could see our entire spiritual journey as this wonderful flowering of understanding. We just keep going; we just keep watering the Bodhi tree of wisdom."

Amy Gross
Tricycle Journal

_______________________________________
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: Kala Ramesh on June 16, 2013, 06:37:09 PM
Here's mine:

waterfall...
do darting birds
tickle it?
 
World Haiku Review, May 2008
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: Don Baird on June 16, 2013, 10:13:01 PM
Nice, Kala.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 17, 2013, 05:38:58 AM
I wonder if this is personification, or a direct observation?

white sails ...
a wind has also shaped
the tree

Alan Summers
Publications credits: Azami #21 (Japan, 1994)


tension headache         
different bees work
the lavender bush

Alan Summers
Publications credits: Simply Haiku vol. 1 no. 3 (2003); Six Years of Simply Haiku: Retrospective Selections 2003-2008, (Eleven Themes) Selected by Richard Gilbert  (vol.7 no.1 2009).

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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 20, 2013, 10:53:40 AM
The pathetic fallacy—a kind of metaphor or personification in which human actions, thoughts, or emotions are attributed to other than human beings—appears occasionally in humorous haiku, especially those written before Basho.

For example, from the old haikai-no-renga master Sokan:

te o tsuite                                   hands to floor
uta moshiaguru                           offering up a song
kawazu kana                               the frog . ..

Frogs traditionally "sing" in Japanese poetry, but here the "hands together" and "offering up" suggest an even closer parallel to human activity and motivation.

The Art of Haiku pages 125-6
The Haiku Handbook

http://www.amazon.com/Haiku-Handbook-Write-Share-Teach/dp/B00847O502/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1371746750&sr=8-12&keywords=The+Haiku+Handbook


extracts from:  
Literary Devices in English Haiku by Megan Arkenberg

Other literary devices, such as metaphor and personification, have a rich history in English-language poetry but are neglected—even discouraged—in modern English haiku. But to ignore these and other unusual haiku devices, such as allusion and visual poetry, is to ignore much of the form’s history and literary potential.

Metaphor and personification have been most frequently argued against on the grounds that haiku are meant to be an objective record of things experienced, rather than an opportunity for the poet to display his or her technique. What this fails to take into account is that we do not all experience reality with perfect objectivity—everyone, haiku writers included, perceives certain experiences in illogical and improbable ways. This is particularly true for first impressions.

         heaped
    in the buttercup
        blue sky

    ~Carl Patrick, The Haiku Anthology

    strawberry
    another red tongue
    on mine

    ~Jane Reichhold, Writing and Enjoying Haiku

ersonification, the assigning of human traits to nonhuman things, seems less prevalent than metaphor in haiku. The most likely reason for this is personification’s inherent lack of subtlety—it is difficult for the haiku’s author to “vanish” when he or she has intentionally distorted the reader’s vision. Well-done personification in haiku allows the poem to speak for itself; it comes from an instantaneous connection in the poet’s mind, rather than deliberate ingenuity. 

    song birds
    at the train yard’s edge
    two cars coupling

    ~Jeffrey Winke, Thirds

In combining the traits of human and nonhuman things, personification can emphasize the “oneness” of the world and promote a sense of compassion:

    don’t swat the fly!
    see how he wrings his hands,
    wrings his feet!

    ~Issa

A step up from personification in forging a deliberate bond between writer and reader is the technique of allusion. Japanese poetry uses a device called honkadori, in which a modern poem references and builds on an older one through quotes or the names of famous places and characters. In modern English haiku, allusion can be as simple as mentioning the title or author of a famous work in order to build a similar atmosphere:

        A page of Shelley
    brightens and dims
          with passing clouds

    ~Rod Willmot, The Haiku Anthology

    reading Basho,
    the mournful strains
    of Coltrane’s horn

    ~Charles Rossiter, Thirds

    lighting the path
    to Walden Pond--
      my bedside lamp

    ~Ebba Story, The Haiku Anthology

In this last example, the allusion also functions as a riddle; the last line shows that the speaker is not physically near Walden Pond, but reading Thoreau’s work.

- e n d -
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 21, 2013, 08:32:03 AM
A quote from In the moonlight a worm
Copyright © 1999 - 2013  CIS/Waning Moon Press

We try to avoid projecting human viewpoints into natural things. So as not to humanise (and so patronise) the things of Nature, the English haiku poet is wary of personification and anthropomorphism, even though their use is tolerated in ancient and even modern Japanese poetry. But only the ultra-purist would have difficulty with the level of anthropomorphism expressed in

Sweeping into the pan
the narrow line of dust
that defies its edge.

James W. Hackett


In Conclusion...

Many writers of haiku respect the Japanese artistic dictum, "Learn the rules and then throw away the rule book". Beginners have often found it beneficial to gain some mastery of 'strict' form before venturing into 'free' or 'organic' form.

The Basho scholar Makoto Ueda predicts the future development of haiku and senryu: "As more and more western poets write haiku or haiku-like poems in their languages, Basho's influence on them through the haiku form will become diluted, often to the extent that it will disappear from the poetry. That is what is expected; in fact, that is precisely what Basho wished for. He always encouraged his students to cultivate their individual talents rather than to follow him with blind faith."

Waning Moon Press thanks the British Haiku Society for permission to publish this paper on the web.

Copyright © 1999 - 2013  CIS/Waning Moon Press
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 22, 2013, 05:03:32 AM
Christopher Herold said:
"The haiku is capable of taking us to a place of simplicity and thusness that cannot be even closely approached with the use of flowery Western poetic devices. For the most part I find that those devices, used as lavishly as we tend to use them, block our reaching to the very crux of an experience."

A quote from Haiku & Western Poetry By Peggy Willis Lyles:
http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/node/354


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 22, 2013, 05:07:59 AM
    I am cold, mother—
    an acetylene torch on the ground
    cries in the wind

    Fujio Akimoto [1]

Without a doubt, the last poem would be singled out by many American editors as a poor haiku. “Torches don’t cry,” the poet would be told. “You are personifying the torch.” Despite numerous personifications in the poetry of Japanese master Issa, one of the rules of American haiku is that personification is not allowed. However, it is but a short step from a transformation of the self to the personification of the other. I don’t see how only one can be allowed.


[1]
Modern Haiku Association (Gendai Haiku Kyōkai, eds.), The Haiku Universe for the 21st Century. Tokyo, Japan: Modern Haiku Association, 2008,  p. 51.

Haiku's American Frontier 
by Paul Miller
http://www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2012-issue35-1/essay.html

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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: lulu on June 22, 2013, 07:36:53 AM
Re:
Sweeping into the pan
the narrow line of dust
that defies its edge.

James W. Hackett

This is a lovely haiku, but to be honest, the word “that” makes it less anthropomorphic and more descriptive.

Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 22, 2013, 07:46:14 AM
For anyone who is interested in James Hackett's haiku work:
http://www.hacketthaiku.com/haiku.html

A Traveller's Haiku:
http://www.hacketthaiku.com/TH.html
http://www.hacketthaiku.com/TH2.html
http://www.hacketthaiku.com/TH3.html


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 22, 2013, 07:55:51 AM

Haiku & Western Poetry By Peggy Willis Lyles
http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/node/354

All good poetry is selective, leaving much unsaid. As Yoko Sugawa tells us: "In order to say ten things a haiku presents only two". Those two, though, are so carefully selected, simply and clearly presented and so interwoven with rich textures of suggestion and association that the receptive reader, willing to enter the poem and do his part, has what he needs to find the other eight things and possibly even more!

Western poetry often introduces additional sense imagery through figurative language.

Why, then, are newcomers to haiku writing urged to avoid simile, metaphor, personification and other traditional tropes? There are many good answers, I think, but the most important is that haiku poets place high value on the creatures and things of this world just as they are, each unique in its essential nature and worthy of unobscured attention. Comparing one thing to another often seems to diminish both.

Consider Speculation 813 by Robert Spiess*: "Although simile occasionally occurs in Japanese masters' haiku, it is rather rare. Perhaps for us the main reason that good haiku seldom use simile is exemplified by the proverb 'Comparisons are odious'. Haiku is the comparison-less poetry of Suchness."

