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re:Virals 382

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly commentary feature on some of your favorites among the best contemporary haiku and senryu written in English. This week’s poem, proposed by Amanda White, was:

     
     old coat
     closer and closer
     to my dad
       — Sébastien Revon
       Seashores, Volume 6, April 2021

Introducing this poem, Amanda writes:

Immediately tender, poignant, deeply relatable, immersive – this rolls through like a short film that symbolises a lifetime of relationships and ones still to come. Each word and line is weighted with perfect timing and imbued with triggers and themes that contribute to our understanding of what it means to be a parent, a child, fragile and human. The coat is old, but maybe we too are old or not looking to an older parent, we are there putting on this coat remembering our own losses or ones to come and then the finale the personal connection to a loved one, a Dad. This has stayed me long after reading and is something I recall often.

Opening comment:

There are many verses in the genre that address how we either are or become like our parent(s). Common themes are reflection in a window or in the glass of a photograph; developing similar physical characteristics such as laughter-lines; cooking the same recipes or catching ourselves saying the same things; and observing similarities in taste or style. I have the impression that these are mostly the observations of ageing poets.  While the very young may try to imitate their progenitors, most of us then rebel as we create our own space outside parental control.  As a young man, I wouldn’t have been seen dead dressed like my father, still less following him into his profession. We fought a lot. However, towards my middle age that mellowed to conciliation and respect.

I think Sébastien’s verse goes beyond most of the usual themes, in subtlety, in progression, and in abstraction. It has many qualities, not least its plain words. The fragment “old coat” is immediately evocative of use, wear (wabi-sabi – the transitory flawed beauty of natural ageing) and affection. We aren’t told whose it is, or who is wearing it. As we read on, it doesn’t really matter whether Sébastien’s old coat is his father’s, or simply that his old coat mirrors his father’s: it represents something familiar that they have in common, that unites them.  Yet I am sure I’m not the only son to have kept an item or two of a father’s clothing. The power of an object’s association with someone is very strong. Next, the phrase “closer and closer to my dad” abstracts far more than a growing physical resemblance or inherited habit, symbolised in the coat.  Beyond the simpler and more obvious formulation “more and more like my dad,” “closer” suggests the deeper understanding and love that comes with age. And indeed I feel, within, that although my own father is now twenty-five years dead, I understand him more, and love him more, with each year that I myself get older. As a son and as the father of sons and daughters, the poem has particular meaning for me.

John Lanyon:

Children love dressing up and adults do too. Perhaps as children we tried out our parents’ clothes but what does it mean to do so as an adult? All the more poignant if a parent has passed away. Fathers may be remote from their children. Traditionally men are brought up not to show emotion. How may we know our silent, locked-in fathers? We can see the coat in Sébastien’s poem as armour and to wear it means to enter the locked world of paternal emotions. There will be scent, the fatherly spoor. Also taking on the role of father, literally donning the mantle, passed from father to son. Slipping into his skin. Knowing him from the inside.

Françoise Maurice:

This poem created a great emotion in me. But first, the translation in French. Sébastien is French and I’m French too, and I like his writing.

vieux manteau
de plus en plus proche
de mon père

L1 : A coat, probably his, old and worn. It is physically the coat but also all the worries of life that we all have on our shoulders.
L2 : Closer and closer … to what, we don’t know … to the bin, the cellar, the attic…. We wait and…
L3 : it’s the surprise, his dad…

With maturity (old coat) the author closer and closer to his father despite the distance and the hazards of life. It is very nicely said. I really like this senryu which in a few words speaks of the complicity between father and son. It is brilliant and very moving, and it echoes in me.

Congratulations, Sébastien.

Hildy Bachman:

Sébastien Revon’s poem brought tears to my eyes. When my father passed away a few years ago, I sorted through his clothes to give to charity. He had a wool coat that was his favorite. The feel of the wool and the smell of the coat brought him back just a little. In looking through his pockets I found a cough drop and a tissue. Yes, I too felt “closer and closer” to my father by simply touching his coat. It is like reeling him in from someplace far away. The author’s close relationship with his father is apparent as he refers to him as “dad.” The use of the words (old, coat, closer) has the sound of “o,” which evokes the sadness that he feels in losing him. The author’s poem captures so many emotions in just eight words.

Jennifer Gurney:

I simply love Sebastien’s haiku. It is charming, heartwarming and really draws the reader in, line by line. I can feel the worn coat and even imagined I was wearing it…or could see him wearing it.

