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Montage #24


Montage #24, presented by Allan Burns, is now up here on The Haiku Foundation website. This week’s theme is “Around the World” and features the work of Ion Condrescu (Romania), K. Ramesh (India) & Bob Lucky (an American residing in China).

My own favorite from this edition is:

                                                  Vedic chants . . .
                                                  a heron glides to a rock
                                                  in the misty lake

                                                   — K. Ramesh

The juxtaposition is strong and the 2nd and 3rd lines lend themselves to both the real and experienced as well as the imagination and inner/consciousness, allowing readers more of an opportunity to make their own connections. The heron appears like some mysterious, mystical apparition that is more than just a bird. The poem is also three-pronged in its reach: through the “Vedic chants” it is able to connection back to the rich history of Indian religion, mythology and philosophy; its English composition into the English reading and speaking world and its own haiku tradition; and its haiku form, which reaches back and connects to Japanese haiku literature, thus expanding the web and its possibilities. It also reminds me of the haiku work Octavio Paz wrote and the way in which he connected haiku and Indian religion in his solo renga/poem El Día en Udaipur (A Day in the City of Lakes) [see Modern Haiku 36.1].

What are some of your favorites from this installment of Montage and why?

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Hi, David, I just was on the site
    and reviewing their winning haiku. Each of them employed your concepts. It’s basically how I started out, but as I’ve received much advice from many poets I explore each idea to see which really will enable me to put into words what is going on in my life and the life of the world around me.
    So I appreciate your ideas.

  2. Merrill,

    Hokku — which is much older than haiku (haiku only began in the late 19th century) — has very definite principles and standards. We do not use the term juxtaposition, so the closer one gets to hokku, the less one needs to think about that.

    Instead, we speak of unity and harmony in a verse, which means it is not a random assemblage of things, but rather the joining of elements that are harmonious and unified when combined. That is what makes for successful hokku. One learns hokku partly by becoming familiar with the common types, among them the “standard hokku” form of setting, subject, and action that I mentioned in my previous comment.

    But modern haiku has no universally-accepted standards, so you will be told sometimes one thing, sometimes another, depending on whom you ask.

    And because this site is about haiku, I try to be careful to only comment when it touches in some way on hokku, as these particular verses happen to do. I neither teach nor practice haiku, so I cannot advise about that.

  3. David, I appreciate your approach to haiku. Most of the time if I write one like that though it’s been pointed out to me that there is no juxtaposition. I know your form is good too since some of my best haiku have been in that form. And to me it is more subtle and requires more careful reading.
    In any event, reading your comment has encouraged me not to give up the form but to attempt to use words that hold more “depth” to them.
    But most of the time I find I write a haiku to try to put something into words…to find the words…

  4. Codrescu’s

    sitting all alone . . .
    the lights of a distant hamlet
    under Orion

    Is essentially a variation on Bashō’s hokku

    A rough sea;
    Stretched above Sado —
    The River of Heaven.

    “Sitting all alone” takes the place of “a rough sea”; Orion takes the place of “the River of Heaven” (the Milky Way); and “the lights of a distant hamlet” take the place of “Sado [Island].”

    Bob Lucky’s verse

    the river bed
    runs through my fingers

    Follows precisely the standard old hokku form of setting (drought), subject (the river bed) and action (runs through my fingers). The only difference in English is that it lacks standard punctuation and capitalization.

    Kamala Ramesh’s verse

    Vedic chants . . .
    a heron glides to a rock
    in the misty lake

    is an expanded form of the same pattern, though he introduces a secondary setting, which makes it seem a bit “full,” but effective nonetheless with its engaging of both hearing and seeing.

    “Vedic chants” is the setting;
    “a heron” is the subject”
    “glides to a rock in the misty lake” is the action, with “in the misty lake” functioning as a secondary setting.

    My point is that in general, the closer a modern haiku approximates the old and common hokku types, the more effective it seems to be, and the less like all the rest of modern haiku.

    That is no accident.

  5. Scott, I enjoyed reading your comment on my haiku. Thank you. The chant , the misty lake and the heron made me reflect on the ancient past when I witnessed the scene. Your statements made me think of the moment again!

    My favorite haiku from this week’s Montage are –

    sitting all alone . . .
    the lights of a distant hamlet
    under Orion

    Ion Condrescu

    There is a sense of vast space, silence and contentment. There is also the feeling of timelessness. The location of the hamlet under Orion makes me think of interconnectedness of the small and the big. A fine haiku.

    the river bed
    runs through my fingers

    Bob Lucky

    I like the imagery. The feel of the sand, its yellow color, the wide open river bed, I can also hear the dry wind blowing. This poem speaks of transience, of change… The haiku is evocative and poignant.

    Thank you Sandra for your clarification regarding names!

    Kala Ramesh lives in Pune and I live in Chennai. I am a male teacher.
    “K” is my initial.” K” stands for Kaniparambil, which is my family name.

  6. Ah, thanks Sandra. That explains it!

    I think my confusion has come about after Kala Ramesh has written under both Kala Ramesh and _kala. I just thought K. Ramesh was another pen name!

    In the comments on the following the two actually meet and Kala Ramesh says that K. Ramesh is not her:

    If only I’d seen that before…!

  7. Hi Chris,

    I think you’ll find they are two different people, simply sharing the same surname and the same first initial.

    According to a biography on tinywords K Ramesh is a teacher from Chennai (southeast coast), while Kala Ramesh is a singer in the Indian Classical style from Pune (towards the west coast).

    Many people in India use their initials only (with a surname), while others have one name only!

    Hope this helps.

  8. Sorry to be a party pooper, but in the preamble for this montage K. Ramesh is assumed to be a man. Kala Ramesh is female… or am I missing something?

  9. Yes,I like the way it almost seems that the heron’s flight is in tune with the chanting. Seeing the heron you can almost hear it by imagining the image.

    I found new moon/finding an owl pellet/in my pocket fascinating. To me it left wide open all sorts of imaginations and myths. I love that one. That one will keep me wondering for a long time. Thanks Allan.

    Also, the contrasts from different cultures and parts of the world is interesting to me. How different subjects are dealt with from different upbringings…cultures…

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