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New to Haiku => New to Haiku: Free Discussion Area => Topic started by: Laura Sherman on December 02, 2010, 11:21:19 AM

Title: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Laura Sherman on December 02, 2010, 11:21:19 AM
I sometimes run into people who are convinced that haiku must follow the 575 pattern.  They can be quite certain about this and feel all other haiku forms are "wrong."  I know that most Japanese haiku have this format, but that when translated, it doesn't hold.  I'm just curious why there is so much passion about this subject.
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Don Baird on December 07, 2010, 09:23:48 PM
Hi Laura,

I'm thinking it comes from such things as junior high, high school and college.  If I'm not mistaking, when I was a kid, 5/7/5 was the only thing being taught (I'm 63 now!).  I think it's a tiny bit earth shattering to some when they find out that there is a different take on it.  Folks like to stand up for what they've been taught and believe.  It's only natural.  That's probably where the passion comes from.

For me, I never really cared.  Once I got up to speed that there "is a new count in town", I just said, "whatever" and went with it.  LOL

It's going to take more time and work to get the educational system involved enough to learn and accept newer information regarding the differing aspects of the Japanese and English languages, comparatively

Just a tip of the iceberg two cents worth of mine.   :)

all the best,

Don

ps... of course, they may be very experienced and just write it that way because they want to... it's all good!
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: cat on December 07, 2010, 09:52:29 PM
Hello, Laura,

I can think of a couple of poets who are quite passionate about 5/7/5, but I've never heard either of them say that other ways of writing haiku are "wrong".  And I think that's a big distinction, whether poets espouse 5/7/5 only for themselves or think it should apply to everyone.

It's hard to second-guess why this is such a strongly-held idea.  Maybe they like structure in their lives, maybe they like the challenge of writing in a set form, maybe they feel it's more authentic?  Maybe someone who chooses to write exclusively in 5/7/5 will drop by and enlighten us.

For myself, if something I write comes out to be 4/7/5 or 5/6/5 or another count close to 5/7/5, I'll tweak it a bit to make it fit.  But I don't set out to write to that pattern.

And I have read some very effective haiku that were written in 5/7/5.

cat
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: colin stewart jones on December 08, 2010, 12:58:47 AM
i just posted a 575
i quite like the mental exercise of trying to write a ku in 575
but i do not advocate strict adherence to this format
quite the opposite in fact...most of my ku are minimal

i think ppl are conservative
that is why they go with what they are taught
and are reluctant to change

personally if the poem works ...it works

col :)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Julie B. K. on December 08, 2010, 11:49:46 PM
I have actually been wondering the opposite question.  Why do some haiku journals refuse to look at 5-7-5 poems and specifically state that you shouldn't send them any?   ???  I can understand a lack of adherence to a syllable count or even a fixation on the 5-7-5 syllable count, but it seems odd to exclude 5-7-5 without even reading it.  Thoughts?
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: G.R. LeBlanc on December 09, 2010, 07:54:50 AM
Well, I certainly can't speak for other editors, but I think the issue boils down to the fact that many haiku written in the 5-7-5 format tend to be padded and wordy. People will often add unnecessary words to reach the right count which ultimately weakens the haiku. 

In general, English haiku written in the 5-7-5 form hold more information than a Japanese haiku written in the traditional 5-7-5 form. English syllables and Japanese sound units are not the same thing. Japanese sound units (called on or kana) are shorter than English syllables.

Another thing affecting the sound unit count in Japanese haiku is the use of kireji (cutting words) which are basically spoken/written punctuation. These cutting words are included in the total sound unit count. That means that if you translate an English haiku containing 17 syllables into Japanese, chances are that the translation will have more than 17 sound units.

Hope that helps!
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Lorin on December 09, 2010, 04:33:11 PM
I have actually been wondering the opposite question.  Why do some haiku journals refuse to look at 5-7-5 poems and specifically state that you shouldn't send them any?   ???  I can understand a lack of adherence to a syllable count or even a fixation on the 5-7-5 syllable count, but it seems odd to exclude 5-7-5 without even reading it.  Thoughts?

