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And this is a haiku because . . . ?

Started by devora, November 10, 2012, 04:54:25 PM

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devora

Today's (November 10th) per diem:

the blind child reading my poem with her fingertips

-- Elizabeth Searle Lamb

Looks like a statement to me (missing the verb), but if it is a haiku, why is it?

Don Baird

I would say this one is a simple monostitch statement.  There are still some rules of engagement regarding haiku that this particular one doesn't seem to meet.  JMHO  However, in many respects, haiku is losing a sense of identity (genre) and the problem is increasing.
I write haiku because they're there to be written ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

Vida

the blind child reading my poem with her fingertips

-- Elizabeth Searle Lamb

Hi :)
Sure, this doesn't have a kigo, or three lines, (probably the count would not be s-l-s, if we place it in 3 lines), and it's only one image, but it's a haiku for me. I read somewhere that the most important thing in a haiku is the transformation - to notice and express a moment when a transformation is happening. And, imo, this poem is all about that.
Now, I am a beginner by any standards and I can be wrong, but here's how I see it:

the blind child reading my poem with her fingertips


"The poem" as it was before this blind child read it is no longer existing. All the previous readers, the author included, have been reading with they eyes. This new reader is literally touching the words. I cannot imagine how that feels.  I also cannot imagine the extraordinary experience of the poet, seeing that, seeing her poem transformed through a different sense- the touch.
When someone reads our work, we look at their face, we follow their eyes, eager to guess what they think, even before they say it. One can almost feel the energy in the air. Can you imagine how much stronger would be that energy when the reader is blind and your eyes are jumping from their fingertips to their face (is there a smile, a frown?) and back. Or maybe, you forget all about the face, you just look at the hand literally touching your poem.
That energy, imo, transforms the poem and the author. 

:)
Vida
   





"The pain felt in my foot is not my hand's,
So why, in fact, should one protect the other?"
                                                Shantideva

AlanSummers

Dear Devora,

I don't know if you are this person, a painter, and amazing artist, but if not, I really like this quote from your shared namesake:

"My art is an intimate practice rooted in spiritual experience.  I paint not to sell, I paint because it is divine experience and a meeting with my self in the totality of the moment."
Devora Geday


the blind child reading my poem with her fingertips

-- Elizabeth Searle Lamb


All good haiku have sub-text, they have vertical axis, so that the surface meaning is just the pith (still vital for many reasons) before we get to the fruit.   It is up to us to peel, or unpeel.


There can be many great compliments bestowed on a poet, and Elizabeth Searle Lamb has had many [see selected weblinks further below].   It's often the simple things that make an open poet feel more blessed, like a small young child who is blind, actually reading a poem that we wrote, and have the priviledge to be able to write because we have sight, and hands.

Before I even mention Helen Keller, and the allusion jumps out at me, as a reminder of how difficult it is to be missing something most of us take for granted, as we are mostly visual artists, it's the quietnesses that this haiku folds that enthralls me.


the blind child reading


There is a feel of quietude, of dilligence, of high appreciation, and that most treasured of most artists who think art before money: connection.


my poem with her fingertips


The innocent sensualness, where a poem of our's is not lightly skipped over with fleeting eyes, but pored over fingertip reading by fingertip reading.

Often braille pages are snowy white, pure white, and as freshly thrown snow is white, slowly becoming darker as we leave our tracks (be it postman, mother getting kids to school, women and men starting early for work, children walking or sledging) we leave our own marks of involvement.  So too will the young child as her fingertips revisit this braille page and other pages.

I have a feel of a winter morning, with a fire crackling, perhaps Christmas morning, and this is her first poetry book.  Girls are keener readers than boys so this is a huge new adventure for her.

Coming back to the monostich (not stitch), Japanese haiku are written as one line haiku, and Western one line haiku have something of those dynamics, but also their own styles and techniques, from the abrupt techniques I teach, to the "speedrush" and "multistops" that Jim Kacian teaches.

