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sine qua non

Started by Dmitri, November 10, 2021, 09:33:41 PM

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Dmitri

Kigo, ma, kireji, juxtaposition and of course brevity are some of the elements which haiku are known for. I wonder if for you there is a single element, or perhaps more than one, that has to be present in some form
for you to consider a given poem a haiku? What is the sine qua non of haiku?

Thank you for considering.

Dmitri

AlanSummers

Dear Dmitri,

Thank you for your post!


Quote from: Dmitri on November 10, 2021, 09:33:41 PM
Kigo, ma, kireji, juxtaposition and of course brevity are some of the elements which haiku are known for. I wonder if for you there is a single element, or perhaps more than one, that has to be present in some form
for you to consider a given poem a haiku? What is the sine qua non of haiku?

Thank you for considering.

Dmitri

It could be the overall effect of the seasonal touch, and the pairing of two ultra short phrases (one line and two line phrases). That might make haiku obvious above everything else.

Of course non-seasonal haikai verses, and hokku, have existed for many hundreds of years.

Perhaps it's all about an axis effect? I touched on this at my presentation at Haiku North America this year. Of course the type of axis that I use  is different from both traditional and current use at times.

Here's a definition of axis, in general:


What is the axis?
The definition of an axis is a real or imaginary line on which something rotates, or a straight line around which things are evenly arranged. An example of axis is an imaginary line running through the earth on which the earth rotates. ... A main line of motion, development, etc.

and from the same website, multiple definitions of axis:
https://www.yourdictionary.com/axis



warm regards,
Alan
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

Dmitri

Thanks Alan. So would you say that for you, if a very brief (approx. 17 syllables or less) poem does not
demonstrate a seasonal touch and/or a pairing of two very short phrases, it is not a haiku? And yet many
poems that appear in the journals do neither.

Dmitri

AlanSummers

One of my all time favourite haiku:

せきをしてもひとり
— 尾崎放哉


Coughing, even:
alone   

Hosai Ozaki (1885-1926)


Seki o / shite mo / hitori
Seki o shite mo hitori

3-3-3 pattern

"When haiku needs to overcome its shortness, a vital technique, kire (break) is used." —Ban'ya Natsuishi

Haiku started breaking away from the hokku model due to great social upheaval from the Industrial Revolution, two world wars, other conflicts, extreme urbanisation and a reduced agrarian society, and now the online revolution.

The above haiku isn't even the shortest from Japan.

It certainly has pairing, but no obvious 'seasoning'.

This haiku has seasoning but does it have pairing?

みちのくのつたなきさがの案山子かな   
山口青邨

michinoku no tsutanaki saga no kakashi kana

in the Deep north
a scarecrow
with his poor fate

Seison Yamaguchi (1892-1988)
Haiku Dai-Saijiki (Comprehensive Haiku Saijiki), Kadokawa Shoten, Tokyo, 2006

Which kind of haiku do you like and prefer?

warm regards,
Alan

Quote from: Dmitri on November 11, 2021, 05:46:48 PM
Thanks Alan. So would you say that for you, if a very brief (approx. 17 syllables or less) poem does not
demonstrate a seasonal touch and/or a pairing of two very short phrases, it is not a haiku? And yet many
poems that appear in the journals do neither.

Dmitri
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

Dmitri

I realize the question may put some people on the spot. It is potentially very revealing (of how one sees
haiku), but I do think it is an interesting question, worth exploring.

Coughing, even:
alone

is one of my favorites too.

About it, one might say: "I don't know what [haiku] is, but I know it when I see it".


meghalls

#5
Dmitri,

Looking at poems published in a different  journals one might come to the conclusion that brevity is the sine qua non of haiku-- at least it is the one element that a variety of work shares. I am sure that many readers and writers of haiku will say that a haiku must (usually via a cut of some sort) create that difficult to describe quality called Ma. Many haiku don't do that of course. I have a preference for those that do, but
don't reject those that don't. Similarly with seasonality.

For me, what is foremost is that a poem justifies its extreme brevity by being memorable, and moving in some way-- humorous, surprising, poignant, etc. I start from there. My haiku/not haiku filter is not very strong, but it does exist. Hard to look at something 17 syllables long or even shorter and not, at least in the back of one's mind, think is this haiku? I don't always answer the question.

