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Sails (an introduction)

– Sails –

(an introduction)

by Peter Yovu


A dawn harbor, safe haven for sailors. The smell of salty rope, of tar, the sulfur of piled kelp, but also the bracing smell of the sea itself, a breeze coming in and sun now on the waves, liquid sparks, one might think, coming from the meeting of sky and sea. The horizon is close. There are a few boats on the water made of wood harvested from trees that once stood rooted in the earth. The breeze is a wind now. Sails are hoisted and unfurl like enormous leaves growing impossibly fast, mostly white or gray and few red. They belly out, taut as the necks of horses straining for freedom and the sailors fill with excitement, and maybe some hesitation. “Where are we going?” someone calls out, not really expecting an answer, but an answer comes: “Far away and maybe back again.” Laughter.

Where are we going with this section of troutswirl? I say we because, more than other sections which may stand alone without comment or participation and still provide sustenance to visitors, Sails cannot. It requires participation. You and I are literally the wind which will help carry this boat out on a voyage of exploration. And what will guide us? Our keen interest and involvement with haiku, as readers, writers, and scholars. It is this interest which naturally leads us to ask questions, to want to know more, or to challenge all-to-comfortable ideas and beliefs. Where, apart from its origins in Japan, does haiku come from? Is it poetry, and in what ways? As it has been compared so often to photography, is it a snapshot taken by a tourist in an exotic locale, or a carefully thought out and painstakingly printed photograph by someone like Ansel Adams? Can it be both, and variations in between? So many questions.

And so many ways of considering them, like yours and yours and yours. And so, metaphors aside, Sails is a forum where these and other questions central to haiku will be presented, and where you and I will have the opportunity to speak, briefly, at length, loudly, in a whisper, errantly, mysteriously, provocatively, gladly, tremblingly, excitedly, agreeing, disagreeing, but mostly I hope, respectfully, knowing that each voice is important. To respect, after all, is to look again, to be worthy of being seen as having value. In Sails we will be looking at many things, and maybe seeing a few of them from new perspectives, as if for the first time. Friends, shake out your sea legs!

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Long delay Tom.
    However you wish it is fine with me.
    However, there is really no reason in something existing always if everything exists by virtue of something causing it.
    You want causa sui? Fine.
    Good luck to you.

  2. Hi there Jack Galmitz ! ” What created God ?” you ask. With respect, you are missing the point . Let’s assume for one crazy moment that the ‘what’ you refer to did ,in fact, create the one I refer to as ‘God’. Then logically , the next question that suggests itself is, ” Well then, who created the above-mentioned ‘what’ “? And so on, ad infinitum ! Right?! As I have referred to previously, ‘nothing happens unless SOMETHING causes it to happen’ and that ‘SOMETHING’ must have always existed. If this be not so, then, quite simply, there would be no creation at all.
    God bless Jack,
    Tom Kearney.

  3. Oh, here we go again… I recently had cause to refer to an Ammons poem…”Moment”

    He turned and

    in the moment’s

    sucking him up,

    shuddering and

    jaw and bone

    and he said

    destruction am I
    blessed by?

  4. I’m back again, so let’s get down to business !! I will attempt,,if I may, to express the type of spirituality I have referred to (above) through the medium of a haiku poem as follows :-

    And nothing happens
    Unless something causes it
    So God does exist

    Tom Kearney.

  5. quote
    'Never think that I believe I should set out a "system of teaching" to help people understand the way.
    Never cherish such a thought. What I proclaim is the truth as I have discovered it and "a system of teaching" has no meaning
    because the truth can't be cut up into pieces and arranged in a system.'
    – Diamond Sutra

  6. Hello Peter! Thank you very much for the kind invitation, to Adelaide and myself, to express further, our thoughts on the spiritual aspects of haiku. Speaking for myself, I would welcome the opportunity and I expect that Adelaide will, probably, feel likewise. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find your email address at the Registry so I would be grateful if,at your convenience, you could email it to me at
    Kind Regards,
    Tom Kearney.

  7. Tom and Adelaide– why not? Of course your ideas of the spiritual aspects of haiku will likely be different than those of others, but that’s what you’re looking for, right? If either of you wishes to send me any thoughts about this, expand a little on what you’re thinking about, feel free to contact me– my email address available at the Registry. I’m the guy whose head is a juggling ball held by two smaller ones.

  8. Thank you Adelaide! Lovely to hear from you and I wish you joy and peace in your life. I found your comments most interesting and, indeed, touching in their tenderness. We are on the same wavelength on this one, that’s for sure! I too, would love if Sailings featured a discussion on the spiritual aspects of haiku. Here’s hoping !

  9. To answer your question, Tom, I find that writing haiku is a way to record my awareness of the miracles of creation, the miracle of myself, the small ant or rose petal or large vista of mountains or ocean, the miracle of life that I attribute to a Supreme Being. These miracles are unnoticed by many, including myself, so I pause to look and record them. It would be interesting to have on Sailings a discussion on the spiritual aspects of haiku.


  10. As someone who, now in my autumnal years, have only recently discovered the joys of haiku, I am quite fascinated by the possibilities it offers one to express their innermost feelings in so many diverse ways, However, I find it equally of interest that so little attention is being given to spiritual matters through this medium of communication. I don’t mean ‘spiritual’ in the sense that one might apply it to matters of a physical nature such as flowers, birds, water, mountains, sunlight and so on, but spiritual in such things as the existence ( or otherwise) of a Supreme Being , a soul, everlasting life, reunification with loved ones gone before us, unending peace etc. etc. Love to hear some comments ! Grateful thanks for affording me the opportunity to air my puzzlement like this. Much success in the future and kind regards to all you hard-working folk.
    Tom Kearney.

  11. I read haiku because I am slow reader in a fast world.

    I can read a haiku, and then hold the whole thing in mind for the rest of the day—rolling it over and over like a boiled lolly, sucking all its sweetness.

  12. Reading haiku gives me an oppurtunity to explore the uncharted territory of other’s minds…and my own response
    to their words brings about a fascinating internal dialogue
    which teases and challenges my creativity into action.

  13. I too read haiku, much more than my poor writing. All I can say now is sometimes I see one that gives me a good swift kick in the senses. You know the old film “Un Chien Andalou” of Bunuel? You know the famous eye scene? I’m thinking about that.

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