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Messages - chibi575

Cat... your grist is welcome.

Don... could you explain "minimally" in your last remark?  It sounds a wee bit condescendingly sarcastic, then, this may be my interpretation of your style?  Perhaps this is an expression of your frustration with the new genre concept?  I've decided to not take it personally, though.  Sorry for your frustration.  Thank you for your replies.

As to some of the reference to my prior thinking on the "new genre" concept (if this was a serious inquiry and not a snip based on frustration), I've been supporting beginning in the late 90's that much of what is written as haiku (other than in Japan), usually lacks a key understanding of the three elements I outlined in the previous post, kigo, kakekotoba, and kireji (explicitly or implied).  The pivotal component most misunderstood is kigo, but, the others have almost equal weight.  When transported to the English speaking world by Blythe, there was by it's newness (I believe), a flawed understanding as to these components and others.  Blythe did a stellar job (for his time) and is a good historical reference.  But, as more eyes began to look and understand the Japanese art form, more and more key nuances were discovered and the need for their transport (with their idea intact) began to show a strong collection of cultural based bias and barriers.  Some good reference books on these are by author Robin D. Gill (almost all his works have copious footnote and bibliography that explain in depth the Japanese "heart-mind").  Bill Higginson's books, too, are very good at explaining these ideas (Bill's presentation is very easy to understand).  My most enfluential book (for me personally) is "Chiyo-ni, Woman Haiku Master", authors Patricia Donegan and Yosie Ishibashi. 

My first sensei, Fujita Akegarasu, a haijin and leader of the Tokyo haiku circle, Kusanohana, instilled in me the Japanese haiku spirit.  He was gracious and a bit radical by Japanese haiku circle standards to accept me as a student.  He was my teacher for about 3 years until his passing in 2004.  He was very interested in any outside interest in haiku (he did not teach any other form, although I asked him about haibun, renku, and tanka).  Other than accepting me as student, he is teaching was standard for Japanese haiku circles, although, he was charismatic and could pull from you more than you felt you had.  I hold a deep fondness and respect for him.  Towards his death, he asked me to take his teachings back with me to the USA.  I had opened a free BLOG in Yahoo 360 (now defunct) to teach the limited lessons I had learned from Akegarasu sensei.  I met many through the blog that were interested in my experiences and interest in haiku.  There were a core of about 12 "students (haiku no deshi)" from many cultures that I still try to stay in contact with even today. 

I was also very lucky to have won the 8th Mainichi Frist Place Award in the International Haiku Contest, 2004.  I envited Akegarasu sensei to the awards ceremony to honor him as my teacher.  Here is an article in Atlanta Magazine that fills in more details:

I also supported Gabi Greve's ideas and concepts of the World Kigo Database, to give access to a collection (today still a work in progress) of world wide seasonal word references.  Gabi sama and I discussed at length the concepts within the Japanese haiku and there transportation to other languages and cultures.   We still feel frustrated about their lack of sound transport, although, her tireless energy has done more than I could begin to do to foment the kigo concept.

Today, I support the idea of new genre to actually free the short poem poetics from the Japanese haiku components that they have labored with through prior misunderstandings.  I feel that this freedom is afforded by a new genre that each country can take ownership of.

Thank you for your kindnesses.

Well... this is a fine fettle of kish!

Don... "write on!"  By the way, "baseball" I believe had a different name, orginally French...  oh well, I guess there was no one worried when it changed over time to "basball".  Actually, supports my arguement, sort of.  If I can use that as example, it took hundreds of years for that to happen and the game evolved into "baseball".  If haiku were treated as baseball, then, what would happen to the transported game if you decided to paly a game without bases (kigo), without bats (kireji), without balls (there is a pun there somewhere).  Would you not be a bit embarrased and confused to call it "baseball".

Let me outline some elements of Japanese haiku that I feel failed to be transported with the same importance held in Japan:

kigo (a major debate at times across the adapting cultures of the world) for this alone I could argue that this only applies to haiku (traditional Japanese hokku-to-haiku element).  This alone could be key to adopting a different name for the resulting poetry genre.

kakekotoba (word play or puns) which are usually the mark of mastership poetry in Japan and dates back to the root Chinese poetry.  Western puns are usually judged poor form in English literature, mostly, as near as I can assess, because they are at a sound level, whereby in Japan the best are situational and reference traditional and revered poets of the past.

kireji (precisely constructed pauses or "cut aways" usually delineated by an actual phrase or word in Japanese designed especially for this use.  Other languages do not have specific symbology for such.