*Modern Haiku, Vol. XXXII, No 2, page 89.

Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on June 22, 2013, 09:45:13 AM
.

行春や鳥啼魚の目は泪
Yuku haru ya tori naki uo no me wa namida
going spring: birds cry fish GEN(itive) eyes TOPIC tears

‘‘Departing spring: birds cry and, in the eyes of fish, tears’’

Hiroaki Sato’s translation (Matsuo 1996 [1694]: 43 43) is more faithful to the Japanese text.

Spring is passing
as birds cry, the eyes of fish
fill with tears

rough trans. Alan Summers

tori naki (birds cry), could either be a literal expression or a metaphorical one (personification of birds). What is characteristic of this phrase is that the possibility of multiple interpretations is reinforced by the choice of a particular Chinese ideogram for naki (cry), 啼, instead of the ones more commonly used, 泣, and 鳴. Among the ideograms of more common use, the former,泣, means that humans shed tears, and the latter, 鳴, means that birds, animals, and insects cry aloud.

The meaning of these two ideograms is univocal as the radicals of each ideogram, particularly the left-hand radical of ‘‘water’’ for the former and the right-hand radical of ‘‘bird’’ for the latter, contribute to specifying, rather than broadening, the meaning. By contrast, Basho’s choice of the Chinese ideogram,啼, for this poem seems to suggest that he deliberately used the etymological implication and the equivocal nature of this ideogram.

The ideogram, 啼, consists of two radicals. The left-hand radical, 口, etymologically means ‘‘a mouth as a metonymy for voice,’’ while the right-hand radical, 帝, means ‘‘to wring something (usually wet).’’

Thus, the ideogram itself can be seen as a blend of two inputs, corresponding to the two radicals. This blend produces a meaning of the ideogram as ‘‘crying in a wrung voice (voice produced by wringing the throat).’’

Furthermore, because the left-hand radical of ‘‘a mouth’’ is ambiguous, implying both human and nonhuman agents, the ideogram can be seen as a blend of two lexical meanings: (1) for humans to shed tears and cry aloud in a ‘‘wrung’’ voice; to wail with pain; and (2) for birds, animals, and insects to cry aloud, to wail.

Hence, the blend ‘‘birds cry’’ displays a double image: birds crying aloud and humans shedding tears, in a ‘‘wrung’’ voice.

uo no me wa namida (there are tears in the eyes of fish) which is a novel extension of the conventional metaphor. Although the personification of fish appears frequently in folk tales and children’s stories such as Urashima Taro, in which fish speak to human beings, play musical instruments, dance, and so on, we seem to have few linguistic manifestations of this metaphor in everyday idioms; for example, kono sakana wa indo-yoo made tabi ni deru (this fish takes a trip to the Indian Ocean). What fish do in the conventional metaphor is prototypically a physical action of some sort rather than a mental reaction.

uo no me wa namida is novel in that it extends the metaphor to emotions, namely the fish are crying in grief, shedding tears of sadness. It is a very vivid and creative image mapping of tears in the human eyes onto the eyes of the fish.

An analysis similar to the metaphor may apply here, too. Fish are depicted in general with no specification of number, size, shape, color, or name. As birds are a symbol for the sky, fish are a symbol for water in myth and folk belief.

Hence, uo no me wa namida could imply metonymically that the water world shows sadness.

Extract (except rough translation by Alan Summers) from Hiraga Masako (1999)

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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: Gabi Greve on July 03, 2013, 03:17:41 PM
trying the newest in Japanese research for Basho

行く春や鳥啼き魚の目は泪
yuku haru ya tori naki uo no me wa namida

spring is leaving ..
birds sing
tears in the eyes of (my friend called) Fish

for Sugiyama Sanpu 杉山杉風

Sanpu was an official fish merchant of the Bakufu government in Edo.
He was also an ardent haikai poet and supported Matsuo Basho in many ways, helping him to establish his Basho school of haikai.
He was one of the Basho jittetsu 芭蕉十哲 10 most important followers .
Sanpu provided the Basho-An in Fukagawa for Basho to live in.

When starting out to the long and dangerous trip of "Oku no Hosomichi",
Basho wrote this famous haiku in his honor :

yuku haru ya tori naki uo no me wa namida

http://wkdhaikutopics.blogspot.jp/2012/10/sugiyama-sanpu.html
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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 03, 2013, 04:14:57 PM
Thank you Gabi.  :)
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 03, 2013, 04:40:20 PM
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slammed by salt and sun
the paint has no chance in this mexican prison

David Caruso


The paint’s chances make this. Caruso effectively renders it unable to serve its functional and aesthetic purposes. In at least one reading, the chance the paint has been given infuses it with a living quality, and personifies it.

Egad, hasn’t the poet broken a rule here?

No worries.

Paying any attention to that might have resulted in a less than compelling haiku. It adds layers of nuance. The poet still vividly depicts a moment with an image that makes good use of suggestion and implication; and it has an objective feel about it.

From that slam at the beginning to its end, it brings to mind the brutal and unforgiving conditions of the Mexican correctional system, which has received a bit of news coverage in recent years, but nothing is overstated. The two-line construction seems utterly perfect for conveying the tone, as well as the rapidity of the machine gun’s firing, when reading the last line the way it stands.


Commentary by Paul Pfleuger, Jr
Roadrunner X:1 Copyright © 2010.


EDIT REASON: spacing and italics, emphasing the commentary is from Paul Pfleuger, Jr
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: devora on July 06, 2013, 06:52:17 AM
Please forgive me, Alan, but I just cannot see why the following is considered a haiku, and subsequently, deserving of a commentary on why it is anthropomorphic. Seems to be just a simple sentence (albeit nice alliteration):

slammed by salt and sun
the paint has no chance in this mexican prison

David Caruso
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 06, 2013, 07:54:45 AM
I forgive you.  :)

Please forgive me, Alan, but I just cannot see why the following is considered a haiku, and subsequently, deserving of a commentary on why it is anthropomorphic. Seems to be just a simple sentence (albeit nice alliteration):

slammed by salt and sun
the paint has no chance in this mexican prison

David Caruso
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 06, 2013, 08:07:51 AM

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Another quasi-surreal haiku of note by Bashō is:

takotsubo ya hakanaki yume wo natsu no tsuki

an octopus pot—
inside, a short-lived dream
under the summer moon

Apropos of which, Watsuji goes so far as to suggest: “Isn’t it possible to imagine that Bashō had completely entered into the mind of an octopus inside the pot?

He became an octopus, so to speak.”22 Such outright anthropomorphism prefigures contemporary haiku poet Tsubouchi Nenten’s more humorous and direct:

sakura chiru anata mo kaba ni narinasai

cherry blossoms fall—
you too must become
a hippo        23

In a not dissimilar vein, among the more astonishing haiku on the British front is Stanley Pelter’s:

a pig’s memory
it leads to colours
of hesitant hills       24

while both of the above bear comparison with the surreal, cartoon-like humour of
the following, by Nagata Koi (trans. James Kirkup and Makoto Tamaki), featured
in Blithe Spirit as a “favourite haiku” chosen by Yasuhiko Shigemoto:

dojo uite namazu mo iru to iute shizumu

The loach floated up.
“There’s a catfish down here too”
he said, then sank back          25

The surreal turning-upside-down of ordinary reality also characterizes Scott Metz’s:

somewhere
fireflies are
eating rhinos       26

At the same time, the concision, topic (fireflies) and playfulness of Metz’s poem clearly situate it in the tradition of haiku. Wittily reversing the traditional expectation of a specific context or occasion for haiku, the “somewhere” turns out to situate a quite specific but objectively “impossible” image. The poem thus enacts a sudden shift from objective realism to the limitless site of the surreal imagination.


22. Makoto Ueda, Basho and his Interpreters (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992) p201.
23 Trans. Richard Gilbert, Poems of Consciousness (Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2008),
p157.
24 Blithe Spirit, vol.13 no.2, June 2003, 34.
25 Blithe Spirit, vol.13 no.1, March 2003, 51.
26 NOON: journal of the short poem, vol. 5, Autumn 2007, 33.

