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Messages - Scott Metz

"The poet writes the history of his body."

—Henry David Thoreau / The Journal of Henry D. Thoreau: Volumes I-VII 9.29.1851

my wife and my daughter

" . . . its willing limitations; "its "sensationism"; its unsentimental love of nature; its lack of [...] elegance; its appreciation of imperfection; [...] its skilful unskilfulness; its "blessed are the poor"; its combination of the poetic vague and the poetic definite; its human warmth; its avoidance of violence and terror; its dislike of holiness; its turning a blind eye to grandeur and majesty; its unobtrusive good taste; its still, small voice. . . .

. . . There is nothing improper in ornamenting one's works by means of religion or philosophy or morality or romance or superstition, provided that there is something fundamental which it ornaments, the pure sensation. Or to put it another way, all the "thoughts that wander through eternity," the "unheard melodies," the "eternal passion, eternal pain," the yearning and despair, the desire for immortality, the desire for death itself are pedagogues to lead us back to the infinitely meaningful touch and smell and taste and and sound and sight."

—R. H. Blyth / A History of Haiku (Volume Two) [xxxi-xxxii], 1963

cumin seeds and cardamom pods; garlic and chilies; fresh herbs; fish; vegetables; lamb; cheese; bread; sour beers

"All of this attention to the exact, occurring right now in a world of blur, often feels like a political statement, a politics [...] dedicated to sharpness, to specificity. [...] [A generation that] explicitly rejects the glaze. It has, I suspect, less to do with craft than with ethics."

—Ron Silliman (5.28.2010)

living in the woods by the sea

"—forms of appropriation. Composition as transcription, citation, writing-through, recycling, reframing, grafting, mistranslating, and mashing—such forms of what is now called Conceptualism on the model of Conceptual art, are now raising hard questions about the role, if any, poetry can play in the new world of instant and hyper-information."

" . . . recycled text, the poet functioning as arranger, framer, reconstructor, visual and sound artist, and, above all, as the maker of pivotal choices. [...] to repeat, delete, juxtapose differently, all in the interest of sound, rhythm, and the look of the poetry on the page. [...] could not exist except in the digital age, where reproduction as well as instrumentation play a crucial role."

"In the poetry of the digital age, "othertextual" echoes inevitably play a primary role."

"Increasingly, the "true voice of feeling" is the one you might discover with an inspired, if sometimes accidental, click."

/ "Poetry on the Brink: Reinventing the Lyric" by Marjorie Perloff [2012]

Noam Chomsky
Cornel West
Glenn Greenwald
Matt Taibbi
Mr. Fish
Democracy Now
Charles Davis
Jeremy Scahill
Naomi Klein

"... poetry is not made of images but of words—and unlikely words at that."

"As mediated by the internet, no poem can be fully "natural"; on screen, it is always already simulated and simulatable. In the same vein, the debate about reader construction (who owns the text?) becomes irrelevant, the reader having the "privilege" of transforming any given text into something else. Even a forwarded email is no longer the "real thing," for the forwarder can edit it at will, all the while presenting it as belonging to its original author. The resistance to commodified language thus becomes less interesting than the ability to cite that language and "write through" it or to play it off against other discourses."

/ "Avant-Garde Community and the Individual Talent: The Case of Language Poetry" by Marjorie Perloff [2004]

my grandmother

"Not images, but "afterrimages," as Joan Retallack's sequence by that title makes clear. "We tend to think," says Retallack in the frontispiece of her book, "of afterimages as aberrations. In fact all images are after. That is the terror they hold for us." "I do not know which to prefer," writes Wallace Stevens in "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," "The beauty of inflections / Or the beauty of innuendoes, / the blackbird whistling / or just after." In Retallack's scheme of things, this becomes "After whistling or just ______": in our fin-de-siècle world, every image, event, speech, or citation can be construed as an "afterthought" or "aftershock" of something that has always already occurred."

/ "After Free Verse: The New Non-Linear Poetries" by Marjorie Perloff [1998]

misheard song lyrics

". . . forms of textual density, including metaphor, allegory, symbolism and allusion, as well as through the constant search for new topics."

"But it could also be fictional, something born of the imagination."

". . . the need to explore not only metaphorical and symbolic possibilities but new areas—such as history, urban life, social ills, death and war, cyberspace."

"The hokku [haiku] was only the beginning of a dialogue; it had to be answered by the reader or another poet or painter."

