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Per Diem for August 2020: Crimes of Passion

When Rob Scott invited me to guest edit a Per Diem collection for the Haiku Foundation at the end of last year, I readily and gratefully accepted, choosing the theme ‘Crimes of Passion’ for the month of August 2020. I chose this theme because it fascinates me — the subject is ripe with possibility, and it has not been overly exploited in modern haiku.

As I scoured the archives, journals, and social media for haiku on the theme, I discovered that such haiku are in fact quite rare in modern English Language haiku, comprising only a small percentage of all haiku. But like all haiku, some touched on the theme only tangentially, some quite subtle in their approach, while still others were strikingly overt.

I could not find all the authors of the haiku I wished to include in the Per Diem and even had to leave out a few poets and poems I would like to have included because there are only 31 days in August.

During my search, I became obsessed with one particular haiku and spent countless hours researching its author in an attempt to obtain the rights to publish his haiku for the August Per Diem. It is the story of a man residing in a remote and sparsely populated mountain region of Western Japan, who bludgeoned to death in a revenge killing several of his elderly neighbors and burned their houses to the ground. He wrote a haunting haiku and pasted it to the window of his home…

setting a fire

smoke gives delight

to a country fellow

The police found Kosei Homi, the murderer, hiding in the woods in only his underwear. He has been sentenced to death by hanging for his crime of passion.

— Michael H. Lester

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Both femku edited by Lori A Minor, and humankind journal founded by Robin Anna Smith are two of the best sources for crimes of passion, which are not just from a male perspective.
    .
    .
    what is femku?
    fem·ku
    femˌko͞o
    noun
    ​.
    a feminist haiku, or a haiku written by a womxn
    .
    In September 2017 I coined the term femku in the subtitle of my first book Radical Women: A Book of Femku. Since then, the term has really stuck with me and I wanted to create a safe space for womxn to share their work.
    ​.
    I’ve always been a feminist. As a twenty-something year old womxn who has suffered from various forms of abuse, womxn’s empowerment is extremely important to me. Although this journal is a home for haiku by womxn, I believe in equality for men and womxn. – Lori A Minor
    https://femkumag.wixsite.com/home
    .
    .

    Fire Rainbow by Robin Anna Smith
    .
    FIRE RAINBOW by Robin Anna Smith is a stark and forthright look into a life journey of a child turned adult navigating through a world accepting only of binaries, unreasonable parental expectations, and other people’s disregard for consent and boundaries; seeking redemption from the effects of deep-rooted trauma; and finding self exclusive of societal labels, norms, and confined boxes.
    .
    In this evocative confessional memoir-style chapbook, Robin Anna Smith beautifully and seamlessly merges prose with haiku and tanka into haibun and tanka stories respectively, taking liberties to play with form, shedding light on these powerful poetic devices and allowing Robin to explore heavy subject matters in a fluid, ambiguous, and free manner.
    .
    Where the FIRE RAINBOW journey starts off rigid, dark, and restrained stylistically, it unravels openly, vibrantly, and unabashedly, leaving readers feeling pure catharsis, release, and unrestraint.
    .
    Content warning: child abuse, sexual assault, abortion, and gender dysphoria. Please tread lightly.
    .
    — NADIA GERASSIMENKO, Founding Editor of Moonchild Magazine
    https://www.humankindjournal.org/store/p39/humankindjournal.org/firerainbow.html.html

    1. .
      You can also download Fire Rainbow, with a donation amount of your own choosing. Go to the link in the previous comment, and go where it says:
      .
      Download digital copy from Payhip:
      .
      .

      The groundbreaking Humankind journal itself has archives of 2019 issues. Just click onto
      SPECIAL FEATURES top right for free eJournal issues:
      https://www.humankindjournal.org
      .
      For 2020:
      https://www.humankindjournal.org/store/p40/Issue_2.1_-_To_The_Core_%282020%29.html

  2. Terrorism is large-scale crimes of passion

    Living in a second haibun human/kind issue 1.4 (March 2019)
    https://www.humankindjournal.org/contrib_alan_summers/issue-14-alan-summers
    .
    .
    These books are a must read:
    https://titleixpress.wixsite.com/home/library
    .
    Mouth Full of Stones by Debbie Strange
    .
    “In Mouth Full of Stones, Debbie Strange, a multi-award winning short-form poet, explores the hard truths about life in our current world. She tackles a wide range of topics from poverty to addiction, aging to grief, gender issues to abuse, and climate change to natural catastrophes. Debbie masterfully probes these subjects, spinning gut-wrenching poems with multiple layers of meaning. From one page to the next, readers will find themselves confronting their own vulnerabilities, scars, and dark secrets.”
    .
    .
    Red Flags by Lori A Minor
    .
    “Line by line, “Red Flags” boldly exposes the darkness lurking behind a mask of domestic tranquillity. Be forewarned: this short collection packs one hell of a punch.”
    –Elizabeth Alford, shortlisted for the 2018 Touchstone Award for Individual Poem
    .
    .
    And of course, not forgetting Proletaria eBooks, there is:
    .
    .
    filth
    by Tiffany Shaw-Diaz
    https://proletaria730964817.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/filth.pdf
    .
    .
    More from Proletaria
    https://proletaria.org/2020/06/14/e-chapbooks-march-2020-march-2021/

  3. In the THF library are a couple of haiku noir books by Denis Garrison that are interesting and that have poems on a range of issues such as war, violence, etc.

  4. Hiroshima
    the shadow of a tree
    in the old wall

    Haiku Harvest
    Spring 2001
    Volume 2 Number 1

    1. Sorry!

      Hiroshima
      the shadow of a tree
      in the old wall

      .

