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Per Diem for August 2018: Spanish-language Haiku

 
In August Per Diem: Daily Haiku features guest-editor Danny Blackwell’s collection on “Spanish-language haiku.” Here is what Danny offers by way of an introduction to his theme:

Spanish-language haiku appears around the same time as haiku is being discovered in the French and English-speaking worlds, and there are some notable influences between Europe and the Americas. Spanish-language haiku really begins with the Mexican poet Tablada, whose influence is key to understanding the development of the genre in the first few decades of the 1900s. Key features of early haiku production are a reliance on titles, metaphor, and rhyme.

When Nobel Prize recipient Octavio Paz heard of Tablada’s death he entered a public library and revisited the poet’s work, as a result of which Paz became further interested in Japanese poetry, leading him to translate Basho’s travelogue Oku no hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North) in the 1950s, thereby creating a newfound interest in haiku.

The final wave of interest occurred in the 80s and 90s with Argentinean Borges and Uruguayan Benedetti both producing haiku poems. With the subsequent arrival of the internet, interest in haiku has flourished. Spanish scholar Vicente Haya laments what he refers to as “Benedetti syndrome”: 5-7-5 haiku that aim only at syllable count or brevity but do not respect the themes and techniques of classical Japanese haiku. Some of Haya’s disciples are included here, alongside haiku that reflect other tendencies.

There is much debate about what constitutes haiku in the Spanish language, as with English-language productions, and the lines are often blurred between haiku, senryu, zappai, and other more Western forms, such as epigrams and so on. Whatever the case, Spanish-language haiku has a rich and fascinating history that I hope to present in more detail in my upcoming book Haiku From Iberia and Beyond.

I hope you enjoy the current selection and I look forward to any feedback you may wish to offer.

Danny Blackwell

*The translation of the poems from Spanish into English is by Danny Blackwell.

Stella Pierides is a writer and poet. Her books include "Of This World" (2017) and "In the Garden of Absence" (2012), both HSA Merit Book Award recipients. Her article “Parkinson’s Toolbox: The Case for Haiku” appeared in Juxtapositions: A Journal of Research and Scholarship in Haiku, issue 8, 2022. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Haiku Foundation, and she conceived and coordinates the Haiku for Parkinson’s feature.

This Post Has 10 Comments

    1. If you read my other comment responses here you will find a link to my Facebook page. Or you can click on my name here and it will take you there, so that you can be kept informed about the upcoming book.
      Thanks for your interest.

    2. Check out this month’s February Per Diem (Haiku in the Languages of the Iberian Peninsula), which builds on the Spanish collection with some Spanish and also other related languages, and features some old and new poems—some being translated into English for the first time ever.

  1. I never imagined my love for all kinds of poetry solidifying while getting my MA in Spanish. I’ve always wanted to find a way to incorporate my passion for haiku and Japanese poetry with my love and background in Spanish history, culture and language. Looks like you’re doing just that! This is exciting, and I look forward to reading more!

    1. Check out this month’s February Per Diem (Haiku in the Languages of the Iberian Peninsula), which builds on the Spanish collection with some Spanish and also other related languages, and features some old and new poems—some being translated into English for the first time ever

  2. Your comment is very interesting.I am an Argentinian haijin (live in Córdoba ) who has attended Vicente Haya’s seminars and follows his line.I’d like to read your book with the Spanish and ENglish version and If you want you can contact me vía Facebook as juliaguzman44.

  3. As a Spanish speaker, I look forward to this series! Would it be possible to post the original spanish with your translations?

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