I must say I don't understand that approach, either. I don't aim to write in 5-7-5 syllables, but if that's the way a particular haiku turns out best, that will be my final version. I've had  haiku with a 5-7-5 syllable count accepted for a few journals, including The Heron's Nest and, as haiku editor for Notes From the Gean, I'm as happy to receive haiku in this form in submissions as any other. 
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: G.R. LeBlanc on December 09, 2010, 05:15:09 PM
I agree, Lorin. We tend to gravitate toward shorter haiku at Berry Blue Haiku, but we also publish haiku that follow the 5-7-5 form. If it's a well-written haiku, the syllable count shouldn't matter.   
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: colin stewart jones on December 09, 2010, 08:08:28 PM
god point about why not use 575

i would like to draw your attention to this 575 poem

1.1.87

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

this has everything a haiku should ecept perhaps the title

it has kigo, a cut and no padding that i can see
even "but" adds an extra dimension to the "poem"
as we can infer the death of his father as he did not have the stick last year

like i said before when a poem works it works
this 575 was penned ny the Irish poet and Nobel Laureate; Seumas Heaney

Slainte

col :)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: maggie on December 10, 2010, 03:10:50 PM
I'm glad to see the pros and cons of 5/7/5 ELH addressed here.  I'm a big fan of Richard Wright and what he can do with 5/7/5, and I think that sometimes we get too concerned with the current free-form trends and forget to look at the actual poem--does it work? has the poet conveyed the image/idea? does the language resonate?  That, to me, is the most important part of the haiku experience, regardless of syllable count.

I hope this forum will address two other ELH topics: rhyme, and metaphor/simile.
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: AlanSummers on December 11, 2010, 10:09:02 AM

Seamus Heaney's haiku can be found in The Iron Book of British Haiku:
http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/the_iron_book_of_british_haiku_david_cobb_martin_lucas_i0286.aspx

I've included the haiku in his own handwriting.

Iron Book of British Haiku 
Iron Press; ISBN: 0906228670 First published 1998, Third print 2000
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: 7 on December 11, 2010, 10:30:00 AM
If the imagination (creative unconscious) is captivated by the "idea" of 5/7/5 it will go there, it will want to manifest in that form for its own pleasure. There is freedom in this, I believe, which becomes corrupted when one feels an experience (of freedom, of creation, of authentic connection...) needs to be repeated. In other words, when one intrudes upon the imagination.
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: merlot on December 12, 2010, 08:22:48 PM
I would like to post a roadside sign by the side of  the haiku writer's highway. It would read:

     REDUCED
SYLLABLE COUNT
     AHEAD

Just sayin', folk.  ;)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: colin stewart jones on December 13, 2010, 07:37:01 AM
merlot,

if you put that sign into a cartoon
i would put it up on the back page of notes from the gean!


or i could use it if you can't draw
you'd get credit of course

col
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: G.R. LeBlanc on December 13, 2010, 12:25:54 PM
I would like to post a roadside sign by the side of  the haiku writer's highway. It would read:

     REDUCED
SYLLABLE COUNT
     AHEAD

LOL! That is pretty good!  ;)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: merlot on December 13, 2010, 07:33:56 PM
Colin, go ahead and use it. I lack the skills to do anything with it.
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: colin stewart jones on December 13, 2010, 07:55:17 PM
ok will do

what is your real name?

col
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: sandra on December 14, 2010, 10:35:30 PM
I always get a kick out of discovering a haiku that I love and THEN realising (or sometimes not until it's pointed out to me!) that it's 5-7-5.

The worst ones are obvious, the great ones aren't - not a spare word contained therein.

Personally, I write "free-form"  haiku and on the odd occasion when I have tried 5-7-5 have found it extremely tough to do anything decent, so hats off to those who write well within the confines of a syllable count.

I don't count syllables at all, but judge the poem's rhythm and pacing on its sound when I read it aloud.


