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Montage #26 & #27


Montage #26 & #27,
presented by Allan Burns,
are now up here (#26) and here (#27)
on The Haiku Foundation website.

#26’s theme is “One-liners” and features the work of Matsuo Allard, Stuart Quine & Jeff Stillman.

What would be lost if the one-line haiku in #26 were rearranged in three lines? How does their composition in one line affect one’s reading & interpretation? How important is it to those writing haiku in English that Japanese haiku mostly are, and have always been, written as one line poems?

#27’s theme is “California Dreamin'” and features the work of Michael McClintock, D. Claire Gallagher & Jerry Ball.

For #27: How important is California, as a place and environment, to these haiku? Is it essential, a nice factoid, or somewhere in between?

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Hi, Guys, #l) I look forward to the haiku you select from Martin Lucas…
    #2) I had a very strange thing happen when I posted something on-line in three lines, and the electronic posting strung it out all in one line. So I’ll be conscious that this could happen at any time. I do think that three lines are important – even if they are three distinct motions in the haiku that ends up being posted as one line. But thinking in one-liner terms it is interesting to me that it can help me to clean up my three liners from over verbalization.

  2. Paul,

    Apologies if my manner of expression was misleading. I didn’t mean to say you spoke *for* the journal but only that you speak *as* someone who is an associate editor of the journal. I think you’ll agree you don’t stop being associate editor when you post, and in some sense you represent the journal, in an ambassadorial capacity, wherever you go. Your opinions do help shape the journal’s policies — in consultation, as you note quite appropriately, with five others. I was really only pointing to two facts: You are associate editor of the journal, and the journal does not accept (or has not in the past accepted) one-liners. This was just one sentence out of a number of rapidly typed paragraphs, and if the emphasis seems “off”, I regret that.

    Best regards,

  3. Whoa, now, Allan. (and I know that you know)
    I “speak” here for myself and in no way represent the journal I “work” for. That would take a group decision of the Editors plus indeed a sixth person, as our WebWizard is a very noted haiku writer, and would be publicly voiced by the Managing Editor.

  4. For me, the most significant thing about one-liners is that they offer an option. Each poet must judge for herself or himself when (if ever) it’s the best option for what is being expressed. The ambiguities a one-liner can create are sometimes part of the point; but the conventions of cutting make them comprehensible to the initiated most of the time (e.g., I don’t feel I share Paul’s difficulties with Stuart Quine’s “bolted and chained” or Jeff Stillman’s “cold moon”…and I could address that in more detail if necessary). As Mark Harris notes, the conventions of unpunctuated three-liners can certainly be enigmatic to the uninitiated — which is part of why some still advocate the use of strong punctuation to indicate cuts in three-liners. For others, with eyes that have made certain adjustments, such punctuation seems superfluous. One-liners sometimes push the boundaries (for the initiated) further, and to me that is always something at least worth trying.

    English is written horizontally, so the horizontal one-liner is a Western analog of the Japanese vertical haiku. That’s pretty straightforward, I think. Of course, it’s also possible to write vertical haiku in English. John Martone is well-known for this approach — and his fans (I am one) may be interested to know Red Moon Press has just published a new collection of his work, Ksana. Here’s one ex. of what I consider to be a very successful English-language vertical haiku, by John Barlow:

    (Acorn 18, 2007; reprinted Wing Beats)

    I have regarded that as a masterpiece of English haiku since I first read it, and it’s a fairly rare case in which a haiku imprinted itself on my memory on first reading. Note the first word. Note the assonance. Note the seasonality. Note — esp. if you know nuthatches — the rightness of “voice” (as opposed to “song” or “cry” or whatever). Note also that a nuthatch is a bird that spends its life moving vertically up & down trees.

    The point, for me, is that options and variety enrich our haiku and expand our creative possibilities. I am for creative freedom. I am certainly not against three-liners.

    Paul speaks as associate editor for a major journal that will not accept one-liners. I have no complaints about that. Each journal must decide its policies, and as long as there are options and we all know where we stand, all is well. And Paul well knows I have the deepest regard for The Nest. The number of haiku I have drawn from The Nest for Montage, the number I have published there, and my annual contributions (all of which are matters are public record) attest to that. But if you do want to publish one-liners, as I sometimes do, you can try Acorn, bottle rockets, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Presence, Roadrunner, South by Southeast, Wisteria, et al. — they all do accept them. And I think that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt they are very much part of the contemporary mainstream.

