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Haiku and Tanka: Amazement & Intensity - American and International Course

Started by AlanSummers, September 30, 2012, 11:36:10 PM

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The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative provides MFA-caliber online poetry workshops. We promote, foster and inspire the reading and writing of poetry by (a) facilitating a cross-cultural network of information-sharing on the art of poetry, (b) providing an asynchronous education setting in which our teaching artists and student artists exchange ideas and information at the convenience of their own schedules, from their own homes, reducing their impact on the environment, (c) encouraging peer-to-peer feedback amongst members, and (d) helping develop the voices of underserved poets by offering several workshops each year that are free.

Haiku and Tanka: Amazement & Intensity

What makes a haiku? With ongoing debate amongst poets and scholars, especially those working in English, there's more to haiku (amazement of the ordinary) than you might imagine for such a short form poem.  In this course we'll look at the roots of haiku in Japan and its founding fathers and mothers, negotiate the simplicity of subject and language that marks haiku, and find equivalence in writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver.

Using excerpts and handouts from the highly respected classic The Haiku Handbook, we'll find Japanese haiku in translation, and follow the evolution of English language haiku through its modern journey.  For gendai-style haiku we will use text from my forthcoming book Does Fish-God Know and contemporary Western and Japanese writers.

As writers, our exercises and work will have us exploring English at its most pared down, fanning out into the two currently recognised variations on haiku: shasei ("sketching from nature" literally real experience from direct observation); gendai ("contemporary" social realism, or imagined/fantastic); as well as a third closely related sister form to haiku: senryu (the human experience relating to fallibility).

Finally, we'll turn our attention to tanka (lyric intensity), a short five line poem with over 1,300 years of history behind it, and still popular today. Tanka are well-grounded in concrete images yet infused with lyricism, with an intimacy from direct expression of emotions tempered with implication, suggestion, and nuance.

Teaching artist Alan Summers resides in Bradford on Avon and is a Japan Times award-winning writer with a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. He has studied and written haiku and other Japanese form poetry for twenty years. Alan has won awards, been published internationally and translated into 15 languages. He helped his American team win Japan Times Best Renga of 2002. He's a co-editor of five haiku anthologies: Parade of Life: Poems inspired by Japanese Prints; The Poetic Image - Haiku and Photography; Fifty-Seven Damn Good Haiku, Press Here; Four Virtual Haiku Poets; and c.2.2. Themes of Loss of Identity and/or Name. He has been General Secretary of the British Haiku Society and a Foundation Member of the Australian Haiku Society. Alan is currently editor with gendai haiku magazine Bones, and is working on The Kigo Lab, a project to use the potential of Western haiku seasons for eco-critical writing. He has a haiku pamphlet collection called The In-Between Season (2012), and a gendai haiku book called Does Fish-God Know, due out in autumn 2012. More at:
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page


For any students very new to haiku, my course has a New Year resolution ten per cent off.   I'll be covering haiku, senryu, tanka, and gendai approaches to haiku in great depth.   This is great value to any student, as it's both a month's worth of feedback, plus an extra month of peer feedback:

kindest regards,

Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page

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