One line haiku, as with gendai haiku, is still controversial, for many reasons, in the West, but 2013 will see a lot of publications regarding this genre or sub-genre, from the American poetry organisation course I'll be teaching, to one publisher bringing out two anthologies.  I've also just had my gendai haiku (and other haiku) collection Does Fish-God Know (the first British gendai haiku collection to my knowledge).

One line haiku can also inform our writing in other areas, including three line haiku, as I've learnt myself.

Weblinks to Elizabeth Searle Lamb:
http://www.americanhaikuarchives.org/curators/ElizabethSearleLamb.html
http://sfpoetry.org/bio27.html
http://www.laalamedapress.com/books/acrosswindharp.html
http://performance.millikin.edu/haiku/writerprofiles/lamb.html


Across the Windharp, Collected and New Haiku, by Elizabeth Searle Lamb
Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards 2000 (for books published in 1999)
Honorable Mention




Helen Keller Throughout Her Life

Images of the champion of civil liberties for disabled persons
http://www.squidoo.com/the-student-helen-keller-WOC

Even before she published my first Frogpond (HSA journal), I was an admirer of her work.


above the mountain
earth's shadow
blocks a moon

Alan  Summers

Note:  eclipse of the moon, Queensland, Australia, Friday 4th June 1993

Publications credits:
Frogpond (Haiku Society of American journal, Summer 1994) ed. Elisabeth Searle Lamb; Fellowship of Australian Writers, Queensland, Scope magazine (paid) feature (1994); Micropress Yates (Australia 1994); Haiku Friends ed. Masaharu Hirata  (Japan 2003)


For me, and I'm sure it was for Elisabeth Searle Lamb also:


"...an intimate practice...because it is divine experience and a meeting with my self in the totality of the moment." Devora Geday



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

devora

Alan, I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss not only your take on the living picture invoked by Lamb's one-liner but also the wider airing of some other aspects of haiku. And while I agree that the response to Lamb's words can support a range of feelings and images (as Vida noted), it is still, to me, a "telling," not "showing," sentence.

And please forgive me if I add that Lamb's good reputation (of which I am familiar and whose work I generally like) would not necessarily make it a haiku. After all, not every haiku works, even one written by a well-known haijin.

I noted Don Baird's agreement, and he is absolutely right when he says that ". . . in many respects, haiku is losing a sense of identity (genre) and the problem is increasing." A subject, I dare say, that is worthy of many serious discussions.

P.S. Nope. I am not Devora Geday. By the way, her last name isn't a play on the Australian "hello," by any chance?


AlanSummers

#5
Thank you for your response Devora,

I know Don's stance, and I support his take on hokku.

re your response to Don's comment:

QuoteI noted Don Baird's agreement, and he is absolutely right when he says that ". . . in many respects, haiku is losing a sense of identity (genre) and the problem is increasing." A subject, I dare say, that is worthy of many serious discussions.

Could you expand on this?   There have been a lot of statements made, and I've read ones from others, but I'd be interested in your own definition, and why you think it's absolutely right that haiku is losing its sense of identity, giving examples.  That would be educational, and we'd get a clearer picture of where you come from as well.

You said:
QuoteAnd while I agree that the response to Lamb's words can support a range of feelings and images (as Vida noted), it is still, to me, a "telling," not "showing," sentence.

Could you give a few examples of what you consider to be non-sentence showing only haiku?   I gather you probably do not or will not like Marlene Mountain's style?  Her one line haiku is currently at Per Diem.

As you touch on discussions, I welcome more discussions on the aesthetics of haiku, thank you for starting this discussion.

Have you read The Future of Haiku by Tohta Kaneko:
http://www.redmoonpress.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=37&products_id=145

There are useful essays on Tohta Kaneko, possibly Japan's greatest living poet of around 75 years at Notes from the Gean: http://www.calameo.com/books/001101822fbea9c25750a

As I personally write and appraise many of the styles of the West and Japan, I embrace all the exciting developments that have galvanised haiku which, without the perseverance of Shiki, may have either completely disappeared altogether, been relegated to a quaint backyard, or purely forced into doggerel that abounds in pseudo-poetry social media territories as joke verses in 17 syllables.