    And, again, one-liners are hardly new. As I’ve pointed out previously, Harold Henderson advocated experimentation with this form in 1970, almost forty years ago and just seven years after the founding of American Haiku. Michael Segers published one in 1971, and the crucial advocacy for this form came from Hiroaki Sato, Marlene Mountain, and Matsuo Allard back in the mid-70s. It may have been a “radical” approach then, but it is hardly so now.

    Finally, on a different subject, I did not take your remarks about the “California Dreamin'” gallery, Adelaide, the wrong way. I just felt that after you and Christopher White posted I should try to state my own intentions regarding this latest edition of Montage. I certainly appreciate how you took the time to read the gallery carefully and to post your comment.

    Glad to see all this discussion!

  5. My bit from Japan on the One Line …

    A traditional Japanese haiku comes in three sections / segments:

    kami go (the top five section)
    naka shichi (the middle seven section)
    shimo go (the lower five section)

    So, given the natural rhythm of the Japanese language, it is easy to recognize these sections when spoken.

    Writing these three sections usually depends on the Japanese paper you are given.

    The details are here (or click my name)


  6. Interesting ramble, Paul. Your comment toward the end, “no puzzles please”, is a key to this question for me. When I was new to haiku, Quine’s “ebb tide” would have been a puzzle to me whether in one line or three. I might, for instance have read

    ebb tide
    a thin rain

    as a chunk of language and been confused, possibly irritated. As haiku poets, much of what we write is a puzzle to newcomers. If we can recognize a break (or cut) with or without a line break, then for me other factors become more important.

    A successful oneliner, for me, flows. My brain takes in multiple ideas, images, words, and then rearranges them without worrying at them. Conversely, three line haiku, which I have mostly preferred in my own writing, can sometimes be too leading.

  7. Well, the subject sits there: one-line haiku … a new but old trend? Allan has been provocative in topic, but not in his choices of haiku poems. He’ll probably gasp out loud, but I do like some of the Montage haiku from last week both as haiku and in their form. Others not.

    I am but one possibly curmudgeonly observer. Be gentle with me, followers of the new modern . . .

    I have heard it said, and I hope this isn’t seen as a straw man argument, that Japanese haiku is put on one line, albeit vertical. So, why don’t we in the West use one line, too? This is certainly the usual case in Japanese, but it is also from right to left, and at least used to be in 5-7-5 with no obvious punctuation except small-word-dividers showing the break or subdivision for juxtaposition. We seem in English to be free from most of these restrictive differences of languages. These are elements of form, of craft, that are the differences. I’m not introducing differences of the “modern” whereby kigo and juxtaposition are dropped.

    Why three lines?

    Three perhaps because of the original Japanese language construction of 5-7-5 breaking into 5-12 or 12-5 for meaning and juxtaposition. I do not know Japanese language and culture at all well — I’m relying on the writings and personal conversations of Japanese speakers.

    Why one line?

    One perhaps because Japanese is often written in one vertical line, both in Classic and modern times.

    Yet, there are examples in painted haiku with calligraphy (haiga) of even Master Basho when the poem part is in three vertical lines. One example to Basho’s own painting and his calligraphy is of banana tree, gate, and hut to the verse about listening to the bagworm. Another to a painting by his renku disciple, Kikaku, and in Basho’s hand for the poem. Again in three lines for the crow, branch/autumn dusk. (3 lines, vertically, left to right) While these are not the dominant form of expression, they do illustrate how the Japanese masters saw their verses — in 3 parts.

    Search at GoogleBooks for the 1995 book in preview of:
    H a i g a : T a k e b e S M c h M [Socho] a n d t h e
    H a i k u – p a i n t i n g t r a d i t i o n
    B y S t e p h e n A d d i s s ,
    F u m i k o Y . Y a m a m o t o

    Jumping to “modern“ times
    . . . If folks call everything “ku” and not haiku, I suppose there is less objection. Still, as I quoted Henderson a while back: [Sails #4]
    “[haiku in English] It seems obvious that they cannot be exactly the same as Japanese haiku — if only because of the difference in language. At the same time, they cannot differ _too_ much and still be haiku.”

