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Concerning English Short Poetry

Started by chibi575, December 09, 2010, 11:04:37 PM

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chibi575

Let me start this new topic with soliciting thoughts on the idea that haiku is not English Short Poetry.

I contend that haiku is exclusively Japanese because of the linguistic construction and cultural based principals that are required in haiku.  I also contend that what is originally written in languages other than Japanese does not meet the language requirement.  That what is written in English (for example) is another genre which (for the lack of calling it anything better) is English Short Poetry.

I know this is a radical answer to many of the concerns with writting what goes as haiku in English; and, can be as upsetting as reforming the idea of the shape of the world as flat to the shape of the world as spherical. 

I feel it is time to establish English Short Poetry to help clarify what is haiku and what is not.  In other words, if it is not written originally in Japanese it is not haiku. 

Thank you.

知美

cat

Wow.

That's pretty radical.

I have a question.  Okay, a couple of questions:

Do you also feel that if it's not written in Italian, it's not a sonnet --

and if it's not written in French, it's not a rondeau, a villanelle, or a triolet?

Are you saying poetry should be ghettoized by its language of origin?

cat
"Nature inspires me. I am only a messenger."  ~Kitaro

Lorin

... or that the Malaysian pantun (spelled 'pantoum' in French and hence in English) should have a new name created for it?

That the English language honours the origins of various kinds of poetry adopted and adapted from other languages by keeping the lineage fairly transparent in the names is a good thing, imo.

I suppose a new name could be found if enough people wanted to obscure the origins of English-language haiku. 'English Short Poetry' would never do, though. It could never be a name that's confined to haiku or haiku-like poems in English, since there are many kinds of poems that qualify as 'English Short Poems/ Poetry' (that is, short poems originating in England). On the one hand 'English Short Poetry' is too specific as to country of origin and on the other it is too general a category, a general category that has been in existence for a long while and isn't going to cease to be a general category.

All of William Blake's 'Songs of Innocence and Experience' qualify as English Short Poems, for example, as does the Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnet. Emily Dickenson's poems would qualify as 'American Short Poems' or 'Short Poems in English'.

'Short Poems in English' would be almost as useless a name for haiku-in-English as 'English Short Poems', though at least it includes all short poems in the language, whatever the nationality of the author.


colin stewart jones

I think it was Edwin Morgan, the Scottish poet
who described English language haiku, that did not adhere to the 575 format as "just wee poems"

Is that you Dennis
if so hi been a while

i find this incredibly insular in today's age
and given the net in particular where nothing spreads faster than an idea

nothing comes out of nothing
art follows on from the ideas of others
mental collectif --see levi strauss (the French writer )

does mathematics belongs to the arab world who gave us our numerals?

haiku has it base in classical chinese poetry, which was based on indian buddhist principles
if we could go back with infinite regress then who "owns" anything
Adam or the fist bacteria? -depending on your views

Classical Gaelic poetry follows a strict syllabic count too
and does not readily translate
but is it not the essence of any art-form that is important

i do believe English haiku do have the essence of Japanese haiku
_________________________

bear us in mind for your work

Colin Stewart Jones
Editor
Notes from the Gean: monthly haiku journal

www.geantreepress.com

chibi575

#4
First, thanks for all the replies. 

I am saying due to the nature of Japanese language, more specifically, alphabet, yet even more specifically, hiragana as each alphabetic character a succinct sound, the rhythm, the kigo, the kireji (also denoted by an alphabetic character)... these restriction/constraints make the haiku Japanese specific. 

The other points from cat, lorin, and colin (yes it's me, Dennis, Colin) are missing the above focus, haiku being the exception.  I do like "just wee poems"; and, I agree "English Short Poetry" misses the name-mark lacking a certain "how do you say".  I am proposing to call haiku haiku and the other stemming from but not haiku a different name.  Take ownership and thus clarify that which was previously known as -- HAIKU -- be renamed based upon the orginal language-culture (being that the Japanese art form, haiku, carries that restriction).