The joke verses that stick to seventeen syllables do contain a strong sense of their genre, and it's interesting that they are rarely criticised.

It is gratifying to hear a new voice in haiku, which often keeps haiku fresh, and for me, far from being in the doldrums, haiku remains as it always has, either as haiku, haikai verses, hokku, pre-Basho to post-Shiki, and that it has been ever evolving.

It's just a shame we didn't have even five more years of Basho as even on his deathbed he was developing yet another approach.  He was a modern thinker and met up with many groups who thought differently like him, and he absorbed and refined their challenging viewpoints and methods so that presented well, would be adopted, and later adapted by his students, and other serious haikai writers.

Alan

Quote from: devora on November 12, 2012, 07:46:35 PM
Alan, I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss not only your take on the living picture invoked by Lamb's one-liner but also the wider airing of some other aspects of haiku. And while I agree that the response to Lamb's words can support a range of feelings and images (as Vida noted), it is still, to me, a "telling," not "showing," sentence.

And please forgive me if I add that Lamb's good reputation (of which I am familiar and whose work I generally like) would not necessarily make it a haiku. After all, not every haiku works, even one written by a well-known haijin.

I noted Don Baird's agreement, and he is absolutely right when he says that ". . . in many respects, haiku is losing a sense of identity (genre) and the problem is increasing." A subject, I dare say, that is worthy of many serious discussions.

P.S. Nope. I am not Devora Geday. By the way, her last name isn't a play on the Australian "hello," by any chance?


EDIT REASON: Adding and smoothing out.
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

Scott Terrill

Here's another statement which tells us something:

tundra

I think Marlene's essay might be relevant to this conversation:

http://www.marlenemountain.org/essays/essay_oneimage.html

I noted with particular interest the Hosai haiku (English translation) at the very end

scott


Vida

Just found this,

"If it takes all sorts to make a world, then, let us have all sorts of haiku ways to build a truly comprehensive and tolerant world of haiku."
-Susumu Takiguchi

:)
"The pain felt in my foot is not my hand's,
So why, in fact, should one protect the other?"
                                                Shantideva

Scott Terrill

#8
 :)

Something relevant from the Roadrunner blog:

http://roadrunnerhaikublog.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/seekings/

devora

Just a quick response to some comments on my thinking that Lamb's "the blind child reading my poem with her fingertips" is more of a "telling" sentence rather than a "showing" haiku.

Alan writes, "Could you give a few examples of what you consider to be a non-sentence showing only haiku? I gather you probably do not or will not like Marlene Mountain's style? Her one line haiku is currently at Per Diem."

As a matter of fact, I love Mountain's "pig and I spring rain" and think it is a wonderful example of a "showing" haiku.

So, what do I think is the difference between Lamb's "telling" and Mountain's "showing"?

To answer that, I need to refer to Jim Kacian, one of the best "explainers" on this difference. His essay, "Haiku as Anti-Story (http://www.gendaihaiku.com/kacian/anti-story.html), seems to make clear the distinction, and while he may not agree with my examples, I see Lamb's sentence as a narrative ("A narrative is a little story, with its beginning and middle and end, and nothing interrupts its flow"), and Mountain's haiku as an anti-story ("Anti-story is not the opposite of the process. Anti-story is the absence of it . . . It is not cumulative but instantaneous"). Mountain's opens the possibilities, whereas Lamb's limits them.

Re: Scott Terrill's first response: "Here's another statement which tells us something: Tundra."

I did wonder if Terrill meant not ". . . another statement which TELLS us something" but SHOWS us something, because, again, to me, this is a "showing" haiku at its best. It meets Kacian's anti-story criteria, and Marlene Mountain seems to agree, saying in the essay Scott suggests we read, ". . . van den Heuval [has] given us . . . 'a silence of the mind in which one does not 'think about' the poem . . .  but actually . . .  the sensation which it evokes--all the more strongly for having said so little.'"

Re: Scott Terrill's second response, where he talks about Lamb's and van den Heuval's pieces: "It is almost as if the words themselves, placed as they are become self-adjusting and through that process, self-limiting."

