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  1. TopTop #1
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Haiku Habitat

    It has been a long time since I posted poetry here at Waccobb. My focus on poetry has shifted and these days I write, for the most part, haiku in the traditional three-line, 5-7-5, syllabic pattern. I find this satisfying, shaping words to an established form. And I enjoy reading the huge amount of formal haiku (by 'formal' I mean haiku written in the 5-7-5 pattern). There is such a wealth of excellent 5-7-5 haiku being written in English these days. So I thought I would use a thread here at Wacco to share some of my favorites. Here is one:

    I would like a bell
    Tolling in this soft twilight
    Over willow trees.

    Richard Wright -- Haiku: This Other World, 1998

    Wright is my favorite English Language Haiku (ELH) poet. Wright (1908 - 1960) came to haiku only in the last 18 months of his life, while he was living in self-imposed exile in France. According to Wright's daughter, he was introduced to haiku by a friend who gave him R. H. Blyth's translations and commentaries from the Japanese. After that Wright carried around a notebook wherein he spontaneously wrote his haiku as they came to him. Wright selected 817 out of 4,000 for publication. Though a few were published in Black magazines, the publication as a whole was delayed for 38 years. I think it is the finest collection of ELH yet to be published. Wright seamlessly merges the syllabic and seasonal tradition of the Japanese original with the techniques and patterns of English language poetry. His haiku flow so naturally that when you read them it feels that haiku is a long-standing English language poetic form. I like to say to people that if you read one book of English Language Haiku, read the haiku of Richard Wright.
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  3. TopTop #2
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    On a withered bough
    A crow alone is perching,
    Autumn evening now.

    Basho - Translated by Kenneth Yasuda, Japanese Haiku, Its Essential Nature and History, 1957

    There are many translations of Japanese haiku into English. Among these Yasuda's translations are one of my favorites. Yasuda (1914 to 2002) was born to Japanese-American parents and grew up bi-lingual. He was studying poetry at the University of Washing when WW II broke out and was interred at Tule Lake. When WW II ended Yasuda published 'A Pepper-Pod' in 1947, his first work on English Language Haiku prosody. Yasuda argued for a 5-7-5 syllabic structure combined with end-rhyme for lines 1 & 3. Though the 5-7-5 syllabics has become very popular, end-rhyme has not gained as much traction. There are haiku poets who use end-rhyme in almost all of their haiku; e.g. Paul Muldoon, Richard Wilbur, James Emanuel come to mind. But most ELH poets who use rhyme do so now and then. My observation is that end-rhyme in haiku has become a tool that is available when needed for most ELH poets at this time.

    Yasuda's translations also include translations of Japanese tanka, the oldest and most significant Japanese poetic form. He also wrote his own haiku, tanka, and a collection of sonnets.

    The haiku by Basho is a famous one that has been translated many times. This is the translation that, I feel, captures best the feeling and tone of it, along with the sonorous quality of Basho's haiku.
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  5. TopTop #3
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    One bit of blue sky
    then clouds over the city
    twelve hundred years old.

    Edith Shiffert -- The Light Comes Slowly

    Edith Shiffert (1916 to 2017) was a well-known poet who published over 20 volumes of poetry during her long life. Her work was published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, etc. (when newspapers used to publish poetry). Born in Canada, her family moved to the U.S. and she lived in various cities. She was attracted to poetry in her teens and stuck with it for the rest of her life. One of her professors when she was in college was Theodore Roethke. She moved to Hawaii in the 40's, and returned there in the 60's, writing about Hawaii in her collection 'A Return to Kona'. 'Kona' contains the first 100-verse Renga written in the English language. Renga is a complicated Japanese form from which haiku would eventually emerge. The form requires that specific topics be mentioned at specific locations in the poem; Shiffert has all the topics in the right places. I haven't been able to find out who was her guide in the renga form, but it definitely shows an intense interest in Japanese poetry on her part.

    Shiffert moved to Kyoto in 1963 and remained in Japan for the rest of her life. She published three or four collections of haiku as well as some translations, co-written with her husband Yuki Sawa. I find her haiku to be very attractive, often focused on fine details that include both human and natural worlds. One thing I have noticed about Shiffert is her use of what I call 'time shift', an approach that appears regularly in her haiku. The above haiku is a good example. Time shift in haiku happens when the scene depicted in the haiku is shifted into a much longer temporal context. In this haiku line 1 is a simple descriptive scene. Line 2 sets the scene in motion with the word 'then'. And line 3 concludes with a much longer timescape. I very much like this approach and find it very satisfying. In Shiffert's poetic hands it has a contemplative dimension.
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  7. TopTop #4
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Turning from the page,
    Blind with a night of labour,
    I hear morning crows.

    Amy Lowell -- What's O'Clock, 1925

    Amy Lowell (1874 - 1925) was born into a wealthy Boston family; some of her siblings and relatives were famous in their field of study, such as the astronomer Percival Lowell who was her brother. She had a number of disabilities that socially isolated her in school, but that seemed to re-enforce her self-reliance as she was known to be opinionated and forceful in stating her views. In 1902, after going to a poetry reading, she was taken with poetry and dedicated her life to it. She travelled widely and on a visit to England met Ezra Pound. They didn't get along. Lowell became an influential presence in the Imagist movement and I think it is likely that Pound felt some jealousy, considering her an interloper.

    Her poetry was widely read and, in general, well received. She wrote metrical, free verse, and syllabic verse, an indication of her wide-ranging acquaintance with contemporary poetic trends. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage at a young age. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize the year after her death upon the publication of her collected works.

    Lowell took an interest in haiku, writing two sets. She referred to them as 'hokku', an older term for the form. Most of the pre-WW II English language writers of haiku call their work 'hokku' because that was the word for them in Japanese until the Japanese poet Masaoka Shiki (1867 - 1902) changed the name of the form to haiku. However, it took several decades for this name change to reach the anglosphere and the very first contacts with Japanese poetry used the word 'hokku' which set a precedent that wasn't really abandoned until after WW II.

    Lowell's haiku are syllabic and well-constructed. It is impressive that Lowell took to syllabics in a straightforward way; there are, for example, no run-on lines in her haiku. Some of her haiku are, from our perspective, more emotional than the present time prefers. But that was a style at the time that was widely expected; it was considered a kind of poetic discourse.

    I like this haiku. Lowell was an avid book collector and reader and I can see her, during a long night, smoking her cigars (for which she was famous), turning the pages and then, before she knows it, morning has come and a crow's caw pulls her from the pages of the book into the natural world. It's a nice feeling.
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  9. TopTop #5
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Seeing the thin elm
    this dismal sunless morning,
    I think of yellow.

    Hilda Aarons - Borrowed Water, 1966

    'Borrowed Water' is the first anthology of English Language Haiku (ELH). It was published by Tuttle in 1966 and sold very well, including translations into other languages. Borrowed Water was put together by a group of 13 women who belonged to the Los Altos Writers Group. The 13 women had previously published some of their haiku in American Haiku, the first journal devoted to ELH. The editors of American Haiku encouraged the Los Altos group in their work on publishing this first anthology of ELH. There have been subsequent anthologies of ELH, but from my perspective I think Borrowed Water is still the best anthology yet produced.

    Borrowed Water arranged the haiku into seasonal sections: spring, summer, autumn, winter, with a concluding section of 'miscellaneous' haiku that don't have a specific seasonal focus. Subsequent anthologies of ELH arrange their haiku by author; either alphabetically or chronologically. There are a lot of other contrasts between Borrowed Water and subsequent anthologies, but that would require an extended post. Suffice to say that I find the choices made by the Los Altos group satisfying and rewarding.

    I don't know much about Hilda Aarons, but I really like this haiku. In line 2, 'this dismal sunless morning', Aarons uses a noun-clause technique that is widely found in formal haiku. The technique is to have a line consist of a series of modifiers, and then conclude that line with a noun. It is a satisfying technique for defining a poetic line that is neither metrical, nor is it free verse; it is a specifically syllabic approach to poetic construction. The concluding noun has a cadential feel to it, like the end of a musical phrase.

    I also like the way Aarons begins in lines 1 & 2 with an objective description of a bare elm tree, and then in line 3 there is a shift into the interior mental realm of the poet. What this says to me is that the realm of mind and the realm of nature are porous to each other, mutually embracing and woven together.
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  11. TopTop #6
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    room in the puddle
    for your reflection, or mine
    or maybe the moon

    Susan August -- Haiku Distance, 2009

    Susan August is a contemporary haiku poet living in the Bay Area. She has published four books of haiku; and recently she published an e-book of haiku available on kindle. I like to browse for new haiku books by searching through various websites both big and small. That's how I stumbled upon August's haiku. I took a liking to her haiku from the very first read. August has what I call a 'plain' style; very straightforward. She uses poetic techniques such as metaphor and simile very rarely; and techniques such as rhyme appear only spontaneously. You could say that her haiku are unadorned.

    One of the aspects of this haiku that appeals to me is how it encompasses the whole cosmos. Line 1 is earth centered. Line 2 is human centered. And line 3 moves us to a celestial dimension. Heaven, earth, humanity; the classic tripartite cosmos, all in the confines of a single haiku.
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  13. TopTop #7
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Emptiness -- you know
    what I mean? Moonlight howling
    in the room like snow.

    Hayden Carruth -- Collected Shorter Poems 1946 - 1991

    Hayden Carruth (1921 - 2008) was a well-known successful poet. Carruth published over 30 books of poetry, taught at various Universities and mentored many young poets.

    Carruth had an interest in haiku, though it was not his primary focus. He seems to have taken a particular liking to Basho; several of his haiku praise Basho.

    I rarely give talks because I am not a very good speaker. But when I do give talks I like to offer people examples of well-crafted haiku. I think examples are better than theory at opening the door to understanding a poetic form. A few times I have used this haiku because I like it a lot. The response has not been enthusiastic. Maybe my taste is eccentric in this case. I think what some people don't like about this haiku, and Carruth's haiku in general, are the frequent stops, what I call his 'craggy' approach to writing haiku. In most English Language Haiku the aesthetic ideal is to flow from the start to the finish; but Carruth's haiku have frequent stops and starts, multiple cuts. I understand this feeling, but I sense that Carruth is being true to his manner of expression while at the same time retaining the basic syllabic shape and seasonal reference of traditional haiku.

    This haiku contrasts with the previous haiku by Susan August in that with this haiku I observe a multitude of poetic techniques being used; in that sense it is kind of a virtuoso display. The haiku includes metaphor, simile, personification, and end-rhyme. Line 1 states the theme of the haiku with the first word, 'emptiness', which is emphasized by a dash after the word. The second part 'you know what I mean?' consists of the last part of line 1 and the first part of line 2 and asks a question about the meaning of the abstraction 'emptiness'. It asks if we know what emptiness means. The question has the feel of a run-on line, or enjambment. The third part begins in line 2 with the word 'moonlight' and continues through to the end of line 3. This is a complex texture.

    The question about emptiness is answered through the use of metaphor, simile, and personification. 'Moonlight' is an often used metaphor for emptiness in East Asian poetry and thought. With Carruth's interest in Basho I feel this connection was likely on Carruth's mind. Moonlight is immediately personified with the verb 'howling'. 'Moonlight howling' is a vivid metaphor for the startling experience of emptiness that is the theme of the haiku. The metaphor becomes more stark with line 3 because the howling moonlight is placed in a room; this might be a picture of desolation or vastness, or perhaps both. Line three concludes with a simile, 'like snow' which accentuates the feeling of loss; the idea here is that emptiness is a kind of snow storm, a blizzard in the mind. I think most people when they consider emptiness think of it in more serene terms, that's one of the reasons why I like this haiku so much, because it turns our ideas or understandings of emptiness over and looks at emptiness in a startling and new way. Finally, line 3 ends with an end-rhyme to line 1: know / snow. This has the effect of bringing this haiku to a close as end-rhyme gives people a sense of finality to a poem. It's like the poet has now answered his own question and is saying he is finished.

    One of the things that really attracts me to formal haiku is that even though the form is very brief, the different interests and talents of poets are clearly expressed. Some haiku poets have what I refer to as a plain, unadorned, style. Others, like Carruth and Edith Shiffert, write haiku that are dense with poetic techniques and usages. And everything between. All of these approaches have value and demonstrate the openness of English Language Haiku to a wide range of poetic possibilities.
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  15. TopTop #8
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    A winter sunset --
    the day's unanswered questions
    simply disappear

    Priscilla Lignori - Beak Open, Feet Relaxed, 2013

    Priscilla Lignori is a contemporary haiku poet living in New York's Hudson Valley. She leads a local haiku gathering that meets monthly. Her work has been published in Japanese and American haiku journals, and Japanese newspapers, on a regular basis. Her one published book is this modest collection of 108 haiku, "Beak Open, Feet Relaxed", which refers to the cover photo of a flying crane. I find Lignori's haiku to be skillfully constructed and at the same time accessible at a first reading. The interesting thing about them, in my experience, is that they resonate more on repeated readings as new layers of meaning and association continue to unfold.

    This haiku is classically constructed with its two parts and seasonal reference, as well as standard syllabics. Line 1 gives us two dimensions of time; the season of the year and the time of the day. Lines 2 & 3 are mildly disjunctive to line 1 by switching the focus to the poet's inner landscape. I read this haiku as a contemplation on how nature can have the effect of calming the mind. Unanswered questions are resolved by placing them in the larger context of nature and its temporal cycles, released into a vastness these kinds of questions no longer agitate the mind.
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  17. TopTop #9
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Eating fish and chips,
    two old sisters gently dab
    ketchup from their lips.

    Pat Boran - Waveforms: Bull Island Haiku, 2015

    Pat Boran is an Irish poet. Bull Island is a small island near Dublin that Boran likes to visit. This collection of haiku is a modest one, about 120 small pages. And there are a lot of photographs which reduce the number of haiku. I have enjoyed the collection and read it several times. Boran has a great ear for rhyme and in that respect reminds me of another Irish poet who has written a lot of rhyming haiku, Paul Muldoon.

    In Japan a poem like this would probably be called in 'senryu'. Haiku in Japan are topically defined and traditionally require a season word or phrase. If that is absent, and the poem is focused on human affairs, often on human foibles, then it is likely a senryu. If the poem is philosophical, or perhaps witty, it is likely a zappai. In English Language Haiku (ELH) these distinctions have not been adopted by most poets. Instead, for many a simple formal definition of 5-7-5 is sufficient. In other words, the term 'haiku' in English does not necessarily imply a specific topical focus. I have gone back and forth on this; part of me simply accepts the situation for what it is, not good or bad. Another part of me would like to retain the seasonal focus of traditional Japanese haiku as I think the seasonal aspect of traditional haiku adds a meaningful dimension. This has been an ongoing discussion in ELH for many years and is likely to continue.
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  19. TopTop #10
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    The boys are in school;
    fall leaves -- the only swimmers
    in the swimming pool.

    Margot Bollock -- Borrowed Water, 1966

    For more information about 'Borrowed Water' see Hilda Aarons above. This is a haiku from another of the 13 women who published the first anthology of English Language Haiku. I enjoy uncovering the earlier published haiku, particularly pre-1970. These earlier haiku were more willing to engage with the heritage of English language poetry; its techniques and rhythms. In the 1970s there was a tendency to sideline those techniques and, from my perspective, this ended up constricting the expressive range of English Language Haiku. Fortunately, I sense that this tendency may have run its course. In any case, this haiku skillfully uses end-rhyme in a way that feels completely natural.

    One additional comment about 'Borrowed Water': the anthology contains numerous haiku about children; from infancy to when they leave for college. In subsequent anthologies of English Language Haiku, this theme is either entirely absent, or extremely rare. I first read 'Borrowed Water' after I had read more recent ELH anthologies. I wasn't really aware of 'Borrowed Water' for a long time. I got a used copy from amazon. Right away I noticed this topical difference.
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  21. TopTop #11
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    A feather drifting.
    A twig floating in the stream.
    A wild goose flying.

    Johnny D. - Poems One, 2008

    Johnny D. is a British poet. As far as I know he has published only this collection. He says in the Introduction that the haiku in this book are a selection from haiku he wrote over the previous ten years; he selected haiku he likes and haiku that others told him they liked. The Introduction reveals someone who is knowledgeable about Japanese criteria for writing haiku and respects them, but at the same time acknowledges that the anglosphere is a different context. This haiku is a good example of that bridge. Each line is a full sentence that has a complete image. Each line begins with an article plus a noun, or noun phrase, and also contains a present tense verb: drifting, floating, flying. Together the three sentences combine to form a naturescape that I find attractive. The opening repetition in each line has a kind of feeling that makes me want to chant the haiku, adding to its attractiveness.
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  23. TopTop #12
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Renouncing the world --
    The autumn leaves are falling
    In my place of birth.

    David Hoopes -- Alaska in Haiku, 1972

    Alaska in Haiku was the first book of haiku I ever read. I was attending the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and this book came to the campus bookstore. I bought it out of curiosity and I enjoyed it. I still have a copy which I reread now and then. I think the haiku still hold their own.

    In the 1960's and 70's Tuttle published a significant number of English Language Haiku books. I previously mentioned 'Borrowed Water', and 'Alaska in Haiku' is another. All the books (I think there were about 15 of them) take a traditional approach to haiku; for example they all retain a syllabic, 5-7-5, commitment, and most of them arrange the haiku by season. The seasonal arrangement is maintained in 'Alaska in Haiku'.

    I don't know a lot about David Hoopes. He participated in the Alaska Poetry Society which published a haiku anthology, 'Haiku Drops from the Big Dipper' in the 70's; some of Hoopes's haiku appear in the anthology. I believe Hoopes was a naturalist with some sort of State position, living in the panhandle. Later Hoopes moved to Washington State. Hoopes continued his interest in haiku and decades later self-published a more modest collection, 'A Whisper of Snipe: Four Seasons of Haiku', using print-on-demand technology.

    The move by Hoopes from using a traditional publisher like Tuttle, to using print-on-demand technology is one example of how p-o-d technology has greatly changed English Language Haiku. Before this new technology ELH was defined by a few editors of small-circulation ELH journals and a few publishers, like Tuttle, who were willing to publish to this niche market. Editors, in particular, thought of themselves as gatekeepers to English Language Haiku and seemed to have felt that ELH was, in some sense, their property. All that changed as print-on-demand technology became widely available and online blogs, forums, and websites for ELH blossomed. This allowed ordinary people to bypass the editorial process (both in journals and book publishers). My feeling is that this has made ELH much more interesting, varied, and creative.
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  25. TopTop #13
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    In the garden pool,
    dark and still, a stepping-stone
    releases the moon.

    O. Mabson Southard - American Haiku, Number 1, 1963

    American Haiku was the first journal devoted to English Language Haiku. It was published for five years: 1963 - 1967. Various editors participated, some of whom, like Robert Spiess, went on to found their own ELH journals. American Haiku contains a huge hoard of formal haiku, meaning haiku in 5-7-5. Most of these haiku have fallen out of view and haiku poets today are, for the most part, unaware of them. A few years ago I spotted an issue of American Haiku online at a used book site for a very cheap price and out of curiosity I ordered it. I was startled to encounter haiku of uniformly high quality, haiku that I find inspiring. This treasure trove of English Language Haiku is written by a wide range of poets, using a wide range of techniques. Some of these poets were already known to me, but a surprisingly large number were names I had never heard of. A significant number published in one issue, never to heard from again.

    I feel like the contemporary ELH community has lost sight of these contributions and precedents and that those of us interested in ELH will benefit by reconnecting with these contributions. My hope is to bring these haiku, and these haiku poets, into the 21st century.
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  26. TopTop #14
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Jazzanatomy

    EVERYTHING is jazz:
    snails, jails, rails, tails, males, females,
    snow-white cotton bales.

    Knee-bone thigh, hip-bone.
    Jazz slips you percussion bone
    classified "unknown."

    Sleek lizard rhythms,
    cigar-smoke tunes, straight-gin sky
    laced with double moons.

    Second-chance rhythms,
    don't-give-up riffs: jazz gets HIGH
    off can'ts, buts, and ifs.

    James A. Emanuel - Jazz from the Haiku King, 1999

    James Emanuel (1921 to 2013) was a highly regarded African American poet. He published 13 books of poetry, edited anthologies, and was the first to compose what I call haiku stanza poems. Emanuel was a master rhymer; notice the virtuosic use of rhyme in this poem. There are end-rhymes, internal rhymes, list rhymes, and combinations of internal rhyme and end-rhyme like tunes / moons, and riffs / ifs.

