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Battered Haiku/Hokku

Started by Don Baird, June 15, 2012, 05:36:57 PM

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Don Baird

Regarding a topic in Bulgaria today:

"In our media saturated world, so many shoots have been shot, so many ideas have been published, that the pressure to do something "new" and "fresh" is greater than it has ever been. In searching for ever new ways to create images that in some way gain the attention of readers, or consumers, many fashion, magazine and advertising people are simply out of ideas. The majority of readers of this magazine will presumably be women, so it's bound to cause a reaction and evoke emotion."  (link for reference:

This, however, might very well be likened to haiku in the world today:

"In our haiku saturated world, so many poems have been written, so many of them published, that the pressure to do something "new" and "fresh" is greater than it has ever been.  In searching for ever new ways to create haiku images that in some way gain the attention and admiration of readers, editors and publishers, poets are simply running out of ideas and therefore doing whatever it takes to write something new and fresh ... and maybe to get noticed."

Just saying, that we need to be careful to preserve the integrity of haiku/hokku and know that once it has been changed so much, it is no longer a haiku/hokku but some other sort of thing.  All poetry is what it is - but not all of it is a sonnet.  It is now possible that a few contemporary haiku could be called "battered haiku/hokku" ...  ::)

Thinking out loud for the sake of fun and pondering,


(this is a personal opinion and not one that is not meant to (nor does it) represent the opinion of THF) This article just stimulated me to think about haiku. Not trying to ruffle feathers but to simply pose a thought for consideration.  How far is too far?   

The excerpt is from this editorial on the subject:

"Does This 'Beauty' Editorial Glamorize Domestic Violence?

It seems like nowadays you can do pretty much anything and say it's art to get away with it.

Bulgarian magazine '12' features an editorial titled 'Victim of Beauty', shot by photographer Vasil Germanov that's gaining a lot of attention at the moment. The series of photographs features six models with what appear to be violent injuries, including a black eye, a slit throat and a rippped out ear. There's very little information available about what the editors are trying to convey with this spread. Unsurprisingly a warning published on the website (in Bulgarian) advises that the images are unsuitable for viewers under the age of 16, or for "people with weak nerves".

I honestly think this is all about getting attention by using shock tactics. After all, would we be paying any attention to "12″ magazine, if not for this shoot? In our media saturated world, so many shoots have been shot, so many ideas have been published, that the pressure to do something "new" and "fresh" is greater than it has ever been. In searching for ever new ways to create images that in some way gain the attention of readers, or consumers, many fashion, magazine and advertising people are simply out of ideas. The majority of readers of this magazine will presumably be women, so it's bound to cause a reaction and evoke emotion.

They are not necessarily "worse" than what is routinely shown during what passes for entertainment on TV but to use images like this in a beauty shoot is degrading, undignified and destructive towards women's self-esteem. Violence against women is an ongoing problem around the world and not one we want to look at it in a fashion magazine. According to the Amnesty International website, "every day, thousands of women and girls are abused and murdered by their families, raped in armed conflicts and attacked for defending women's rights." Why not give us something empowering to look at instead? "

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

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

Gabi Greve

Danjuro XII and the freedom in Kabuki acting

Freedom is fine; but I get the feeling that many modern-day Japanese have forgotten that freedom comes with responsibility. This concept is found in kabuki, so people who come to watch it will be exposed to the responsibility of freedom as well as freedom's limits.

Think of freedom as a dog that feels free to run around a fenced garden.
It feels satisfied because it is not stuck in the house, even though it doesn't have the freedom to go outside the garden.
Freedom exists inside the garden as well as outside.
But there is a barrier.
Nowadays, there is no such barrier.
I think kabuki expresses the freedom that exists within a barrier.

end of quote

Now substitute KABUKI with HAIKU

It is a rainy day, just right for pondering, dear Don!

Gabi Greve

and another oldie -

Tue Nov 23, 2004
Yesterday a friend of mine, Japanese and doing traditional Hula dance in Hawaii very successfully for many years now, was quoted in the Japan Times as saying:

<> Why does Japan have to take something deep and beautiful like hula,
and change it to be perfect, empty and cold?
I see it as my lifework here to restore spiritual content to hula, to help Japanese people appreciate and respect its roots.

。。。Keisuke Yasuda

When I read this, I immediately substituted HULA for HAIKU and Japan for America and found my lifework with the World Kigo Database to be very similar.
still raining . . .