Reading the poem several times, I vacillated on the meaning of “closer and closer.” Closer emotionally? Closer in age perhaps? It made me wonder if maybe his dad had passed and he was growing closer in age to the age when the dad died. Or is he saying that he’s becoming more and more like his dad as he ages? I’m thinking it could mean all of these. The ambiguity is appealing. I like being left wondering.

While this poem made me think fondly of my dad and how close we are, it really resonated with memories of my mom, who passed away two years ago quite suddenly. She died during covid and I live across the country from my family. The suddenness of her death meant there was no opportunity for goodbyes, even by phone. It was more than a year before I could fly to see my family. It was more than a year before I could see or touch any of her belongings. I’ll never forget the feeling of sitting in the room above the garage going through her things from her nursing home. I was flooded with memories and an overwhelming sense of closeness with my mom by touching the things she had held and worn, especially at the end of her days. Her spirit was there. Now, back in Colorado, I brought some with me and I feel her when I wear her scarves, her sweaters and her rings. These are my “old coats.”

Sebastien’s lovely poem brought me back to that moment again, anew. I’m grateful.

Ann Smith:

When reading this senryu I imagine the author wearing one of his dad’s old coats. And I imagine the coat maybe has his father’s shape and his father’s smell and that wearing it is almost like wearing his father. Wearing it is, in fact, almost like receiving a hug from his dad. It made me think of the time when I was a kid and my dad, a carpenter, was out at work. I found one of his pullovers and hugged it and it smelled of wood shavings and it was as though he was in the room with me. Maybe the old coat in the poem did not once belong to his father but is the poet’s own. Maybe, as he ages, the poet’s style and sense of fashion is changing and growing more similar to the style and fashion of his dad. I’ve often heard the expression “I’m turning into my mother” but this is a much prettier way of saying it.

I think it is a charming senryu which crystallises the description of the father and son authors in the forward of their book Résonances. Jacques & Sébastien Revon – one living in France and one living in Eire – “eloignes par la distance mais tres proches par la pensee”. I like the repetition of the c sounds in the English version, and that of the p sounds in the French. And I have really enjoyed spending time inside the ma inside the coat

Marion Clarke:

I read somewhere that we should beware the over-use of ‘old’ in order to avoid pushing the reader in a particular emotional direction. However, I think it works here to provide the reader with an image of a well-worn garment that the speaker is regarding with fondness.

We are not told where this coat is located but, at first, “closer and closer” in line 2 suggested that perhaps the speaker may be approaching the coat, so I imagined the coat on a hook or coat stand—or even a scarecrow! However, the last line places the coat on the speaker…and on re-reading, I think from line 1 he is in the process of putting on his father’s old coat. By line 3 it is on and buttoned/fastened up. Perhaps the poet has sunk his hands deep into the pockets and pulled up the collar in order to become enveloped in the familiar smells of his father (aftershave/soap/tobacco). The olfactory association is not stated, but who hasn’t buried their face in an item of clothing in an attempt to get closer to, or remember, someone important in their life?

An alternative reading could be that, when wearing this coat, the speaker resembles his father in physical appearance, highlighting the passage of time.

Finally, the use of ‘dad’ rather than the more formal ‘father’ reinforces the closeness between the two. A moving poem.

Sheila Barksdale:

It would be interesting if commentators inserted their opinion as to whether the poem is a haiku or senryu. This one is, in my view, an admirably competent senryu, managing to avoid the saccharine display of child/parent emotional dependencies. Does the vignette depict an adult coming across a dead parent’s coat, maybe doing a house clearance and lingering over the memories it holds… Or is the scene a dark alley with a fearful small child clinging even closer to the adult. Let’s hope for the sake of those commentators wanting to say it’s a haiku that the coat involves nature by being made of wool, and there is an unspoken season of winter which implies absence.

Lakshmi Iyer:

‘old coat’ – a take away piece of cake in this haiku that is so striking and so memorable. It just ceases our thoughts from all the mundane dramatics we go through each day of our life. So many questions rush to our mind… How old is the coat? Whose is it?  Is it a formal gift or a parting memory that reminds the family of his father. This plays a significant part as it connects and reflects on the second and third lines: “closer and closer / to my dad”. Who gifted? Where purchased? Any particular place that brings back yesteryears’ love, romance, pain, healing, struggle, etc. What colour? …

Apart from all this, there is a special sense of longing, looking forward to a deeper understanding of bonding and family ties that has become such an important urgency today. In a way, looking back to those little things which the poet must have missed out on, to reciprocate. Have there been times when the poet became ignorant, or taken for granted, that now urge him to hold the coat closer and closer to himself to experience being closer to his dad?