But I agree-- it would be interesting to know what others honestly think/feel about your question.

And maybe Alan is right in his suggestion that it is a question of what one prefers.

Is someone willing to talk about that?


AlanSummers

While waiting for Dmitri to respond, I wonder if you could give examples of what works for you, and that you recognise as haiku?


Regarding my own taste or recognition of haiku, it's very wide, from 'classic' 575/kigo/kire to gendai, and general free verse haiku.

Here's a mostly haiku issue I brought out:

The Blo͞o Outlier Journal Winter Issue 2020 (Issue #1)
ed. Alan Summers
https://bloooutlierjournal.blogspot.com/2020/12/the-bloo-outlier-journal-winter-issue.html

And recent(ish) haikai pamphlets, two solo collections and one collaborative:
https://area17.blogspot.com/2020/06/recent-haiku-poetry-collections-by-alan.html

Here's my judge's report of a haiku contest:
https://area17.blogspot.com/2013/08/extended-judges-report-for-2013-world.html

There is no favourite haikai journal, I read is/let (and Roadrunner now on hiatus); loved RAW NerVZ (Canadian journal) despite reading 'trad' haiku previously; Modern Haiku; Presence; Frogpond; Whiptail; Heron's Nest; antantantantant; Blithe Spirit etc...

Basically it's how two images pivot or pirouette around each other in a tight constraint, and have something even remotely haiku. If you attended Haiku North America, you would have seen my Schrödinger's MA
and the segue axis presentation (video and pdf up in a month or two), and the Panel I led also gave some indication of my preferences.

So I will be fascinated seeing examples by you, as well as by other poets, whom I hope will post here.

Alan

Quote from: meghalls on November 12, 2021, 04:09:52 PM
Dmitri,

Looking at poems published in a different  journals one might come to the conclusion that brevity is the sine qua non of haiku-- at least it is the one element that a variety of work shares. I am sure that many readers and writers of haiku will say that a haiku must (usually via a cut of some sort) create that difficult to describe quality called Ma. Many haiku don't do that of course. I have a preference for those that do, but
don't reject those that don't. Similarly with seasonality.

For me, what is foremost is that a poem justifies its extreme brevity by being memorable, and moving in some way-- humorous, surprising, poignant, etc. I start from there. My haiku/not haiku filter is not very strong, but it does exist. Hard to look at something 17 syllables long or even shorter and not, at least in the back of one's mind, think is this haiku? I don't always answer the question.

But I agree-- it would be interesting to know what others honestly think/feel about your question.

And maybe Alan is right in his suggestion that it is a question of what one prefers.

Is someone willing to talk about that?
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

Dmitri

Yes, thank you. I was (I am) waiting for other responses.

AlanSummers

Hi Dmitri

Quote from: Dmitri on November 15, 2021, 12:32:44 PM
Yes, thank you. I was (I am) waiting for other responses.

I do hope others respond, but in the meantime do any poems you have read meet your requirement?
Could you give examples of haiku by others, and one or two by your good self?

I tend to write across the spectrum of haiku. So here's a few recent examples:

hearsay tumbling leaves into a teapot's brew again yesterday

Alan Summers
Third prize
Foreign Section, First Bulgarian Contemporary (Gendai) Contest



hazelnut picking
the child in a memory puts
my hand to the moon

Alan Summers
Honourable Mention, Autumn Moon Haiku Contest 2021


buddha rays
the blue-eyed-grass
in each sunrise


Alan Summers
Tinywords photo prompt (August 2021)


unexpected snow...
doves interweave
into wedding dresses


Alan Summers
Grandmother's Pearls: An Anthology of Dream Poems
ed. Alexis Rotella
(Jade Mountain Press, 2021)


And a duostich:

winter's end
a wardrobe slaps closed


Alan Summers
Tinywords issue 21.1 March 2021


And of course The Heron's Nest online quarter and print Annual has a large panel of editors where each haiku has to gather several votes to appear!
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

Dmitri

From Haiku 21 (eds. Gurga and Metz)

These (below)  do not seem to have easily recognized haiku features, unless, in some cases, you consider being able to read them in two or more ways a form of juxtaposition— collapsed juxtaposition or something-- as in Brad Bennett's

where potholes were sparrows      Which can also be read as:

where potholes were—
sparrows

Day of the Dead year
               Marilyn Ashbaugh

from her chair by the window she says the virus is a bird
                                     Johnannes Bjerg

exit wendy from the peter pandemic
                        Lorin Ford

and numerous others.

What makes them haiku in your opinion?

AlanSummers

Hi Dmitri,

A few thoughts and links spread over the next few posts.


Quote from: Dmitri on November 17, 2021, 06:58:26 PM
From Haiku 21 (eds. Gurga and Metz)

These (below)  do not seem to have easily recognized haiku features, unless, in some cases, you consider being able to read them in two or more ways a form of juxtaposition— collapsed juxtaposition or something-- as in Brad Bennett's

where potholes were sparrows      Which can also be read as:

where potholes were—
sparrows

Day of the Dead year
               Marilyn Ashbaugh

from her chair by the window she says the virus is a bird
                                     Johnannes Bjerg

exit wendy from the peter pandemic
                        Lorin Ford

and numerous others.

What makes them haiku in your opinion?


First of all, an indirect answer, and getting some context:


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
http://www.modernhaiku.org/mhbooks/Haiku21.html


Book Review by Ron Silliman

"...it's not a surprise particularly to discover that there is a lot of excellent writing to be found in an anthology like Haiku 21: An Anthology of Contemporary English-Language Haiku... It's a fascinating, albeit problematic, collection.

What's problematic are the implications of its scale. The book includes, in a 205-page volume, just 153 of which are devoted directly to poetry, 212 poets and their works from the first decade of the present millennium."

It is worth reading the whole review to get these two quotes into context:
https://ronsilliman.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-would-poet-who-writes-1000-page.html
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

AlanSummers



About and putting Ron Silliman into context:

RON SILLIMAN has written and edited 40 books, and had his poetry and criticism translated into 16 languages. Silliman was a 2012 Kelly Writers House Fellow, the 2010 recipient of the Levinson Prize from the Poetry Foundation, a 2003 Literary Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2002 Fellow of the Pennsylvania Arts Council, and a 1998 Pew Fellow in the Arts. Silliman has a plaque in the walk dedicated to poetry in his home town of Berkeley and a sculpture in the Transit Center of Bury, Lancaster, a part of the Irwell Sculpture Trail. He lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/ron-silliman
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Silliman

His critique of the William Carlos Williams Award finalists – the term that the Poetry Society of America prefers for those books that also deserve some special attention, included Roberta Beary's haiku collection: The Unworn Necklace is also worth reading:
https://writing.upenn.edu/epc/mirrors/ronsilliman.blogspot.com/search/label/Roberta%20Beary

The editors, I guess, realised that a lot of other poets writing haiku were left out, or wanted to capture a further exceptional 100 haiku each year, almost as an addendum to the first "21st Century haiku"


Haiku 2014
Edited by by Scott Metz & Lee Gurga
Modern Haiku Press, 2014

Haiku 2015
Edited by by Scott Metz & Lee Gurga
Modern Haiku Press, 2015

Haiku 2016
Edited by by Scott Metz & Lee Gurga
Modern Haiku Press, 2016

Haiku 2020
Edited by by Scott Metz & Lee Gurga
Modern Haiku Press, 2020

Haiku 2021
Edited by by Scott Metz & Lee Gurga
Modern Haiku Press, 2021
http://www.modernhaiku.org/mhbooks/index.html
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

AlanSummers

I do have the Modern Haiku Press anthology, but can't locate it at present, as I must have around ten thousand haiku publications in various locales inside and outside my home.

Although I did find both "the acorn book of contemporary haiku" which is controversial but also long forgotten at the same time and edited by Lucien Stryk and Kevin Bailey (acorn book company 2000), and Modern Haiku Press mini-anthologies Haiku 2014; 2015; and 2016.

I opened up "the acorn book of contemporary haiku" and found haikai by a very famous non-haiku poet Adrian Henri:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Henri


for the River Mersey

today it is a yellow river
no moon
no drunk poets drowning

Adrian Henri
We know he is referring to a very famous Chinese poet Li Bai (701-762) so this does follow the classic honkadori model.

Another one by him:

for Elizabeth

morning
your red nylon mac
blown like a poppy across Hardman St.

Hardman Street:
https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/hardman-street-cafe-bar-changed-17891928



Again, using haikai asthetics, is it a Scouse utamakura — places that many people are likely to know or a Scouse version of haimakura — places that can also be known via a poem, or a little of both? And of course it could reference racism back then, and even now, and the World Wars, where bigotry has not changed. Very Shirane vertical axis.


But first, before I look at your examples:

"Why haiku is different and Basho never wrote them in English"
https://area17.blogspot.com/2018/11/why-haiku-is-different-and-basho-never.html
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

AlanSummers

Okay, I'll look at Brad Bennett's haiku. There seem to be two versions offered by you?

where potholes were sparrows     

where potholes were—
sparrows


I recall publishing a haiku about sparrows dustbathing, as it used to be a common site down lanes and residential roads, in my childhood. As I lost a lot of records due to a laptop being stolen, it's gone, but this reminded me of my own haiku.

It feels like a Summer haiku to me, and a straightforward haiku, so I'll see about something that isn't.


from her chair by the window she says the virus is a bird
Johannes S. H. Bjerg

Johannes S. H. Bjerg:
http://www.worldhaiku.net/poetry/denmark/BJERG.PDF


Undefinable
by Johannes S. H. Bjerg
https://livinghaikuanthology.com/poets-on-haiku/defining-haiku/3182-undefinable-by-johannes-s-h-bjerg.html


This preempts covid-19 and its varients, but we did have bird flu at least twice in the 20th Century.

"Stigma
Backyard poultry production was viewed as "traditional Asian" agricultural practices that contrasted with modern commercial poultry production and seen as a threat to biosecurity. Backyard production appeared to hold greater risk than commercial production due to lack of biosecurity and close contact with humans, though HPAI spread in intensively raised flocks was greater due to high density rearing and genetic homogeneity. Asian culture itself was blamed as the reason why certain interventions, such as those that only looked at placed-based interventions, would fail without looking for a multifaceted solutions."


As Bjerg is Danish, I'm guessing this refers to 2020 in particular:

Bird Flu in 2020

By the end of 2020 several outbreaks of Avian flu of various varieties were reported in Europe. Since mid-October several European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses, mostly in wild birds.

Both quotes from "Avian influenza" WIKIPEDIA


NHS site (National Health Service, UK)

Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans.

There are lots of different strains of bird flu virus. Most of them don't infect humans. But there are 4 strains that have caused concern in recent years:
H5N1 (since 1997)
H7N9 (since 2013)
H5N6 (since 2014)
H5N8 (since 2016)


We know, from covid-19, how isolated many people were, even moreso than in the pre-covid-19 'abnormal' existance we lived, nothing was ever normal.

re:
from her chair by the window she says the virus is a bird


Johannes S. H. Bjerg (Denmark)

This could be someone elderly, isolated, relying on the news media, and getting facts wrong amongst the scaremongering, racism, biased news outlets perhaps.

An armchair traveller witnessing the tsunami on television, just a fairly big wave at first, then all the various viruses etc... from avian flu, swine flu, coronovirus etc...

It feels deeply poignant and filled with vertical axis.

Is it haiku?

Well it depends on our individual definitions of haiku or definitions and rules set out by others.

As an anthologist we need to look beyond the policing of creative writing, poetry, haiku etc...

This could even be said to be the first level of shasei, which is seeing something firsthand (chair by the window) and sketching in words something seen (in this case a mix of television news, and birds outside, in trees and in the sky).

Just a few thoughts.
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

AlanSummers

From Haiku 2014, the first addition to Haiku 21.
https://www.modernhaiku.org/mhbooks/Haiku2014.html

Haiku 2014
Modern Haiku Press
Winner of the Haiku Foundation Touchstone Award.

The anthology booklet contains some great quotes about the mother anthology Haiku 21: an anthology of contemporary English-language haiku

"a public nuisance"

Klaus-Dieter Wirth
Chrysanthemum Nr. 13. April 2013
http://www.chrysanthemum-haiku.net/media/Chrysanthemum_13.pdf


"21st century haiku tottering around the nihilistic vortex at the edge of the future."

anonymous reviewer

"This sea change may simply leave some poets at sea."

Michael Dylan Welch, Modern Haiku 43.2
http://www.modernhaiku.org/bookreviews/Haiku21-2011.html

Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

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