/ "Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku myths" by Haruo Shirane [Modern Haiku, 31.1 (2000)]

e rain, the wind, and th

     and the feathers so

and the nerves so


/ "The Cockfighter" by Scott Walker (Tilt, 1995)

my path from home to work work to home

", and he often wrote about other worlds,"

/ "Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku myths" by Haruo Shirane [Modern Haiku, 31.1 (2000)]


"Poems rise not so much in response to present time, as even Rilke thought, but in response to other poems."

—Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (in Traces of Dreams by Haruo Shirane)

) fog (r

"It is for this reason that the audience takes pleasure in very subtle variations on familiar themes."

from "Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku myths" by Haruo Shirane [Modern Haiku, 31.1 (2000)]
Pop Quiz (single question):

Is haiku in English a socially relevant poetics in the 21st century?


Please answer "yes/no" to this question, and please provide a brief rationale and haiku examples to support your (yes/no) answer and statements.

R'r Haiku Journal is pleased to announce a new section of the journal for issue 13.1. A full explanation and all other info for submissions is in the text that follows.

. . .


. . .


Our impetus for creating this section is related to the explorations of a number of haiku poets through the years, and more specifically is a response to the critical challenge offered by Kaneko Tohta, via a recently published four-volume series (search "Kaneko Tohta" at <>). In brief, we are intrigued by the concept of an author's stance, as a poet, vis-a-vis self and society, as well as the topic or arena of self and society—(social consciousness/awareness, shakaisei in Japanese)—regarding contemporary haiku. We see homeland as a space that both publishes new work, and one which also acts as a compendium for each theme that's been offered. We are open to any and all schools of haiku, and would like to showcase a large range of haiku on the theme below (and each subsequent theme).


We are creating homeland to provide a space and platform for works, as well as discussion. Our title, homeland, is chosen in part because the term is freighted with social connotations, from "homeland security" to nationalistic and other political concepts. Yet homeland is also a matter of heart for ourselves as individuals and citizens. The land which (like it or not) is "home"— does this exist for you? What might be your own stance, in this regard? How is "homeland" related with human rights, ecological concerns, the challenges, voices and spirit of our times? The term itself seems in doubt these days, yet one that we feel is a relevant jumping off point, in exploring the matter of social consciousness vis-à-vis haiku.

The homeland blog, in the timeframe leading up to each volume, will be offering a theme—meant to be taken in as wide a context as possible—and posting "stimuli" connected to the volume's theme: quotes, poems, video clips, imagery, and anything else that seems pertinent. We invite you to visit and partake, helping us create a community that explores and addresses the question: Is haiku in English a socially relevant poetics in the 21st century? We encourage you to visit the blog we have created for this new section of R'r:

. . .

Invitation for submitted works

volume 1 : Transformation

Transformation, metamorphosis: something that can be discovered in, and created from, nearly any facet of existence. A quick glance at any media generated worldwide will reveal instances in which transformation is taking place: environmentally, technologically, artistically, politically, spiritually, economically, culturally, domestically, and symbolically. 

Transformations are capable of plying various planes of life and consciousness: the universal, the deliciously local, as well as the deeply personal. To quote Jack Kerouac, "I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down."

"Transformation" can connect at any level, and also relate to nearly any topic or concern.

The history of haiku can be viewed as a microcosm of transformation. The act of writing a poem, a transformation in itself: the poem's substance—images, feelings—being cut/pulled from "the totality of reality," extracted from within us, and transformed into language, then presented as a "shared crime" with an audience, wherein another transformation takes place.

Evolving and expanding, the literature of haiku styles, schools, approaches, directions and philosophies connects to this theme as well: haiku is constantly in a state of flux, continuously transforming and renewing itself. Further, the form's most traditionally identifiable characteristics (such as seasonal changes) and technique, that of cutting (kire)—those disjunctive and irruptive techniques within the poem—also connect to sudden shifts and transformation.

We invite you to submit anywhere from 1 to 20 previously unpublished haiku whose theme you feel is in some way connected with "transformation," accompanied by a short prose comment or statement, at your option. Also, feel free to send along any previously published haiku by any poet that you feel exemplifies a facet of this topic (please include publication information, if possible).

The submission deadline for volume 1 of homeland is April 1, 2013.

Please send us your submission to the following address:

In the subject line include your name, followed by "homeland submission," so that we can keep things organized, like so: Timothy Heron, homeland submission

homeland is a part of Roadrunner (R'r) Haiku Journal and will be published therein. Hence, "Volume 1: Transformation" will appear in R'r 13.1 (2013).