Which is a good tip for new writers - read your poem aloud. If the tongue trips over a word or a pair of words, then the eye is likely to as well. If you read aloud (even under your breath is good if you're surrounded by non-poets) you will quickly "hear" the edits that need to be made.
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Gael Bage on December 15, 2010, 10:39:37 AM
17 syllables might not be 5-7-5 it could be 1235321, a fibonacci haiku
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Laura Sherman on December 15, 2010, 01:13:05 PM
I love fibonacci haiku!  I kind of like the math element in 575, but have stopped striving for that count. Now and again I hit it quite accidentally and feel it works.

I wrote a math inspired haiku about a chess tournament (I'm a chess coach):

forty eager faces
twelve hundred and eighty squares
one winner

(I doubt it will win any awards, but I wanted to share the experience of watching 40 of our students all intent on their games. It was a powerful moment!)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Gael Bage on December 15, 2010, 02:10:43 PM
Hi Laura, lovely haiku.  I tried to post a fib ku but like to see them centered and couldn't work out how to do it. Fibonacci are fun to do but take patience.
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: chibi575 on December 18, 2010, 05:57:26 PM
5-7-5:

five dash
seven dash
five !

I've always understood that the 5 count 7 count 5 count was a misunderstood transfer from a totally differently constructed language that counts 5 letters (delineated by the Japanese ear for each letter) 7 letters (dileneated by the Japanese ear for each letter) 5 letters (delineated by the Japanese ear for each letter traditionally written in one vertical line when read is a natural comfortable rhythm of poetics.  When heard, if anyone has heard haiku from a native Japanese is challenged if not Japanese or does not speak Japanese fluently, to hear those breaks.

Now... how that became the gospel in English to be associated with syllables is becoming beyond my fathom, sorry.  I just blame it as a failing of Blythe and curse me for it if you will.

In fact, count or not... a good poem is a good poem and I've seen many more good poems that don't count (pun).
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Gael Bage on December 18, 2010, 08:41:42 PM
count or not?
many good poems
don't count

enjoyed the pun Chibi  ;D
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Don Baird on December 18, 2010, 09:13:04 PM
12345
12345 I need
nearly two more hands

 :P
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: HaikuCowboy on December 21, 2010, 08:08:20 PM
That is hysterical, but I do bend when it comes to 5-7-5.  I sent out a xmas card and wanted to include a ku, so I wrote it in 5-7-5 so non-ku people would know that it was a haiku.  Maybe I should be more draconian, though. ;-)


I would like to post a roadside sign by the side of  the haiku writer's highway. It would read:

     REDUCED
SYLLABLE COUNT
     AHEAD

LOL! That is pretty good!  ;)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: AlanSummers on December 30, 2010, 07:37:18 AM
Hi Lucas,

I don't think it's draconian if you write a haiku for friends and family. ;-)  Just call it modern haiku or ichigyoshi haiku even. ;-)

It's a shame someone would prefer to read a badly composed 17 syllable attempt at haiku as haiku but think little of something really well written in under 17 syllables.

Perhaps this calls for a series of good 17 syllable haiku to have ready for all occasions? ;-)

Alan
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: cat on December 30, 2010, 09:36:30 AM
I sent out a xmas card and wanted to include a ku, so I wrote it in 5-7-5 so non-ku people would know that it was a haiku.  Maybe I should be more draconian, though. ;-)

Hello, Lucas,

That is what we call "a teachable moment".  Educate your family and friends that haiku are not always 5-7-5!  If we all did that, more people would understand that modern English-language haiku is not what they thought they learned in school.  And more people would read and enjoy it.

cat
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: AlanSummers on January 08, 2011, 09:43:30 AM
I think this is a (gulp) 575 haiku?  If you accept that 'stopped' is two phonemes but one syllable? ;-)


another hot day
a leaking water pipe stopped
by the jackdaw’s beak

Alan Summers
Honourable Mention, 14th Mainichi Haiku Contest (2010)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: cat on January 08, 2011, 10:21:57 AM
Hello, Alan,

The difference between haiku that turn out to be 5-7-5 naturally, and ones that are padded to get to the count, is monumental.  (I'm not saying anything everyone doesn't already know.) 

