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In-Depth Discussions => In-Depth Haiku: Free Discussion Area => Topic started by: Mary Stevens on April 23, 2011, 09:11:07 AM

Title: kireji
Post by: Mary Stevens on April 23, 2011, 09:11:07 AM
Can anyone point me to more info re: kireji? I've already looked at WJH's Haiku Handbook, Gurga's Haiku: A Poet's Guide, and the WKD.

English pretty much uses colons, em dashes, and ellipses instead of words, right? And commas are not used, correct?
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: AlanSummers on April 23, 2011, 10:27:05 AM
Hi Mary,

My oppo Elliott has revamped wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kireji

all my best,

Alan
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Gael Bage on April 23, 2011, 04:57:07 PM
A video with an interesting view of the japanese take on kireji here Mary.

http://gendaihaiku.com/hasegawa/index.html 
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: beagset on April 24, 2011, 05:40:43 AM
Hi Mary,
  I used to like to splice a ; between phrases. it seemed to mean that this first phenomena existed
separately but was linked in a juxtaposition with the other phrase meaningfully.


   resort umbrellas
   folded in the rain; a swan
   slips beak under wing

Modern Haiku


the only problems of significance about the poem I find in retrospect. the last line is tonto sounding
and that it is 5/7/5. but that ; like a kireji does mean something. You pause there also so that it is
an emphasis.


paul cordeiro
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Don Baird on April 24, 2011, 10:50:39 AM
Hi Alan and Gael,

Please include those links on this page if you have not already done so:

http://www.thehaikufoundation.org/forum_sm/new-to-haiku-free-discussion/learning-about-haiku-helpful-links-286/

Thanks!!!   8)
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Mary Stevens on April 24, 2011, 05:59:12 PM
Whoa, Gael! Thanks for the video! It seems that the kireji, "ya" signals to readers/listeners that the two parts of the poem are separate. I missed that entirely, not knowing Japanese and the English translation I tend to read containing no em dash or colon. I kind of read that poem as a sentence, and therefore, that pleasurable tension I usually experience when attempting to bridge the gap between the two parts of haiku was missing for me. I can see how people new to haiku so easily slip into aphorisms and prose in their poems, even having been exposed to Basho's classic poem.

Paul, you touch upon my question. Is that semicolon necessary b/c you were writing in 5/7/5? It seems that would not be necessary in the flexible-syllable format of modern haiku in English b/c line breaks tend to occur where the phrasing is natural. In other words, the line break does the job, nowadays, right? Can anyone point me to other quality haiku in English that use the semicolon that way?

Title: Re: kireji
Post by: beagset on April 30, 2011, 08:03:39 PM
Hi Mary,
  Robert Spiess has at least a half-dozen ku in The Haiku Anthology edited by Cor van den Heuvel that
have the ; at the end of the first line. I believe he meant the first fragment to correspond with the phenomena phrase that came next. Separate but equal or mirroring images in other words in the moment.
For example:

    Lean-to of tin;
       a pintail on the river
          in the pelting rain

Robert Spiess


In the same anthology from Arizona Zipper comes this ku:

      I stop to listen;
         the cricket
            has done the same.

Here's another from Lenard D, Moore:


      Summer noon;
      the blueberry field divided
      by a muddy road



Lorraine Ellis Harr has one also in this book. It is three fragments and is inverted.


   Late snowfall;
       more and more yellow
          the forsythia.




There is also one of my favorites; a homely cockroach corresponds to snow and appeals to the auditory sense of course.


Michael McClintock wrote:
   
    hearing
       cockroach feet;
          the midnight snowfall





I leave you and other readers to pause; and wonder why the semi-colon isn't more widely embraced.

paul cordeiro
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Mary Stevens on May 01, 2011, 08:16:29 AM
Thanks, Paul, for the examples. I was wondering, though, about the use of the semicolon just before the last word or two of the long line, as in your

Quote
resort umbrellas
folded in the rain; a swan
slips beak under wing

What was puzzling me was that it was appearing elsewhere than at the very end of the line.

Re: your question about why the semicolon is no longer used very much: I'm guessing that the line break does the job when the two images are clearly different. No punctuation is really necessary. Since haiku are about spareness, an unnecessary piece of punctuation creates visual clutter. When punctuation is necessary to separate the two images, the colon, dash, or ellipses offer a lighter touch than the semicolon. The semicolon separates two independent clauses; the other three only require one independent clause. I'm thinking that this might be why the semicolon has gone the way of the appendix.
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: AlanSummers on May 01, 2011, 09:17:23 AM
Hi Mary,

There used to be a lot of haiku writers that used mid-line punctuation, either for style, syntax/grammar, or to avoid an over short middle line and an over long last line.

   resort umbrellas
   folded in the rain; a swan
   slips beak under wing

paul cordeiro
Publication: Modern Haiku

resort umbrellas
folded in the rain
a swan slips beak under wing

You can open it all up into one line, where it makes more sense why it's used:

resort umbrellas folded in the rain; a swan slips beak under wing


all my best,

Alan


Title: Re: kireji
Post by: beagset on May 02, 2011, 07:30:02 PM
hi Mary,
  liked Alan's take on this but were I to rewrite the ku the way I write today:. here might be my new
version

   folded umbrellas
   a swan in the rain
   slips its beak under wing

or

   folded umbrellas
   the swan slips its beak under
   a wing in the rain


the folded umbrellas collapse

the swan does the same thing in the rain.

You also remove the tontoism of the last line where the its is unused--it comes across as forced.

Of course the poem is much too long in my estimation in either version. Maybe it doesn't need the actual
physical beak or keriji break to make us understand the swan is tucking its head and beak under wing.


folded umbrellas
   a swan under its wing
      in the rain




Eventually I will rewrite everything I wrote and published before 1990 and it will be shorter than 5/7/5.
and possibly a kireji won't matter since I don't have a correspondence for why it is needed. Most of my
haiku now don't use punctuation since they are more about correspondence.

I might even just go with


   folded umbrellas
   a swan tucks itself
   in the rain
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Lorin on May 03, 2011, 02:44:19 PM
Thanks, Paul, for the examples. I was wondering, though, about the use of the semicolon just before the last word or two of the long line, as in your

Quote
resort umbrellas
folded in the rain; a swan
slips beak under wing

What was puzzling me was that it was appearing elsewhere than at the very end of the line.

Re: your question about why the semicolon is no longer used very much: I'm guessing that the line break does the job when the two images are clearly different. No punctuation is really necessary. Since haiku are about spareness, an unnecessary piece of punctuation creates visual clutter. When punctuation is necessary to separate the two images, the colon, dash, or ellipses offer a lighter touch than the semicolon. The semicolon separates two independent clauses; the other three only require one independent clause. I'm thinking that this might be why the semicolon has gone the way of the appendix.

Hi Mary and Paul,
                       The reason, in EL haiku, for the use of the symbols which are common punctuation marks is to 'mark the caesura/ cut'. This can function something like the kireji. It should be remembered that we are not using the symbols as punctuation in any normative sense, so knowing how the symbols are used in prose isn't always pertinent, but handy, since readers are used to the normative useage. In prose, the semi-colon is usually used to link related clauses or to separate items on a list. Perhaps a carry-over from this normative prose usage has influenced writers to use them less frequently to mark the caesura in haiku.

A line break in itself is no substitute for a kireji, since a line break in EL poetry does not and cannot indicate a cut/ caesura. Break, cut, caesura; whatever we call that gap, can occur 'naturally' and clearly, without a caesura mark, through syntax, as in Paul's

folded umbrellas
   a swan under its wing
      in the rain

But what happens to Michael McClintock's (earlier on the thread) if we leave out a 'cut mark' altogether?
   
    hearing
       cockroach feet;
          the midnight snowfall

 hearing
       cockroach feet
          the midnight snowfall

The poem now reads as if it were the midnight snowfall that's hearing cockroach feet!

McClintock's use of a semi-colon to mark the caesura is a considered rather than a random choice. It follows the normal prose usage, so that 'hearing' applies to two listed things: cockroach feet and the midnight snowfall. It also allows the two items an equivalence.

A subtly different emphasis could be made using ellipses or dash as caesura mark:

hearing
       cockroach feet. . .
          the midnight snowfall

The equivalence is lost now, and the snowfall seems to absorb the sound of the cockroach feet into itself. A dash would indicate a sharper cut.

Trust your ear (and your reader's ear) when choosing which symbol to use to mark a cut or choosing to use no cut mark at all. You'll find that as you go along your ear will become more and more tuned to the subtle differences in nuance that marking the caesura with the various symbols makes.