My response: Perhaps self-limiting is not what is wanted in a true haiku (see above).

Re: Scott Terrill's third response. Thanks for the link. It pleases me that Haruo Shirane agrees with me.

Alan asked me to "expand" on my agreeing with Don Baird who, in response to my critique of Lamb's one-liner, said ". . . haiku is losing a sense of identity (genre) and the problem is increasing." I suspect that I would agree with Baird about many of his criticisms, and I would add (if Baird has not talked about this) that, contrary to Vida's quote by Susmumu Takiguchi, "If it takes all sorts to make a world, then, let us have all sorts of haiku ways to build a truly comprehensive and tolerant world of haiku," the genre is not a free-for-all where anything goes, nor is it a genre where any quality suffices. But, quite honestly, that is a serious subject for another discussion.

Don Baird

"Alan asked me to "expand" on my agreeing with Don Baird who, in response to my critique of Lamb's one-liner, said ". . . haiku is losing a sense of identity (genre) and the problem is increasing." I suspect that I would agree with Baird about many of his criticisms, and I would add (if Baird has not talked about this) that, contrary to Vida's quote by Susmumu Takiguchi, "If it takes all sorts to make a world, then, let us have all sorts of haiku ways to build a truly comprehensive and tolerant world of haiku," the genre is not a free-for-all where anything goes, nor is it a genre where any quality suffices. But, quite honestly, that is a serious subject for another discussion." ~ devora


I believe Susmumu has gone off the tracks, so to speak.  Possibly, if he ended his comment "build a truly comprehensive and tolerant world of poetry" I might quickly agree.  However, ending such a thought with "haiku" doesn't ring well and smacks of the destructive force surrounding the world of haiku - the genre.

Haiku is a Shiki design.  He outlined a rather simple guide on what it is and how to write it.  His thought of shasei seems to be the core of his idea which simplified the approach to writing it in some ways (as compared to hokku, Basho style).  Naturally, as time has its way, haiku has adjusted and adapted to newer and more "up to date" forms.  The problem dwells there - "forms". 

When asking folks what a concerto is (if they are in music), to this day, they can quickly outline its basic characteristics.  When discussing sonnets, sijo, cinquain, sonatas and waltzes, the response as to what they represent (and are) come quickly to the folks in the know of those genres.  Yet, haiku no longer has an "identity" of which the general practitioners could quickly outline - the range of answers being almost unlimited or minimally, paired to the number of people that write it.

Haiku is now an anything goes style.  It no longer represents hokku and that dna has been lost, primarily, in modern haiku.  From one line to concrete; from three lines of any length to short/long/short; from kigo to none to keywords - what is haiku today?  Possibly it is simply a mini free verse?  Or then again, just a simple short prose but one that puts all of the responsibility on the reader to figure it out - like a puzzle? 

Haiku is in an identity crisis.  And, at this particular point, I see no return.  Its head has been cut off; its arms cut off; its legs cut off; and, its torso is quartered and yet some folks still call it haiku.  I don't have much hair left to scratch, but I try anyway when I ponder this any longer than 5 minutes.

Don

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

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

Adam Traynor

I read more than I write. I have only one published poem. You can see it in the registry. I have my preferences, but I enjoy all kinds of work. In Roadrunner and in The Heron's Nest, to give two very different examples.

I do not think haiku is losing its identity. There are plenty of people writing the kind of thing which I believe Don Baird would think of as haiku. I don't doubt that they will continue to do so, and that others will come along and do the same. I don't believe that people who publish in Roadrunner, for example, are attempting to convince anyone that they've got it right and The Heron's Nesters have it wrong.

As far as E.S. Lamb's poem goes, for me it's simple: it just isn't very good. It's sentimental. And that's a problem that plagues a lot of poems I read, even ones that meet all the criteria for "haiku".