Yours needs every word.  Well done.

cat
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: AlanSummers on January 08, 2011, 01:22:31 PM
Thanks Cat, and it may be my best 575er, so great to include it as an example in my workshops if someone still insists on doing those but avoids the responsibility of syntax, line breaks, hanging thingies. ;-)

Alan
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Lorin on January 08, 2011, 02:46:37 PM
Yes, let's not go the complete other way and say that 5-7-5 haiku in English are invalid.

It's an option. I was in a position of having to offer a 5-7-5 verse for a renku (the only 5-7-5 spot in the renku) My offer was chosen, probably for the humour as well as the link with 'identity' and the allusion to Toshinori Tsubouchi, a Japanese haiku poet who has written many haiku about the hippopotamus:

cherry blossom drift -
here comes the poet with his
hippopotamus

- from Haikunaut Island Renga, Cordite, 2009

....it really should be read in context:

http://www.cordite.org.au/poetry/haikunaut/free-haikunaut-renga/comment-page-7#comments

" I know the 5-7-5 form tends to make an English haiku too wordy, but, as you
did here, it's certainly possible to write good ku in that form. Some Japanese
haijin write in a shorter or longer form than the conventional 5-7-5, and
we have many successful examples." - Keiji Minato (from the comments thread)

Some other haiku I've written seemed to work best in the 5-7-5 form, eg:

sunrise at the pier –
calamari fishermen
bowing to the sea                       

The Heron's Nest, March 2009

But I have to say that it's far less usual that my haiku work out best in 5-7-5 form.

- Lorin
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Laura Sherman on January 09, 2011, 11:20:47 AM
Lorin, I love these two haiku.  I have noticed that some poets do go in the other direction and almost eschew 575. 

I especially love how calamari fisherman rolls off the tongue.  It's a lovely haiku to say!

It's good to know that I won't be banned from the group for proposing a 575 now and again. :-)
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Mark Harris on January 09, 2011, 05:35:03 PM
yes, many people, minimalists or not, avoid words such as hippopotamus and calamari for fear of reaching, or going beyond, 17 syllables. My own haiku are usually shorter. Sometimes, though, calamari tastes better than squid. And sometimes more words can be refreshing.

In a swarm of yellow-jackets
a squirrel drinks water
feet in the cool clay, head way down.

                     -Gary Snyder
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Don Baird on January 09, 2011, 07:18:08 PM
This week, I have been reading a lot of Japanese translations ie: Basho and Shiki in particular.  I've notice that, while these haiku are generally 5/7/5 in Japanese and of few words, it takes many more words to translate them well into English.  Translating from Japanese to English seems to be an expansion in number of words not a contraction. That's an interesting thought. Especially, when we're spending so much time contracting the number of words we use.

Poets writing in the English language, today, are constantly attempting to reduce the number of words (syllables) in their haiku to match the perceived length of the Japanese counterpart.  Counting syllables at 5/7/5 in English, it is thought, brings about wordy and rambling haiku.  However, when contracting a language such as the English language, the poet may very well shrink its resonate meaning as well and lose the expansiveness which is found to be inherent in Japanese language haiku/thought. It seems to take more words in English than it does in Japanese to tell the same story.  

The effort here (ELH) is to write a haiku of 8 - 14 syllables and reduce the number of words concurrently.  The Japanese language handles syllables (on) almost incidentally - 5/7/5 is a natural phenomena.  The style of language (pictorial in some way) while contained in a 5/7/5 construct is very expansive in meaning, however, and rich in possible interpretations leaving each haiku to the scholars to figure out for years to come.  The English language is a linear language with much less possiblity of that process existing, though, not completely removed.

