Author Topic: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry?  (Read 31482 times)

Don Baird

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2013, 01:19:31 PM »
". . . I think some will say that's exactly what haiku should not do-- that it blurs rather than clarifies. Here too, examples would be helpful.

But with poems which are all too clear, which are easily grasped, which appear not to have been written but to have been constructed-- one does not sense the engagement." ~ peter yovu

...

I'm not sure that "clarity in chaos" necessarily equates to reader understanding.  Clarity, as I envision it, is a reference point of the author's place of being when writing a haiku.  It is a psychological position that centers the poet's keenness, not unlike that of composers, sculptors, artists, and others.  What I am pondering is that the poem itself may remain unclear following a first reading while the poet's clear mind wasn't obscured during the writing of it.  For the reader, there is a process of reading and re-reading for meaning that Dr. Gilbert often references.  Regarding the poet, there is an embodiment of clarity that needs to exist, give or take a few libations! 

Reader misunderstanding may occur.  But, that, in and of itself, is not symptomatic of chaos within the poet.  There is a unique relationship between the poem's accessibility and the reader's resistance to its meaning. 

To compose such a haiku that allows reader accessibility and yet doesn't immediately give the prize away, requires a poet of clarity (clear mind).  This is a much different position than stating the poem itself is easily accessed (clear). 

« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 08:12:13 PM by Don Baird »
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Peter Yovu

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2013, 12:54:27 PM »
I strongly suspect that Don and others will agree with what I am about to say, though it may appear to be in opposition. My sense is that the "prize" in haiku (and poetry) is something which in fact cannot be grasped-- only intuited. It is, to play on that word a little, what is priceless about it.

So, coming down this discussion a ways (as on a river, sometimes muddy, sometimes choppy, sometimes broad and seemingly still) I would say that a haiku which is "all too clear" is one that it does not go beyond what can be grasped by the mind, especially the mind (call it the left brain if you will) which wants to "get it".

Even so, there are haiku which are limited in this way which nonetheless have great charm. Kerouac's

Missing a kick/ at the icebox door/ it closed anyway

Though some will say, well it's isn't a haiku. I won't go there.

Maybe Peggy Willis Lyle's poem:

reaching for green pears/ the pull/ of an old scar

could be cited as one which goes beyond graspability. Yes, there are elements that
one "gets"-- but there is something more too. Of course, how it was written is important--
the attention to sound and rhythm. For one thing, how the double stresses of "green pears" match the double stresses of "old scar".

*************

I write about haiku and poetry because I want to see more. It’s like talking about a dream, and inviting others to say what they see too-- it brings it out in interesting and sometimes unsettling (because revealing) ways. It can also bring people together.

It doesn’t have to be an academic exercise. It can come from the wilderness and joy
of looking closely at something. Wilderness because at heart one is looking for what is fresh and enlivening. For something unseen-- and perhaps unseeable. Clarity is not for the eyes only.

I’ve heard people say they don’t want to talk about haiku, or to be "intellectual" about it. That’s fine. But me, I want to
see if I am writing from some unconscious notions which reading poetry, which hearing about and reading Oppen, for example, may reveal. I want to know what the Objectivists meant when they said “the poem is an object”-- do I or others write, perhaps unknowingly, from that stance, and is it limiting? Does it reflect how I see the world?

Point I wish to make is, reading poetry and what poets have to say about it helps me question what I do, to open it up.







Don Baird

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2013, 07:12:57 PM »
Nicely penned, Peter.

"But me, I want to see if I am writing from some unconscious notions which reading poetry, which hearing about and reading Oppen, for example, may reveal. I want to know what the Objectivists meant when they said “the poem is an object”-- do I or others write, perhaps unknowingly, from that stance, and is it limiting? Does it reflect how I see the world?" ~ peter yovu

The poem, as "an object" (to me), is much like a sponge that can absorb the reader as much as the reader can absorb it.  That inter-mutual connection, while not clear as to how it works, may be clear in the end when the reader connects to the essence of the poem . . . or not.


I write haiku because they're there ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

eluckring

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2013, 12:57:45 AM »
"Or do we stand in the gap as a witness at the edge of the void."--Cherie

This statement by Cherie, Paul's comments, Chris's interjection of "immediacy", and  Don's last posts made me think of this lovely short interview with the painter, Philip Guston, who over the course of his life's work has created an idiosyncratic oeuvre navigating realism and abstraction in a remarkable way:

http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/multimedia/videos/178

"But it almost looked too good. it's almost as if I hadn't experienced anything with it."

