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Topics - Scott Metz

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 / 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.

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.


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

in a tent in the rain i become a climate

—Jim Kacian

(Per Diem ku for 7.22.11)

Some really cool things going on in this ku.

There is the "the impossibly true" (caused by its "multi-stops", see below): "the rain i become"; "i become a climate"

Is there not also a request?: "become a climate"?

And so some "misreading as meaning" occurs.

Part of this is caused by the one-line ku technique, coined by Jim: "multi-stops". It all depends where your mind stops, where it needs or wants to stop as it's read. And of course this ku also employs "speedrush", with all the words and images coming quickly, almost all at once, heightened by its minimalism.

There is intriguing repetition (3 "in"s; the 3rd more of a visual repetition than sound, like the first two), emphasizing the rain perhaps (its sound), or perhaps the new climate itself.

The keyword, "rain", invites to explore and create one's own associations, world, season. Specifying season would have been intrusive language-wise, and also close off the mystery, ambiguity and invitation it lends to the reader.

The ku has the physical and consciousness-imaginative feeling of Russian nesting dolls, a ku that takes us further and further, more and more inward, until we are inside the poet and a transformation (the poem's imaginative surprise element) occurs—a leap from "outer" (rain, tent) to "i". So, though i could be wrong, it seems there is some ""semantic register shift" going on here, a little jump inside (poet and reader), with something new created, though everything right up to the end weaves together rather seamlessly and plays off one another.

These and other things about it make it unique to the english language, and showcases how "English-language haiku" is a viable term which is intricately connected and indebted to Japanese haiku, yet uniquely its own thing in English poetry as well.

With regards to transformation, which seems like a vital theme of this ku, and something i find especially successful about this ku, i am reminded of Kaneko Tohta's transformation poem:

After a heated argument
I go out to the street
and become a motorcycle

(tr. by Makoto Ueda)

What other ku can you think of that have this transformation element?

What else is going on this ku?

The Haiku Foundation has created The Touchstone Awards for Best Individual Poems published in 2010:

And anyone who has had at least one haiku or senryu written in English and published in 2010 can nominate poems.

I thought it would be fun and interesting to open things up to those on this new forum though and ask:

What was your favorite English-language ku that was published in 2010? And, of course: Why?!

If you feel strongly about your choice, and haven't done so yet, go to the link above and nominate it for the Touchstone 2010 Award (by December 31st!).

My guess is that you might certainly have more than one. For this forum topic though, it might be advantageous (though i could certainly be wrong) to limit your selections to 1 to 3 ku.

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