      Haiku Harvest
      Spring 2001
      Volume 2 Number 1

  5. .
    Oddly I do have a haiku where the opening is:
    .
    .
    crime of passion
    the artist’s other brush
    with authority
    .
    Alan Summers
    The Haiku Foundation Haiku Dialogue – artist studio curated by kjmunro

    .
    .
    A few of my others are:
    .
    .

    cherry mist
    the gun you pointed
    as I said I love you
    .
    Alan Summers
    Publication credits: Symmetry Pebbles ed. Richard Thomas(2011)
    Collection: Does Fish-God Know (Yet To Be Named Free Press 2012)

    .
    .
    sultry evening
    liquid from the take out bag
    runs near the victim
    .
    Alan Summers
    Publication credit: World Haiku Review vol 2: Issue 3 (2002)
    Collection: Does Fish-God Know (Yet To Be Named Free Press 2012)
    .
    .

    street attack–
    I hold the young girl
    through her convulsions
    .
    Alan Summers
    Publication credits: World Haiku Review vol. 2: Issue 3 (2002); Short Stuff vol 2, Issue 1, (2003)

      1. Thank you Michael!
        .
        I have written a few haiku dealing with the dark side of our humanity, and know that’s not popular, which is why I have supported Lori, Robin, and Roberta.
        .
        Now I’ve only had cocktails with Robin, and breakfast with Roberta, so I hope to have at least lunch with Lori one day!!! 🙂
        .
        In both instances our partners were present, and sometimes buying the drinks! 🙂

        1. I hope someday, when I am retired and the coronavirus is under control, to meet some of these folks myself! I am just an hour from Pasadena in no traffic and of course there is a great group of ku poets there!

          On my bucket list is another trip to Japan, having spent a year there while in the Air Force in 1968 completely squandering a wonderful opportunity to absorb the Japanese culture, this time with my head removed my from derriere.

          1. I’ve been fortunate to have met various US and Canadian haiku poets both in Japan, London, City of Bath (UK), Bradford-on-Avon (UK) and now Chippenham! 🙂
            .
            Sitting down to breakfast with Roberta and Frank at Jollys the Irish breakfast cafe was almost surreal, although I’ve met Roberta on numerous occasions, but usually City of Bath before.
            .
            Jollys: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g190801-d3974639-Reviews-Jollys_Irish_Cafe-Chippenham_Wiltshire_England.html#photos;aggregationId=&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=430051764
            .
            Seeing Robin Smith with Bob at our small local train station was definitely surreal for all of us. The new changes meant I couldn’t easily get to the actual platform so I was looking at them from the bridge! 🙂
            .
            Strolling down to another cafe and then later going to a very small iconic Wiltshire village and having cocktails was definitely fun!
            .
            Visiting the Roman Baths with John Stevenson, and then having a meal at an iconic almost Shakespearean tearoom and restaurant, in blazing heat! A British Summer can be as challenging as most, if Dallas, as I know.
            .
            The pandemic has surely messed things up now, but great memories.
            .
            It’s certainly worth grabbing the chance to meet other haiku poets in person, as well as going to Japan!!! 🙂
            .
            Alan

  6. .
    .
    Haiku didn’t really get started being ‘haiku’ the new genre of 1896 (Shiki) until the build up to WWII and Japan entering that war. Haiku now regularly takes on hard subject matter, the harsh realities of life, as well as crime: Many authors no longer have their haiku ‘look away’.
    .

    I know most of you may be aware of my ongoing article “hadaka: all that comprises life” currently read an astounding 16,333 times as of today!
    .

    The Other Side of the Coin:
    Haiku and the Harsh Realities
    .
    Peter Brady
    World Haiku Review, August 2001
    .

    Peter Brady gives a very good argument why we as poets have a duty and responsibility and that sometimes “the images elicit anger, outrage, pathos, tears — a wider range of emotions than joy or calm or a nod of recognition at some pleasant memory.”
    .
    The full range, the sweet, the bitter, the happy, the sad – all that comprises life, yet I often find that haiku writers shy away, or hide from, aspects of life, as if we must only talk of flowers, birds, bees and honey.
    .
    hadaka: all that comprises life
    https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/forum_sm/index.php?topic=2130.0

    .
    .

    A crime of passion, in popular usage, refers to a violent crime, especially homicide, in which the perpetrator commits the act against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage rather than as a premeditated crime. Wikipedia

    .
    Possibly the three best, and overt poets on this type of violence and also of domestic/home violence by a partner are:
    .
    Lori A Minor
    Robin Anna Smith
    Roberta Beary
    .
    I’m guessing you’ll have haiku from those three authors in this Per Diem, and I look forward to them.
    .

    Here is part of my blurb for FIRE RAINBOW
    A Memoir Told Through Haibun and Tanka Prose
    by Robin Anna Smith
    .
    Poems as witness statements fly in the face of the secrets that are wrongly protected over decades through privilege and fear. These poems, in the form of blending prose with haiku or tanka poetry, and other variations, come through with actual truth: Not filtered pretence of truth and transparency. They should be etched onto every court building, every abusive home, and where politicians enter to do their business.
    .

    Alan Summers
    co-founder, Call of the Page

    1. I’m guessing your guess will be quite accurate, Alan! It takes a talent and a passion to express the theme of crimes of passion in a few choice syllables. My hat’s off and thanks to all the poets whose poems will appear in the August 2020 Per Diem, and to those whose poems also merited inclusion.

      1. It’s a strong theme, and I am an advocate of haiku tackling the difficult social issues of our times. The New Rising Haiku Movement started it when they stood up to tyranny and Covid-19 has highlighted that even our democratic governments and corporates secretly support or are indifferent to the abuses of many ‘crimes of passion’.

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