For me this has a lot to do with the underbelly of our discussion around "clarity and chaos".
« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 01:12:34 AM by eluckring »

devora

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #34 on: September 07, 2013, 10:10:42 AM »
Excuse me, Peter, but your assertion “that a haiku which is ‘all too clear’ is one that it [sic] does not go beyond what can be grasped by the mind” is a bit too resolute. In fact, I find both Kerouac’s and Peggy Willis Lyles’ haiku equally professional, instantly grasped and wide open to cavernous complexities. I like that combination (not so easily achieved, as you know). I have read many of your and others’ work in R’r,[i] and I sometimes find them annoyingly experimental. What I do acknowledge of these poems, however (whether I “get them” or not), is the absolute understanding that if haiku is to endure, it needs to be cultivated by the best minds, and I am quite willing to give up “clarity” (your "prize") for that advancement. What I am not willing to give up is my love for the many “traditional” works (some of your exquisite poems among them) that still move me well beyond the immediate. 

Peter Yovu

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #35 on: September 07, 2013, 11:00:15 AM »
Well, I think I was saying much the same thing-- that a poem can be easily grasped and still work.

The kind of poetry I'm talking about is a rare thing, but I am interested in rare things. Maybe a sense of this, which brings in the feeling of longing, can be heard in something Christian Wiman says in a wonderful book My Bright Abyss:

"I have wanted some image to open for me, to both solidify my wavering faith and ramify beyond it, to say more than I can say".

He's writing within the context of art and faith, but I think you can see why I offer it here.

And yes, I agree too that a lot of stuff is out there about which even I, with my aversion to words like "getting" and "grasping", am likely to say "I don't get it". And that probably means as much as anything that it doesn't have that wonderful quality of feeling right without one's being able to say why.

But who knows what experiments-- most of which are likely to fail-- may lead to?

Those poems, the ones I praise and aspire to, require a different kind of attention than do those I'm calling "all too clear". No doubt in the writing and the reading both.

But I'm not asking nor do I need anyone to agree with me. Well, maybe 2 or 3 people.

Chris Patchel

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2013, 03:51:46 PM »
A short reply just to say:

-I enjoyed the Philip Guston clip and readily relate to what he had to say.

-Wiman's last poetry collection, Every Riven Thing, impressed me enough to add My Bright Abyss to my reading list.

-"I am interested in rare things" as well, yet I also resonate with this final remark by Billy Collins that I just read in Haiku in English: "I like to think of the haiku as a moment-smashing device out of which arise powerful moments of dazzling awareness. But I also like to think of it as something to do while walking the dog."

-Count me among the 2 or more people that, more often than not, agree with, or certainly appreciate, Peter's ruminations.







« Last Edit: September 07, 2013, 04:07:56 PM by Chris Patchel »

devora

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #37 on: September 08, 2013, 12:10:01 PM »
"The kind of poetry I'm talking about is a rare thing, but I am interested in rare things,” but what aesthete is not, Peter (and Chris)?

For me, I have read from time to time haiku that rival Nick Virgilio’s lily:/out of the water/out of itself, so I know they are out there.   

Richard Gilbert

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2013, 04:42:24 AM »
Clarity
. . .  The wind itself is confusion.  A poet noticing the affect of wind on an ant, is clarity.  The swinging of a sword is chaos; the tip of a sword is clarity.

Clarity
In consideration of this topic, and Don's above partial comment, though off-topic, a review of Jack Galmitz' recent work, quoting Don (in Reply #7, this thread) with reference to clarity:

Jack Galmitz — Experiments in Languaged Obliquity
http://research.gendaihaiku.com/galmitz/index.html

And, just this morning, caught an NPR interview with John Zorn. It's long, so I abridged it to focus on the topic of clarity "at age 60." Zorn also speaks about creativity (the link to the freely available source-transcript is on the page):

John Zorn on Clarity
http://research.gendaihaiku.com/galmitz/Zorn-at-60.html

That's all for now.


Richard Gilbert

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2013, 09:19:37 PM »
. . .  that a poem can be easily grasped and still work. The kind of poetry I'm talking about is a rare thing, but I am interested in rare things. Maybe a sense of this, which brings in the feeling of longing, can be heard in something Christian Wiman says in a wonderful book My Bright Abyss: "I have wanted some image to open for me, to both solidify my wavering faith and ramify beyond it, to say more than I can say". . . .  But who knows what experiments-- most of which are likely to fail-- may lead to?

Those poems, the ones I praise and aspire to, require a different kind of attention than do those I'm calling "all too clear".

(some further thoughts, based on Peter's, Don's, Devora's &c., comments:)

I think of poetry (not just haiku)
as being created in many many ways --

If it's not something new, in-process, with each new instance, i think you don't usually end up with good "media" (art product -- art is about production as a goal; a making).

So we can talk about what Gary Snyder called "The Real Work." For Don "clarity" is key, a keynote, and a keyword. For myself, it might be: "the amorphous" or "the cloud of unknowing" -- the way of "via negativa." What comes into "focus" may be things I find only later find sweetbitter, later grasp.

And maybe there was something automatic, something like a trance, something like self-extinction.

"Clarity" poses a "something." It is a positive. Perhaps a centering, a "truth" -- in any case a "thing." An evident suchness; of this -- but not: that. However, in-process (poetic process, as acts of consciousness) I'm likewise deeply attracted to experiences of,

as Chet Baker puts it: "Let's Get Lost."