Because of these specific art constructions that originate and are retained in Japanese haiku, makes me feel, it is a different genre (so far) when transported to non-Japanese cultures.

If we go back again to "baseball" the differences in the French game and todays game are variance enough to warrent a different name for the French game.  I think this exists between Japanese haiku and the resulting poems transfered to other cultures and yes, it is daunting to consider the name changes per adaptation per culture (embrasing diversity and not isolation).

What I am hearing from most of those that have replied to this forum, there is a concern of the effort and risk of confusion by proposing a plethera of genre (ones to embrace the world wide cultural diversity).  I feel such effort worth the gain in promoting a clearer understanding that a poem of three lines with some letter-phrase phoneticaly complete sound count of groupings of 5-7-5 may not qualify as haiku.  By qualifying the diversity of culture and resulting qualified components associated with their resulting own genre, could have a freeing effect.  The question of the Japanese haiku components of their poetry could be part of the adaptations.  In other words, kigo, kakekotoba, and kireji could be used or not as defined by the resulting rules of the genre.

Thanks all for your interest and replies.

PS... I am begining to feel like I'm in a possible skit by SNL's Rosanne Roseannadanna, "if it ain't Japanese, it ain't haiku! .... nevermind."
Cat, I really prefer "chibi" for that is actually my haigou, if that's ok.  But, if you're more comfortable with Dennis, then please by all means be comfortable.  I will take no offense either way.

As to the plethera of names if taken the method I've suggested, it is perhaps as you say, "a tower of Babel".  Yet, it is no more than the present names given all the different genre of literary art.  As I gave example of "phrase poetry" for English, perhaps, the approach could be refined.  I am taking my lead, actually, from the Japanese, which in admiring Chinese literature adapted their own variation and name for their forms of poetry based upon similar Chinese genres.  Did this become overwhelming to the Japanese?  Not really as is proof today of the various Japanese names adapted from Chinese verse, hokku, tanka, renku... are a few examples.  If they used the Chinese literature directly, the Chinese name was used, after all most of the Japanese kanji is based upon Chinese pictogram symbology retaining the orginal Chinese meaning.  Maybe kanji could be used as an example because the Chinese do not say "kanji" as the name of their symbology.  The Japanese were keen to point out their "ownership" of the use by the name.

There are difficulties in any change.  I am willing to concede my idea of naming may not be the best, thus, in part the reason for introducing the subject, "Concerning English Short Poetry", although, I should have originally named it, "Concerning Short Poetry" for in fact I did not mean it exclusive to English, but, because I am a native English speaker, I thought to emphasize I can not speak for other nationalities but best from my USA perspective.

Thank you for your reply.  Your point about "the tower of Babel" is definately a valid consideration and begs a solution.

To all:

I have tried to present a possible way to do a in course correction on the effort to widden the world wide transportation of a Japanese art form, haiku.  I have suggested (with genuine sincerety) that as we transport we take direct ownership of the resulting art by naming that art form in relation to the adopting culture/language/nation.  This has understandably caused frustration and personal irritation as expressed in the comment replies.  I apologize for causing that; but, I do not shrink from my conviction that ownership is needed for the transported art form.  If The Haiku Foundation membership would like to have discussion on this thread, I welcome it.  What I will not tollerate is bullying in any form.  Please keep your comments focused on the theme of "taking ownership".  I have cast a challenge by the statement, "If it ain't Japanese, it ain't haiku."  Perhaps this is too frank (or even rude) of a statement.  My reasoning behind such a statement was to move the membership to discussion, not, open this forum to personal attacks (for anyone of any nationality).

Thank you for your kindnesses.
Dave, thank you for your apology and your position has become clear.  I did not fully realize your frustration and irritation with my frustration, although, I'm not irritated to have oposing opnion if it is not accompanyed by personal jibs (you cleared that it was not personal, and I thank you for that).  I hope we can agree to disagree.  I am aware of your envolvement in the HNA and you have passion for the art.  My contentions about the status quo are for no particular individual.  From the time that haiku was transported to the USA it was fraught with misconception, I feel.  Of course, it is a complicated issue.  I feel it needs retroactive correction.  Such efforts can frustrate and irritate, I grant; and, this is no different throughout history.  Let me say this as I've said consistently in the past, "I love haiku".  That passion I hope to learn to always express with compassion.  I am truly sorry for the irritation that my possition has caused you.  Mostly, I feel I am misunderstood in my positioin.  I would have thought taking more ownership of what we write in the way of a different name of the form would finally point us in the right direction.

Thank you. 

As to sources, thank you for your effort, but, I am exploring this myself, too.  I continue to explore.