In addition to submitting your work, once again, please take a look at the blog related to this new section of R'r:

Richard Gilbert & Scott Metz

The Kaneko Tohta series (four pocket-sized volumes) is available through Red Moon Press (search "Kaneko Tohta" at '').
Journal Announcements / Re: R'r 12.3
December 31, 2012, 06:06:56 PM
Issue 12.3 of R'r is now up on our website. (click on the cover)

For a downloadable PDF of the issue, please visit our blog:

Submissions for R'r 13.1, and homeland (volume 1: transformation) are due by April 1, 2013:

Submissions for MASKS 5 are also due by April 1, 2013:

See this latest issue, our website, and/or blog for more details.
Journal Announcements / R'r 12.3
December 22, 2012, 05:58:25 PM
R'r 12.3 is now up on our blog:


scorpion prize 27 by Craig Dworkin

70+ new poems

Part I of an interview with translator Makoto Ueda


3 essays by Jack Galmitz on the work of Robert Boldman, Richard Gilbert, & Mark Harris

& the announcement of a new section in R'r, homeland:

Issue 11.3 of R'r is now up:

This issue features new poems (particles with integer spin), Scorpion Prize 24 & artwork by Chris Gordon, an interview with paul m. by Jack Galmitz, and Japanese haiku translations by Hiroaki Sato and Eric Selland.

I would also like to point out that we have now started a blog for the journal, R'r Blog:

where we are looking forward to discussing English-language haiku and contemporary English & American poetics. Our first post is a presentation, a simple opening up to readers really, of Philip Rowland's Scorpion Prize-winning ku (from issue 11.1) with commentary by Joseph Massey.

Submissions for issue 12.1 are now open and welcome and will be considered until April 1st, 2012. Please see submission details on the website (

Hope you enjoy the issue!
Just wanted to let Haiku Foundation Forums readers know that Haiku 21: an anthology of contemporary English-language haiku, edited by Lee Gurga and myself, is now available for purchasing:

$20 plus $3 shipping for the first copy or $20 plus $2 for each additional copy to U. S. addresses.

For Canadian addresses, $20 plus $6 shipping for each copy.
Outside the U.S. and Canada, $20 per copy plus $12 per copy shipping.

Now available from Modern Haiku Press:

Haiku 21: an anthology of contemporary English-language haiku
Edited by Lee Gurga and Scott Metz
With an introduction by the editors
Modern Haiku Press, 2011

Over 600 haiku by more than 200 poets.

In forms ranging from monostich to multilayer to interlinear spaces, Haiku 21 reveals a shift in haiku writing in English today. Along with typically haikuesque sensibilities come fleeting remarks, cosmic wonders, whimsies, dissonances, gritty and elegant meldings with nature, veritable koans. An eye-opening collection. —Hiroaki Sato

Perfectbound, 205 pages.

Religio / Re: Notes on Taoism and Haiku
December 06, 2011, 04:38:43 AM
well, there is Peipei Qiu's book Basho and the Dao: The Zhuangzi and the Transformation of Haikai

and an interview with her at Simply Haiku from 2005:

it's certainly a fascinating and important connection, and if it influenced Basho then it certainly, organically, unknowingly, affected m/any of the readers/writers he's influenced.

personally, i'd like to see more study on haiku's connection to Shintōism, Japan's indigenous religion. to me, that's getting to the core/heart of haiku and Japanese culture/society. Buddhism, Zen, Taoism were all, of course, imported and grafted on/in/to Japanese culture, and important in many ways. (in fact, though, i often wonder if one can even talk about Japanese haiku without first discussing, deeply, Shintōism, with it's foci being on Nature and the seasons; it's the roots and trunk, if not the very soil; the others merely feel like branches, or the mere surface of the sea). but the West received Buddhism and Zen first and most forcefully (Blyth). and so that's become the mantra.

Other Haiku News / Re: Book Recommendations
November 09, 2011, 03:01:04 PM
an amazing book indeed. ground-breaking, eye-opening, and inspiring.

here's a review of it published in Modern Haiku:

and i believe it can still be purchased through Modern Haiku as well
i would recommend anything translated by Hiroaki Sato, Haruo Shirane, or Makoto Ueda.

Scott Watson's done some cool work with Santoka's oeuvre.

