Author Topic: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?  (Read 18286 times)

Lorin

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2011, 02:46:37 PM »
Yes, let's not go the complete other way and say that 5-7-5 haiku in English are invalid.

It's an option. I was in a position of having to offer a 5-7-5 verse for a renku (the only 5-7-5 spot in the renku) My offer was chosen, probably for the humour as well as the link with 'identity' and the allusion to Toshinori Tsubouchi, a Japanese haiku poet who has written many haiku about the hippopotamus:

cherry blossom drift -
here comes the poet with his
hippopotamus

- from Haikunaut Island Renga, Cordite, 2009

....it really should be read in context:

http://www.cordite.org.au/poetry/haikunaut/free-haikunaut-renga/comment-page-7#comments

" I know the 5-7-5 form tends to make an English haiku too wordy, but, as you
did here, it's certainly possible to write good ku in that form. Some Japanese
haijin write in a shorter or longer form than the conventional 5-7-5, and
we have many successful examples." - Keiji Minato (from the comments thread)

Some other haiku I've written seemed to work best in the 5-7-5 form, eg:

sunrise at the pier –
calamari fishermen
bowing to the sea                       

The Heron's Nest, March 2009

But I have to say that it's far less usual that my haiku work out best in 5-7-5 form.

- Lorin

Laura Sherman

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2011, 11:20:47 AM »
Lorin, I love these two haiku.  I have noticed that some poets do go in the other direction and almost eschew 575. 

I especially love how calamari fisherman rolls off the tongue.  It's a lovely haiku to say!

It's good to know that I won't be banned from the group for proposing a 575 now and again. :-)

Mark Harris

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2011, 05:35:03 PM »
yes, many people, minimalists or not, avoid words such as hippopotamus and calamari for fear of reaching, or going beyond, 17 syllables. My own haiku are usually shorter. Sometimes, though, calamari tastes better than squid. And sometimes more words can be refreshing.

In a swarm of yellow-jackets
a squirrel drinks water
feet in the cool clay, head way down.

                     -Gary Snyder

Don Baird

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2011, 07:18:08 PM »
This week, I have been reading a lot of Japanese translations ie: Basho and Shiki in particular.  I've notice that, while these haiku are generally 5/7/5 in Japanese and of few words, it takes many more words to translate them well into English.  Translating from Japanese to English seems to be an expansion in number of words not a contraction. That's an interesting thought. Especially, when we're spending so much time contracting the number of words we use.

Poets writing in the English language, today, are constantly attempting to reduce the number of words (syllables) in their haiku to match the perceived length of the Japanese counterpart.  Counting syllables at 5/7/5 in English, it is thought, brings about wordy and rambling haiku.  However, when contracting a language such as the English language, the poet may very well shrink its resonate meaning as well and lose the expansiveness which is found to be inherent in Japanese language haiku/thought. It seems to take more words in English than it does in Japanese to tell the same story.  

The effort here (ELH) is to write a haiku of 8 - 14 syllables and reduce the number of words concurrently.  The Japanese language handles syllables (on) almost incidentally - 5/7/5 is a natural phenomena.  The style of language (pictorial in some way) while contained in a 5/7/5 construct is very expansive in meaning, however, and rich in possible interpretations leaving each haiku to the scholars to figure out for years to come.  The English language is a linear language with much less possiblity of that process existing, though, not completely removed.

Here's a thought.  It seems to me that if it takes 15 English words to translate a Japanese haiku of 11 (hypothetically), then it should be 15 English words that would be needed to write the same haiku in English in the first place (or 20 etc.)!? I'm not speaking of word to word match such as frog to frog etc.  I'm talking meaning to meaning:  I'm addressing the overall meaning of the haiku in Japanese minds.  We can match word for word.  Can we match meaning for meaning with the same number of words?

I'm wondering if we're going the wrong way.  We are shortening our haiku for the sake of meter while we should be lengthening them, in actuality, to match the depth of the Japanese language and its rich meaning and not merely link ourselves to it's syllabic beat?

Why did we choose to match syllables in the first place?  5/7/5?  Why did we not choose to match the meaning and expansiveness of Japanese haiku rather than choose to simply pair to the Japanese meter and limit our abilities to express ourselves well in haiku?  

I'm a minimalist in writing haiku, btw ... but today, I'm just thinking out loud.

all my best,

Don

... a no ... while I'm pondering this I am not changing my style of writing ... as of yet.  :)



« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 07:34:16 PM by Don Baird »
I write haiku because they're there ...

through
the hole of a cheerio,
spring!

AlanSummers

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2011, 08:03:22 PM »
A lot of great points here, placed with humour.

I have to agree with what Don says here:
" 5/7/5?  Why did we not choose to match the meaning and expansiveness of Japanese haiku rather than choose to simply pair to the Japanese meter and limit our abilities to express ourselves well in haiku?"

There are some great minimalist EL haiku and some 'good to great' longer versions using the 17 EL syllable construct, and equally there are some abysmal attempts by tyros and established poets.

My surprise is how many national and/or international mainstream poets, who are craftsmen and women, mangle haiku yet can write other disciplined forms.

The thing with haiku is it is much more than a form, or a genre: it seems to sit in both camps, and maybe that's why it defeats so many attempts at it. 

Alan

Don Baird

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2011, 08:19:53 PM »
"The thing with haiku is it is much more than a form, or a genre" ... Alan

I fully agree.  Perfectly stated!

Don
I write haiku because they're there ...

through
the hole of a cheerio,
spring!

Lorin

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2011, 03:35:34 AM »
Lorin, I love these two haiku.  I have noticed that some poets do go in the other direction and almost eschew 575. 

I especially love how calamari fisherman rolls off the tongue.  It's a lovely haiku to say!

It's good to know that I won't be banned from the group for proposing a 575 now and again. :-)

Thanks, Laura. The facts are that here in Melbourne (the general area, not the actual city district) the people one meets early in the morning at one of the likely bay piers, fishing for calamari, are Greek or Italian immigrants or descended from, and if you ask them what they're fishing for they'll never say 'squid'. They use a line with a fluorescent bobber, the light attracts the calamari. At sunrise, they're hauling in and beginning to pack up. Funny thing is, since the 50s, most people here now say 'calamari' instead of squid, and that's what we buy in the market or order in restaurants, too. Habituation...I'd feel odd saying 'squid' in the context of angling or eating these days.

 I've always liked fishermen, too.  8) They contemplate things. That seems to me to be what fishing (angling) is about, really, a way of contemplating and reconnecting with the natural world.

Yes, I believe the poem (whatever it is) finds the form it works best in, if we let it. Write things the way it feels best to you. If we decide before we write that it's to be a certain length and no more, we're curtailing ourselves. Recall the story of Procrastes and his diabolic bed for guests! Sometimes  :o 'what the poem wants' is not to be a haiku at all! And if so, go for it, in my opinion, write a rave of 100O lines a la Ginsberg, or a sonnet, or whatever.

- Lorin

chibi575

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Re: Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?
« Reply #37 on: January 11, 2011, 08:08:28 AM »
Hmmm...

"tundra" (Cor's one word, ELH) is not syllablicly terse enough, perhaps, "sea" will be both terser and expansive?   ::)  Then maybe "dune" though it has more letters than "sea", maybe, even "sky" will do?

Of course, if the Japanese are so inclined to accept "ma" and place 間 in the middle center of an otherwise blank scroll...

this visual pun
may soon become a genre
all its very own?

Hmmm... me thinks me needs more tea.

 :D chibi
知美

 

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