Actually, all my leanings towards finding a name of the poetry written in English, specifically but not exclusively, the USA was in hopes of clearing what I consider misguided and misunderstood concepts in the transporting of Japanese haiku outside of Japan.  I think we (non-Japanese) should take ownership of the form(s) we have created (in the effort of that transportation).

Quote from: Lorin on December 15, 2010, 12:48:01 AM
Quote from: Dave Russo on December 15, 2010, 12:31:44 AM

In the books of translated haiku that I've read by Barnhill, Ueda, and others, the typical approach is to acknowledge the haiku/hokku distinction, then move on. To make a big deal of this distinction now is contrary to standard usage and is therefore more confusing than accepting the status quo . . .

Yup, Dave, I can confirm that this is the typical contemporary approach and wholeheartedly agree with it for the reasons you give. Any other approach now is either misguided or deliberately mischievous.


I take it as a personal slur to accuse me of being "deliberately mischievous".  Please do not make these discussions personal, I haven't.  I concede any comment and response may be misquided, but, to imply something deliberately mischievous is a demeaning judgement.  Please stop.  Thank you.
Quote from: Dave Russo on December 15, 2010, 12:31:44 AM
In regard to the haiku/hokku distinction: it is real, but it is most useful in scholarly contexts. These remarks from David Landis Barnhill might explain why:

"During most of the twentieth century, Western scholars and translators used the term haiku for both modern haiku and premodern hokku. And haiku has thus generally come to be the generally accepted term in the West for both premodern and modern forms. In addition, Basho's hokku now function in modern culture (both in Japan and the West) the same way Shiki's haiku does, as independent verses."

David Landis Barnhill, Basho's Haiku (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004), page 4.

In the books of translated haiku that I've read by Barnhill, Ueda, and others, the typical approach is to acknowledge the haiku/hokku distinction, then move on. To make a big deal of this distinction now is contrary to standard usage and is therefore more confusing than accepting the status quo . . .

. . . unless your goal is to disrupt the status quo, which I assume chibi would like to do here! That's fine. Confusing, a little irritating, but fine.

Dave have we met?

It's a bit unsettling for you giving me a blind-side "compliment" asserting the idea of misnaming/re-naming is "... Confusing, a little irritating, but fine."  

I feel the "status quo" is simply wrong and misguided causing the deeper confusion we have today about "haiku".  If you don't believe it being deeply confusing today, just read what passes for "haiku" today.  I do not apologize for having my beliefs even though they may be judged confusing, irritating, but fine by you.  Although, I do feel your remark a bit condescending.  I will concede that what I say may be disruptive, but, I not only said it here, but, other places to with conviction. (See my first post on page one).

As to siting "... to acknowledge the haiku/hokku distinction, then move on. ..." I just don't buy that we've acknowledged it to the degree we need or else we just wouldn't simply moved on the way we have.

Quote from: Lorin on December 14, 2010, 10:24:49 PM
Quote from: chibi575 on December 14, 2010, 04:42:15 AM

I'm in the process of getting access to the original Shiki in Japanese.  Then it may take me a long time to see with factual certainty that no haiku existed as such prior to Shiki.

o, dear... Dennis.

Granted, haiku is the term often given retrospectively to Basho's and others' hokku in the wake of Shiki, though there is some evidence that the word 'haiku' was in use in Japan before Shiki, but not to designate what has been termed 'haiku' post-Shiki. . . the single verse which has its origins and counterpart in the hokku of haikai-no-renga, when published separately from the renga.

In a scholarly work, then, perhaps, it would be more technically correct to refer to 'hokku' when writing about pre-Shiki works published in anthologies outside of the context of a complete renga, but the fact that Shiki was successful in changing the name does not change the lineage.

Shiki's name change does seem to cause confusion for some Westerners, though. Maybe this in itself is one reason why more name changing isn't advisable?

Hi Lorin,

Could you give some direct references on your assertions about Shiki?  I would enjoy reading the same, to see, if something might have been lost in translation.  I have frankly read/translated little so far.  So, by providing such references perhaps I will agree with you.

I think if Bashou would be able to read Shiki's writings on formulating "haiku", he may be completely opposed, but, then Bashou was in a change phase toward the end of his life, if I understand the history.

At any rate, it is quite a challenge untangling fact from the history's written word (and more than doubly so if translation is involved); and, I can tell from your comments that you are completely against a re-naming, but, that's fine.
Quote from: hairy on December 14, 2010, 05:07:55 PM
Chibi 575:  oops, I did mean "lightning" --pardon the typo--altho the inadvertant "lightening" does offer possibilities..

