marlene mountain
as is
april 16 2004


'the japanese haiku' and so on

to my way of thinking there is no 'the japanese haiku.' when i
read a generalized statement about japanese haiku i'd prefer a
poet's name, or perhaps a reference to an era or date and even
eg basho's early, middle or late hokku/'haiku.' issa's, shiki's.
some of the posts do a bit of that. but without some reference to
the above i can't visualize who the statement is about.

though in this piece about english-language poets i prefer not to
name names.

about some rules/guidelines/whatnots:

re juxtaposition. in english-language haiku it's a technique.
non-juxtaposition is not the opposite and needn't be compared.
it's is own thing--a technique too. juxtaposition is usually an
intellectualization. eg apparently when basho wrote the most
famous poem. he couldn't decide how to begin the poem. he
had the frog/splash part. he wanted suggestions from his
buddies. old pond was decided upon. i personally think was the
wrong choice--since the mid-70s. anyway it's hardly a
juxtaposition. pond or whatever other water most often produces
a splash. old supposedly adds to the emotion of it all. but for a
juxtaposition i crave different first words. [i think this may be an
early basho--i'd have to look it up to be correct.]
re season words. moon in itself in japan it seems has meant
the harvest moon. at other times the moon is usually given a
specific 'name' to separate it from harvest. perhaps a rule there.
but westerners hardly go by that unless they're trying to emulate.
there one doesn't write harvest moon--it's a given, and
redundant. moon in our culture is usually free. not even a
technique. and we have lost the restriction of what season it's to

here butterflies are free too. in my neck of the woods the first
butterflies i see are very early spring and seem to check out the
potential feeding places and like puddles. then these butterflies
visit the flowers and mud puddles too. and even dog do-do. then
the ragged-looking butterflies. then the second batch come
along--perhaps the ones which migrate. and eventually the
period when one might see one or two. then none. a haiku can
be written about one or all of these 'stages' regardless of
season--and their cocoons and as caterpillars. we have no
rules/restrictions. we can even write about missing butterflies in
winter--if we want.

and so on.

3-line, 2-line, 1-line, many-line are techniques--not

re cutting words. in english-language haiku?

re punctuation. a technique.

re extra spaces in 1-line. a technique.

re 'show or tell.' both have happened in all eras of japan. my
guess. and probably in this new generation of poets in japan.
my guess. techniques.

in english-language haiku [maybe in other current western
cultures] one of those is derided, scoffed at, deemed non-haiku.
either approach is a personal choice. techniques.

re haiku or senryu. good grief. what a weird separation. people
are nature too as are their activities and emotions--whether sad
or sarcastic. animals have activities and emotions. and
instincts/drives as do humans. i'm not sure about the emotions
of some very deep and tiny sea creatures but they might. my
main concern is that humans who relate to 'nature nature' have
'certain emotions' which produce a haiku and people who relate
to other people and things or whatever else with 'certain
emotions' produce a senryu. a dualism which i think is
misguided and pretty silly. and the arguments that come along.
but i take this false, old-timey separation seriously. and scoff at

re minimal and maximal and concrete. yawn. but still

re syllables, beats, breaths, meters and so on. double yawn.
but i guess they're techniques.

re capital first letter and a period at the end. some of the
translators did it. lots of earlier american poets used this
style--influenced by the translators. you can look them up if you
want. copying or technique? not a rule/guideline. maybe a
technique? but i go with the copying that happened.

re haiku bosses. they've existed for the 30 + years i've followed
'our' haiku. at any rate they've tried. they don't effect me and many
others. i do worry about the new-comers somewhat.

re zen. whatever.

re flights of fantasy about haiku and the worship of haiku and so
on. they remind me of my very early feelings about haiku and i'm
still uncomfortable with that phase.

re the haiku moment. at least it didn't come from japan.

re the reader finishes somebody's poem. a while back i wrote:
finish your own dang haiku. seriously and as a 'high coup hai ku'
[something like a spoof]. i know what is meant by the reader
finishes . . . but it also has a bit of silliness to it. even though it's
probably the main rule/guideline and the most meaningful and
loved and the basic technique in english-language haiku.
whether it's really accomplished or not.

in the spirit of high coup we could have code marks for those
who want their haiku 'finished' and those who want them as is. i
usually just read the actual words and relate if i can. i assume
the poets have finished their poems. some times they are
springboards and often they're not. i look mainly for
fresh/different content. something that hadn't occurred to me.

re content. what a poet has been moved to write. not a
technique. or whatnot.

years and years and years ago harold henderson wrote
something like: haiku is what the poets make it.

presented on 'haikumania' by paul conneally

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