Adam Traynor

Vida

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/worldkigolibrary/message/247

This is the place, where I got the quote from Susumu Takiguchi. I am not commenting, just thought that it wasn't right to post before only the last sentence.
"The pain felt in my foot is not my hand's,
So why, in fact, should one protect the other?"
                                                Shantideva

Scott Terrill

I personally am a little uncomfortable with this notion of 'show don't tell' as a/the defining characteristic of 'true' haiku (whatever that may be) and to bang on about it is a dead end. I think there exist degrees of both in all haiku.

I think it may be the case that 'tell' is being mistaken for 'spell it all out'. To tell is to communicate, to impact upon another, and I know it is possible to communicate without spelling it all out.

To show without degrees of telling I don't think is possible. Even in a poets choice of what to show they are telling us something about themselves.

scott

Don Baird

#14
Agree with you, Scott.  I haven't come across any true study of hokku where something like "show don't tell" is stated as a rule.  Basho was very clear however, that there should be much for the reader to do and that hokku, in particular, should bring about the unsaid just as much as the said (if not more so).  The reader completes the poem.

teetering grass . . .
just moments ago
a dragonfly

This hokku when broken down "teetering grass" absolutely states something and it does so clearly.  When moving on to the second part "just moments ago a dragonfly" you will see that it is another statement.  But, when combined, they produce room for the reader to enter and begin to ponder - to read/misread/continue to read for meaning.  There is significant "dream room" in this poem.  It is birthed from the pairing of L1 and L2/3 (toriawase) which leaves the reader in a resonant atmosphere of meaning(s).

朝顔は下手の書くさへあはれなり
asagao wa heta no kaku sae aware nari

morning glory:
even when painted poorly,
it has pathos

Tr. Barnhill
.
Written in summer of 1687 貞亨4年夏.
posted to facebook by Gabi Greve

This Basho hokku is paired excellently as fragment and phrase but seems to operate from a single subject instead of two.  It still works amazingly well in encouraging the reader to read and read again for meaning - dwelling in the resonance of the unsaid.

I believe when most critics say "it's a statement, show don't tell" they are actually referencing the poem as being complete in and of itself without the need of a reader to "fill in the blanks" so to speak.

the blind child reading my poem with her fingertips

-- Elizabeth Searle Lamb

This poem is what I call closed off (to me).  It is the classic statement versus showing - meaning that once you read it, there isn't anything left to do ... not even read it again.  There is no reading/misreading/reading again process that should exist in a haiku (hokku) that is paired well for resonance.

the blind child      reading my poem      with her fingertips      (not haiku meter either, s/l/s)

These are the three statements.  They remain that way with little to nothing for the reader to do but possibly imagine the scene itself - like a photograph.  So now, is this a shasei and therefore a haiku and not a hokku?  Is this a Shiki style haiku?  The answer to that could be a resounding yes.  ahhh ... so now we might know what Shiki stylists could be shooting for versus what Basho stylists are shooting for - definitive differences as to compositional aesthetics.  Shiki stripped the hokku to bare existence creating an accessible poem he referenced haiku.  Basho delved into writing hokku based on zoka and karumi ... with yugen, ma, kigo, kokoro and so forth which became a rich study of artful creation of hokku (something that seems to be missing from Shiki style haiku even when written well). The hokku engine is zoka; the haiku engine just might be image with kigo.

Then again,

example 1:

it's raining outside
the moon is full tonight
autumn clouds

example 2:

autumn clouds –
the full moon washes
from the window

#1 leaves much to be desired ... employing lines of imagery and descriptive writing but not much for the reader to do or place to enter the poem as a reader.  #2 consists of 2 primary statements but directly draws the reader into the poem's "left unsaid" area to ponder and enjoy.  The first one, once read, the reader is done.  The second one, the reader is left to "bounce around" the internal meanings of meanings - expanded or contracted more and less according to the reader's connection to the poem. It is a zoka engine hokku leaving much for the reader to do.

The Searle poem above has no apparent engine other than imagery.  Therefore, it is a statement with little for the reader to do (what I think is the definition of "statement" is when another poet uses the word in a critique). 

Just thinking out loud.  Not trying to be right; just sharing what I'm pondering in regards to the subject(s) at hand.







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

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

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