I believe "poam" too closely linked with "poem" and some might think it was a typo

"highbeam" just crossed my has 2 syllables like haiku,  similar in sound ...and its definition "bright, illumination of a darkened road"..imbues it with some quintessential haiku attributes...

the key now would be to gather maybe 10 or 20  possible words and present them to influential haijin--and hope for the best!



Yes, I see your point, "poem" and "POAM" are similar on purpose but could simply be discounted as a typo.  I am thinking more about "phrase-poem".  Of couse, as sandra pointed out this may exclude other languages, but, I feel it possible if a similar name could be translated to the appropriate language, like, Spanish, (and I am guessing) "frase poema" (thanks to sandra I am aware of confusion in my previous message to exclude other nations' languages).
Quote from: sandra on December 14, 2010, 07:54:59 PM
I've toyed with the word coinage of ASP "American Short Poem" and ESP, "English Short Poem" : chibi

Oh dear, oh dear.

Thanks so much, chibi, for dispensing with all those speakers of English who don't happen to be American or English ....

Where shall I start? How about Canadians? Or Scots, Irish, Welsh? Or Australians, New Zealanders, Samoans, Fijians, Tongans, Cook Islanders? Or South Africans, Kenyans, Nigerians, Batswana, Gambians? Or Jamaicans, Barbadians, Belizians? Or Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans? And the list goes on.

If I may be so forward as to speak on behalf of the people and nationalities you've disenfranchised, I wonder how serious you really are. It seems that you've taken a provocative stance but haven't done much thinking to back it up, if the best you can come up with is "American" or "English" short poems.

Humph, etc.

Sorry, you misunderstood, (mostly my fault); but, I was using American/English as just one example.  Of course, the rule can be applied to any nation (excluding Japan, of course because "haiku" is used in Japan).  I am just exploring, if you have a suggestion for other nations, please I would like to see them.  Yes indeed, the list goes on.  Since I am from the USA, and my native tongue is "English" or should I say "USAian", I was speaking from that perspective.
In-Depth Haiku: Free Discussion Area / Re: fibonacci ku
December 14, 2010, 04:47:40 PM
I like the innovative use of combining fibonacci, syllables, and palindromes.  The Japanese haiku composed in hiragana (the Japanese alphabet) is 17 letters.  I wonder what mental calisthenics it would take to do the eguivalent in the English alphabet?

ciao... chibi
Quote from: hairy on December 14, 2010, 02:39:48 PM
ok..I'm up for the challenge. Since the essence of haiku is "poetry of the moment", "flash of lightening behind the mountain", or my:


here are a few possible names off the top of my head:


I like  LIGHTBEAM the best

now, here's the hard part. In oder for wide acceptance, the word has to be embraced by the majority of the haiku community--and used over an extended period of time.

For example: how do you think a "new word" gets published in a forthcoming edition of Websters International? How you ever thought?

Here's how:

At the annual lexicographer's  convention (I believe they convene in NYC) HUNDREDS of new words are presented--and then voted upon as to which will be added to first the "supplemental" edition and then annexed into the final next edition. The critera: the words that are accepted--invaribly ALL have been used by writers who write articles for the major newspapers, (NY Times numero uno)  and popular or critical magazines. I invented the word "mindache" (a headache specifically the result of overthinking, mental confusion from too much thinking, etc) which is up for consideration, but since no author has used it in a major publication, it has little chance for acceptance

So, if you accept lets say LIGHTBEAM, then it must be used by the majority of well-known haiku experts in well publicized articles, newspapers, etc--in order to get in with the new specialized meaning ( American shortpoem--similar to haiku--usually 3 lines and less than 17 syllables in duration that captures and expresses a singular moment or experience).

So you's  a daunting challenge and it seems like none of the respondants so far to your post are interested.

good luck,


hairy, welcome to a daunting challenge... first let me ask, do you mean "lightening" or "lightning"?  If "lightening" as a play on words from "enlightening", I feel this a different deepening than to use "lightning".  I like both, but, those that read it would feel you mean, "lightning" and miss some intent.  Perhaps I read too much into it and it is simply a typo?

Shiki faced a daunting challenge, but, he knew the way to attempt the coinage of "haiku" within the Japanese poet community. 