And *Essential Haiku*, edited by Robert Hass is a nice collection, easy to get, and affordable.  

Scott Watson's Santoka and Shiki collections are sharp.

There's David G. Lanoue's Issa website:

Also, a new collection called *Haiku Before Haiku* just came out translated by Steven Carter which is interesting, mostly for historical reasons.
i'm assuming the question of whether this poem of mine is a haiku or not has to do with its imaginative elements (blue apple, mirror-birth) and not the form of the poem (in this case: 3 lines, short-long-short, a kire/cut after the first line, creating two parts, and, as Paul Miller pointed out, a possibly strong, mysterious, ambiguous juxtaposition because of the word "it"—all standard-bearer elements and western traditions, in some way or another, since haiku pretty much began in the english language). if it is not the imaginative elements, then i am afraid pretty much nothing written in english that calls itself haiku will apply to whatever definition "lulu", and others, are holding so dear, whatever puritanical lamentations they have such sorrow and woe for.

this ku and the "blue apple" series (about 90** ku in total) was inspired, in some way or anther, i guess, by:

Jorge Luis Borges; magical realism; David Lynch; Ban'ya Natsuishi's Flying Pope series; Michael Pollan; frankenfood; genetics/modern science; Lewis Carroll; Adam & Eve/Genesis/knowledge/Satan; Haruo Shirane's "vertical axis, the movement across time"; Stanley Kubrick's films (wherein there is a mirror scene in each one, oftentimes during the most critical scenes); Johnny Appleseed; Snow White & the Seven Dwarves; surrealism; cubism; the mythological and the fantastic; Ban'ya Natsuishi's concept of "the totality of reality" (which includes the imagination, not just, or only, "direct experience"/objective reality); evolution; mystery and depth (yū gen); playfulness (with tradition, with the concepts of Nature/the Wild and with season); Bashō's imaginative, radical and non-traditional "old pond" ku and compositional philosophies; automatic writing, particularly that done by and promoted by Shiki and explained by Tsubouchi Nenten ("And for each topic, he composed 10 haiku as part of his formal compositional style. . . . Then, whenever he and his friends would gather, he lit a stick of incense, and they would write as many haiku as possible before the incense went out. This may seem merely playful—but the process requires intense concentration. As a result, something of the unconscious is revealed: this is similar to a kind of automatic writing, the automatic writing of the surrealist poets, I believe" [Poems of Consciousness, Richard Gilbert, 155] [interestingly enough, Kyoshi found this method "too playful"].

in addition, these quotes about the long history of imagination in haiku and  how vital it is from Haruo Shirane's "Beyond the Haiku Moment" ( have made their inroads on me:

"The joy and pleasure of haikai was that it was imaginary literature . . . . [T]o create a new and unexpected world. . . . One could compose about one's daily life, about being an official in China, about being a warrior in the medieval period, or an aristocrat in the ancient period. The other participants in the haikai sequence joined you in that imaginary world or took you to places that you could reach on with your imagination.

In short, linked verse, both orthodox linked verse (renga) and its comic or casual version (haikai), was fundamentally imaginary."

"For Basho, it was necessary to experience everyday life, to travel, to expose oneself to the world as much as possible, so that the poet could reveal the world as it was. But it could also be fictional, something born of the imagination. In fact, you had to use your imagination to compose haikai, since it was very much about the ability to move from one world to another. Basho himself often rewrote his poetry: he would change the gender, the place, the time, the situation. The only thing that mattered was the effectiveness of the poetry, not whether it was faithful to the original experience."

Also the following from Janine Beichman's Masaoka Shiki, His Life and Works:

"Shiki found Bashō's work deficient in one area, however: he had not used imagination. In Some Remarks on Bashō, he wrote: "Basho's haiku speak only of what was around him [emphasis in original]. That is, his subject was either an emotion he felt subjectively or else natural scenes and human affairs that he observed objectively. This is of course admirable, but the fact that he discarded scenes which arise from imagination and are outside observation, as well as human affairs he had not experienced, shows that Basho's realm was rather small" (p77).

of course this has been proven to be historically a little off. Bashō did, at times, make up scenes (wrote of and about places he had not been to) and scenery, yet combined them with objective reality and simplicity. and so he did use imagination at times, though not to the extent, perhaps, Shiki would have liked, or that someone like Buson utilized at a much higher percent. this quote also shows that Shiki was not only or all about shasei and objective writing, but that using one's imagination was very important to him (and recently we have been reminded of this by Nenten [as mentioned above] and also by Kaneko Tohta in the new book Ikimonofūei (Poetic Composition on Living Things).

there's also this from Beichman's book:

"Four years later, in The Haiku Poet Buson, [Shiki] wrote of Bashō: He simply took himself as his basic poetic material and went no further than expressing the truth of objects related to him. In modern terms, such poverty of observation is really laughable.