Extract from:
Roadrunner  August 2009 IX:3
SURREALISM & CONTEMPORARY HAIKU
~ OR ~
SURREAL HAIKU?
by Philip Rowland

An earlier version of this essay was presented at the World Haiku Association Conference of
2004 and published in World Haiku 2005 (Tokyo: Nishida-shoten, 2004).


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: devora on July 06, 2013, 02:15:02 PM
My comment was neither fatuous nor frivolous, and did not warrant your rather smarty reply.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 07, 2013, 07:36:14 AM
Devora,

You said:
My comment was neither fatuous nor frivolous, and did not warrant your rather smarty reply.

My reply was simply an acknowledgement before I posted more on personification and anthropomorphism.  The posts are there to take or leave them, and I'm keen to show a variety of examples not just from classic and modern times but also contemporary examples. As your very first words were "Please forgive me, Alan" I felt a reponse was necessary, and made with light humor, before I continued with my posts on this topic I started. I'm sorry that you took my good humor into a different direction but that was not my intention.

I personally felt that "slammed by salt and sun" was a very powerful line and not something of an ordinary sentence construction.  I've only worked in prisons as a haiku poet-in-residence during colder climes, but paint is such a huge feature in prisons as it regularly peels off the metal surfaces and needs to be repainted.

I personally found the commentary by Paul Pfleuger, Jr highly illuminating and the fact that the paint has no chance suggests neither have the residents.  I'm also reminded that the interview technique using shaken up cola cans that was adopted further north a disturbing memory and I hope that practice is outlawed, but alas as waterboarding seems de rigour in interviews, I fear not.

Different readers read differently when engaging in such a short genre practice as haiku, and gladly it will always remain controversial outside the safe confines of historical haikai verse of classic times.

Quoting a large extract from Pfleuger Jr's commentary:

Egad, hasn’t the poet broken a rule here?

No worries.

Paying any attention to that might have resulted in a less than compelling haiku. It adds layers of nuance. The poet still vividly depicts a moment with an image that makes good use of suggestion and implication; and it has an objective feel about it.

From that slam at the beginning to its end, it brings to mind the brutal and unforgiving conditions of the Mexican correctional system, which has received a bit of news coverage in recent years, but nothing is overstated. The two-line construction seems utterly perfect for conveying the tone, as well as the rapidity of the machine gun’s firing, when reading the last line the way it stands.


Commentary by Paul Pfleuger, Jr
Roadrunner X:1 Copyright © 2010.

More on Pfleuger Jr and David Caruso:

I can heartily recommend Paul Pfleuger Jr's first collection, a Zodiac, as a must for any one interested in contemporary approaches to haiku:
http://roadrunnerhaikublog.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/a-zodiac-paul-pfleuger-jr/

For more information on David Caruso:

pic and about:
http://www.davidhaiku.com/?page_id=19

recent haiku:
http://www.davidhaiku.com/?page_id=11

David Caruso THF Registry:
http://www.thehaikufoundation.org/poet-details/?IDclient=260


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: devora on July 07, 2013, 11:24:32 AM
Okay, Alan, let me speak plainly (fugheddabout prefatory civilities).

slammed by salt and sun
the paint has no chance in this mexican prison

David Caruso

is not a haiku. And cannot be woven into one that triggers a précis on anthropomorphism. Period.

Powerful first line, yes. Compelling second line. yes. A probable truth, yes. But casting those observations into two sentences does not a haiku make.*

*Though I liked what Pfleuger Jr says (as quoted by you), and makes a simple sentence interesting: The two-line construction seems utterly perfect for conveying the tone, as well as the rapidity of the machine gun’s firing, when reading the last line the way it stands.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 07, 2013, 12:56:06 PM
From the website of soji aka Gary Barnes:

Butterfly! These words
from my brush are not flowers...
only their shadows.

Natsume Soseki

This haiku, by Soseki, is from the Peter Pauper Press volumes.

My love of haiku, and the way I write it was fostered by the works of those talented masters as translated by Peter Beilenson, who rendered  translations of their poetry and collected it in three volumes;  Japanese Haiku, The Four Seasons, and Cherry Blossoms. Peter began, and Harry Behn completed the fourth volume in the series, Haiku Harvest, because Mr. Beilenson journeyed to the "other side".  Each of  the poems capture a moment with the deft strokes of the artist's words. The four works were published by Peter Pauper Press.


The haiku that you find on the following pages have been written over many years. Though I have attempted to capture  the essence of a moment, some schools of haiku would say  that many of my haiku fly in the face of their most dearly  held tenets because I occasionally use metaphor, and on  occasion, anthropomorphism.(assigning human characteristics  to non-human or inanimate objects). I started learning haiku, however, before attending any of the "schools".  Most schools agree that maintaining the classic Japanese haiku form in English can be very restrictive and difficult, or leads to padding, excessive verbiage, when using the seventeen syllable, 5-7-5 format found in the works of haiku masters such as Issa, Basho and Buson.

Gary Barnes, from his Haiku Poets Hut

Alan:
I wouldn't call this personification or anthropomorphism, but a tinge of it perhaps makes this a charming haiku, and I'm sure we've seen this done right up today.
   
roadside diner
a fly inches across
distant hills

author: soji

Is this closer to the topics to hand, I don't know, but sometimes when you spend long hours with wildlife, a certain empathy real or otherwise can surface.

why such a disguise
black-masked sparrow?
the bird seed is free

author: soji aka Gary Barnes
http://www.haikupoetshut.com/whoiam.html


The Peter Pauper Press haiku books can now be purchased on Kindle too for those who like to be able to take their haiku library with them! :-) weblink: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=peter%20pauper%20haiku




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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 07, 2013, 01:11:06 PM
Extract from:
The keynote speech, given by WHC Honourary President, James W. Hackett,  for the WHF2002 English-language session.

The World Haiku Festival 2002
Yuwa-town, Akita 20-22 September

Spiritual union is sometimes confused with anthropomorphism, whose attribution of strictly human characteristics to things stems from hubris and sentimentality. The haiku scholar Joan Giroux asserts in her book, The Haiku Form, that spiritual identification in haiku is not merely “cute anthropomorphism” but is:

… an instant in which the mind becomes united to an object, virtually becomes the object, and realizes the eternal, universal truth contained in being.

Only strong empathic intuitions rising directly from our ‘heart of hearts’ intimate spiritual union. That Basho held such interpenetrative experience to be an
important principle in haiku is clearly shown by his advocacy of:

…entering into the object, perceiving its delicate life, and feeling its feelings, whereupon a poem speaks for itself. (British Haiku Society, Consensus, n.d.)

Again, in the following, Basho makes clear in no uncertain terms the importance of such identification in haiku creation:

Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in doing so, you must leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself. Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one — when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there. However well-phrased your poetry may be, if the object and yourself are separate — then your poetry is not true poetry but a semblance of the real thing. (Yuasa, The Narrow Road: 33)

In analyzing the theme of Oneness, Aldous Huxley explains:

Direct knowledge of the (Spiritual) Ground cannot be had, except by union, and union can be achieved only by the annihilation of the self-regarding ego, which is the barrier separating the ‘thou’ from the ‘That’. (A. Huxley: 35, The Perennial Philosophy)

Basho’s advice regarding the importance of such interpenetration makes its neglect in contemporary haiku more than enigmatic or ironic: it seems sadly emblematic of the hubris and superficiality of our age. Indeed, serious haiku poets might consider how costly to the genre is the neglect of this profound spiritual principle: one with a long, hallowed history, having evolved from ancient Vedic origins in India, through millennia, to Mahayana Buddhism, to Zen, and now beyond — to the world, and this very time and place.

If the principle of “That Art Thou” were utilized in haiku poetry, I believe there would be fewer ‘snapshot’ and ‘So What?’ verses to sully the name of haiku. The
extent to which haiku is marginalized from the world of Western poetry is surely due to a proliferation of trivial verses, lacking any literary or spiritual attributes. And the suspect practice of omitting the terms “poetry” and “poem” from that of “haiku,” has doubtless played a role in vulgarizing the genre.

A harsh assessment? Perhaps. But the major reason for writing this “That Art Thou” text is to renew and reassert the neglected Tao/Zen spirit of haiku. And by so doing, to raise and return haiku’s status to not only that of “poetry,” but beyond, to the spiritual Way I know haiku can become.


