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What is it about compact poems?

What is it about compact poetry that makes it special? Makes it seem more charged?

For me, compact poems are all essence. Sometimes, a small poem can be a good sign that the poet put the pen down before the spirit left him. Most poets know this, but haiku is a process that tries to ensure it.

The following haiku by Gary Hotham are great examples of this:

 

tonight’s hotel room –
the stain on the rug
nothing to worry about

*

early in the night—
the stars we can see
the space for more

 

Both of these leave me at the edge of my seat. The compression in haiku is where the power comes from. As Tom Waits advises in his song, “Get Behind the Mule,” “Always keep a diamond in your mind,” especially when considering haiku.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. A compact reflection on the concept of revenge

    EXACTING REVENGE
    by Dwight Isebia
    The compulsion to desire revenge
    for deeds causing pain and offense,
    leading to damage and humiliation
    in the course of social interaction,
    is like the contraction of our bowels
    to expel remains not to be digested
    to feel cleansed and beyond peril,
    acceptable if balanced , but destructive
    if stimulated leading to bulimia
    or being beyond control like diarrhea
    So, when vindictive in any situation,
    just exact revenge in moderation
    (DPI 2011)

  2. Just three Haiku reflections in English and two in Dutch.

    LOOKING AT LIGHT IN HAIKU FASHION
    By Dwight Isebia

    FASTER THAN LIGHT
    I’m a neutrino
    staying in the dark because
    I’m faster than light

    TO SENSE WITHOUT LIGHT
    In absence of light
    sight is impaired but the force
    of hearing increased

    TO SEE AND TO FEEL
    Beauty experienced
    by sight in bright light should lead
    to sparks in the dark

    ZIEN IS GELOVEN
    Hetgeen niet zichtbaar
    licht weerkaatst ontgaat ogen
    maar blijft wel bestaan

    HELDER VERBLIND
    Plotseling het licht
    kunnen zien is verblindend
    of verhelderend
    (DPI 2011)

    Dwight P. Isebia

  3. Judging from discussions generated by haiku, which ofte reduce to hey that’s awesome, it could be that haiku are loved because they don’t ask very much from us or of us. If we expand the subjects to non haiku poems of less than say ten lines, we may get a new view of haiku. Take this short poem by Adam Zagajewsky

    My father No Longer Knows Me

    my father no longer knows me. not even
    Those sparks of consciousness
    That cheered us not long ago.
    He lies submerged in darkness, sleeps, dozes,
    As if he’d already taken leave.
    There are still the brief moments, though,
    When his real face is revealed.

    We wouldn’t say that the power of this comes from compression.

    Haiku is a form of short poetry and a haiku should not be praised for being short. We have to discuss what is being compressed. That is, we have to talk about ideas, concepts, traditions of meaning.

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