I liked the way he has used the casual word of ‘dad’ rather than father. Liked also the way the words are so beautifully placed in a symmetrical way so as to imbibe the feeling of oneness.  Ultimately, the universe is an open school of learning and understanding, of adjustments and arrangements, of sincerity and honest revelation. Nothing to hide in this poem. The poet has showed his respects, his poise, his forgiveness which states the fact that: yes! you are forgiven!

Amoolya Kamalnath:

In this senryu, the poet has used the techniques of assonance and repetition of a word to enhance that closeness and fondness which he wants to portray. I feel it could even convey grief.

The ku starts with an adjective, old. What is old? A coat. Whose coat? This is answered in the last line. In between these two lines, is the essence of the poem. The old coat is taking the poet closer and closer to his dad. The word closer repeated twice emphasizes the special bond between the poet and his father.

The way the poem is phrased I would think that the poet is very close to his dad and his old coat has only made his fondness for his dad grow over the years. As the poet ages, he probably understands his father better, he being in his father’s shoes now. Probably the poet misses his father’s youth when he wore this coat a lot and the poet has many memories associated with it. If the poet’s father is staying far away, this old coat may be a place where the poet feels he can go to in times of despair or indecision. Maybe his father’s presence is felt or he’s able to think and act appropriately after spending some time with the old coat.

I would say that this poem could also convey a tinge of grief if someone has lost their dear one. The coat would then gain even more significance physically, mentally and emotionally. However, having said that, I’ve had my eldest cousin brother’s (my favourite cousin) pullover passed down (during my school days) after three other cousins wore it. I always felt very close to my eldest cousin wearing it.

Jonathan Epstein — nothing is ordinary:

I see the poet opening a closet to find his father’s coat hanging there. As he moves toward the coat, he increasingly feels his father’s presence. I feel it likely the son will put on the coat. Wearing it, his father’s essence merges in him. Once again, the absent one is present; two become one.

We not only see the coat (likely a heavy winter coat) and imagine the father’s lingering scent on it, but hear a series of four long o sounds (L1 – L2), as the son moves toward the coat, the oh oh oh oh of —the internalized response to an epiphany?

Touch is also present, strongly so. It’s in the physical warmth of the coat as well as the remembered warmth of a loving relationship.

Or paradoxically, if the relationship was not close, the coat without a living father makes it somehow easier to reconcile differences by its simple presence. We might call this a subtle form of magical realism, and while less dramatic than in literature, the ”magical” effects of common objects are an everyday occurrence.

Another indicator of a close relationship: The connotations of the informal “dad” vs. the more formal “father” imply a nurturing father-son relationship, not a strained or absent one. The coat in this case, like a saint’s relic, has the relic’s power to elevate or “recharge” one who approaches it with awe and wonder.

Imagination, fueled by desire, can bypass words to effect a union of souls.

A year ago this month I left my favorite jacket behind in a park, having removed it under a warm California winter sun. When I realized much later that I was not wearing the jacket, I went back to retrieve it. It was gone.

I was bereft. The jacket had belonged to my father, who died 25 years ago. It was navy blue nylon with Kubota stitched in red on the top front left, over my heart. It fit perfectly. Whenever I wore it, I felt light and happy. No piece of me was missing. I felt at one with my father, a kind man and a much-loved surgeon — yet a distant dad whom I longed to be closer to.

Whether or not the “old coat” is touched or worn, a communion is about to occur. This “world in a grain of sand” senryu reminds us of the layers and riches that lie beneath familiar surfaces. Nothing is ordinary.

Author Sébastien Revon comments:

I wrote this over two years ago in response to a prompt including as kigo “coat/winter coat/warm coat.” It appealed to me straight away; I didn’t know why. This haiku just came to me, in two lines. In the original French:

vieux manteau
de plus en plus proche de mon père

which translated literally into:

old coat
closer and closer to my dad

It was picked among the best haiku in that session, and translated into Japanese:

コート古びて父の齢に近づきぬ
Kōto furubite chichi no yowai ni chikadzukinu

I submitted it to Seashores in English, in the format of three lines.