SPIRITUAL INTERPENETRATION IN HAIKU
from The Zen Haiku and Other Zen Poems of J. W. Hackett
(Tokyo: Japan Publications @1983 by James W. Hackett)

A tiny spider
has begun to confiscate
this cup’s emptiness.

Grasshopper’s game:
to light on a tip of grass
then ride out its sway.

Too cold for snow:
the loneliness standing within
each flophouse doorway.

Signaling wildly
for all to take care: the tail
of the pissing cat.

    See this fly
that long since met eternity,
his kneeling remains.

Playful kitten,
how calmly it chews the fly’s
buzzing misery.

R. H. Blyth and J. W. Hackett is the keynote speech, given by WHC Honourary President, James W. Hackett,  for the WHF2002 English-language session.

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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 02:37:00 AM
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a face beseeching
before it becomes
a water lily


George Swede

Usually, one first sees the water lily and then reads a face into it. But here the poet confronts the face itself first, and “sees” it that way for only a moment before it turns into a water lily. And “beseeching” is a good participle in the context: water lilies can’t beseech, of course, but once brought to life, they can and do. At the sound level, Swede’s 5-5-5- pattern works nicely: we expect change, “becom[ing,” but here what changes remains the same, thus confounding the reader.


the silence grows
teeth—a tree
with cracked windows


Scott Metz

[This] deserves praise for its subtle metaphor: first silence (an abstraction) is animated—it grows teeth; then, in a reversal, the natural (tree) takes on aspects of the man-made, with its “cracked windows.” The natural is subsumed under the unnatural. And even here there is no refuge for the larger silence outside.


a few grains of sugar
at the edge of the fire
slowly smoking


Chris Gordon

One expects to meet a few grains of carbon here or perhaps particles of food, cooked on the fire. But the few grains of sugar are a surprise: the references makes us look closely at that fire, slowly smoking.

The Scorpion Prize #19
Commentary by Marjorie Perloff


Marjorie Perloff is Sadie D. Patek Professor Emerita of Humanities at Stanford University and currently Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Southern California. She teaches courses and writes on twentieth—and now twenty-first—century poetry and poetics, both Anglo-American and from a Comparatist perspective, as well as on intermedia and the visual arts. Her first three books dealt with individual poets—Yeats, Robert Lowell, and Frank O’Hara; she then published The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (1981), a book that has gone through a number of editions, and led to her extensive exploration of avant-garde art movements in The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (1986, new edition, 1994), and subsequent books (13 in all), the most recent of which is Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy (2005). Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media (1992) has been used in classrooms studying the “new” digital poetics, and 21st Century Modernism (Blackwell 2002) is a manifesto of Modernist Survival. Wittgenstein’s Ladder brought philosophy into the mix; it has recently been translated into Portuguese (Sao Paulo), Spanish (Mexico), and Slovenian and will be translated in France for 2010 publication. Perloff has recently published her cultural memoir The Vienna Paradox (2004), which has been widely discussed. The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound, coedited with Craig Dworkin has just been published by Chicago (2009), and UNORIGINAL GENIUS: Poetry by Other Means in the Twenty-First Century, is due out from U of Chicago Press, 2010. She has been a frequent reviewer for periodicals from TLS and The Washington Post to all the major scholarly journals, and she has lectured at most major universities in the U.S. and at European, Asian, and Latin American universities and festivals. She was recently the Weidenfeld Professor of European Literature at Oxford University. Perloff has held Guggenheim, NEH, and Huntington fellowships, served on the Advisory Board of the Stanford Humanities Center, and has recently completed her year as President of the Modern Language Association. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and recently was named Honorary Foreign Professor at the Beijing Modern Languages University. She received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, from Bard College in May 2008.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 06:23:00 AM
.

in the garden steel ears for dreams come whistling

Darrell Lindsay


between seasons
only
reality shows


Peter Yovu


I read through all the poems several times, seeing what stuck, what caught my attention, what stayed fresh to interest. As there are really no rules in poetry—despite the occasional chosen mechanical ones of a rigid form and the surface cleverness that supports—my take is purely subjective and does not represent that of Fox News. “canyon / replies from the / afterlife” had the necessary frisson; as did “a delay in large leaves”. “planning his escape / through the I / in the sentence” attracted me, and if the last word had been “sentience” I would have stopped there.

Finally I wavered between “in the garden steel ears for dreams come whistling” and “between seasons / only / reality shows”. The latter had the twists of ambiguity that appeal to me, the natural and the electronic, the pivot of “only” and the flickering substantive/verb of “shows”: but the former still stands my test of not being quite here and thus testing me that I am.

Tom Raworth
Commentary for Scorpion Prize #21


Tom Raworth
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/tom-raworth
http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=43
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/mar/22/featuresreviews.guardianreview13
http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1252946.ece
http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Raworth.html

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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 07:31:34 AM

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Modern Haiku
Volume 40.1
Winter 2009

www.modernhaiku.org/bookreviews/Gilbert2009.html

Poems of Consciousness: Contemporary Japanese
& English-Language Haiku in Cross-Cultural Perspective
by Richard Gilbert


Reviewed by Randy M. Brooks

Extracts:


Gilbert’s focus on consciousness provides an interesting perspective for looking at haiku — a perspective that leads to his list of types of disjunction that includes: (12) misplaced anthropomorphism


Reading a haiku supposes an implicit contract between the writer and reader to collaborate on seeking or creating aesthetic significance. The haiku writer won’t give the reader everything, nor tell the reader what to think nor how to feel about the images or language in the haiku. The poet invites the reader into the space of the haiku — the fragments, the language, the silences, the disjunctions, the consciousness — and expects him or her to collaborate in the process of shaping meaning or perceiving feeling from these pieces. The significance (insight, feeling, realization, understanding) is discovered and created by both writer and reader in this shared act of consciousness stimulated by the pieces of the haiku. It is this sharing of unfinished, incomplete consciousness that is the most characteristic of the art of haiku. Gilbert does an excellent job pointing out the importance of kire, the break or pause in a haiku, as the space that invites writer and reader into a shared collaborative consciousness.

If the motives of the writer or the reader are not trusted, this same space becomes an invitation for ridicule and misreading for the sake of denigration, dismissal, or petty personal attacks. This is true for individual writers as well as entire groups that may be dismissed as being too metaphorical or too realistic or too anthropomorphic. It has always been my contention that the haiku community needs to get past the beginner’s mind of definitions and rules and get on with the celebration of the diversity of the genre that is rich and strong only to the extent that there is a wide range of practice, a surprising freshness of voices and perspectives. We need to embrace and celebrate haiku writers who relish dense language and the naming function of words, haiku writers who live in the woods and tap into the biodiversity of ecosystems there, haiku writers who protest injustice and go to jail, haiku writers who resist the male ego dominance of English, haiku writers who meditate and seek the quiet voice within, haiku writers who celebrate being social and the significance of being in community, haiku writers who are religious within a variety of spiritual traditions, haiku writers who are all about people, haiku writers who write senryu and don’t care about the distinction, haiku writers who are international citizens of the world using haiku to bridge cultures, haiku writers who are so local nobody but friends at the local pub understand them. This diversity of writers and approaches to haiku is the strength and rich surprise of elasticity found in this literary genre. This is why I love the interviews in Gilbert’s book and DVD.

Note from Alan: many of these interviews on the DVD are available on the internet.

Meet Yagi Mikajo, who earned an M.D. degree from Osaka Medical College and became the first female ophthalmologist in Japan. She writes zen-ei (“avant-garde”) haiku and became the leader of a haiku group and journal, Hana (“Flower”), in 1964. Owing to Ônishi’s age and health, Gilbert’s interview is brief, but he includes commentary from Kaneko Tôta and other haiku poets. Tôta writes, “Bold, adventurous, sexual, experimental. These are some of the qualities of Mikajo’s work. Without concern for consequences, following her passion, creating haiku of the human, Mikajo is a haiku poet born in the vortex of the postwar haiku movement” (256).

    mankai no mori no inbu no era kokyû

    full bloom
    in the forest’s genitals
    respiration of gills

    Yagi Mikajo (255)

Richard Gilbert’s Poems of Consciousness does not finish academic arguments, but it is a wonderful exploration of the variety of contemporary Japanese haiku poets, especially the variety of types of consciousness that become the basis of their literary creations. It is the questions this book raises that are so valuable, and the continued exploration and introduction of contemporary Japanese haiku authors that makes this book an essential addition to libraries — personal and public. Buy it for your personal library and ask your local library to purchase a copy as well.


