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become (haiku & transformation)

Started by Scott Metz, July 23, 2011, 04:06:16 AM

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Mark Harris

please carry on with your exhaust studies. In the meantime, I hope you don't mind if I return to an earlier thread of thought. Scott Metz wrote:

Quote(the failure to transform; equally, if not more, powerful):

New Year's Eve bath—
I failed to become
a swan

        --Fay Aoyagi

which brings to mind a few other poems that explore expectation and perception. Are they about failed transformations? They are not transcendent. Yet, such moments of awareness and transition can change us.

dropping stone after stone
into the lake    I keep

        --George Swede

summer festival—
my Astro Boy mask
has lost its power

        --Fay Aoyagi

After a strip search
old inmates, new inmates
in blue prison garb

        --Johnny Baranski

Jack Galmitz

Mark, forgive me for bypassing your latest comments.

Just two poems, one of mine, the other by a Japanese woman whose name I cannot recall (because I do not keep books) about one subject and two approaches, one in keeping with a sketch from life, the other utilizing the fantastic to convey the emotion of the subject.  Which is better I cannot say. I do have to admit, though, to my great admiration for the woman's haiku (it remains one of the few I recall by heart).

A May night-
even after dark
the clouds are white

A May night-
without a ship I set sail
for the moon's shores
(J. Galmitz)

Is there something inherently decisive in choosing one style over another?
What do you think?  Do both styles achieve a similar end?

John McManus

Mark, I feel that you have touched upon something that is imperative about mutations. Yes we can change what we are for periods of time, but whether this is acheived through the use of chemicals, environment, illness, or metaphor these transformations are usually fleeting or impossible to acheive. Sentiments which I feel are feel expressed in the poems you shared. Particularly Fay's.

Jack, I enjoyed both the poems you shared, and honestly I found yours to be more striking than the unnamed japanese woman's. Like I said I did enjoy her poem, but yours has more intrigue to it (well, at least it does to me) I found your middle line to be a wonderful expression of saying your not equiped or ready to make such a voyage but your going to go anyway, and if you end up on the moon's shores then so be it.


Peter Yovu

Jack, I like both poems you have presented here, though in my opinion, both suffer a bit by the use of qualifiers which serve as commentary and distract from the poems' essential beingness. I would prefer something like

A May night--
after dark
the clouds are white       (or possibly still white)

The word "still" retains a degree of commentary, but less so.  By using the word "even", I feel, the author is holding our hands a bit,  she doesn't seem willing to let the mystery of white clouds simply be.

Your poem is quite wonderful, and as with the first, perhaps I only quibble here. Nonetheless, I think something more daring than "without a ship" would work well here.

But I think you'll have defenders for both poems as they are, and perhaps they'll be right.

Peter Yovu

The subject of transformation is a huge one, and one which gets more subtle and involved the more I consider it. Certainly it is a core subject for haiku and poetry in general. 

I don't have much time to develop my thoughts right now, but it strikes me that it can be opened up by looking at different approaches or aspects, none of which will entirely exclude or stand apart from the others. Perhaps something like:

Poems that embody--

psychological transformation, which might be characterized as a change of state in the psyche, or mind. Maybe Tohta's "motorcycle" would be an example of this.

mythological transformation, characterized by physical, bodily change. Mikajo Yagi's:

The falling leaves--
rushing underground I notice
scales on my skin

is an example.

Then, and more difficult to characterize, we could add spiritual transformation. I would say that poems which hint at this would not lend themselves to easy interpretation or association. They just are, and work as direct transmission to our souls. Perhaps they come from the unity of heart and mind.  Of the poems Scott gave us, maybe Shoshi Fujita's approaches this:

As a single drop
of moonlight
I am walking

I feel the subject offers rich ground for exploration, for stepping right into the electric heart of poetry/haiku and maybe coming out transformed. And a bit shocked.

Don Baird

Yes, and in this case the Psychological Transformation apparently resulted in a physical activity/transformation as well - the emulation of a motorcycle and the recognition of the "likeness" from his angry actions - his roar! (hence, the poem)

It seems, Pyschological Transformation at its most rudimentary stage would be inactivity (the body not necessarily carrying out what the mind thinks).  The physical action as a result of the transformation becomes the activity - a living, action packed physical activity that can only be explained via a metaphor.    The metaphor is the tickle that leads the reader to ponder - encouraging her/him to engage imagination which in the end, fulfills the poem's requisition.

Physical Transformation:  how many times have we seen someone physically transform as a result of a Psycological Transformation? Are these two separate activities or one?  Is one a subcategory to the other and the metaphor a result?  Is this the formula: psychological transformation, physical transformation, imagination = metaphor? (in regards to this poem)


I write haiku because they're there to be written ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

Jack Galmitz

Peter and Don, you both raise very valuable points, worthy of long pondering, and I'm grateful to you.
I'm particularly pleased Peter with your definition of a poem as having an essential being and it raises the question of when does a modifier distract from it.  This would be worthy of a thread of its own.

Peter Yovu

In response to Don's post (and beyond) let me offer a favorite poem of mine. Scott Metz wrote it. I'll comment later.

a piece of
an old boat--a sense of

Don Baird

It's interesting to ponder the oriental thought of "becoming one with something";  "become one with the bow" ... "let the unexpected arise" etc..  In the case we're discussing here, we are not becoming one with anything but, rather, becoming the thing itself (activity, emulation, likeness).  The ancient phrase would no longer be "be one with ...".  Instead, it would be "I become the thing" ... in the beginning, psychologically without ignoring the possibility of the becoming to be physical as well.

... thought provoking.
I write haiku because they're there to be written ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

John McManus

You're right Don, it is thought provoking, but why? Could it be because instead of being one thing in particular we define ourselves in numerous ways, and since this is a natural state of our being it makes these types of pyschological and physical mutations all the more relevant to our human core.   

Mark Harris

Quote...instead of being one thing in particular we define ourselves in numerous ways...

I agree, and don't, in that I don't believe we have selves, or at least not individual, fixed selves

grammatical edit

John McManus

Mark, I understand what you're saying, but I was talking more about the identities we create for ourselves and how they help us define our purpose and place. 

Mark Harris

QuoteYes we can change what we are for periods of time, but whether this is acheived through the use of chemicals, environment, illness, or metaphor these transformations are usually fleeting or impossible to acheive. --John

John, if I understand myself as actually changing, all the time, my understanding of transformation poems might be different from yours.

John McManus

That could be true, Mark, but I suppose that's why places like this are so wonderful because we get to see how others minds work and maybe we'll learn something in the exchange. Well, that's my hope anyway ;)   

Mark Harris

yes, John, that is my hope as well.

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