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Welcome to troutswirl


Welcome to troutswirl, the official blog for The Haiku Foundation.

Since this is my first posting for troutswirl, I would like to share a number of my own personal wishes and goals for the blog, as well as my reasons for accepting this position of Blogmaster (what a title!).

First and foremost, I would like to deeply thank Jim Kacian for asking me to consider the position. I open this door with humbleness and excitement.

Excitement is a good place to begin. So let me tell you why I am so excited about both the Foundation and this blog.

For me, the haiku poem is it. I only recently discovered the work of the scholar and teacher Joseph Campbell, but his advice to “follow your bliss,” immediately rang true for me. Since I discovered haiku in my mid-teens, I have hunted it with an almost singular, cyclopean eye, and a whale’s hunger to boot. And I have found, as Campbell suggests when one follows their bliss, that doors do indeed open, doors one never imagined possible. The door of The Haiku Foundation, this door named troutswirl, seems to me one that leads into a mighty interesting house—a house that can only expand: new doors, windows, rooms, floors, wings, skylights. There is a ping-pong table in the kitchen. There’s a jukebox in the basement.

So, one of the major appeals for me, and one of the many things that excites me about running this blog is its unique ability to constantly broaden (one of the Foundation’s two main goals) and evolve. And not just the blog. And not just the website.

Listen to this:

The Haiku Foundation’s potential to change and influence the English-language haiku community, the haiku world and, ultimately, the mainstream, is what I find most exciting about it, and it can do this in the most positive ways: by archiving, analyzing, and deepening our collective past, while influencing, educating, broadening and expanding our collective present and future. What a monumental resource it could become for poets, students, teachers, and enthusiasts alike! The potential for troutswirl and The Haiku Foundation to elevate haiku as a respected and important part of English literature is staggering. And, though the blog is not about me, I also take great joy and excitement in the possibilities for my own growth as a person and poet. Because of the blog’s capabilities as a free, interactive platform, everyone can learn from each other—from the youngest beginner to the oldest, most experienced and dedicated enthusiast.

This blog’s evolution, and the poetry of haiku as well, are dependent on you, the reader. I invite you to participate, contribute and comment as often as you like. One of the greatest things about the Internet is its democratizing character. All, in a sense, become equals. So I encourage everyone to share their unique voices, to share one’s experiences, knowledge, questions and wonderings, and help each other learn and grow. While kudos and such are always appreciated, I encourage you also, when constructing a comment, to ask yourself a few questions before clicking “send”: how does it contribute to the conversation? Does it truly deepen and contribute in a meaningful and critical way? And does it allow the discussion to grow and remain open? Part of my responsibility is to make sure that it does. A difficult task, but I relish the opportunity, the interaction and the possibilities.

Though some things I write and share might be controversial, please don’t take it personally. I have no intention of making troutswirl a repository of work that only interests me. The goal is to be open and welcoming to all schools, to diversity. I am looking to create a kind of dialogue where ideas, opinions, feelings and thoughts can be shared, all for the betterment of haiku and literature. So, do not hesitate to disagree, question, or be critical or controversial. From dissent comes ascent.

The blog’s content will unfold slowly. So, to keep it constant, healthy, and fresh, I ask not only for your participation but also your patience and your ideas. I hope to present posts regularly, and that troutswirl and the website will be and become something you are not only interested in but look forward to and eagerly await.

Please help me in making The Haiku Foundation and troutswirl the go-to place for anyone remotely interested in haiku: for poets of all stripes, teachers, and students. The more it grows and deepens, the more we grow and deepen as well.

The Haiku Foundation and this position as Blogmaster for troutswirl allow me to follow my bliss. I hope that it will be a place and source for you to follow yours as well.

So, let us begin this experiment, this adventure. And as the rock and roll chameleon David Bowie once sang, “take your protein pills, and put your helmet on.”