Yagi Mikajo-sensei is a legend. Not only is she one of the last living students who has studied directly under the New Rising Haiku poets Saitô Sanki and and Hirahata Seitô, she is also a cultural treasure. Her brilliance as a poet of gendai haiku is without equal — her radical voice, daring and cutting humor, and unpretentious poetic stance are fearless. Through more than five decades she has been not only a leader, but has served also as a guide to a new poetics. Mikajo is one of a handful of pioneering women of the postwar zen'ei avant-garde gendai movement who not only championed women's issues (in what had been something of a cultural vacuum), but also pioneered gendai haiku itself. Drawing on her experiences as a woman, she presented new dimensions of contemporary haiku.

weblinks:
http://www.gendaihaiku.com/mikajo/index.html
http://www.gendaihaiku.com/mikajo/commentaries.html


Dr. Randy M. Brooks, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Professor of English at Millikin University: http://www.thehaikufoundation.org/poet-details/?IDclient=96

Awards and Other Honors: Most Valuable Program (Runner Up) from VOYA, (Voice of Youth Advocates) magazine for haiku workshops at Centennial High School (Champaign, Illinois, 2008); Merit Award, 15th Ito En “Oh-I, Ocha” New Haiku Contest (2004); Special Mention Award, Valentine Haiku Awards, The Heron’s Nest: A Haikai Journal (2004); Editors’ Choice, Heron’s Nest Award, The Heron’s Nest: A Haikai Journal V:1 (2003); Third Place, the Haiku Society of America's Merit Book Awards for the Best Haiku Books published in 1999 [for School’s Out: Selected Haiku of Randy Brooks (1999)]; Third Place, Penumbra Poetry & Haiku Competition (Tallahassee Writer’s Association, 1999); First Place, The Virgil Hutton Haiku Memorial Chapbook Competition (1999); Runner-up, Snapshots Haiku Collection Competition (Snapshots Haiku Magazine, 1998); First Place, Harold G. Henderson Award (The Haiku Society of America, 1998); Best of Issue Award, Modern Haiku 29:2 (1998); Matsuyama Tourism Haiku Award (sponsored by the Shiki Haiku Museum and the city of Matsuyama, 1997); Second Place, The Haiku Society of America's Merit Book Awards for the Best Haiku Books published in 1992 [for the Midwest Haiku Anthology]; Mainichi Haiku Competition Award, Mainichi Daily News (Tokyo, 1997); Honorable Mention, Japan Airlines Haiku Competition (January 1988); Bonsai Quarterly Award, Bonsai Quarterly (January 1977); Editor’s Personal Favorite Award, Modern Haiku (February 1977).

Professor Richard Gilbert, Associate Professor, Department of British and American Language and Literature, at Kumamoto University:

http://www.thehaikufoundation.org/poet-details/?IDclient=159
http://www.haikunorthamerica.com/2/post/2011/07/richard-gilbert-to-speak-at-hna.html

Awards and Other Honors: (Haiku-related): Grants: Research grants awarded by the Japan Ministry of Education (MEXT): 1) Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, MEXT Kakenhi 18520439 (2006-08), supported the creation of research materials found at the Gendai Haiku Website (‘gendaihaiku.com’); 2) Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Kakenhi 21520579 (2009-12) supported documentary filming and book publication of the works and life of Kaneko Tohta (see “Books,” below); 3) MEXT Kakenhi 24520628 (2012-15) supports current research, including the translation of new scholarship related to Basho, additional poet interviews, and the publication of a bilingual textbook presenting topics in Japanese and English-language haiku for Japanese EFL university students.

Professional Activities: Co-judge of the Kusamakura International Haiku Competition, Kumamoto, Japan (2003-present). Founder and Director of the Kon Nichi Haiku Translation Group, Kumamoto University (2002-present). Founding Associate Member of The Haiku Foundation.


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 08:57:25 AM
THE SPIRIT OF VENTUROUS EXPERIMENT
by Kaneko Tohta


I recall that my first encounter with Yagi Mikajo was sometime in 1956, during the time of the publication of her first book, Benitake [Scarlet Mushroom]. The publication celebration party was held in Osaka, and I attended the party, as I lived in Kobe at the time. My impression of Yagi Mikajo was very strong, and I recall the event quite clearly in memory. At the time, the topic of conversation was focused on [two] haiku containing the title of her book:

 

紅き茸礼賛しては蹴る女

akaki take raisan shite wa keru onna

worshipping it, the scarlet mushroom
kicks it, a woman


 

紅茸の前にわが櫛すべり落つ

benitake no mae ni waga kushi suberi otsu

in front of the scarlet mushroom
my comb slips off


 

The subtle wording, especially, in the first example, the use of akaki take [for scarlet mushroom], rather than benitake [indicating language nuance], suggests the presence of a partner to a man [a woman]; in our discussion of this expression, someone mentioned: “this wording is cleverly insidious.” [Implying also “foxy” in all senses. Dokubenitake, another scarlet mushroom of Japan (Russula emetica), has a feminine form.] The discussion ended I recall with someone saying something like, “this haiku is about jealousy.” In any case, the sort of woman who slips off a comb in front of a man, presents a considerable “challenge” to her partner. [The expression “my comb slips off” implies assertive sexuality. In Japanese culture at the time, a “decent” woman was expected to be passive.] We all laughed in admiration. Our group was a band of haiku poets filled with an energy to write “haiku of “the human,” not kachôfûei. [Traditional composition based upon “official” kigo, etc.]

So, the publication of the haiku book Benitake was warmly welcomed with real excitement and a sense of freshness. Mikajo had responded to the aims of our group through her body. Smiling, yet in a definitive manner she greeted us.


Strongly passionate—with piercing sharpness—she revealed a sensibility which encompassed the profound depths of human being. I realized that I was witnessing the emergence of a singular woman haiku poet who had the power to become a leader of the postwar haiku movement. Her second book of haiku, Akai chizu [The Red Map] includes her haiku on Nagasaki. I lived there for a time, due to my business, so I had the chance to meet and talk with her, and realized my expectations were becoming confirmed. In fact, the book contains several of her haiku masterpieces, which caused some later controversy:

 

満開の森の陰部の鰓呼吸

mankai no mori no inbu no era kokyû


full bloom
in the forest’s genitals
respiration of gills


 

マラソンの足扇形に滝の使徒か

marason no ashi senkei ni taki no shito ka


a marathon runner’s legs
fanning to and fro
apostles of a — waterfall


 

黄蝶ノ黄危機ノキ・ダム創ル鉄帽の黄

kichô no kiki no ki • damu tsukuru tetsu bô no ki


yellow-butterfly’s-danger’s-yellow-danger :
                                    dam-constructing-iron-helmet's-yellow


And the same experimental sense is also found in her later work,


百足百匹洗骨の儀はすみしかな

mukade hyappiki senkotsu no gi wa sumishi kana


a hundred black centipedes —
the ritual of washing bones
accomplished . . .


Bold, adventurous, sexual, experimental. These are some of the qualities of Mikajo’s work. Without concern for consequences, following her passion, creating haiku of the human, Mikajo is a haiku poet born in the vortex of the postwar haiku movement, and assuredly remains today a powerfully influential creator.

