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Have you considered the implications of unseen frogs?

If haiku were just a calming, traditional Eastern art for one to sit with for 10 minutes, how would it be different than a cup of tea?

At the Haiku North America convention that was held in Seattle this summer, three poets stood out in a way that I did not expect: Richard Gilbert, Eve Luckring and Jim Kacian (HF Founder). They seemed, somehow, against the grain, not like they were trying to stand out. But their art and how they approached it hit me instantly, reminded me of something that should have been obvious.

Their efforts offered me something I didn’t even know I wanted, which was ironic.

I spent the last 25 years going against the grain, being rebellious and experimental with my poetry and yet when I came to haiku, I came reverently, head down. In doing that, I was making the same mistake those crazy beats made when they came to haiku all those years ago.

If haiku were just a calming, traditional Eastern art for one to sit with for 10 minutes, how would it be different than a cup of tea? Going back to the revolution that Gilbert suggests was an alternate evolution in his book, Poems of Consciousness, starting with the same foundation, Basho:

“…Basho in particular remains misinterpreted as a poet oriented toward naive literalism regarding nature and objective-realist description…”

Have you considered whether or not the pond in Basho’s famous old pond ku exists at all in the poem? Have you considered — as Gilbert does in his book — “the implications of unseen frogs”?

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. We need a better more differentiated concept of the ego. Is “stimulation”what we are after? Is the amount of stimulation our measure? Is our haiku model a branch of the transcendentalist oak?

  2. Gene, Great article. Have you considered the many connotations and denotations of each word? All of us, all the time, speak, write and sing thoughts beyond the words … the very nature of speech is more profound than most of us ever contemplate. In art, the shape of a line itself holds psychological meaning… should it be less with words?

    1. Thank you! Exactly! Allow me a tangent: In cognitive psychology they talk about synapses firing as a kind of workout for the brain. The more unexpected the connections between words, the better for you. This is because the brain has to build new pathways between them. In other words, if I say “The dog chased the cat.” I am doing you no favors because the neurons that fire together with those words are already connected. If I say, “At the end of my corrective lenses sits a light cast of thespian echoes.” now I’m helping your brain get a workout and forge new pathways.

      So, back to your point. The more we look for deeper connections in every direction, the more we pay attention to our psychology and the connections between words and images and the effects they have on us, the more stimulation we get. I wrote that line above about the “corrective lenses” in a poem called “Mid-Fantasy Frog” while studying cognitive psychology.

      Here’s the whole poem:

      Mid-Fantasy Frog
      …so
      at the end of
      my corrective lenses sits
      a light cast of thespian echoes …so
      glass eggs in a drifting landscape and I
      are drawn by salt in
      the mirror to a nurse in
      tolerant white …so she may be our
      contact.

      Agents accustomed to neon and the soothsayer moon should
      never speak to  Y’know, Crystal Zoom, I think I just blew this thing!

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