When Jim Kacian wrote "pain fading the days back to wilderness" -- I felt instantly an engram of this experience -- as part of what impels me, as an explorer, a searcher; with a sense not of forging, but following. That's where I feel to go: or it leads me, or opening before me, as if in view, though purely imaginal: back to wilderness. Wildernesses. Not chaos and not clarity; a third thing.

The paths wind on, out, dissolve, into senses (sensibilities) of infinity. "Distance is the soul of beauty" (Simone Weil). And then you may meet up with a rock, a tree.

In the Buddhist Lojong mind-training system are 59 slogans. A few are related with absolute Bodhicitta ["the mind that strives toward awakening and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings" (wiki)]. Primary is "Regard all dharmas as dreams." ("dharmas here means "things," "things in themeselves," "thing-as-such," "stuff.")

"Mind is fundamentally poetic in nature." Soul is "that which deepens" (James Hillman).

We tend to approach reality dualistically: there is literal i.e "real" experience -- and by contrast there is fantasy: thoughts, dreams, fiction. Both Hillman and Vajrayana Buddhism cause us -- or, call us, to deeper contemplations -- to view consciousness, mind, life, less superficially. Hillman discusses this interestingly in his revolutionary work "Revisioning Psychology." And in "The Dream and the Underworld" and in "Healing Fiction."

It's quite significant to me -- this question or Koan -- of regarding all dharmas as dreams. Dreams bring us close to a peculiar experience -- at the moment of the dream it feels completely real, and yet the moment after, what has happened. Something, perhaps something powerful, even life-altering -- yet how to we place it? In Hillman's dreamwork, the key is not to extract meaning or symbolism from the dream (thus ending its story); but rather to return in active imagination -- to attend upon it, attend upon psyche. To learn what psyche wants or asks of us. The image here is that of turning towards a unique, unknown face. (A face likewise can be a landscape, a specific topos.) Hillman describes the process of "de-literalizing the literalizing function." The "literalizing function" is his better term for "ego."

I don't know about you, but for me, living in a purely literal world, as a literal being -- is like psychic death. A kind of pure fundamentalism -- even a form of idiocy. But that was the world I grew up in, the messages I received. So, just say "No!" to literalism (or singular, or rank literalism). Oh, it's been a lovely road -- to finding one's love.

You recall the dual rivers of Eros and Thanatos -- the sense of possession in love, the rapaciousness of death (Persephone in Hades). The great Rivers (psychic streams) of the underworld; Lethe, she of forgetting, her sister Mnemosyne, river of remembrance. Dis-habituation is part of the action of poetry.

This relates to the irruption of habitual mind, a "falling" "slipping" "forgetting" of your step. Suzuku Roshi in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," discussed this concept as "shoshaku jushaku" -- living life "as one continuous mistake" (from Dogen Zenji).

In this context, what is clarity and what do we mean by it? To regard all dharmas as dreams, for Tibetan Buddhism is a hint -- perhaps a finger hinting at the moon. ""shoshaku jushaku," similarly. I'm not talking about haiku in particular here -- more about consciousness in creative-poetic flow. I don't think haiku necessarily present a particularly "special" form of poetic consciousness (what do you think?). In fact, we know that some number of poems appearing as haiku were first born in lines of longer poems, in letters, from hypnagogic pre- or post-dream states; from all sorts of places.

"Enriching" -- is a kind of keyword for me. To make ourselves more wealthy, culturally, psychologically -- in embodiment, in actuality, in the fullest sense of the word. The Cartesian dialectic of clarity/chaos seems at best primitive, psychologically. More evident to me -- more relevant is the dialectic: normal/abnormal. Is "ordinary mind" an oxymoron? A tautology? Who are we?

That's why I like the taste of haiku -- it's not an answer, it's food you develop a taste for.

So that's another keyword: nourishment. Sensuous, kinesthetic savor. Truly the pleasure of the text.


« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 09:30:32 PM by Richard Gilbert »

Don Baird

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Re: Field Notes 2: What can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry? And
« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2013, 07:34:12 AM »
~


thinking of clarity isn't clearly clear and so think not
       
           ~ don baird

when nothing thinks a wilderness
       
           ~ don baird


Enjoyable thread to ponder, though as Richard points out, a bit off topic.  My fault.  I delved in another direction from the topic of "what can haiku poets learn from other forms of poetry?"  I'm glad I did as now we have a few more very interesting comments regarding the spin-off topic of "clarity in confusion/chaos and its balance, if any."

Blessings.  And thanks Richard and all others for posting your thoughts.  Very interesting and fun to explore this very solid, well developed thread.


Don

ps ... Richard: I think your posts prove my point, actually.  Those are clarity and represent some of the best qualities of your creative mind.  You have a crisp and clear thought process . . . in a wilderness way!  :)  :) 
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 02:12:24 PM by Don Baird »
I write haiku because they're there ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter