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Concerning English Short Poetry

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

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Don Baird

I've read so many boards of this same discussion, it's become almost hard to believe.  What is the purpose?  Is it to persuade?  Haiku, worldwide, is growing ... and primarily in English.  And, even in Japan, English haiku is well received -- actually, requested:

http://kusamakura-haiku.jp/backnumber/2009/english.html

Jim Kacian, a fine haijin won this tournament as well.  The Grand Prize is awarded regardless of nationality.

The wonderful thing is, Chibi, if you really like calling these a short poem, you may.  This is your decision and I honor and support that.  For me, I write haiku in English ... and every so often, I write a really good one.  :)  I suggest everyone calls their "poem" what they want ... develop your skills in that regard as best you can. 

Perfect your skill of the Italian Sonnet (though it's primarily written in English these days):  perfect your skill in writing Japanese Haiku (though it is primarily written in English these days).  Continue to hone your skills and don't worry about it's name.  History will sort that out and in the end, I truly believe, Chibi, that your position on this will be clearly in the minority.

Anyway, that's my two cents for what it's worth.  It's great seeing you again.  I hope life is treating you well!

all the best,

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

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

G.R. LeBlanc

I also agree that Japanese and English-language haiku are different, but changing the term? I mean, haiku isn't ONLY about linguistics, is it? I like to think of haiku as art, and art evolves and changes over time. Yet the essence of haiku remains.

Besides, what would anyone possibly have to gain by coining another term? How does one decide at what point something has evolved or changed enough to call it something different? And who would have the authority to do this?

Shouldn't people focus on enjoying haiku, in both writing and reading it, instead of worrying about what it's called? If you ask me, if we start to worry about what things are called and categorizing them, we're totally missing what haiku is about. I always thought that haiku is about looking at the true essence of things, not about their terminology? Isn't it about sharing part of ourselves with others, about showing that we are all connected? 

Yet, here we are trying to define and categorize things so that we can separate them into their own little boxes. I honestly do not understand how such a wonderful form of expression can lead to so many dividing debates--debates that, in my opinion, simply result in extinguishing the magic that surrounds it. :-\

cat

Don and Gisele, well put.

I think you both make some excellent points.

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

sandra

"I've read so many boards of this same discussion, it's become almost hard to believe." Don

Yes, and this argument - we shouldn't call haiku "haiku" because we don't write it in Japanese - has been thrashed out pretty comprehensively on the old THF discussion boards too, including a very circular argument that posits (something like) it should all be called hokku anyway and because most people don't "understand" the rules of hokku they aren't writing them!

As you Americans are wont to say, enough already.

English is an amazing language that has no morals - absorb what you like/want from other languages, discard the rest and become the language of the world (in business at least this is the case).

Words such as pyjamas and bungalow (from India), mutton and beef (French), coleslaw and apartheid (Dutch), sky and ransack (old Scandinavian) and the very pithy single-syllable swear words from Anglo-Saxon are just a few examples of how adaptable English is.

I suppose we could always pin a tail on it (haiku) and call it a weasel, as Baldrick almost said.

chibi575

Quote from: Don Baird on December 13, 2010, 07:15:10 PM
History will sort that out and in the end, I truly believe, Chibi, that your position on this will be clearly in the minority.

Anyway, that's my two cents for what it's worth.  It's great seeing you again.  I hope life is treating you well!

all the best,

Don

Hi Don,

Thank you.  Good seeing you again.  I do not mind having a position in the minority, even if it is a fact.  Popular opinions have not always been based on fact. 

Actually, I just propose that we look for a more fitting name for what we write in English/American.  Haiku is already defined and taken for the last 500 years or so.  But, as you say, history does not always favour fact.

Happy Holidays.
知美

Don Baird

:)  I believe it is a fact that we write haiku.  Changing the name to something else will not change that fact.  I don't think language limits our ability to write haiku, sonnets or any other genre.  They might be different but so are people.  Whether a person comes from Canada, Japan, China, USA, Africa etc and regardless of their language, they are indeed called people.  We would never change that even though they are unique in their own way.  Haiku is much like that:  it is unique based on country, language and culture but it is still haiku.

That will never change.  Haiku is indeed haiku in any language.  It might work slightly different and it might reflect one's culture, language etc. a bit, but it is factually haiku.  Regardless, if you are the lessor vote or greater, you're on the opposite side of truth when it comes to haiku, Chibi. 

As a side note, I remember having my haiku win a contest sponsored by your Sensei.  He sent me a book and a private message congratulating me for my fine "haiku".  *He read it on the radio in Japan as well. 

The haiku is:

oh snail ...
you were there
yesterday!