    So . . . how close to “our” or “my” ideal of haiku are one-line haiku? Or Henderson’s when writing 40+ years ago? A few of Allan’s selections (Montage, 30 August ‘09) are obviously cut through extra spaces and/or punctuation. Some more by the force of language. Some are pivots. Others confuse me, perhaps deliberately or perhaps I’m too thickheaded to “get” them.

    Examples of the first type is Alard’s “through a column” and Stillman’s “sweater mend unraveling.” Second type: perhaps: Quine’s “at the crossroads” and Allard’s “passing clouds” and Stillman’s “New Year’s morning.” I have no problem with these on three lines. Some might be clearer or more subtle in three … others (New Year’s morning) have not enough material for 3 lines. Perhaps better on a single one. Stillman has a very fine pivot (middle line or part if on one line) can be read with either the beginning or the end: “cross examination.” In this case, I’d prefer three lines, but? All morning is rain and the very long cross examination. Quine’s “bolted and chained” leads me astray and I’m not happy when that happens deliberately. Could just be me who reads “bolted and chained the way” before being jerked away from that line of thought. Read any way, I personally do not find a meaning, or perhaps I do, but what and why? Is this a group remembrance of slavers leading Africans to the coast…. but no mountains where that generally happened. Nothing in the here and now. So what or who is chained? A flashback to the old US South? Seems to run afoul of the Henderson quote… but I’m not trying to critique individual poems, merely the structure. This one confuses me on both grounds. In this category may be Stillman’s “cold” or “cold moon” or “cold moon lover.” In this case the confusion may increase the subtlety of the shared experience. I guess I don’t know what the whole means, not yet.

    Sometimes a short presentation, one liners in this case, hide other shortcomings such as an inverted sentence, or a lack of elements for a fuller haiku treatment. If some of them are “ku” then I do not know, as my experience of haiku doesn’t apply.
    I know Jeff, and I’m sure he will understand my comments as not personal criticism. I wish to extend that to the other two poets as well. For example, I think Quine’s “ebb tide” is a wonderful haiku. Me … ? I’d rather it in three lines for the power it gives the writer to control the flow of the reader’s sharing of the experience — the conveyance of the underlying emotions. But I admit it succeeds in one line or three. Likewise Allard’s “passing clouds” is a fine haiku in either format.

    To conclude my ramble, I think it makes the poet’s job harder in one line. If the purpose is to share actual experience and let thoughts of underlying emotions, even full-blown metaphor (!) gasp, occur to the reader as a second go-around, then three lines seem more often successful… even across these well-chosen examples — exemplars — of single line haiku poems. I see no reason to slavishly try to resemble Japanese form in one line else wise the vertical lines form to the right and march to the left. No puzzles, please.
    ….. else wise
    ….. the
    ….. vertical
    ….. lines
    ….. form
    ….. to the right
    ….. and
    ….. march
    ….. to the left


  8. Response to One-Line Haikue:

    On another forum I had asked the question–What makes a one line haiku work? The answers varied: a one breath reading, different places to pause which creates ambiguity in image and meaning. A few poets replied that it is simply a matter of the poet’s preference.

    Many one-liners, (Bill Higginson called them One-stroke haiku) have natural pauses which can fall in more than one place, thus creating the necessity of reading the haiku quickly without stopping to consider where one pauses.

    In those haiku which have spaces suggesting pauses, why did the poets choose one line instead of three? Perhaps, because Japanese haiku are written in one line. Yet, Japanese haiku are vertical, not horizontal, so writing as the Japanese write, these English versions would have to be vertical, as well.

    I could read some of the examples of all three poets as three lines and lose nothing. Some poems work well in two lines. Actually, in some, I find they read better as three lines or two, because one would naturally pause at the end of each line. Written as one line haiku I found that I had to think about where I should pause and that slowed me down.

    We, writing in English, have adopted Blyth’s and Henderson’s format for three lines, instead of one line, as the Japanese do. It’s not a law or requirement that we continue to do so, but after years of following this format the three line haiku has become the norm for anyone not writing in Japanese. At this stage in haiku development in English, it is, perhaps, the poet’s choice, one, two or three lines. I think the one line haiku to be the norm in English haiku would require too much effort on the reader and would set haiku back to trick epigram. Those in the haiku community would understand the effort, but those not familiar with haiku’s development would be puzzled and perhaps be dismissive of the poem.

    One other consideration for one line haiku is length of the line. One editor pointed out that it needs to fit across the page. In some instances a poet may have to consider the practical aspects, as well as the poetry itself. To write in three, two or one line may, in the end, depend on particular venue and width of a page in a journal.