Of all haiku poets, Shiki wrote in the same work, only Buson has used imagination successfully. In this lay his uniqueness.... Using imagination to write haiku, said Shiki, meant writing about what human beings cannot experience, what does not exist in reality, ancient things, places one has never visited, or societies one has never seen."

". . . Shiki's analysis treats the history of the haiku as a kind of evolution . . ."

and so i think this is where the "haiku vs haiku" (the unfortunate title of this thread) comes in. thinking of the haiku art form in such a way is exclusionary, closed, puritanical, not to mention antagonistic. it's a fundamentalist perception of, and approach to, haiku instead of an evolutionary one. i strongly disagree with this approach. if someone wants to call what they write haiku, so be it. there's nothing "sad" about it ("chibi575"'s word), nor should work that doesn't jive with some conservative definition "be encouraged to become its own genre (as the Japanese have named modern haiku, gendai haiku)". it's all part of one expanding web, one genre, one family, "expanding with each poem that's written" (Martin Lucas); nor is Japanese post-war haiku (gendai) considered a separate genre in Japan. that's perhaps wishful thinking (for some reason), but simply malarky. it's all one. a progression. an evolution.***

what the real and vital questions should be are: is it good poetry? is it quality? is it art?

i don't think i'm going out on a limb here to say that if one is only going to write haiku (and want everyone else to write haiku) based on a very specific and closed definition, and strike a pose of fundamental puritanicalism, or write haiku based on poll results of common characteristics, or the uninformed teachings of elementary school teachers (bless them), or some hyper-specific "way" or technique of some poet from centuries ago, or whatever else, then the poetry will more than likely be empty, trite, boring, disingenuous, cliche, pretentious, phony, lifeless, forgettable, and disposable.

those who are longing for haiku to be one thing, one kind of poetry, one kind of box—this mindset—seems contradictory to the entire haiku art form itself.

yes, experimental, avant-garde, nu haiku, or nu ku (new/naked ku), can be just as pretentious, and that's a sincere danger and something poets need to be mindful of, but it is a movement based on openness, excitement, playfulness, elasticity. . . . It's an evolutionary (not fundamentalist) view of haiku's extensive and amazing, and ever-expanding history, and is directly in tune with its fundamental nature of freshness, and experimentation—the idea of haiku being both a folk art and a radical/revolutionary art form, and one which challenges traditions—not one that's over-protective and putting on a coat of phony purity airs that has never existed in the first place.

as i mentioned at the beginning, the "blue apple" ku were a series, and my first at an attempt to take one topic and experiment with it. i have done others ("the queen of violets" and "the king of sharks"; and of course there is Ban'ya Natsuishi's "Flying Pope" series; John Sandbach's "invisible castle" series in his collection a dragonfly and facts; Chris Gordon has done likewise with his "Invisible Circus" and "Chinese Astronauts"; there are Tanya McDonald's "seven moons"; Michael Dylan Welch has played with "seven suns" and the "neon buddha"; Johannes S. Berg's "fun house" ku; the Gordon, McDonald, Welch and Berg can be found in Roadrunner and MASKS). i think it would be fun and exciting to see others play with this concept of personal mythology/topic and automatic/series writing. perhaps great things will come of it, or, perhaps more importantly, inspire new work by others.

i'd like the share the five ku* from that series that were selected by Ban'ya Natsuishi for issue #42 (April, 2009) of his Ginyu journal:

blue apple
it gives birth
to a mirror

a day balanced
on the blue apple

in a pool
surrounding the blue apple
the tears of a crow

deep underground―
the blue apple reflecting
billions of suns

on the blue apple
the spider dreams dreams
in shades of blue

and two others from the series that i think are decent:

what if
the blue apple were
a blue rose

the blue apple
sending out waves
to a red apple

*edited: it was 5, not 7, and so two were removed
**not 20 like i originally posted but actually 90 (i was going off an edited document)
***some deletion, revision and additions here
Kaneko Tohta has some interesting things to say about the poem:

"Of the three poems mentioned above, I would like to speak a little about the one by Basho. When he wrote "the sound of water," Basho did something new. Until then, Japanese poets had only written about the croaking of frogs. Basho's use of the sound made when the frog entered the water was revolutionary. Indeed, we can call it a present to the world of haiku. In this haiku, the pond - "the old pond" - occupies the most important part. How prosaic it would have been if he had written "the old swamp." And I don't know if anything like "the old sea" exists. Therefore, "the old pond" is a very fitting expression.