Radical... yes, even borderline nuts, but, I hope more realize we should take ownership of the resulting genre by name and literary characteristics with emphasis on language-culture. 

Cat, Japanese is not a latin-based language.  I observe that this can be key for understanding haiku/hokku writing and feel.  I feel this the crux of my proposal of a different genre.  The intermixing between French, Italian, German, Spanish (and others languages), poetic genre is a different situation than with haiku.  Haiku is a claimed Japanese genre formulated for the most part by Shiki.  Japanese poetry's transportation to the west (orginally through Portugal, if history serves) was flawed in lack of understanding hokku among other poetic forms.  Certainly, Shiki's codification of haiku from hokku held no forethought of transporting the genre into other than Japanese.  As with all exchange... something is lost in not only translation but transportation as well. 

Colin, as encounters with other cultures happen, the reactions have varied in the past from oblitheration to an absorbing embrace.  The current trend is using the idea of diversification to smooth the encounter.  Recognizing differences as steps towards understanding and "getting along" as it were, is a reasonable direction.  One of the ways we allow this diversification is by "genre".  If you mean by "insular", "isolation", then you have me wrong.  I am proposing to understand and embrace the boundaries, not, ignore their existence.  I am hoping for help in that direction.
知美

John Carley

Can blue men sing the whites?

How is it possible to ignore that much of Shiki's impetus to define the 'haiku' was derived from his espousal of European literary values?

The premises behind this strand are a creepy reminder of the crypto-xenophobia enshrined in the Matsuyama Declaration.


菊の香や奈良は幾代の男ぶり

chrysanthemum scent --
the untold manner of men
Nara has known

Or as Simpson-san (Bart) put it: wake up and smell the chrysanthemums.

John Carley

cat

Chibi,

Do you really think you have to tell me that "Japanese is not a latin-based language"?

I find that quite insulting. 

cat
"Nature inspires me. I am only a messenger."  ~Kitaro

Mark Harris

#7
"I am proposing to understand and embrace the boundaries, not, ignore their existence.  I am hoping for help in that direction." Chibi575 (Dennis)

I agree with your contention that haiku-in-Japanese is different in essential ways from haiku-in-English, but feel that your conclusion, if not "borderline nuts" :) is at least quixotic. If you want to use a term like the one you proposed or "just wee poems" that's okay with me, but good luck getting it to stick. The word haiku is in wide use, and means something semantically similar to many people. Does the word haiku mean to English-language readers what it meant to Shiki? Not quite. Does the word haiku mean to our Japanese contemporaries what it meant to Shiki? Closer, but not quite. And how about the hokku of Buson that Shiki held up as examples: did they mean to him what they meant to Buson?

Best wishes...

Lorin

#8
Quote from: Mark Harris on December 10, 2010, 06:29:26 PM
The word haiku is in wide use, and means something semantically similar to many people. Does the word haiku mean to English-language readers what it meant to Shiki? Not quite. Does the word haiku mean to our Japanese contemporaries what it meant to Shiki? Closer, but not quite. And how about the hokku of Buson that Shiki held up as examples: did they mean to him what they meant to Buson?

Best wishes...

Yep, Mark, and haiku has been a loan word in English for quite a while. It's not going to return to being the exclusive property of the Japanese any more than boomerang or its Japanese-d version, 'ブーメラン (Būmeran) is going to return to being the exclusive property of the native Australian language group that it once belonged to. What if I insisted that, since eg. American and Japanese boomerangs are not boomerangs as I know them, then such boomerangs should be written and spoken within scare quotes, ( 'boomerang', 'ブーメラン ', 'būmeran') or be given a name to distinguish them from 'real' boomerangs?

It'd be, 'Well, too late, mate.'

Haiku will develop as it will, whether in Japan or anywhere else. I imagine there will be as many variations as there are on the boomerang. Some Japanese people may wince at some of the things that are called haiku, as they develop in Japan or elsewhere, in other languages and some English-speaking people will sympathise. But 'such is life'.