  9. Allen, I hope my response did not imply a criticism of the haiku chosen. I was trying to answer Scott’s questions. Although the haiku posted do not evoke Calif. for me, they do evoke many other places, images and feelings, and this, perhaps, recommends them more than if they just evoked a particular place and no other.


  10. Christopher,

    Many thanks for the kind comments. I hope my own last post didn’t seem overly “defensive”–just trying to clarify something about intention.

    As a matter of fact, I do have a British Montage scheduled for the week of Oct. 18th. I’ve also featured a few British haiku poets in earlier galleries, incl. Matthew Paul and John Barlow for “Spring Migration” and Stuart Quine in the recent “One-Liners”. You’ll note also that next week’s “Fall Migration” gallery will feature work by Martin Lucas. And there may be a few others, in addition to the all-British gallery, before the end of the year. Thanks again.

  11. Good point, Christopher. I’ll bet it has crossed your mind, Allan. Checking the Montage Archive, he did the Antipodes. Britain, India, Ireland, Britain, seem eventual natural categories. Canada?

    We do see, on our USA side of the Pond different British birds in haiku, and certain different jargon and slang. Many of these word differences are not in our “American” English dictionaries. I had a fine English poet submit a wording involving what I deduced was a clothesline hung with different sides. I could not work out the physics of the scene. I had to ask. It was jerseys from opposing rugby or “football” teams. I’ve forgotten which sport. I think we haiku poets from all around the world, writing in English need to be cognizant of such regionalisms that kill communications. There is a place, however, in the middle where difference add richness. It helps if some context is deducible. We in the USA also need to keep in mind that our colloquialisms may not translate. Always hope… after all, most of us can read work from California — often considered another foreign country. OK!!! a joke. Like uhh like you know? – Paul

  12. Allan, no doubt there are other things to note, and hopefully thoughts on this will come to light from various readers over the coming week. I hope you don’t feel any judgement has been cast over your selections as a result of the question posed by Scott. Your selections are always excellent.

    On a side note I wonder, since you like to try for regional flavour, whether you might like to do a montage on British haiku? As a Brit myself I’d quite enjoy seeing what you come up with, and I think it could be interesting to compare the flavour of Britain with the states you have mentioned.

    Because the population is much more dense in Britain, it could be that there is much diversity in flavour within Britain itself despite it only being the size of a single US state, but I’m sure you could still find something traceable in the British region as a whole.

    Just a thought, but great work anyway.

  13. Every Montage is a bit different. Scott posed a question about the “California Dreamin'” gallery that may well be worth contemplating, but it doesn’t really reflect the intention behind the selections. I have gone specifically for a regional flavor in the past, as in the gallery devoted to haiku from the American Southwest (“The Adobe Wall,” Montage #25). This time, though, my goal was simply to select quality work by three poets who happen to be from California. And whereas some galleries are best read horizontally because I’ve tried to arrange the haiku so that they link (“The Adobe Wall,” again, is a good ex. of this), the ordering impulse here is more vertical in nature. For instance, I tried to provide a cross-section of Michael McClintock’s haiku across four decades. I think you’ll see some stylistic differences over time, but you’ll also note the unifying movement from the dead cat “open-mouthed/ to the pouring rain” to the morning glories “open/ to whatever comes”. Likewise, the selection from Jerry Ball’s work (which often, unobtrusively, falls into a 5-7-5 syllabic pattern) evidences a seasonal progression from spring to winter. So, I hope there are other things to note here besides a specific connection to California.

  14. Adelaide, I agree with you. The majority of these do not connect with California in any particular way.

    I do love “slicing apples” by D. Claire Gallagher though!

  15. Having lived in Calif. for nearly 20 years and traveled up and down the state several times, I find that only two haiku, D. clair Gallagher’s earthquake haiku and Jerry Ball’s Santa Rita prison haiku, evoke Calif.for m. While the poets might have been in Calif. when writing these haiku and been inspired by Calif. the images and feelings could be about any number of places. I can see New York in one haiku, the ocean in another, New England in another, mountains, the Arizona desert, a park, a garden.
    Without specific names of places, (Santa Rita) or an image of experience of something unique to that place (earthquake) an effective haiku has the ability to transpose the reader to wherever he wants to go, which may not be the exact place that the poet described.

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