You're still on this subject and it's already been decided.  It's haiku I write:  it's haiku we all write -- including you.  I think it is a very fitting name -- the discussion, today, is a pointless point.  :) 

all my best

Don

*Reference info here:  Shokan Tadashi Kondo Haiku Award - 2009
( a Japanese radio show contest: http://www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/radio/wi/asx/saturday.asx )

oh snail ...
you were there
yesterday!
I write haiku because they're there to be written ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

chibi575

Quote from: G.R. LeBlanc on December 13, 2010, 09:12:50 PM
I also agree that Japanese and English-language haiku are different, but changing the term? I mean, haiku isn't ONLY about linguistics, is it? I like to think of haiku as art, and art evolves and changes over time. Yet the essence of haiku remains.

Besides, what would anyone possibly have to gain by coining another term? How does one decide at what point something has evolved or changed enough to call it something different? And who would have the authority to do this?

Shouldn't people focus on enjoying haiku, in both writing and reading it, instead of worrying about what it's called? If you ask me, if we start to worry about what things are called and categorizing them, we're totally missing what haiku is about. I always thought that haiku is about looking at the true essence of things, not about their terminology? Isn't it about sharing part of ourselves with others, about showing that we are all connected? 

Yet, here we are trying to define and categorize things so that we can separate them into their own little boxes. I honestly do not understand how such a wonderful form of expression can lead to so many dividing debates--debates that, in my opinion, simply result in extinguishing the magic that surrounds it. :-\

The enjoyment of an art form is certainly very much part of the art, but, there is also nuance in change, much as in painting, Rembrant differs from Picaso, yet it seems to be our innate propensity to anchor our thought change in a name of a thing.  Roses may smell as sweet by any other name, but, I would want to know the difference between a rose and a skunk cabbage less I look foolish picking a corsage, eh?

To support a further ambiquity in relation to the Bard, this may be much ado about nothing, your point.  Please continue your exploration as I will mine.  Thank you for your reply.

知美

chibi575

Don,

Congrats on your win.  It was a fine short poem.  If you want to discuss further the points of your poem, I would welcome it on another venue.

Shokan sensei is my sensei for renku, his passion.  I have not breached the subject with him as far as what is haiku and what is not, yet, nor do I see it in his plan to do so with me.  We deal with hokku, the first verse of the renku, and, as with all the renku we've written are presented in Japanese with English translations.  On the NHK radio program "World Interactive", I am sending the renku to Shokan sensei for comment if he decides to do so.

I can not judge if you feel this discussion is a waste of your time, it is not mine, although, I appreciate you responding.  I am sorry you feel it is a pointless point, though, I see how you feel it somewhat paradoxical.
知美

chibi575

Quote from: John Carley on December 10, 2010, 06:07:59 PM
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


Thank you for your reply.

Could you explain a few statements in your reply, at least, for my clarity.

"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?" 

Can you give your source?  I would love to read it.

"The premises behind this strand are a creepy reminder of the crypto-xenophobia enshrined in the Matsuyama Declaration."  I guess one could fold this into a Japanese prejudice, but, my discussion is about embracing and understanding differences, not, using differences as leverage of class.  So your references is puzzling.

"菊の香や奈良は幾代の男ぶり

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

Could you explain this poem expecially "Nara"? 

As to Bart... yes, he is a sensei to many ;))
知美

cat

Hello,

I did a Google search for "Masaoka Shiki European influence" and got 19,900 hits.

Many included something of this ilk:  "As early as 1892, Masaoka began to feel that Japanese poetry needed to be liberated from ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression. At that time, the traditional seventeen-syllable verse form was considered incapable of expressing the complexities of modern life. After discovering Western philosophy, Shiki became convinced that laconic descriptions were an effective means of literary expression. In an essay entitled "Jojibun" ("Narration"), which appeared in the newspaper Nihon in 1900, Masaoka introduced the word shasei ("delineation from nature" or "sketching") to describe his methodology of using contemporary language and realistic images."

A book on Shiki by Janine Beichman, in large part available on Google books

http://books.google.com/books?id=yKqMhXgImEoC&dq=isbn:0887273645 

contains a lot of information about the influence of Western painting on Shiki's ideas.

The info is out there.

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

Don Baird

#25
BAM!  

Thanks for the research, Cat.  That's very interesting. Well, I'm off to write some haiku and enjoy the wonderful evening God has given.  

frosty breath
I can almost hear
the stillness

Many blessings to everyone and goodnight!

Don
:)

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

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

chibi575

Quote from: cat on December 14, 2010, 03:48:24 AM
Hello,

I did a Google search for "Masaoka Shiki European influence" and got 19,900 hits.

Many included something of this ilk:  "As early as 1892, Masaoka began to feel that Japanese poetry needed to be liberated from ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression. At that time, the traditional seventeen-syllable verse form was considered incapable of expressing the complexities of modern life. After discovering Western philosophy, Shiki became convinced that laconic descriptions were an effective means of literary expression. In an essay entitled "Jojibun" ("Narration"), which appeared in the newspaper Nihon in 1900, Masaoka introduced the word shasei ("delineation from nature" or "sketching") to describe his methodology of using contemporary language and realistic images."