Excerpted comment by Kaneko Tohta (1919—). Included within the pamphlet insert, in Yagi Mikajo zen kushû ([Collected Haiku of Yagi Mikajo], Tokyo, Shûsekisha, 2006, pp. 1-2)
 
Extract from Benitake
Excerpt from the “Afterword” to Benitake [The Scarlet Mushroom] (1956; reprinted in Yagi Mikajo zen kushû [Collected Haiku of Yagi Mikajo] Tokyo: Shûsekisha, 2006, p. 43):

This book of poetry includes my haiku works from 1945 to 1955, the period which represents the era of my adolescence. Although my adolescence was distorted by World War II and the turbulence following its aftermath, somehow or other, in everyday life, the path I followed was ostensibly that of a typical woman, ostensibly a typical life. Having managed thus far, I have compiled the haiku of that period within this present volume. Pondering the fact that I have continued to breathe, even though poor in health, I cannot but offer my gratitude, and acknowledge my great obligation to my teachers, senior comrades, friends, family, and others. In outward appearance, the scarlet mushroom [amanita muscaria] is alluring, yet it exhibits a toxic quality with regard to humankind and other creatures—I have found this intriguing, and for this reason have taken this image symbolically, in titling this volume, while adding a touch of color. This reflects my style of conscious resistance.

January 1956
Yagi Mikajo


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 08:59:50 AM
Excerpted comment by Uda Kiyoko (1935—). Included within the pamphlet insert, in Yagi Mikajo zen kushû ([Collected haiku of Yagi Mikajo], Tokyo, Shûsekisha, 2006, pp. 3-4):

YAGI MIKAJO AND THE TRACE OF TIME
by Uda Kiyoko



In the late 50’s and early 60’s, I learned of and first laid eyes on haiku works possessing tremendous impact, such as those by Kaneko Tohta, Hori Ashio (1916-1993), Hayashida Kineo (1925-1998), Shimazu Akira (1918-2000) and so on. Among them was Yagi Mikajo [Uda quotes the two haiku just above, and adds]:

 

産卵の亀の涙が溶けた朝

sanran no kame no namida ga toketa asa

 
laying eggs
a sea turtle’s tears melt
a morning



. . . From that time, almost a half century has passed, and the situation of the haiku world has changed. Nowadays, without any especially deep consideration, some reviewers and commentators from younger generations will comment, “avant-garde haiku was a failure.”

However, I do not know of any other period than that of the postwar era when haiku poets wrote with such a strong consciousness in clarifying and discussing their own aims, directly addressing issues of self and society with an acute awareness—this was the so-called “avant-garde haiku” movement. Even in my eyes, a mere spectator’s immature eyes, the senior haiku poets’ outbursts of their passion toward haiku expression was intensely sharp and powerful. Even now, that time remains burned in my memory. It is absolutely unforgettable.

 
I have some copies of the haiku journals which Yagi Mikajo founded: Fukurô [Owl], Yatôha [Night Thieves’ School], Nawa [Rope], and so on. These were all printed on old mimeograph machines, and the paper quality was poor as well. Nevertheless, every page of these journals is filled with the substantial power and passion of the young haiku poets of that era, who today have become foundational in haiku history. Yagi Mikajo’s haiku works represent the traces of a woman who became a pivotal innovator in this era of haiku history.


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 09:04:16 AM
Excerpt from, “A Commentary on Yagi Mikajo zen kushû” ([Collected Haiku of Yagi Mikajo], Tokyo, Chûsekisha, 2006): “Yagi Mikajo as female “avant-garde” haiku poet” [Joryû “zen’ei” haijin to shite no Yagi Mikajo] by Shiwa Kyôtarô (1954—), a.k.a. Professor Shimoyama Akira, Ph.D., Osaka University of Commerce].


YAGI MIKAJO AS A FEMALE “AVANT-GARDE” HAIKU POET
by Shiwa Kyôtarô




. . . Indeed, the generation of Yagi Mikajo was born in the Taishô era (1912-1926); this is the generation which experienced three main historical periods: Taishô, Shôwa (1926-1989), and Heisei (1989 -). Many people consider the greatest turning point of this generation to be “the gap between the pre-war and postwar eras.” However, if instead one considers modern history from the viewpoint of a change in social perception of events and a social shift in values, then the promotion of the advancement of women, in an actual sense, may be definitive. In this regard, when looking at the pre- versus post-1960’s era, a complete break or shift occurred in society—a point of paradigmatic change. . . .

 

股の間の産声芽木の闇へ伸び

mata no ma no ubugoe megi no yami e nobi

 

between thighs
the birth cry stretches into
budding tree darkness

 

Yagi Mikajo had a baby just like this. In 1954, when this event occurred, it was an era when many ponds, lakes, and rice fields still remained scattered throughout Sakai city; a time when many street stalls set up in front of our neighborhood houses during festival days. Within such a scene, Yagi Mikajo seemed to feel “darkness.” It was the “darkness” that was expressed in the novel Kappa [a water sprite, in Japanese folklore], written by Akutagawa Ryûnosuke (1892-1927), and similar to the “darkness” that Shakespeare addressed in Macbeth.

When I was a child, fishermen would come to our house from Sakai harbor, as they wandered through the streets selling sardines, chanting, “Wouldn’t you like to try tete kamu iwashi [sardines so fresh they’ll bite your fingers]?”

In this way, Yagi Mikajo recalls the past—. That fishermen’s sea has disappeared. Today, such a sea does not exist in Sakai city. Although the mythical and elegant place name [for Sakai city], “Hagoromo” [from the Noh plays of Zeami: “heavenly feathered dress”] remains, and people once boasted of “the absolutely whitest seashore in the East,” the coastline of Sakai city is now decorated by polluted sediment and foul breezes. The sea, which nature had purified through hundreds of millions, billions of years. The sea, from which our ancestors had fished “tete kamu iwashi” through hundreds, thousands of years. The sea was “cut” between Yagi Mikajo’s and my own generation— this is the gendai [contemporary] situation. The actualities of the era cannot help but include darkness.

Through the baptism of the New Rising Haiku, Yagi Mikajo managed to express the “gendai” era in her haiku works, within the current of our contemporary time—in which everything was “cut” apart. In 1957, she published her book of haiku, Benitake. At that time, in the early 1960’s, her title of, “The Flag-bearer of Women’s Avant-garde Haiku,” appeared in many haiku magazines. When we read her writings of that period, it is possible to clearly discern her inclination toward the philosophies of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. As a result, her various writings were attempts to express “existence [Existenz]“ in “extreme/boundary conditions [Grenzsituation],” inclusive of her haiku works. She also wrote numerous challenging essays, in a sense aiming for conceptions possibly beyond her ability to articulate [in prose]; it could be said that her essential character was not that of a philosophical thinker. On the contrary, her definition of “avant-garde” was essentially ambiguous.

Within the darkness: there is no “here”; the real aim of Yagi Mikajo has been to find those vectors or dimensions of existence which touch upon this theme.

In any case, after the publication of Benitake, she began writing essays and criticism for the major haiku magazines, such as Haiku, Haiku Kenkyû [Haiku Study], Haiku to Essay [Haiku and Essays], and many haiku group-journals blossomed out of Kaitei [Ocean Distance; led by Kaneko Tohta], her own journal-group, Hana [Flower], and so on.

 
BIOGRAPHY

Yagi Mikajo (1924-, born as Yagi Michiko, Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture), graduated from Sakai Women's High School (the same institution from which tanka poet Yosano Akiko, 1878-1942, also graduated), and entered Osaka Women's Medical College (now Kansai Medical University). She received her MD Degree from Osaka City University, becoming the first female ophthalmologist in the history of Japan. Following the war, she was first taught haiku in the shasei style by Suzuka Noburo (1887-1971), then by the previously arrested New Rising Haiku poets, Hirahata Seitô and Saitô Sanki, as well as others. She was given the haigô (haiku pen-name) “Mikajo” in emulation of the kanji found in “Yosano Akiko,” by Seitô and Sanki. Her haiku style is known as zen'ei (avant-garde) haiku. She engaged in haiku activities not only with the senior poets of the New Rising Haiku movement, but also with the younger postwar haiku poets, such as Kaneko Tohta (1919 -), Suzuki Murio (1919-2004), Akao Tôshi (1925-1981), and others. In 1964, she became the leader of her own journal-group Hana [flower].