Cut marks are not there for decoration but are part of the text.

- Lorin


Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Don Baird on May 03, 2011, 03:07:41 PM
@Lorin:

You have explained this so well and I agree with you completely.  Thank you. Very simple: very clear.

Thank you,

Don
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: beagset on May 04, 2011, 03:51:01 AM
hi Mary,
   I want to thank Lorin for the detailed explanation of punctuation usage in haiku.
   It answers why the semi-colon was being used between two phenomena which get put into separate clauses but kind of mirror the images as image correspondence to each other in a moment.
   In the cockroach example, by Michael McClintock, the cockroach feet and the snow exist in the same moment of time. The poet hears both simultaneously more or less.
   Thanks all.
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Mary Stevens on May 04, 2011, 07:13:29 AM
Quote
folded umbrellas
   a swan tucks itself
   in the rain

Oh, I love this version monstrously, Paul!

I'm still puzzling about the use of any punctuation anywhere but at the end of a line, though. Let me put it another way: it seems that the most common structure for EL haiku these days is three lines, two of which form a contained and fluid syntactical unit. (Stanford M. Forrester very cleverly used three toy blocks of two colors to demonstrate this in a workshop I attended with him a few years ago). I have only recently come across the idea that, in cases in which the "2/3 unit" comes first, a poet might start the image of the "1/3 unit" in the "2/3 unit" by using a semicolon (or comma)—and call it kireji. Does this pretty much only happen in poems in the 5/7/5 format? Alan, is this why you say
Quote
There used to be a lot of haiku writers that used mid-line punctuation
?
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: AlanSummers on May 04, 2011, 07:56:12 AM
Hi Mary,

I do like Paul's version of his original haiku.

It's a simple but very effective way of banging two images together, but also introducing camparison techinques such as simile or metaphor.

I love it! ;-)

re punctuation:

First of all, writers would probably bring in their pre-haiku habits to haiku, so that could be one reason why a punctuation such as a semi-colon is used midway in a line because in prose it would, obviously, in the middle of a sentence. 

Haiku can be prose poetry as well, so that's understandable.

It could also have been used to show a different style to the otherwise standard format of day.  A lot of fads and trends have come and gone over the decades, and there was a mid-middle line punctuation fad, whether correctly used or not.

I'll have to look through my edition of the Haiku Anthology to see if there are any as such.

I wouldn't worry about thinking haiku HAVE TO HAVE end punctuation.  If a poem works for you that's great, if it doesn't, it could be you have stretched enough as a reader.  I don't mean that in a personal way by the way! ;-)  I'm reminded of my friend and colleague (and for a year, my lecturer for my Masters Degree) who said when she started young she made her read difficult poetry she didn't understand.

There was a fad of always having a dash of some kind to shout out here's my fragment one line separating my phrasal two lines! ;-)

Good writing in poetry doesn't always need to have punctuation.  Look at how so many of the New York poets dispensed with formal lines etc...

You mention:
I have only recently come across the idea that, in cases in which the "2/3 unit" comes first, a poet might start the image of the "1/3 unit" in the "2/3 unit" by using a semicolon (or comma)—and call it kireji.

Do you mean by the 2/3 unit, that sometimes you see a haiku that starts with a two line phrase and ends with a fragment?  If so, that's fine. the writer has split the haiku in two as is usual: it doesn't matter if the fragment one line comes first or not, we're just used to seeing that formula, that's all.

So although we often like to term our Western ways as breaking haiku into parts by using a kireji, I'm not sure we can accurately term it a kireji, merely a line break or punctuation mark such as a dash, ellipsis, semi-colon or colon etc...  But I do feel we can achieve a darned good version of kire, which is another matter.


You conclude my asking:
Does this pretty much only happen in poems in the 5/7/5 format? Alan, is this why you say
Quote
There used to be a lot of haiku writers that used mid-line punctuation
?[/i]

It wasn't to do with 575ers, although I'm sure that could be a good reason as well.  It might be that some haiku were long in words, as they had to be for 575, or just long in words even if they weren't following the 575 format.

As a female Japanese haiku writer will often speak her haiku out in six seconds, as do many Western and other non-Japanese haiku writers, and a male Japanese haiku writer may well read out their haiku in three seconds flat, the idea of 575 in the English-language got a bit silly in my opinion.