The horse has bolted, no use shutting the gate now.

Or, some, but not all, boomerangs come back but you often need to shift your ground to catch them.


chibi575

Cat... sorry.  I was trying to clarify your reference, but, I did not mean to insult.

Boomerang... interesting hyperbole, as is the horse and barn door.  It is never too late for the facts.  If it ain't Japanese, it ain't haiku, it is however factually something else. 

For those that have replied so far, would you be interested in proposing a name for the genre?  If not, no harm no fowl.

Thank you for your replies. 

知美

Lorin

Quote from: chibi575 on December 11, 2010, 12:52:57 AM


Boomerang... interesting hyperbole, as is the horse and barn door.  It is never too late for the facts.  If it ain't Japanese, it ain't haiku, it is however factually something else. 

 

No hyperbole, Don. A boomerang, as well as the word being a loan word in English like haiku is, is as much, in its origins, a cultural artifact with associated rules of construction, form, specific materials, manner of identifying, use,taboos, mythology etc. as is haiku to the Japanese.

There are those who say, "If it ain't Australian, it ain't a boomerang", too. I've been one of them. Whether I like it or not, I have to accept that the world's conception of what a boomerang is has changed, expanded, to include plastic toys and industrial steel things designed by computers for throwing competitions, most of which don't look like or function as 'real' boomerangs as I know them even on the practical side of things. All are boomerangs now, but this doesn't mean that we don't note differences or discriminate between them.

I'm not saying there aren't very real differences between Japanese haiku, both traditional and 'gendai' and English-language haiku and neither am I saying that these differences are 'wrong' or 'right'. I agree with you that we should acknowledge the differences and own EL haiku, in its variations, and appreciate it as it develops as a genre in interplay with Japanese haiku and that of other languages besides English. We can distinguish between various kinds of haiku, but what would be the purpose of giving EL haiku or haiku in any other language than Japanese a new name?

Also, what group or individual has the right or the power to impose such a name or the cessation of use of the standing name? The original owners? Just look at history...

I'd rather spend the time appreciating the differences and developments in haiku, worldwide.




cat

Thank you, chibi.  No worries.

Lorin, what you say makes sense to me, especially about appreciating haiku differences and developments worldwide.  I think we have to accept the fact that the Internet has shrunk the world and all kinds of art and knowledge are now available to us, and that leads to a lot of cross-fertilization.  Back when we had no option but to lay down hard cash for the journals, we had much more meager feasts of what our genres had to offer, and no way to communicate as we do here.  I would say all this has had an enlarging effect on all forms of writing (and photography, and music), and there's no way to squash any of it back into its original box -- nor should we.  Until I serendipitously became involved in haiku, I had never heard of senryu, tanka, haibun, haiga, renga, ghazal, sijo, gogyokha, and so on; should each of these also be sent back to its country of origin while what we do in English is tagged as a pale and approximate imitation that requires an alias in order to exist?

Here's something I've started wondering about since reading this thread:  If English is too limited for the creation of authentic haiku, doesn't that also mean that there can be no authentic English translations of Japanese haiku?  Doesn't that in turn mean that we who do not read Japanese have no access to the true experience of haiku anyway? 

cat
"Nature inspires me. I am only a messenger."  ~Kitaro

chibi575

Hi my friendly explorers...

I sent a request to Dr. Gabi Greve, a good friend, and more experienced than I in Japanese culture, to send to me the different names the Japanese have for non-Japanese haiku.  Here is her reply:

maybe this is one
eisaku ha.i.ku 英作 ハイク English-language ha.i.ku

make it a point to show the difference between Japanese 俳句 and
other-language ハイク  / HA.I.KU

maybe you find some useful here?
http://happyhaiku.blogspot.com/2000/07/translating-haiku-forum.html

I am not aware of any other name for ELH in Japan.

shinkoo haiku 新興俳句
Modern Haiku - Gendai Haiku 現代俳句

Experimental Haiku
Jikkensei Haiku 実験性俳句
Zenei Haiku 前衛俳句

Avantgarde Haiku ぜんえい/ 前衛俳句 zen-ei haiku
vanguard haiku
zenei haiku

http://haikutopics.blogspot.com/2006/03/shinko-haiku.html


自由律俳句(じゆうりつはいく) free verse haiku
http://happyhaiku.blogspot.com/2000/07/one-sentence-haiku.html

You can quote me any time !