I’m lucky enough to say that my father is still alive. I don’t have a winter coat, more like a jacket that I like to keep until it is really worn out. The verse that came to me must have awakened subconscious thoughts…


virus2

Thanks to all who sent commentaries. As the contributor of the commentary reckoned best this week, Jonathan has chosen next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. All with respect for the poet. Out-takes from the best of these take their place in the THF Archives. Best of all, the chosen commentary’s author gets to pick the next poem.

Anyone can participate. Simply use the re:Virals commentary form below to enter your commentary on the new week’s poem (“Your text”) by the following Tuesday midnight, Eastern US Time Zone, and then press Submit to send your entry. The Submit button will not be available until Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in. We look forward to seeing your commentary and finding out about your favourite poems!

     
     moving boxes…
     still leaning on the bare tree
     our rotten ladder
     — Eva Limbach
     The Haiku Foundation Haiku Dialogue, December 28, 2022 

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.


Footnote:

First, a clarification: this poem was accepted because it was published in English as written in English by the poet. We’re not opening the floodgates to translations of poems written in other languages: the reason being that most frequently, either things are lost in the course of translation, or else the creativity of the translator needs to be appraised as distinct from the poet’s.

***

Sébastien Revon lives in Ireland. A pharmacist, a lover of jazz, photography, and short poetry, haiku in particular is his preferred form of writing. He has been published in Seashores, Failed Haiku, Cold Moon Journal, Gong (the journal of the Association Francophone de Haiku), Fireflies Light, and Poetry Pea. His first haiku chapbook “Plan d’évasion” (éditions Via Domitia) and a book of photo-poems, “Résonances” with his father, photographer Jacques Revon (éditions L’Harmattan) were published in 2022.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Father, Dad or Daddy . . .

    father – too formal in context of this haiku
    daddy – too cute to be used in any context whatsoever by anyone more than 5 years of age
    dad – “just right “, as Goldilocks declared (on the subject of porridge temperatures) and “just right” it is in your haiku, Sebastien 🙂

  2. For those of you who attach importance to taxonomy in poetry, and clearly several of you do, a few references concerning haiku/senryu:

    Senryu; R. H. Blyth; The Hokuseido Press 1949
    (definitions of haiku & senryu p12 onward). Free to read, THF library. https://thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/items/show/226

    Light Verse from the Floating World, An Anthology of Premodern Japanese Senryu; Makoto Ueda; Columbia University Press, 1999 https://cup.columbia.edu/book/light-verse-from-the-floating-world/9780231115513

    I’m Only Responsible For What I Say, Not For What You Understand; Anita Virgil; Failed Haiku January 2017 https://www.haikuhut.com/SENRYU.pdf

    Modern Senryu; Al Pizzarelli; Simply Haiku, 2005
    https://thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/files/original/16d99d7baf91d567a3b69280e8472787.pdf

    Modern Haiku (Journal) current definitions:

    “Haiku is a brief verse that epitomizes a single moment. It uses the juxtaposition of two concrete images, often a universal condition of nature and a particular aspect of human experience, in a way that prompts the reader to make an insightful connection between the two. The best haiku allude to the appropriate season of the year. Good haiku avoid subjectivity; intrusions of the poet’s ego, views, or values; and displays of intellect, wit, and facility with words.

    “The above is a normative definition, and haiku of various kinds not squaring with this definition can be easily found, even in the pages of our journal.

    “Senryu is a verse in the haiku form that focuses on human nature. Although Modern Haiku has a best-senryu-of-issue award, separate sections for haiku and senryu have been discontinued because we find it is impossible to draw a sharp line between the two in English-language verse.

    “The editors of Modern Haiku use the term “haiku” inclusively (and loosely) for both haiku and senyru”

    I’d go along with the editors of Modern Haiku. But I don’t lose sleep over the issue.

    1. As some of you may know, Blo͞o Outlier Journal produces one off special issues featuring on haikai (haiku, senryu, haibun), and the current issue focused on senryū, part of the haikai umbrella of hokku, haiku, senryū, shahai, haiga, renga, renku etc…).

      Both editors produced articles on senryū that may be of interest:

      • Alan’s The O of senryū
      and
      • Pippa’s Thoughts About Senryu

      Blo͞o Outlier Journal senryu special New Year’s Eve (Winter) 2022 issue #4
      ed. Alan Summers & Pippa Phillips
      https://www.callofthepage.org/boj/

      .
      Regarding:

      .
      old coat
      closer and closer
      to my dad

      — Sébastien Revon
      Seashores, Volume 6, April 2021

      .
      A wonderful evocation of familia. Those of us lucky to have parents that survive long enough, and are caring guardians, will know we become attached to an item of clothing (or jewellery etc…).