Yes, there were a lot of over wordy verbose haiku whether in 575 or not, and it probably screamed out for punctuation.  Japanese haiku do have grammer/punctuation but as words not symbols, and often they are at the end of a line.

As you've read, there are a lot of reasons why English-language punctuation is used.  Paul gives a good example of what his original haiku was, and how he would write it today.

Punctuation should come in afterwards, if necessary, not as an after-thought, but just part of the later process of editing.

The main thing is to write, write, write. ;-)

The more you write, and the more you read both modern and contemporary haiku, both Japanese in translation, and English-language haiku, the more you will develop your own style.

Whether punctuation comes at the end, or the middle, or a 2/3 form etc... isn't important.

I've read over 250,000 haiku by my reckoning, and I can't stop there, I have to keep reading quality haiku all the time, as do poets across the genres and forms: it's a need for a poet to read well and widely, as well as to write well and widely across the different styles.

Thanks for the question Mary!  I know it won't feel answered, and that's okay.  It's not good to know all the answers, but it's good to know a lot of questions, and to keep questioning.

Alan



Quote


folded umbrellas
   a swan tucks itself
   in the rain


Oh, I love this version monstrously, Paul!

I'm still puzzling about the use of any punctuation anywhere but at the end of a line, though. Let me put it another way: it seems that the most common structure for EL haiku these days is three lines, two of which form a contained and fluid syntactical unit. (Stanford M. Forrester very cleverly used three toy blocks of two colors to demonstrate this in a workshop I attended with him a few years ago). I have only recently come across the idea that, in cases in which the "2/3 unit" comes first, a poet might start the image of the "1/3 unit" in the "2/3 unit" by using a semicolon (or comma)—and call it kireji. Does this pretty much only happen in poems in the 5/7/5 format? Alan, is this why you say
Quote
There used to be a lot of haiku writers that used mid-line punctuation
?
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: chibi575 on May 04, 2011, 08:03:50 AM
The kireji (cutting word or phrase) in Japanese poetry is very distinct and has a very distinct use.  It can occur in the structure of the poem at the break at what we as other language readers and writers perceive the end of L1, L2, or L3 and somtimes in the body of L2, but, the L1,L2,L3 construction is an appendage/vestige of our languange (if it's English) and not of the Japanese.  It is for convenience as most haiku written in Japanese is one vertical or horizontal line.

The kireji thus is difficult if not near impossible to represent equivocally in English.  We've settle for some grammatical set of symbol(s) such as: " -- ", " ... ", ":", and such.  Usually, these symbols are not alphabetic letters (although in Japan the kireji is an alphabetic letter or letter combination).

Given our (I speak/write as a native speaking/writing USAian) penchant to use by any means our vast ASCII character set creatively and with great imagination (not that I consider that bad) we can and with some profound rightiousness use many symbols and symbol combinations to express the idea of "kireji" (although, most common are: ":", "-", "--", "...", "!", and "~").  This can be placed at the end of any word or phrase that strikes our fancy/style/gender/political proclivity, etc., ...  So, my unasked for but cheerfully volunteered advice is be creative and explore... but please don't call the result you write, "haiku", because it can't be.

I can not - do not write any haiku in English.  What I write (as do, I feel, the rest of us write) in English is loosely based upon some of the attributes of Japanese haiku.  And, really, that's OK.

So... now I've expressed the my basic belief, my favorite cut is the elipse "... ".  Just seems to fit my style although I've used a large variety (as I began writing short poems).  I do not limit myself to just the elipse, but, mostly my heart/head gravitates towards that; and, my muse seems to be most happy.
Title: Re: kireji
Post by: Lorin on May 04, 2011, 03:00:35 PM
Quote
folded umbrellas
   a swan tucks itself
   in the rain

Oh, I love this version monstrously, Paul!

I'm still puzzling about the use of any punctuation anywhere but at the end of a line, though. Let me put it another way: it seems that the most common structure for EL haiku these days is three lines, two of which form a contained and fluid syntactical unit. (Stanford M. Forrester very cleverly used three toy blocks of two colors to demonstrate this in a workshop I attended with him a few years ago). I have only recently come across the idea that, in cases in which the "2/3 unit" comes first, a poet might start the image of the "1/3 unit" in the "2/3 unit" by using a semicolon (or comma)—and call it kireji. Does this pretty much only happen in poems in the 5/7/5 format? Alan, is this why you say
Quote
There used to be a lot of haiku writers that used mid-line punctuation
?