Here's a thought.  It seems to me that if it takes 15 English words to translate a Japanese haiku of 11 (hypothetically), then it should be 15 English words that would be needed to write the same haiku in English in the first place (or 20 etc.)!? I'm not speaking of word to word match such as frog to frog etc.  I'm talking meaning to meaning:  I'm addressing the overall meaning of the haiku in Japanese minds.  We can match word for word.  Can we match meaning for meaning with the same number of words?

I'm wondering if we're going the wrong way.  We are shortening our haiku for the sake of meter while we should be lengthening them, in actuality, to match the depth of the Japanese language and its rich meaning and not merely link ourselves to it's syllabic beat?

Why did we choose to match syllables in the first place?  5/7/5?  Why did we not choose to match the meaning and expansiveness of Japanese haiku rather than choose to simply pair to the Japanese meter and limit our abilities to express ourselves well in haiku?  

I'm a minimalist in writing haiku, btw ... but today, I'm just thinking out loud.

all my best,

Don

... a no ... while I'm pondering this I am not changing my style of writing ... as of yet.  :)



Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: AlanSummers on January 09, 2011, 08:03:22 PM
A lot of great points here, placed with humour.

I have to agree with what Don says here:
" 5/7/5?  Why did we not choose to match the meaning and expansiveness of Japanese haiku rather than choose to simply pair to the Japanese meter and limit our abilities to express ourselves well in haiku?"

There are some great minimalist EL haiku and some 'good to great' longer versions using the 17 EL syllable construct, and equally there are some abysmal attempts by tyros and established poets.

My surprise is how many national and/or international mainstream poets, who are craftsmen and women, mangle haiku yet can write other disciplined forms.

The thing with haiku is it is much more than a form, or a genre: it seems to sit in both camps, and maybe that's why it defeats so many attempts at it. 

Alan
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Don Baird on January 09, 2011, 08:19:53 PM
"The thing with haiku is it is much more than a form, or a genre" ... Alan

I fully agree.  Perfectly stated!

Don
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: Lorin on January 10, 2011, 03:35:34 AM
Lorin, I love these two haiku.  I have noticed that some poets do go in the other direction and almost eschew 575. 

I especially love how calamari fisherman rolls off the tongue.  It's a lovely haiku to say!

It's good to know that I won't be banned from the group for proposing a 575 now and again. :-)

Thanks, Laura. The facts are that here in Melbourne (the general area, not the actual city district) the people one meets early in the morning at one of the likely bay piers, fishing for calamari, are Greek or Italian immigrants or descended from, and if you ask them what they're fishing for they'll never say 'squid'. They use a line with a fluorescent bobber, the light attracts the calamari. At sunrise, they're hauling in and beginning to pack up. Funny thing is, since the 50s, most people here now say 'calamari' instead of squid, and that's what we buy in the market or order in restaurants, too. Habituation...I'd feel odd saying 'squid' in the context of angling or eating these days.

 I've always liked fishermen, too.  8) They contemplate things. That seems to me to be what fishing (angling) is about, really, a way of contemplating and reconnecting with the natural world.

Yes, I believe the poem (whatever it is) finds the form it works best in, if we let it. Write things the way it feels best to you. If we decide before we write that it's to be a certain length and no more, we're curtailing ourselves. Recall the story of Procrastes and his diabolic bed for guests! Sometimes  :o 'what the poem wants' is not to be a haiku at all! And if so, go for it, in my opinion, write a rave of 100O lines a la Ginsberg, or a sonnet, or whatever.

- Lorin
Title: Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
Post by: chibi575 on January 11, 2011, 08:08:28 AM
Hmmm...

"tundra" (Cor's one word, ELH) is not syllablicly terse enough, perhaps, "sea" will be both terser and expansive?   ::)  Then maybe "dune" though it has more letters than "sea", maybe, even "sky" will do?

Of course, if the Japanese are so inclined to accept "ma" and place 間 in the middle center of an otherwise blank scroll...

this visual pun
may soon become a genre
all its very own?

Hmmm... me thinks me needs more tea.

 :D chibi