By the way, foreigners usually look at the old pond in the poem very philosophically. I don't agree. The old pond is muddy, filled with algae, the water in it hardly ever moving. Not clear, it reflects the sunshine, and there are bugs jumping in it. That is what the "old pond" is like. I insist that with such an old pond, I can hear the splash of a frog. It jumped in somewhere. When I hear this sound, I imagine the old pond. The combination of these two - the old pond and the sound made by the splash - forms the world of the haiku. After this, each reader receives his own image.

The reason this haiku interests me so much is because I perceive animism here. "Animism" is a dangerous expression, but I have followed the dictionary's meaning. I think that Basho feels that each living thing is important and that it possesses a soul. Indeed, Basho's animism appears in "the old pond." Frankly, I want to emphasize his sensitivity toward living creatures."


What strikes me as important from what Tohta mentions is that Bashō did something new, something fresh, something radical/revolutionary, something non-traditional, something unforseen with this poem. Perhaps some at the time asked the question: Why is this hokku? It breaks the rules.

It also seems important to note that this poem is not based on direct experience but a combination of experience and imagination, composition, editing, fusion. From page 140 of Makoto Ueda's Bashō and His Interpreters, it is noted that it was not a pond but a river Bashō heard the sound. The first line/part was not written. "the mountain roses" was suggested by a student. But he chose "the old pond" for its simplicity and substance. And for the reasons above: for its newness and its resistance to tradition, in order to expand that tradition.

Also, Ogiwara Seisensui, in writing about his concepts of free verse haiku in the early 20th c. writes extensively about this poem. He felt the first line was "superfluous" and "proposed changing the poem to:

a frog leaps in—
the water's sound

Here is his explanation:

What motivated Bashō to write this haiku was the sound of a frog jumping in, nothing more." He felt the poem in just a "two line" form expresses the poet's feeling better. "Seisensui peculated that even a master poet like Bashō fell victim to his own conventional idea of form and conceived a weak first line when he wrote the frog haiku. In Seisensui's view, the poem shows the need for breaking down the 5-7-5 pattern" (Modern Japanese Poets and the Nature of Poetry, Makoto Ueda, chapter seven).

Gabi mentioned Hasegawa Kai's discussion of this ku. Kai mentions how this ku "offers us several relevant contemporary topics". His ideas are exciting i think. One: that this ku is a combination of elements, a combination of realities: one of the imagination. The frog/s was/were not seen but heard. The old pond was not there but imagined: "the vision of the old pond arose in his mind". Also: "it juxtaposes two different material dimensions": the objective and the imaginative. "Read in this way, this haiku is not a scene composed of the viewing an object, but rather of listening to sounds, and furthermore, Bashō composed this ku via active imagination (the haiku is not shasei, an objective sketch) . . . This haiku was written 300 years ago and it has been misunderstood for 300 years" (Poems of Consciousness, Richard Gilbert, pp 71-75).

On another note, Kai utilizes this ku when talking about kire (cutting) and how it has three cuts, not just one:

/ old pond / frog(s) jump-in sound of water /

at the beginning and the end. The cuts before and after the ku indicating how it has been "cut from ths reality within which we live—form the literal place/environment/atmosphere ("ba") of literal existence" (77).      
Journal Announcements / Roadrunner 11.2 is now up
August 10, 2011, 10:33:21 PM

Submissions for 11.3 are most welcome.

Roadrunner will consider haiku of any school written in English (including senryu, zappai and short poetry inspired by haiku). Please send 5 to 25 ku at a time for consideration. No single poem submissions, please (they will be ignored). Also, please limit yourself to sending only two submissions per reading period. All poems must be unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere. Please read the journal before you submit work.

At this time there is no payment for accepted work.

The submission deadline for issue 11.3 is December 1st, 2011.

We try to respond to submissions within a month. Send an email if you're concerned.

sorry for being a bit off the latest topics (Peter, your selection of Chris Gordon's ku is awesome—i really love that piece—and you're explication is as well). i contacted Hiroaki Sato concerning Kaneko Tohta's motorcycle ku and asked if he could provide another translation/version since only two could be found.

i sent him what Gabi Greve had posted on this thread.