"I have only recently come across the idea that, in cases in which the "2/3 unit" comes first, a poet might start the image of the "1/3 unit" in the "2/3 unit" by using a semicolon (or comma)—and call it kireji." - Mary

Mary,
         To call any punctuation symbol used in EL haiku a kireji is wrong-headed because it is misleading.  A kireji is a vocalised sound which acts as verbal punctuation in the Japanese language. In the Japanese language, there are norms of usage applied to kireji, much as in written English there are norms of usage for our punctuation symbols. Each has a different nuance. In Japanese haiku, written, there are symbols corresponding to these kireji. In English, there is no spoken/verbalised punctuation which has a standardized usage, therefore there is no equivalent to kireji in English.

Kire (without the ji) translates into English as 'cut' or 'caesura'. Kireji means something like 'cutting word' or 'cutting sound'. ( I do not read or speak Japanese.) In EL haiku, to mark the cut/ caesura, we use the symbols that we also use for prose punctuation and/or rely on breaks in syntax or use spaces to graphically represent the caesura.

A friend ( a fellow Australian) and I once considered how kireji might be better approximated in English and along the way considered some of the sounds used informally as punctuation of speech in English. This is what an approximation of kireji in English might look like, using English verbal punctuation from various English-speaking regions of the world:

old pond eh
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

(Queensland English; Canadian English, too, I'm told)

old pond innit
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

(London Cockney English?)

old pond like
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

(USA-originated, 'Beat' English' ?)

old pond hum
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

(USA-originated – New Jersey?)

old pond ya-know
a frog.....

(USA & Australia)

old pond see
a frog jumps into....

(Australia and NZ)

old pond right? (or right!)
a frog...

(NZ & Australia)

old pond yunnerstan
a frog ...
( Mafia Movie English)

old pond yeah?
a frog...

(probably international English)

old pond ahem (or any written approximation of a throat-clearing sound)
a frog. . .

(world-wide, academic English)

...and a recently added one:

old pond yo!
a frog ...

(U.S.A. - originated)

. . . anyone who listens to everyday speech in their region could probably add more.  :)

There are pretty obvious reasons why we would not want to immortalise any of these EL 'kireji' in EL haiku, though it's fun and useful in training the ear to note the different effects. I'd advise anyone to think of this list whenever they're tempted to call the punctuation symbols we use in EL haiku 'kireji'.

So let's remember the old K.I.S.S. adage and call the symbols we use in EL haiku 'cut marks' or 'caesura marks'.

There is no reason why a cut mark shouldn't appear anywhere in an EL haiku (or translation). There are no valid rules about where to place it, apart from the rule of common sense: a cut mark appears where the cut is. Here's a ku by Dhugal Lindsay:

kabutogani jouriku-no yo-o kasei moyu

horseshoe crabs
make landfall, this night
Mars burns

- NFTG, vol.2, issue 3, December 2010

In the English version, Dhugal has chosen a comma to mark a 'soft' caesura. We could play around with the various cut marks and notice the different nuances. (It would be better, imo, if we didn't refer to the various cut marks in haiku as 'punctuation marks', for the sake of clarity, since they are not always used according to the prose norms for punctuation.)

Here's a haiku with two cut markers:

lily:
out of the water. . .
out of itself

- Nick Virgilio, 'American Haiku, Issue #2'

                    ( I'm not interested in the tired old argument about whether haiku in any language other than Japanese is haiku or not. One might as well say that Shakespeare in any other language than Elizabethan English is not Shakespeare, 'magic realism' in any other language but Spanish is not 'magic realism' or the Bible in any language but Hebrew is not the Bible. Haiku is an established loan word in the English language, just as omlette is an established loan word in English and Japanese. A French person might say that an omlette isn't an omlette if it's not French, but the omlette has been adopted and adapted into the cuisine of many countries. In Japanese, btw , the loan word is 'omeretsu'.

EL haiku will become, as Bill Higginson said, what EL haiku writers make it become, and over many generations.

- Lorin

 modified: added 'haiku', originally omitted, to my 1st sentence.
              added 'or use spaces to graphically represent the caesura' to the end of par 2
              added 'and adapted' to sentence beginning, 'A French person. . .'
              added 'or the Bible in any language but Hebrew is not the Bible'.