      For me it was the idea of having a grey business suit like the kind my father wore, although I never wore one, and our height differences would have made it impossible (5′ 8″ & 6′ 3″). But I have a fob watch, RAF cufflinks, and medals.

      Repetition done carefully in such verses such as haiku and senyrū can be very powerful, and with “closer and closer” we have the closeness of the material of the cloth, the coat, and the scent perhaps, and the aura of a parent.

      The use of ‘old’ can be a trope and become a tired shortcut cliché, but here it embellishes, and makes clear it’s “dad’s coat”:

      old coat
      closer and closer
      to my dad

      A wonderful poem, and whether we call it haiku or senryū it’s economically done and yet expansive.

      warm regards,
      Alan

      1. More about senryū:

        Commissioned by Mike Rehling of senryū journal “Failed Haiku”:

        The Golden Carousel of Life:
        Senryu An Application to be a) human
        by Alan Summers
        https://www.haikuhut.com/Senryū-An-Application-to-be-a-human-by-Alan-Summers.pdf

        .
        Plus two posts exploring senryū:

        “Being Human – the ordinary intensity”

        A look at senryū, the sibling of haiku, senryū contest results and commentary,
        and a very funny checklist!
        https://area17.blogspot.com/2018/06/being-human-ordinary-intensity-look-at.html
        Sonic Boom commentary included.

        What is “senryu” again?
        Commentary and results of two senryū competitions – the sibling genre of haiku
        https://area17.blogspot.com/2018/07/what-is-senryu-again-commentary-and.html

      2. Thank you Alan, for your comments on my haiku (yes, I think it is a haiku :)), but thank you even more for the ressources you share as always, really helpful!

    2. Keith, thanks for all these resources re senryu. I’ll get around to reading them all properly, but I’ve immediately appreciated Anita Virgil’s piece. Great stuff! I really like her writing style and I agree with her stance regarding senryu. 🙂

      Here’s where things get a bit confused, though:
      “Almost no senryu contain references to nature, but if they do, it cannot be presumed to indicate the work is haiku. (True -L)
      Unfortunately, the contemporary Japanese have abided by a simplistic determinant for identifying senryu: “Senryu do not contain a season word.” – Anita V.

      ( here’s where translation has failed – kigo & season word or reference (a word or phrase associated with a season) are not the same thing! .- L)

      It’s true that, in Japan, senryu do not include kigo. and haiku must include a kigo. But what is a kigo? The long and short of it is : a kigo is a season word or phrase that has been selected by a saijiki editor and published in a saijiki.

      And that’s the case no matter how many EL haiku writers prance about declaring that any seasonal references they think of are kigo, In Japan: they go by the book, the saijiki. These days, there are saijiki for various regions in Japan as well as the humungous national saijiki. (In Basho’s day there were, I was told, not much more than 100 kigo, These days there are thousands. ) “Ice cream” is a legitimate kigo in Japan, having been through the process: a haiku is written, published and subsequently, if a new seasonal reference is included, a saijiki editor may select the haiku to go into the next edition of whatever saijiki it is. . . quite an honour. The season word or phrase goes in, the example haiku goes in and once the updated saijiki is published, the season word or phrase becomes a legitimate kigo – forever.

      Does that mean, since “ice cream” is a kigo (Japanese), that senryu writers may not have “ice cream” in their verses? !!!
      Of course not. “Ice cream” in a senryu is a seasonal reference, a ‘season word’ if you like, but it is NOT a kigo. Senryu writers do not use saijiki, do not go by the book. Haiku writers do.

      “Unfortunately, the contemporary Japanese have abided by a simplistic determinant for identifying senryu: “Senryu do not contain a season word.” – Anita V.
      It’s just a misunderstanding, lost in translation. Senryu may contain the same seasonal references or words for seasonal things quite as much as a haiku do. But these words are not kigo. when they’re in a senryu. There is no ban that disallows senryu writers to use seasonal references.
      .
      Halloween –
      I go to the party
      as myself

      – (Lorin Ford, first published ‘Stylus Poetry Journal’, January 2007, ed. Jan Bostok + ‘a wattle seedpod’, published by PostPressed 2008 . https://thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/items/show/175

      1. Lorin, thank you for the input, as always extending knowledge. And I think we are pretty much in agreement.

        I have to say that as usual when “rules” are pursued to extremes, I either get rebellious or, now older and wiser, lose interest. I don’t think most poets write-by-numbers. (Or do they?)

        The fact that one can have such an enormous saijiki seems to me an admission that something is verging on crazy with the “formal kigo” approach to the craft (while I agree that for some purposes such as a renku a shared saijiki is invaluable). I prefer to look for principles. The seasonal reference – let’s call it that to avoid picky arguments – is present in many haiku on a few grounds: it serves to anchor a verse, particularly a verse mainly concerning nature; if it has been a widely used reference it carries associations of previous use in other poems by other poets; a great deal of information can be coded in a word or two giving a season. And, we are used to it – the comfort of the familiar. A season word is somehow not regarded as the cliché it is. For all those reasons, the principle of including a seasonal reference if it is vital to, or adds significantly to the meaning of, a verse is one I honour.

        Some verses are non-seasonal, anytime verses. When it gets to the stage of agreeing and codifying “non-seasonal kigo” (and the Japanese do, I understand) again I lose interest. Similarly when a verse is distorted simply to add an approved kigo, or a seasonal reference, for the sake of form, especially when it may add little or nothing of relevance to the meaning.

        The (good) principle of anchoring a verse in a known phrase, cultural reference, time, or other context extends to senryu as well as haiku.

        Either end of the continuum between haiku and senryu, as generally accepted, is easy enough to recognise; but there is a large and growing grey area in the middle, as Modern Haiku and other editors recognise. This is not surprising, as our environment becomes increasingly urbanised, and untouched “nature” becomes, for many, something they visit on excursions rather than live in.

        For me, haiku and senryu in ELH are not different species. They interbreed. They are variations of a species. Labradors, borzoi and collies….

        But then, I also argue about sonnets. We have Shakespearean sonnets (12 + 2), Petrarchan sonnets (8 + 6), Meredith sonnets with sixteen lines and GMH’s curtal sonnets with nine and a half lines. Do I care about the pigeonhole? The essence of a sonnet is that it is fairly short – short enough to make a self-contained poem within a reader’s attention span. Not Paradise Lost. It contains a theme that is elaborated, then a turn followed by a shorter, related section that is counterposed. Not that different from a haiku, indeed, in some ways. If someone tells me that a fine poem of that type with not a word redundant cannot be a sonnet because it is thirteen or fifteen lines, or because it does not have an approved rhyming scheme, my eyes glaze over. They are the least important things.

        Similarly, if someone tells me a very compact verse of say less than 20 syllables, that has several features of haiku important for meaning, where every word counts, and that respects the various aesthetics fostered by the Japanese way of appreciating things, cannot be a haiku because of its syllable count, or because it is on two lines or four, or does not have a kigo approved in Japan, or has two verbs, then I feel I may be on the wrong planet.

        All that said, I like to study the background (and differing views) as much as anybody, because I think it is important, if we are to be haikuists, to be rooted in the ancient art. But not simply to recreate it over and over.

        I suspect that I may come to regret this post LOL

        PS Something indefinable amuses me in the argument that “senryu do not include kigo. and haiku must include a kigo” plus kigo “are not kigo when they’re in a senryu.”

        1. The enormous saijiki , of course, is the national saijiki. (I got to see one close up at a Melb. University Japanese event some years ago) Probably, there’s a pocket version. Probably there are also haiku group versions, and these days there are definitely regional saijiki,.
          .
          I think we’re pretty much in agreement, too, Keith. But, re your “kigo are not kigo when they’re in a senryu.” (K)
          Nah. I think it’s that kigo are not an issue in senryu because as far as senryu go, the kigo, with all its cultural cues and deemed meanings (baggage or treasure, depending on viewpoint) simply doesn’t exist.

          1. I like the “not an issue” approach.

            I think I take from this discussion the conclusion that saijiki/agreed kigo are helpful in collective and collaborative work, but it is not essential to have a formal agreed kigo in freestyle individual ELH verses that for me qualify as haiku if they respect the principle of anchoring clearly in a time or season. Senryu, too can benefit from anchoring and from the weight of allusion in familiar phrases.

            I wonder whether the respect for hierarchies, rules and obedience in some cultures is associated with the emphasis on formal kigo.

            Lastly (well, probably not lastly) to reprise an earlier discussion concerning humour — warm, human humour not comic humour — I don’t think that haiku exclude humour nor that all senryu must have it. Nor do I buy the line that senryu derive from the haikai verses of renga and haiku don’t. For the haiku/hokku derives from the same source (and there are humorous hokku: Issa’s “Jump, frog!…” for instance). pace the likes of Ueda, who maintain that satirical humour was/is a characteristic of senryu. One frequent characteristic, yes; but in contemporary senryu not perhaps a definitive one every time? There are egg-laying mammals….