Scott Metz

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. I thought I might take a look at the John Wills poem in which the word “troutswirl” appears to help give me a starting point from which to express, if only by implication, my thoughts, feelings, wishes and hopes for this blog, to honor its master (I bow to you, Scott Metz), and its founder (and I bow to you, Jim Kacian). Here’s the poem:

    rain in gusts
    below the deadhead

    What I notice first, represented in each line, are three distinct yet interrelated energies: the elemental, chaotic energy of “rain in gusts”, the inertia of “the deadhead” and the living, responsive, unfixable and sentient energy of “troutswirl”. The poem, in its downwardness, its spondaic penetration (deadhead/troutswirl), disturbs the waters of the static mind and gives us a glimpse of something mysterious beneath/within. Put it this way: to the one who is patient, the one who is not afraid to get wet, the one who is willing to look and listen, there may come an interval between gusts (of thought, of memory, of storm) when something unexpected comes through. And I like the way that John Wills, in the word “troutswirl” does not present us with a *thing*, but with a motion, something fluid, changing, only a little denser than water, which is only a little denser than wind. Scott, does any of this come close to your “reasons” for choosing this word for the title of the blog?

    I notice too, having this morning read your loving take on Jim’s poem in *Virals*, the echo of coinages: “dusklight” and “troutswirl”.
    Surely this blog will fill with echoes; surely it will be dynamic, chaotic, surprising and sometimes as seemingly impenetrable as partially submerged log. But I’m willing to bet (or at least I hope) it will never become a thing. Here’s hoping that many voices, gusting and whispering, will keep that from happening.

    1. Peter,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. Much appreciated. A bow right back at you. And an apology for not responding sooner, if not right away.

      Coming up with a name for the blog wasn’t easy and not self apparent. Once a few different ideas came and went, I felt it was best to really go back and revisit the haiku that have been published in the 20th century―some of my own favorite poets, collections and anthologies―and see if anything spoke to me or jumped out at me. Being that John Wills’ Reed Shadows is one of my favorite collections, a work of great voice and artistry I think, it didn’t take too long to find “troutswirl.”

      Everything you wrote of concerning Wills’ ku is certainly there I think and contributed to my excitement in putting it forward as a name for the blog―the interrelated energies, the poem’s layers and depth. To put it simply though, when I saw “troutswirl” it just kinda made sense. There it is. That’s it.

      There is a great sense of reflection and constant, everchanging motion in Wills’ ku. The stream/river the troutswirl is taking place in always being in constant motion and change as well (reminding me of quote from somewhere that “The river you step out of is not the same one you stepped into”). Again, the energies you wrote of. When I think of The Haiku Foundation website and blog though, I often return to the words “alive” and “change.” The site/blog is alive. Always in motion. Always changing and, hopefully, capable of change.

      The word “troutswirl” seems fantastic to me. Constant motion, energy, aliveness. Interaction. At-oneness. Cooperation. Intimacy. It’s nuanced, with so many angles. Then, of course, there is the symbolism of water and fish from cultures everywhere and its various possible meanings―depth, knowledge, transformation, new beginnings, inspiration, fertility/birth, abundance, flow, freedom, adaptability, unity, determination. All things I hope the website and blog can be and provide for its readers.

      And yet the word “troutswirl” is kind of a creation, an invention of language. I find it inspiring. Wills’ creation of that word was about taking chances―something more haiku need to do. I think most people would consider the word bold, too bold, for English haiku―perhaps too poetic or overly complicated (not “simple” enough) for western haiku aesthetics, or haiku period. Or they would consider it an exception (what do readers of this blog think?). And yet it *is* simple/straightforward, and immediate. But, as you say, fluid, in motion, changing and shifting just at or below the surface which is reflecting, if not mirroring, the gusts and the deadheads (deadhead also being an interesting condensation/creation) and the everchanging world beyond it. Extracted from the ku, I think the word “troutswirl” can stand on its own. The “s” in the middle helping it act as a poem in its own right possibly, helping to pluralize a word that normally isn’t, yet implying it elegantly, effortlessly. “troutswirl” moves and breathes all on its own, creating a world around it for anyone who looks upon it.

      I actually hadn’t made the connection before to Jim’s “dusklight” ku in Viral 1.1, though the echo is there and real. I must admit though to being a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy’s poetic prose. His method of condensing words into new creations (secondgrowth, candlecolored, oilbottles, throatjerking, truckgarden), which he does often, is jarring, yet always seem to greatly add to and enrich the auras he creates in his stories in important ways.


  2. Nothing written for publication since the old SASE days; but, finally, this comes along. Makes me want to “follow my bliss” again.

  3. You’ve finally got it done…all good wishes all good things. Merrill

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