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Started by Jim Kacian, February 14, 2011, 10:19:32 PM

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Peter Yovu

Yikes, thanks Lorin-- should be:

in the bar mirror
my Guardian Angel
makes a face

I'll correct it in the original post.


Lorin, the piercing sound is a reference to Bashou's cicada... piercing the rock.

I have to disagree that Japanese haiku uses metaphor more than rarely. 

Most of the articles I've read on the use of metaphor reference ELH and non-Japanese poems.  One beat to that dead horse (if it ain't Japanese it ain't haiku)... oh well.

Again, the lack of metaphor is one aspect of traditional Japanese hokku-haiku I happen to like.  In Japanese haiku, I feel, metaphor clutters and confines the moment... more telling than showing (some take umbrige to this...), some consider this a relic of the past.  Japanese hokku-haiku has retained shunning metaphor (perhaps this is too strong a position).  It could be best to say, the use of metaphor for the Japanese in this particular short form of poetry is not considered best, generally.


Peter Yovu

I can be hard on FA's haiku, I know-- maybe because she has written many truly engaging and intriguing poems, like "in the bar mirror". The poem in question, once I realized I tried too hard to find depth in it, essentially comes across to me now as more charm than substance.

If you disagree and consider this to be a good poem, would you be willing to say in what way it is good? And in so doing, can you separate out, as Lorin suggested, what you know of the author, and speak only to the poem? My intention here is not to set anyone up for argument. It's just to take "I like it" a step further and say how it works for you. It can be a bit exposing to do that. I, for one, applaud the effort.


August cicadas
could I carry an ocean
in one suitcase

I love this poem.  I love its specificity.  The fact that these are "August cicadas" vs. May or June cicadas.  I live surrounded by the seasonal sound of cicadas, and the sound changes, grows in intensity as the season progresses, much as an ocean wave can grow into a roar. During the height of the heat, the cicadas too are at their most powerful, but, as anyone who is surrounded by that sound knows, it also signals the downfall and eminent death of the insects as colder weather approaches. And the sound comes in waves; maybe it's not precisely the sound of an ocean's waves, but still, the comparison conjures up so much . . . Without knowing anything about the poet, I would still appreciate the poem.  And I think that is testament to a good poem.  Because August is the end of, for many, the vacation season, the idea of trying to take the ocean's waves (and the cicada's sound) away as a souvenir of the season is incredibly poignant . . .  I often feel this way myself as I chart the progression of the insects and tree frogs I hear in spring and summer.  There is a certain winsomeness that comes with knowing that, soon, those sounds will have to be packed away until the following year.  And also a hope that you'll be around to hear them when they return. 

As far as knowing the poet's background, of course that adds other layers to possible interpretation.  But I believe in this case the haiku is rich enough to stand on its own.


I pretty much agree with Maggie.

It's irrelevant that I know Fay herself, but I do. ;-)

I'm aware of cicadas on a personal level because of Japan and Queensland, Australia, and oceans separate those countries from my country of birth which is a small island (Britain).

August cicadas
could I carry an ocean
in one suitcase

August has its own resonance because of the holiday season in Britain and Europe, and probably other countries.  The haiku suggests homesickness because of the combination of "could I" and "suitcase", but a temporary solution to homesickness as only one suitcase is specified.

Of course it could mean one suitcase for the ocean, and others for me to pack everything I need.

Going back to August, it could mean, other than homesickness, a wanting to run away from something unpleasant, ether work or domestic, or a combination of the two.

People do run away to the ocean, the sea, as well as circuses etc...  We want a better life, the grass is always greener.

The closer I read the poem, the openness is there for me to bring in connotations of other levels.

I'm pleased there is no question mark symbol (?) as I find, although possibly grammatically correct, does tend to interfere with a reading.  After all, the reader can supply the question mark themselves, and depending on what question mark they have in their own life.


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