          2. “I don’t think that haiku exclude humour nor that all senryu must have it.” – Keith

            Me, too. – L

            ” Nor do I buy the line that senryu derive from the haikai verses of renga and haiku don’t. . . . ” – Keith

            I’d not heard that one before! I wonder who proclaimed it? Not John Carley, that’s for certain.
            Senryu and haiku derive from renku (haikai no renga). (Tanka does not. ) All haikai no renga (renku) verses are haikai.

            Humorous hokku? ‘Indelicate’ hokku? Example of second renku in Maeda Cana’s translation of four renku (haikai no renga) with Basho as sabaki, ‘Summer Moon’ , which I happen to have handy:

            the hokku:

            in town
            the smells of things
            summer moon – (Boncho).
            .
            the wakiku:

            it’s hot it’s hot
            at each portal the sigh – (Basho)
            .
            “the smells of things” along the street on a hot summer night, whether one is walking or coming into town on horseback (as they did back then) is haikai . The smells wouldn’t have been much different to today’s main town streets on a muggy, hot night: stinking. That sort of reference would not have occurred in waka/tanka of the time, nor in classical renga. Yet here it is,. and this hokku was chosen by Basho.
            .
            One doesn’t need the notes to infer the obvious, but Maeda Cana gives then at the back of the book (I’ve just now discovered)
            .
            ” In town, the intense summer heat remains even after sunset and the air is foul with the conglomerate smell of sundry things, but in the sky, the moon appears cool and refreshing. . . . ”
            .
            ‘Monkey’s Raincoat / by Matsuo Basho / translated by Maeda Cana. First published in USA 1973
            .

  3. old coat
    closer and closer
    to my dad
    — Sébastien Revon
    Seashores, Volume 6, April 2021

    Sébastien, congratulations for having it selected as ‘best haiku’ in that contest. (I have no idea why people here at re:Virals continue to pronounce any ku that doesn’t have an overt nature reference a senryu!)

    Thank you for allowing us the insight into the origins of this haiku:
    “I wrote this over two years ago in response to a prompt including as kigo “coat/winter coat/warm coat.” It appealed to me straight away; I didn’t know why.” – Sébastien

    I wonder what thoughts or remembrances various people would first have to “coat/winter coat/warm coat.” To me, ‘winter coat/ warm coat’ is highly symbolic. It’s warm and protective in a cold world, something to be grateful for.

    My own immediate thought went to a song about warmth and gratitude and remembrance that I doubt you or anyone currently commenting on re:Virals would have even heard: Paul Kelly’s “My Winter Coat”. Here it is as I’ve just now found on YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFItCrhU6RM
    and the lyrics are here: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=Paul+Kelly+-+Winter+Coat+lyrics

    (I have it on the old “Songs from the South” … “the South” means the Southern part of Australia, South Australia and Victoria.)

    The song lyrics are written from the point of view of someone looking backwards in time. Paul Kelly’s ‘winter coat’ is important because it has a history. Similarly, I feel, Sébastien’s ‘old coat’ evokes a history in relation to his dad. The more time that goes by the older the coat gets (of course) and the closer the two become.

    “The verse that came to me must have awakened subconscious thoughts… “- Sébastien
    Must’ve. And look, here is this book (which looks amazing) that is a collaboration, I surmise, by your father and you in relatively recent times? The cover is brilliant:

    https://www.editions-harmattan.fr/livre-resonances_photo_poemes_jacques_revon_sebastien_revon-9782140279317-73805.html

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any other language beside English, and this is what I get from Wikipedia :
    ” L’article « Jacques Revon in English » n’existe pas sur ce wiki !” I imagine that means an English version doesn’t exist. 🙂

    Sébastien, I wonder if this book, which looks amazing, is co-authored by your father and you? https://www.editions-harmattan.fr/livre-resonances_photo_poemes_jacques_revon_sebastien_revon-9782140279317-73805.html

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any other language apart from English, and this is what I get from Wikipedia :
    ” L’article « Jacques Revon in English » n’existe pas sur ce wiki !”
    I’m guessing that n’existe means that no English version exists. 🙂
    old coat
    closer and closer
    to my dad
    — Sébastien Revon
    Seashores, Volume 6, April 2021

    First,
    old coat
    closer and closer
    to my dad
    — Sébastien Revon
    Seashores, Volume 6, April 2021

    1. I apologize for those mad repetitions at the end of my post on Sébastien’s haiku. I was called away and when I returned, I didn’t see them. . . until after I posted. ( Duh. )

    2. Dear Lorin,
      re: “I have no idea why people here at re:Virals continue to pronounce any ku that doesn’t have an overt nature reference a senryu!”

