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Rick Springfield, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Keller Williams give haiku a whirl

Most people who come to the Foundation’s blog are probably accustomed to well-crafted haiku.  But for my last post in honor of National Haiku Writing Month, I’d like to take a different approach. While I love reading poems by skilled poets,  all should be encouraged to give haiku a whirl.

“Working Class Dog” Rick Springfield – soon to appear again as Dr. Noah Drake on “General Hospital” – takes a shot at haiku.

In fact, in Japan, most people do. So I would like to focus on amateur haiku here, but, with a twist. The amateur poems you are about to read are by rock stars. The following were written by good-natured musicians who were willing to play along and indulge my request that they give haiku writing a shot.

Many remember Rick Springfield from his time in the 80s as Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera “General Hospital.” It was a time when you’d also find him sporting a pink suit and feathered hair singing his hit “Jessie’s Girl” from his hit album “Working Class Dog.”

When Springfield had to reschedule a recent New Jersey concert due to illness he sent me the following haiku announcing his rescheduled show.

Was sick as a dog
Rescheduled Show will Rock Out
Music All Night Long

Speaking of 80s hits, surely ZZ Top’s guitar-driven “Gimme All Your Lovin'” and “Legs” are among the decade’s most memorable tunes. Here is guitarist Billy Gibbons’ fun attempt at haiku.

Fire up that gee-tar…
turn it up to eleven…
and get it dirty…

The last entry is from a current favorite musician of mine. The AllMusic Blog calls Keller Williams a “one-man jam band” whose live shows are “fascinating.” His quirky creativity can be seen in the haiku he sent me.

I like your moonshine
It’s clear like your hair is blond
It makes me feel good

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Dear Gene, I sure hope you are indeed able to interview Joni Mitchell someday!

    I must have been in junior high when I first heard her music. I had the privilege of attending several of her concerts. Tonight I’m remembering the stretch it was for me to connect with her album, “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” Now some of the songs on this album are my all-time-favorites. The lyrics are all on her website. One song I love is Sweet Bird (1975): “vain promises on beauty jars” and “Calendars of our lives/Circled with compromise.” A song of such beauty and comfort.

    Thanks, Ellen

  2. Leonard Cohen (while not exactly a ‘rock star’) has written haiku as well as haiku-like or haiku-inspired poems.

    In my view, these two are haiku:

    After listening to Mozart
    we go around
    with pianos
    strapped to our backs

    http://leonardcohenfiles.com/mozart.html

    Silence
    and a deeper silence
    when the crickets
    hesitate
    – -from ‘The Spice Box of the Earth’

    …and this is haiku-like, or ‘has haiku spirit’

    Dear Heather
    Please walk by me again
    With a drink in your hand
    And your legs all white
    From the winter

    – from ‘Dear Heather’

    – Lorin

  3. Hi Alan,

    Thank you. I had forgotten about “Moon At The Window.”

    I just found the reference for the article where Joni mentions writing “one haiku in ten years.” The article is “Joni Mitchell: still smoking,” by Neil McCormick. The Telegraph. October 4, 2007. It’s on-line.

    Ellen

  4. Carmen mentioned Joni Mitchell, who is a wonderful painter too. I seem to remember that when Joni was giving interviews for SHINE, she said that a haiku was the one poem she wrote during a stretch of not-writing.

    When I think back to Joni’s early albums, what courage she showed. BLUE, for example, has such stark beauty. And then the courage to keep growing. I looked up her website: http://jonimitchell.com

  5. All good points. Robert, of course. But as Carmen said, it’s good that they tried it. As always, there are dedicated artists that produce the art we need. But why discourage anyone? You never know what might come of it down the road.

  6. First of all, It’s generous of these rock stars to try something they have not done before. I always think there’s at least one image in every first haiku to salvage.

    Gene, have you thought of sending back some suggestions for each haiku, or sending on some haiku on similar topics to them?

    I wonder how lyrics from stars like Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Joni Mitchell, and other
    song writers would translate into a sequence of haiku? After all, song writers and poets often have a lot in common. It’s partly a matter of suggesting a minimalist approach.

  7. This puts me in mind of a program launched by the New York City Dept. of Transportation in December, 2011, attempting to engage pedestrians’ attention to their safety by making illustrated safety signs accompanied by ‘haiku’, commissioned from the artist James Morse. Here is a link to an article about this:

    http://blog.ounodesign.com/2011/12/17/nyc-haiku-traffic-signs/

    I once read an article pointing out that a five and seven sound-syllable pattern is so ‘natural’ to the Japanese language, that the writing on many traffic signs and other such signage in Japan follows that pattern, intentionally or not.

    Although I believe I understand your motivation Gene, I have my doubts that such promotion of haiku, based on the most superficial aspect of form, will induce people to take a deeper, more meaningful interest in the genre. In fact, it may be counterproductive to that purpose.

    Larry

  8. None of these are haiku by any stretch of the mind except perhaps in the mindset of those who think a haiku is anything written down and called haiku. Most of what is passed off as haiku today is not in actuality haiku, but the bi-product of the Anglo-Western colonization of haiku via the German based university system. True haiku is activity (koto/process) biased.

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