I think if some well known and respected authority, could suggest a change in the nomenclature, if convinced so.  I speculate that if Bill Higginson, would have suggested this change, it would have happend; but, Bill Higginson is no longer with us, regretfully.  I never had the opportunity during his life to suggest it to him, although, we did discuss aspects of English as well as other languages difficulties on what Japanese characteristics could be ported to other cultures and languages.  I discussed this with him in person, although, privately at the HNA convention in Winston-Salem, 2007.  Also, there are discussion currently in Japan as to specify a delineation between Japanese haiku and other countries/language.  (see a previous post on page one)

I know, but disagree, with the dissolving of English words by disuse, as in your reference (my wife is a professional in Library Sciences and we've regreted some of the annual lexicographer's effort).  Yet, English is a living language and as such shrinks and grows within resolved limits.

I've toyed with the word coinage of ASP "American Short Poem" and ESP, "English Short Poem", although, a bit tongue-in-cheek because "asp" and "esp" both are overloaded in English (one a snake the other a pseudoscience).  If in English we follow the structure used by Shiki but in English context, then it would be a combination similar to ha.i and ku (俳句)or "phrased poetry" (a difficult translation to English at best).  Shiki was reacting to "haikai no renga" or vulgar linked poetry.  So, "phrase poetry" might be a good phrase to represent English language haiku.  Because I like achronimic names, "poam"... (poetry of a momement) hmmmm... that may stick or slide down the wall?

ciao...thanks for your reply

Quote from: cat on December 14, 2010, 11:14:11 AM
Hello, Chibi,

If you mean Beichman's book, I only looked at t he chapter that dealt with this particular topic (Western influence), so I don't know how she used the word "haiku" or "hokku" or what explanation she gave. 

It would be interesting to find that 1900 essay "Jojibun" and see what it actually says.

And I must say, I find it interesting -- and ironic -- how you use Shiki as a rationale for narrowing what can be considered "haiku" to a very closely defined Japanese entity when everything about him I read last evening made some mention of him wanting to "liberate" Japanese poetry from, as the paragraph I quoted puts it, "ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression," which seems to be just the opposite of what you're promoting in this thread.


Yes, you exploration is correct, but, I feel needs a little more Japanese background history.  Shiki's reaction to liberate was from the renku rule system and the expanding narrowing (oxymoron) of that system which was gaining popularity at the time (my historic accuracy is based upon limited reading, in all fairness); but, Shiki's proposal was a reaction to Japanese enfluences on poetry at the time, although, he was acquiring more information about the west.  In fact, Shiki I believe wanted to re-new some of Bashou's later principles as to poetry.  Let me concede that my exploration is on going.  Please continue your exploration.  I would be honored to share your views as we continue.

I certainly do not want to mislead; and, it seems as though I've done so if you feel " "liberate" Japanese poetry from, as the paragraph I quoted puts it, "ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression," which seems to be just the opposite of what you're promoting in this thread."  I want to adhere to a factual taxonomy and call haiku haiku and ELH, well... something more accurate to what it is and is becoming.  I am not trying to restrict or English efforts, I am trying to put them in proper perspective in relationship to world literature.  That's why I say, "If it ain't Japanese, it ain't haiku".

I thank you for continuing dialog and appreciate your openness to others' ideas.  I would feel very sad if I've introduced a negativeness to your exploration of haiku and it's roots.

Quote from: cat on December 14, 2010, 03:48:24 AM

I did a Google search for "Masaoka Shiki European influence" and got 19,900 hits.

Many included something of this ilk:  "As early as 1892, Masaoka began to feel that Japanese poetry needed to be liberated from ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression. At that time, the traditional seventeen-syllable verse form was considered incapable of expressing the complexities of modern life. After discovering Western philosophy, Shiki became convinced that laconic descriptions were an effective means of literary expression. In an essay entitled "Jojibun" ("Narration"), which appeared in the newspaper Nihon in 1900, Masaoka introduced the word shasei ("delineation from nature" or "sketching") to describe his methodology of using contemporary language and realistic images."

A book on Shiki by Janine Beichman, in large part available on Google books 

contains a lot of information about the influence of Western painting on Shiki's ideas.

The info is out there.


Thanks Cat for doing the research, but, I am a bit perplexed of the misuse of "haiku" in the reference sited.  Bashou wrote absolutely NO haiku.  Maybe there was something hidden in the introduction that made some explanation for this misuse?  Again, it only shows westerners writing about "haiku masters" prior to Shiki are misguided.  

In all fairness, I contend to be no expert, but, it seems logical that the concept of Shiki's "haiku" was not historically retroactive.  I think the confusion may be with hokku (in haikai no renga) and Shiki's "haiku".  

I'm in the process of getting access to the original Shiki in Japanese.  Then it may take me a long time to see with factual certainty that no haiku existed as such prior to Shiki.

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