A book on Shiki by Janine Beichman, in large part available on Google books

http://books.google.com/books?id=yKqMhXgImEoC&dq=isbn:0887273645 

contains a lot of information about the influence of Western painting on Shiki's ideas.

The info is out there.

cat

Thanks Cat for doing the research, but, I am a bit perplexed of the misuse of "haiku" in the reference sited.  Bashou wrote absolutely NO haiku.  Maybe there was something hidden in the introduction that made some explanation for this misuse?  Again, it only shows westerners writing about "haiku masters" prior to Shiki are misguided.  

In all fairness, I contend to be no expert, but, it seems logical that the concept of Shiki's "haiku" was not historically retroactive.  I think the confusion may be with hokku (in haikai no renga) and Shiki's "haiku".  

I'm in the process of getting access to the original Shiki in Japanese.  Then it may take me a long time to see with factual certainty that no haiku existed as such prior to Shiki.



知美

cat

Hello, Chibi,

If you mean Beichman's book, I only looked at t he chapter that dealt with this particular topic (Western influence), so I don't know how she used the word "haiku" or "hokku" or what explanation she gave. 

It would be interesting to find that 1900 essay "Jojibun" and see what it actually says.

And I must say, I find it interesting -- and ironic -- how you use Shiki as a rationale for narrowing what can be considered "haiku" to a very closely defined Japanese entity when everything about him I read last evening made some mention of him wanting to "liberate" Japanese poetry from, as the paragraph I quoted puts it, "ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression," which seems to be just the opposite of what you're promoting in this thread.

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

chibi575

Quote from: cat on December 14, 2010, 11:14:11 AM
Hello, Chibi,

If you mean Beichman's book, I only looked at t he chapter that dealt with this particular topic (Western influence), so I don't know how she used the word "haiku" or "hokku" or what explanation she gave. 

It would be interesting to find that 1900 essay "Jojibun" and see what it actually says.

And I must say, I find it interesting -- and ironic -- how you use Shiki as a rationale for narrowing what can be considered "haiku" to a very closely defined Japanese entity when everything about him I read last evening made some mention of him wanting to "liberate" Japanese poetry from, as the paragraph I quoted puts it, "ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression," which seems to be just the opposite of what you're promoting in this thread.

cat

Yes, you exploration is correct, but, I feel needs a little more Japanese background history.  Shiki's reaction to liberate was from the renku rule system and the expanding narrowing (oxymoron) of that system which was gaining popularity at the time (my historic accuracy is based upon limited reading, in all fairness); but, Shiki's proposal was a reaction to Japanese enfluences on poetry at the time, although, he was acquiring more information about the west.  In fact, Shiki I believe wanted to re-new some of Bashou's later principles as to poetry.  Let me concede that my exploration is on going.  Please continue your exploration.  I would be honored to share your views as we continue.

I certainly do not want to mislead; and, it seems as though I've done so if you feel "...to "liberate" Japanese poetry from, as the paragraph I quoted puts it, "ancient rules which dictated the subject matter and vocabulary in order for it to remain a viable form of artistic expression," which seems to be just the opposite of what you're promoting in this thread."  I want to adhere to a factual taxonomy and call haiku haiku and ELH, well... something more accurate to what it is and is becoming.  I am not trying to restrict or English efforts, I am trying to put them in proper perspective in relationship to world literature.  That's why I say, "If it ain't Japanese, it ain't haiku".

I thank you for continuing dialog and appreciate your openness to others' ideas.  I would feel very sad if I've introduced a negativeness to your exploration of haiku and it's roots.

知美

hairy

ok..I'm up for the challenge. Since the essence of haiku is "poetry of the moment", "flash of lightening behind the mountain", or my:

smile
click
memory

here are a few possible names off the top of my head:

burst
spark
lightbeam
flare
wink
bolt
splash
zoom

I like  LIGHTBEAM the best


now, here's the hard part. In oder for wide acceptance, the word has to be embraced by the majority of the haiku community--and used over an extended period of time.

For example: how do you think a "new word" gets published in a forthcoming edition of Websters International? How you ever thought?

Here's how:

At the annual lexicographer's  convention (I believe they convene in NYC) HUNDREDS of new words are presented--and then voted upon as to which will be added to first the "supplemental" edition and then annexed into the final next edition. The critera: the words that are accepted--invaribly ALL have been used by writers who write articles for the major newspapers, (NY Times numero uno)  and popular or critical magazines. I invented the word "mindache" (a headache specifically the result of overthinking, mental confusion from too much thinking, etc) which is up for consideration, but since no author has used it in a major publication, it has little chance for acceptance

So, if you accept lets say LIGHTBEAM, then it must be used by the majority of well-known haiku experts in well publicized articles, newspapers, etc--in order to get in with the new specialized meaning (Lightbeam..an American shortpoem--similar to haiku--usually 3 lines and less than 17 syllables in duration that captures and expresses a singular moment or experience).

So you see..it's  a daunting challenge and it seems like none of the respondants so far to your post are interested.


good luck,

hairy

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