Gabi

_____end of message____

Also, perhaps a better example of what I am talking about is in relation to "tea".  The Japanese Tea Ceremony, certainly has a few common constructs with the English Tea Ceremony: tea, hot water, pots, cup/bowls, partcipants, room, and, ceremony; but, although similar are different in key aspects and intent.

I feel, now, most who would see so far what has been said on the subject, "Concerning English Short Poetry" have a good enough understanding of the issues presented.

I would very much like to see some ideas on naming the genre for the formerly known as "haiku" in English.

Happy Holidays and Peace and Joy to all.
知美

chibi575

Quote from: Lorin on December 11, 2010, 12:19:51 PM

I'd rather spend the time appreciating the differences and developments in haiku, worldwide.


I feel this IS a development, that now is the time to raise this issue.  After all, we are in a diversification view, we are changing.  Bombay has change to the original, "Mumbai"... eh?  ;))

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbai
知美

chibi575

Quote from: cat on December 11, 2010, 01:36:24 PM

Here's something I've started wondering about since reading this thread:  If English is too limited for the creation of authentic haiku, doesn't that also mean that there can be no authentic English translations of Japanese haiku?  Doesn't that in turn mean that we who do not read Japanese have no access to the true experience of haiku anyway? 

cat

Let me say that I, too, have wondered these points. 

Recently in discussing a (please forgive me to use "what was formerly known as English haiku") poem by my teacher, Professor Tadashi Kondo, (affluent in English, specifically, in realation to Japanese haiku and a Japanese native and master scholar in "renku") wrote:

falling leaves
uncovered
stars

This is a "brilliant" (intended pun) poem in English, but, very difficult to translate into a haiku (traditional Japanese).  Let me also say, English may be far less limited as a language to write short poetry than Japanese (English having 800 hundred linguistic sounds as opposed to Japanese with ~30).  What is the most difficult is to transfer culture feeling and nuances.  Within the Japanese poetic form haiku, being, small by diffinition demands a certain terse verse effeciency, that tranfering to English may be the most difficult.  But, as we absorb the Japanese perspective, Professor Tadashi Kondo's poem gives example of the opposite, that is, English in this case has concentrated a deep feeling in four English words.  My interpretation of this poem shows a nuance that can only be truly expressed in English in the use of possitioning the space of the written word and holds and folds ambiquity. (an aside -- in Japan, almost all haiku is written in one vertical line, although, as in some scrolls, there may demand for other positioning).

Some questions come to mind...  is "uncovered" verb or adjective?  By using "uncovered" is there not a deeper connection between the "falling leaves" and "stars" (plurals both but hard to show so in Japanese).  The idea of falling leaves covering while simultaneously uncovering?  This is a mastefully crafted poem.  In four English words, 25 letters, and masterful use of choice, meaning, and written word spacing, such deep meanings can be felt? (an aside: our Skyp-renku group is presenting these points to the arthor himself, so, there is a reasonable risk that we have misinterpreted his English poem altogether... I will post later the result).

Yet... almost every traditional Japanese haiku/hokku is only 17 Japanese letters!  For English to accomplish this limit of letters would constrain the number of poems to a challenging rare few.  These are just a few points that compels me to suggest we (USAians, at least ... I can not answer for other English speaking nations) form a genre-name (other than "haiku").

Cat, as well as any others, if you ever feel I have offended, please, express your concerns (here or privately).  I will be very thankful for your frankness.
知美

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