John McManus

Hi Don and Gabi, it's an interesting problem and one that I think is likely to get worse rather than better.

Look at it like this: If haiku becomes more popular and more people start writing and publishing haiku then we are gonna end up with alot of poems which are similar in terms of topic, style, and words used. Would this be a fair assumption?

If the answer is yes then what's to be done about this issue?

Discourage new writers? I'd say a definate no! We need new poets to come along, the number of haiku poets lost in the past couple of years should be a stark reminder to all that we need more active poets, to not only contribute their own poetry but to keep the poetry of others alive. This can be done through allusion, translation, writing commentaries or by simply promoting the work of other poets.

Discourage new styles? That seems to be what some folks want, but I think it's a natural and unavoidable process. Poetry is dependent on language, it cannot exist without it, and since language is in a state of constant mutation  then poetry by extension of that fact is also in a constant state of mutation.

here is a poem I have recently written which shows how we can be creative but still remain true to a number of traditional haiku characteristics . . .

lobster moon
she pulls me back
into the hot tub

This has a cut, employs ambiguity, is lyrical and brief, but most importantly it has something a bit different. 'lobster moon' is my own term. I'm not aware of anyone using the term prior to myself and even google failed to provide any reference to a 'lobster moon' so I'm confident that this provides a level of originality to the ku.





In many ways all creative writing has been done before, but we still get occasional surprises.

I'm not a big fan of the Harry Potter books but they did great increase book reading habits of schoolboys who'd normally never go near a book.

There are a lot of people writing verse or doggerel that they call haiku partly because they think all is needed is 17 English-language syllables in a three line shape.

There are a lot of people who write in English trying to copy what they think is Japanese haiku, but often don't read translations of modern or even contemporary Japanese haiku.

There are a lot of people write PoMo (Post Modern) short verse often labelled as haiku, correctly or incorrectly.

Poetry can still be powerful, especially if it touches people's needs during bereavement, other loss, love, spiritual matters etc...

Poetry can still be powerful when dealing with social realism, as in George Bush Jr's wife attack and boycott on US poets who argued against another Gulf War and invasion of another people's culture, religion, and country.

Poetry is a need for people whether they just read some stuff, write a few poems, or are transfixed by haiku when it's written well.

It's the New Romantics influence that we must only publish never before written lines in a poem.  With a 26 letter alphabet in the English Language that's a tall order.

I feel allusion is frowned on in ELhaiku because it is seen as plagiarism, which is a great pity.

If I'm not allowed to write a haiku because it's seen copying another culture's form of poetry, and that Summer has been said already, and that cicadas have been said in poems, haiku, Natural History documentaries, and in nature books, when someone Japanese took me to Sumadera, and we heard of the legend, then I am truly lost why I cannot mention words said before, and cannot utter them in words.

Then it is truly the end of Summer(s).

the end of summer
tsukutsuku-bôshi heard
at suma temple

Alan Summers
Co-Winner, Japan Times community anniversary haiku competition (2012)

Sometimes I just need to write, to speak to me:

baby photos
from my birth mother...
how do I say hello to me

Alan Summers
Publications credits: The Heron's Nest (June 2012)

I say yes to keep writing, and even trying new styles:


Alan Summers
Publications credits: fox dreams ed. Aubrie Cox (2012) 

Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page


Where would art be without Michelangelo painting a ceiling, Warhol's interpretation of Marylyn, or Cristo and his drapery.  For a fashion magazine to depict glamor in such a way as discussed in this posting may not be art, may not be fashion, but certainly becomes the topic du jour. 

These images brought to mind an article about an Indian woman (lower caste) brought to the States for reconstructive surgery after having been disfigured by her suitor for reasons unclear; the aggressor (from the upper caste) not persecuted because of his father's wealth and political connections.  An accident of beauty? 

Kudos to the editor for publishing within their genre these pictures without explanation, thereby allowing the reader to become (wittingly or unwittingly) intimately involved.  Let art speak for itself, not the editor for the art.  Is art any less when viewed in a fashion magazine compared to fashion displayed in a museum of art? 

In this small corner of the world of poetry considered haiku, there is a burden to the editor when choosing one's verse over another, (wittingly or unwittingly) driving the genre along a path of the editor's choice alone, which in their mind only will serve itself as verse du jour, or Tuesday's trash; either way, opening the door to tomorrow's brilliance or bust. 

Phil Allen
- from each star, a point to view -

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