As well as a leading postwar haiku poet, she was active as a feminist, and as a commemorator of Yosano Akiko, who had also lived in Sakai City. In 1982, she founded, “The Choral Group Association of Yosano Akiko” [Yosano Akiko o utau kai], becoming the group's director. From the following year, the “Akiko Recital” became an important annual event. In 1986, the first female prime minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland (1939 -), became interested in Yosano Akiko, as the Japanese representative had previously quoted from her poetry at the UN Conference on Women, 1985. Mikajo, in an international spirit of friendship, became a founding patron of the “Yosano Akiko Bilingual (Japanese/Norwegian) Poetry Monument-stone,” placed at Sakai Women's Junior College, and later traveled to Norway to present an official photograph of the monument to the Cabinet. She also presented her own haiku tanzaku (a formal presentation and mounting of haiku poems in calligraphic hand) to the Minister of Education, and Prince and Princess of Norway. In 1992, Mikajo founded the “Yosano Akiko Bilingual Poetry Monument-stone” at the Council of Gender Equality, in Oslo, Norway. In the same year, she became a founding patron of the Yosano Akiko Museum, which opened in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, in the year 2000.

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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 09:30:26 AM

Haiku, Personification, Zen, Translation, Now and Zen
Art Durkee (2008)

 
EXTRACTS

More than one English-language haijin (someone who makes haiku) has felt themselves up against the wall. The wall is the Western belief that anthropomorphism and personification are fallacies, are fiction, are no-nos in poetry. They use Western literary-critical terms like pathetic fallacy (now there's a term designed to be a negative from the get-go) or Eliot's objective correlative. They talk about subject-object relations, which is a Western bias built on millennia of assumptions about the nature of reality: that the "I" of the ego is separate from the "thou" of the world, that we are separate from nature, that we are in fact as Descartes claimed, ghosts in the shell.

But the best haiku are not snapshots, not metaphors, not bridges between the disembodied mind of the poet's language and the untouchable putridness of the natural world—the best haiku are deeply embedded participations. They are unifications, not bridges; participations, not observations; whole embodied experiences, not words about disembodied theoretical experiences. If you don't fall into the poem, into the world of the poem, if you don't feel it in your own body, the poem is not finished. Some would still call that sort of embodiment a personification or pathetic fallacy, of course: how we love to cling to our postural habits and defenses.

Rather than personification, I would say identification-with: the idea of becoming-one-with. I think we get closest to this when we talk about participation. Not subject/object relation, but as Harry Hay put it, subject-subject consciousness. No separation: not-other. Nothing, no-thing.

The point of identification, obviously, is for the reader to complete the haiku experience by embodying it, by being the cricket or apple blossom, rather than just reading about it and keeping that mental (illusory) separation. No separation between "subject" and "object" is what Harry Hay means by subject-subject consciousness, in part. Again, this has deep parallels in the Western mystical tradition, too.


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on July 09, 2013, 09:43:14 AM
Nobuyuki Kobayashi — ISSA
1763 — 1827
by Janice M Bostok


The spring moon
Shines Godlike
Upon a flower thief
At work on a hill.         1

Issa was born in Kashiwabara village, Japan, the first son of a farmer. His childhood name was Yatarô but he was registered with Nobuyuki as his first name and Kobayashi as his surname. Issa did not have a happy or fortuitous life. While he was still young (at the age of about three) his mother died. His grandmother took over raising him. Later she also died and his father remarried. His stepmother eventually forced Issa to leave home at the age of thirteen.

He traveled to Edo, which is now the capital, Tokyo. City people scorned country folk and called the peasants 'grey starlings'. Issa wrote over five thousand haiku during his lifetime, many of them about starlings and sparrows and other animals and insects.

joining the starlings
a night of winter
rain

dejected —
even among sparrows
a stepchild


Issa remained in Tokyo for twenty years, living in poverty. He became seriously interested in writing haiku at the age of twenty five. When his teacher died he succeeded him as leader of the group. However, this position didn't sit comfortably with him and he chose to wander through the southwest of Japan until 1801, when his father died and he returned to the village where he was born.

As pine trees grow all over Japan Issa wrote many poems about them. They became a symbol for shelter for the homeless.

in pine-tree shade
eating, sleeping
60 provinces!


Even though he inherited his father's property, his stepmother and stepbrother managed to keep him from moving into the dwelling that was rightfully his and he lived in a rented hut at the edge of the village.

sparrows at the gate —
the brothers' first
fight

well here it is
my final home?
five feet of snow


my dear old village
every memory of home
pierces like a thorn


In 1815 Issa married a young woman of twenty eight years of age. He was fifty two. His wife produced four children all of whom died in infancy. His wife also died in the final childbirth.

evening falls —
a stepchild sparrow
cries in the pine


It appears he really did live in the shadow beneath the pines even in the village of his birth where he should have been settled at home.

Issa married a second time and seemed happy at last. By this time he had moved into his rightful home, although he enjoyed a casual lifestyle. Because of his own treatment by society and closer to home, by his step-family, Issa felt compassion and tolerance for all life, even the fleas and flies.

don't chase, don't chase
children!
that flea has kids

don't swat the fly!
wringing hands
wringing feet


Issa's second wife produced a girl heir for him. Unfortunately the baby was actually born after his death and he never saw her. He was sixty five years of age when he died.

Issa (Cup-of-tea) will be remembered for his masterpiece 'Ora ga haru': The Year Of My Life, 1819. (A Haibun) It should be noted that the particular sect of Buddhism to which he belonged (Shinshû) was a lot more liberal than what Bashô believed in. His wanderings are somewhat more social.
Not consciously developing a style as Bashô may seem to have done, nor writing as formally as Buson, Issa had a personality all his own. He used the local dialects and the language of daily conversation. For us, today, his work appears to manifest the true philosophy of the Buddhist intent without the obvious religious rhetoric which many writers get caught up in. We love him for his simple warmth of humanity and his compassion for all living things.

There is a story, whether it is true or not, that the daimyo Maeda, the great Lord Kaga sent for Issa to come and speak about haiku. Issa refused, because although still a peasant, he would not be 'ordered' to appear before nobility. It may be a true story because Issa also shows some of this 'nerve' in his poems.

losing the contest
surprise, surprise
the lord's mum won.        2


Rather than the ancient anecdotes, I prefer the present-day novel titled Haiku Guy by David G. Lanoue, published by Red Moon Press, in the USA. It's a hilarious, loosely termed historical novel based on Issa — or Cup-of-tea. It is said he was called Cup-of-one-tea because he only stopped to have one cup of tea and then continued on his travels.

It is now thought that many of Issa's childhood poems were written from memory when he was older and more mature. Considering he only began writing haiku seriously at the age of 25, this is probably the case. But it is known that his father wrote reasonably accomplished haiku, and Issa attended the home of an educated man in the village, to learn to read and write. This educated man wrote haiku. So it is possible that he knew quite a bit about writing haiku before he left the village.

It also seems that many agree his poems about animals, bird, and insects are actually about his own lifetime circumstances. He was the orphaned sparrow in his mountain village; he was the peasant starling in the city; and he was the homeless cat and dog looking for shelter and love after returning to his home village — where his house burnt down.

Since haiku has become known in the west we have been told not to use simile, metaphor, or personification. Issa certainly used all of these devices in his poems. If we carefully study many of the Japanese master's works we can find a similar usage in their poems, but perhaps not as exaggerated as in Issa's case.

For example Bashõ wrote about 'should I hold it in my hand, it would melt from my tears, the mountain snow'. He was really talking about his dead mother's lock of hair! Now translators are saying 'his dead mother's lock of hair'. Japanese haiku is full of simile, metaphor and personification.

Many non-haiku poems can be interpreted in this manner. The layers of meaning are what makes a poem great. However, because of Issa's compassion we sometimes get caught up in his style of writing and want to share our own understanding and enjoyment of our own environment. But we must remember poetry is language on the cutting edge, as we say. We would no longer think of a fly wringing its hands in begging mode, unless it was a giant cyber space monster perhaps!

In our cynical/belief/non-belief confusion we are more likely to say 'don't swat that fly, it may be your reincarnated grandmother'!