Here is what he had to say, and many thanks to him for doing so:

"The transliteration is slightly off.


gekiron tsukushi machi-yuki ootobai to kasu.

The last 'kasu' should be treated as a verb. Also, properly 'ootobai' should be 'ōtobai.'

The ferocious argument exhausted I go through town transform myself into a motorcycle

Of course, options are many. For example, 'to kasu' being a bungo 文語, and this by nature an abbreviated locution, you may want to avoid the drawn-out expression 'transform myself into' and simply say 'become a motorcycle.'"

The ferocious argument exhausted I go through town become a motorcycle

The sweet smell
from an unknown tree
repulses the metropolis

—Kai Falkman

(THF Per Diem ku for 7.28.11)

A poem i've long liked, admired and found inspiration from. really memorable.

There are a number of things going on in this ku: (collective) personification/anthropomorphism, "pointing to the missing reason", "the impossibly true"; the ku acts as a possible meditation on landscape/nature, city v. rural, the wild v. the planned, the modern world, the environment and possibly our environmental dilemma (pollution/global warming), how one conducts and lives one's life. How has this sweeping feeling—this rejection—been made, not for an individual, but for an entire city/metropolis? i'm also left thinking about "complicity"—that while one lives in a place, and has individual ideas and ideals and opinions, and may disagree with the majority, there is a kind of complicity in their (a city's, a school's, a nation's) actions. There's also something, i must say, fictional about the use/choice of the word "metropolis" for me (it conjures the worlds of Superman and Batman, respectively; not a negative thing, quite interesting in fact).  

This ku though also made me ponder "the unknown" and how this topic/issue is used in haiku.

Most ku concentrate on the known, the knowable, the certain, the "direct experience"—the what's right in front of us, the graspable, the tangible. there is a preference for this in English-language haiku, a discrimination one might say. it's a strong expectation.

But what about the unknown? the unsure? the uncertain? the maybes? oftentimes they can be just as tantalizing, just as invigorating, inspiring—if not more so. some things we can not know, or can't put into words, but desperately want to. sometimes the trying is enough, and the product is in itself a way of sharing experience, emotion and imagination. we become part of the mystery.

And because the poet does not know, because there is indeterminacy, and mystery, the reader is invited even more so—more involved to participate and imagine, as opposed to being overly guided, with hand held and a light shown every inch of the way. This 'unknowing' that is expressed creates a sense of openness and space (creating a sense of ma: "space—'betweeness,' alternate dimension or time, a psycho-poetic interval of betweeness—non-literal reality arising as resonance, between and through words, and beyond them"), allowing the reader to dwell, contemplate, entwine with the poet/seer's confusion/unrest/pushing & pulling, and possibly draw a conclusion (or two).

Some examples that convey some of the unknown, the unknowable:

autumn deepens—
the man next door, what does he do
for a living?


from which tree's bloom
it comes, I do not know—
this fragrance

—Bashō (tr by Ueda)

why and
why not

—Rajiv Lather

snowlight things seem so oh i don't know
—Jim Kacian

who knows
who knows who knows

—John Stevenson

vermillion maples—
a man at the bus stop
could be Odin
—Ebba Story

Is forsythia the wrong destination

—Grant Hackett

but probably enough

—Lee Gurga

later you realize it was actually a piece of your own body

which part of me gets which part of you suddenly it's spring

—Chris Gordon

from some unknown tree, a leaf
sticking to it


Issa constantly asked questions to nature, animals, insects, the unknown—searching for answers, meaning, understanding, connection:

mosquito at my ear—
does it think
i'm deaf?

red morning sky,
are you glad of it?

does cold come from
O scarecrow?

why did the wild pink break?
O why
did it break?


the whale's eyes
stung . . . the reason

—Ken'ichi Tajima

 the metallic taste
        of what
      I can't imagine
   negative tide

—Eve Luckring

Richard Gilbert's written about how ku can convey a sense of "Pointing to the Missing Subject" (or "Point to the Missing Reason"), forcing the reader to try to resolve the unknown, to make sense of things:

counting down the goodness of man:
from the sixth

—Hishinaga Fumio

Does this seem like a viable subject to you to further contemplate and explore? Can you think of other examples that touch upon the unknown?

*just some little things revised

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