      I did think when I wrote that this poem was a senryu that it cannot exactly be called that. As Sébastien mentions a kigo, we could then call it a haiku?

      I’m left wondering, if there’s no kigo or seasonal word and there’s no satire or humour in the poem, but it’s related to human nature, what do we classify the poem as?

      1. “I’m left wondering, if there’s no kigo or seasonal word and there’s no satire or humour in the poem, but it’s related to human nature, what do we classify the poem as?” – Amoolya
        .
        Good point!
        First: Question – what is a kigo and how does a kigo differ from a seasonal reference?
        Answer – a kigo is a seasonal reference published in a saijiki. There is the humongous national saijiki in Japan and these days also saijiki for the various parts and islands of Japan. ( ‘air conditioner’ is a kigo for summer despite that big shops and malls have air conditioners going all year) There are also kiyose, shorter collections of kigo.
        – “bushfire ” (but not a kigo) is a season word for summer in Victoria, Australia because that’s when they usually happen.
        – ‘mango’ is a season word for summer in Australia, as is ‘monsoon’ (monsoon rain happening now at our top end)
        Shorter lists, useful for renku, also use kigo. There is a kiyose that John Stevenson uses for renku here at THF:
        http://www.2hweb.net/haikai/renku/500ESWd.html
        (It’s pretty much an essential to have a kiyose for renku in English so that all participants are on the same page (so to speak)
        .
        But to answer your question: I truly don’t know! My sneaky way around it is, if I’m unsure, I’ll avoid the haiku / senryu issue and call that poem a ku (i.e. a verse) or a poem, instead. 🙂
        .

    3. Lorin, thank you for sharing the lyrics of this song, “Winter coat”. I particularly notice this bit:
      “And my old winter coat still
      Hangs by my front door
      Holding all the stories
      I don’t remember anymore”
      The subconscious took a big part in the writing of this haiku as it was, in fact, what we call a desku.

      Indeed, Résonances is co-authored by my father and me. It took a year, between the summer 2021 and the summer 2022, to compose 75 photo-poems. My dad’s pictures and my short poems. This work brought us closer indeed and the fact that I had written “old coat” six months prior to starting the job on Résonances, made it easier to delve in it… There is no plan to work on an English version of it unfortunately.

  4. It is interesting to me that Sébastien chose to translate “père” as “dad. He would know better than I, and it is his poem,
    but it seems to me that “father” is the closer translation of “père,” father (and père) being more formal than dad, which is most likely translated as “papa” . Big difference between the two, tonally, and inferentially.

    1. Thank you Megan to bring that up!
      It allows me to say few things about the translation process. I wrote the verse originally in French but staright away I wanted to think it in Englsih because I wanted to submit it in this language as I thought it was a good enough verse at the time.
      Everything you say above is true but… “papa” is closer to “daddy” than “dad”. I couldn’t have written in L3: “to my daddy”. And “père” in French encapsulates less distance (in my mind at least) than “father” in English. I said it aloud too. Rhythm is important:

      old coat
      closer and closer
      to my dad

      2/5/3 with the o’s being long syllables, to compare with:

      old coat
      closer and cloaser
      to my father

      2/5/4 with the “a” of father being a long syllable plus a rhyme is created by the association of L2 and L3…

      I am not against rhyming in haiku at all, but in that one, the rhythm in 2/5/4 with a long syllable at the end plus the rhyme was just not nice to my ear when said aloud.

      In French, the importance of rhythm is the same:
      vieux manteau
      de plus en plus proche
      de mon père

      3/5/3… if said with a natural modern French speech. If I had introduced “papa”, this would have broken the pattern and more importantly would have added a different kind of relation father-son…

  5. Thanks to all the people who wrote those heartfelt commentaries. I’m so grateful yet overwhelmed. Thank you Amanda White for choosing it. Thank you Keith for running re:virals so well. Congratulations to Jonathan Epstein for your enlightening commentary. Reading the commentaries, I discovered few things about my own haiku. That’s what I love about this exercise.
    Next week’s haiku is truly something in my opinion. I shall go and write something about it. Merci à tous !

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