What we should remember is that poems of any form should read naturally, make sense and be mature in tone and capable of triggering the reader's response. What we know is that Issa was a priest-like gentle, homeless person who wandered around for most of his life searching for that zen-like acceptance and peace. Hopefully, each of us will find it in our own way and express it in our own language of today's lifestyle. And, perhaps we should also remember what Bashô said: …'if one is to write good haikai, one must interpret and describe the lowly and the commonplace with high serious intent' 3


1 The Year Of My Life, translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles. USA. 1972. P.40
2 chrysanthemum
3 The Year Of My Life, translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles. USA. 1972. P. 17

All poems quoted (unless otherwise stated) are translated by David G. Lanoue.
© 2004 Janice M Bostok

This article is one of a series of four and was first published in Yellow Moon 16 2004 pp. 33-34


Enjoy some of Janice's work here:
http://simplyhaiku.com/SHv3n1/haiga_Modern/Jan_Bostok/index.html


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on August 11, 2013, 11:44:13 AM
ha wa ha wa mo/fuyu no kozue wo/naku karasu

"leaves, leaves"
cry out the crows
from winter treetops


Yokoi Yayu - 1702-1783

English version: The Art of Haiku: Its History Through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters,  Stephen Addiss (Author)

Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc (2012)
ISBN-10: 1590308867
ISBN-13: 978-1590308868


A Hokku and Haiga Master
His grandfather was a student of the Teimon school of hokku.

The poet his grandfather studied under was Kitamura Kigin (1624-1705). Kigin being the hokku master of Basho.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yokoi_Yay%C5%AB
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on February 22, 2018, 11:44:45 AM
.

Glad to see this site is still up.
Part 7 - The Nature of English Haiku
Appropriateness of Subject Matter:
http://www.haiku.org.uk/english.htm

Following on, the topic, and others, are picked up, with a list...

Literary Kicks
Opinion: Essential Elements of Haiku
pottygok • August 13th, 2003
Re:
"Every successful haiku poet keeps a mental list of things that should not be part of a haiku. This is my list of things to avoid..."

I think pottygok aka Joshua Gage manages to successfully incorporate some of the don'ts as well as do's:
http://www.litkicks.com/EssentialElementsofHaiku

See how Joshua Gage skilfully navigates the issue back in his 2008 collection:

Joshua Gage
breaths
vanZeno Press
Professional Reading Series (2008)

http://www.thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/files/original/c8503a2886310048681796928f6bd75d.pdf



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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: flowerfox on February 22, 2018, 12:23:01 PM
Thanks, Alan. This is a useful item to pin to the memo board.
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 27, 2018, 08:02:58 AM
Third Prize

a small lonely snail
is glad and crying for rain
on a hydrangea


小さく孤独なかたつむり
うれしそうに紫陽花の上で
雨を求めて叫んでいる

Yusuke Fujikawa
15th International "Kusamakura" haiku competition 2010
http://kusamakura-haiku.jp/backnumber/2010/english_e.html


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Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on April 27, 2018, 03:47:29 PM
Its honor blown away
an orchid
is laughing

Ban'ya Natsuishi (Ginyu, No 69, 2016)
Title: Re: Personification and anthropomorphism in haiku
Post by: AlanSummers on August 08, 2020, 03:17:29 AM


Anthropormophism - Some Thoughts by Jane Reichhold
http://www.sumauma.net/haicai/haiku-anthro.html?fbclid=IwAR3m6qG-HyvEV0jh9baRiPGNxmZ4TmoqTN2UDpX8kfhcC4Lys6nFPmYK2Gg


It is always great to return to Jane Reichhold. And always remember Jane’s name has 2xh! Reichhold!

purple loosestrife
the drift of candle wax
on a breeze

Alan Summers

i.m. Jane Reichhold 1937-2016
cattails September 2016 Edition
Jane Reichhold Tribute Page 177
http://cattailsjournal.com/backissues/cattails163A.pdf

That isn’t quite personification but I imagine Jane as a drift of candle wax creating both art and poetry burning the midnight oil, or rather candles.


I guess haiku should embrace as many or at least almost as many poetic techniques as other forms of poetry. Why?

As someone who has led two senku (1000 verse renku) I’ve discovered that when people totally relax their way of talking enters the rhythm of poetry, and when we do that, anything and everything can happen!

Recently I’ve found myself reaching out to symbolism, personification and various lyrical aspects for my single line and three line haiku.


a click and clank the kitchen awake and demanding

Alan Summers
Collection: Forbidden Syllables (Bones Library May 2020)
https://bonesjournal.com/books/Alan_Summers-Forbidden-Syllables-bones-ed.pdf

Perhaps it’s my imagination! :-) But also, alongside a feeling of personification, if someone, whether home, relatives, or a b&b is invisibly getting breakfast, dinner, supper even ready, it’s as if it’s the kitchen itself, demanding my presence!



late night television spills its whisky tumbler

Alan Summers
Collection: Forbidden Syllables (Bones Library May 2020)
https://bonesjournal.com/books/Alan_Summers-Forbidden-Syllables-bones-ed.pdf


On rare occasions I’ll have a late night watching streaming video, or back to back documentaries of classic albums or about Kate Bush, David Bowie, Elton John etc… I imagine nights without  me when the television either misses my presence and sipping malt whisky or a Scotch, and gets tipsy in my honor. Yes, pure personification, but is it the author, or the television personifying?




lemon-scented hospital beds how they hold our hands as blackbirds

Alan Summers
Publication credit: Weird Laburnum (July 1st 2020)
three haikai verses
https://weirdlaburnum.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/three-haikai-verses/

This verse came about through combining multiple prompts as well as getting into my writer’s fugue: https://haikucommentary.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/interview-with-alan-summers/

I love the symbolism and personification, and it’s a nod and bow to the great care during the ongoing covid-19 crisis by the staff who are the National Health Service of the U.K.


thrift shop dolls pose as passing trade

Glint ebook collection by Alan Summers
Proletaria   politics philosophy phenomena  (February 2020)
https://proletaria730964817.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/glint.pdf

Is it the poet using personification or the shop, or are the life-scale dolls taking control?


alchemy:
I turn wood to iron
into an eagle

Alan Summers
Grit, Grace, and Gold–Haiku Celebrating the Sports of Summer by Kit Pancoast Nagamura
Kodansha (April 2020)

Of course the names ‘wood’; ‘iron’ and ‘eagle’ are golfing terms, but isn’t there alchemy in so many things, including personification?


meandering river
both barrels of sunlight
head a goose home

Alan Summers
Half A Rainbow
Haiku Nook: An Anthology ed. Jacob Salzer & The Nook Editorial Staff (2020)
Dedicated to Rachel Sutcliffe (1977-2019) & Haiku Nook G+
https://jsalzer.wixsite.com/halfarainbowhaiku

We have often personified nature from ancient times that still lingers with us. Nature is a force, and it’s only natural that we will bring personification into our poems from time to time. Here it’s as if the sun bears two shotgun barrels (in a peaceful manner) to help a single goose home. Is the goose a bird, or is it me?




a dreaming forest busy as Hitchcock

Alan Summers
The Comfort of Crows
Hifsa Ashraf and Alan Summers
(Velvet Dusk Publishing, December 2019)

One of the oldest personifications is that of our once giant country-covering forests! Here I have combined the famous films of Alfred Hitchcock (and Alma Reville) such as Pyscho and The Birds etc… But of course it’s also not personification at the same time! We often romanticise nature, but it’s a hive of altercation and hunting and killing, whether plant, insect, or animal!



in jars our tongues instruct us as rain and birds

Alan Summers
Publication credit: Sonic Boom Issue Eighteen (1st August 2020)
https://89b51d07-bdbc-4f8c-8b62-740f86360cd5.filesusr.com/ugd/61020d_9438d0a182954bc183dd265e6c878cfb.pdf
https://shoutout.wix.com/so/f5NEf0TBs#/main

This has nothing to do with the unexpected discovery of a certain jar! I just liked the idea of jars where our tongues help us become like the rain and the birds.



twilight thickens
into the cry of a baby
shooting stars

i.m. Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong

Alan Summers
Anthology credit: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020 “Year of the Nurse”

This is an incredibly sad story of an NHS nurse who died from covid-19. She was the first of many heroines and heros who did not deserve to die alongside her baby. Here I both personify twilight as the cry of a baby who is ‘shooting’ stars, but also in memory of the nurse’s baby who will be forever creating shooting stars.

What’s your personification, your guilty secret or pleasure?


Alan Summers
co-founder, Call of the Page