    Haiku stanza poems differ from haiku sequences. In a haiku sequence the haiku are individually created and then brought together by the author, usually because they share a common focus or technique. In haiku stanza poems, the 5-7-5 stanzas do not stand alone and were not created separately. The stanzas lead into each other and lead to a conclusion in the last stanza.

    Since Emanuel, other poets have also written haiku stanza poems; notably Richard Wilbur who also marks his haiku stanza poems with exuberant rhyme. I think there are enough now to create a small anthology.

    The exuberant rhythms and rhymes of Emanuel's haiku are extraordinary and take English Language haiku in a new direction.
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  28. TopTop #15
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    All day the clouds sing
    under a sun like summer
    a song high and sweet

    Nighthawks - Katherine Hastings, 2014

    Katherine Hastings was a local Sonoma County poet who hosted a poetry reading called 'Word Temple' for many years. She also gave a few readings at Many Rivers Books & Tea where I work. 'Nighthawks' contains a haiku sequence called 'Haiku Clouds'. It also contains a lot of other excellent poetry. Katherine has moved away from Sonoma County, but I still think of her as a wonderful influence on the Sonoma County poetry community.
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  30. TopTop #16
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Steam from the red-hot
    sun sinking into the sea
    clouds the horizon.

    Francis Harvey ((April 13, 1925 to November 7, 2014) - Donegal Haiku

    Francis Harvey was an Irish poet. He published Donegal Haiku in 2013, late in his life. I think this is his only haiku collection. Irish haiku seems to be very centered in particular locales. Bull Island Haiku by Pat Boran, Inchicore Haiku by Michael Hartnett, and Donegal Haiku by Harvey. This approach to haiku roots them in a particular place and offers the reader an introduction to a specific locale. I haven't read Harvey's other poetry; he was well-known in Ireland and much respected. What I noticed about Donegal Haiku is that Harvey uses many different approaches to constructing his haiku within the traditional frame of 5-7-5. This haiku is an example of a single-sentence haiku that flows easily from the opening to the end. Harvey also skillfully uses alliteration in line 2. But in Donegal Haiku you can also find two-part haiku; some are two full sentences and some are a sentence and fragment. You can also find three sentence haiku with each line being a full sentence. And other ways of construction are also used. I have sometimes thought that if I were to teach a class in formal haiku, the art of 5-7-5, I would use Harvey's small collection as a source book because it illustrates many different approaches to the craft. That is unusual; most haiku poets settle on a particular way of shaping the syllables and lines of their haiku. A lot of formal haiku poets write single sentence, or single thought, haiku. Others specialize in a two-part structure. But Harvey seemed to enjoy uncovering many different arrangements and he uses them all effectively.
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  32. TopTop #17
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Autumn . . . the path now
    wanders to oblivion
    under every tree.

    James Hackett (August 6, 1929 to November 9, 2015)

    James Hackett was a significant and influential haiku poet. Hackett won a Japanese haiku contest (as I recall sponsored by Japan Airlines) in 1964. The contest was international and received thousands of entries. Hackett won with the following haiku:

    A bitter morning:
    Sparrows sitting together
    without any necks.

    This was the first time that a poet from the anglosphere won a Japanese haiku contest. This gave poets in the anglosphere a sense that they were on the right track and validated the efforts they were making in adopting the Japanese form into English.

    As a young man, I think he was in his 20's, Hackett had a severe motorcycle accident. He was hospitalized for a lengthy time and almost died. During this time Hackett had a deep mystical experience about the nature of life and death; this experience appears to have been spontaneous. The impact of that experience remained with him for life. Hackett would find that haiku was a vehicle for expressing what he spoke of as his 'enlightenment experience' which he connected with Zen awakening specifically. Hackett argued throughout his life that haiku could be a vehicle for awakening when done in the right state of mind. He thought of it as a type of meditation that could lead to realization.

    Hackett moved to the Bay Area and married Patricia, a music teacher and professor. They met at San Francisco State University. They remained partners for their whole lives. Hackett's haiku were published in early English Language Haiku journals, such as American Haiku, in the 60's. But Hackett's personality was not conducive to aligning with haiku organizations such as journals and the nascent associations in the U.S. He dropped out almost completely from participation in them, at least in the U.S. Hackett seemed to get along better with British haiku groups and journals where his haiku were regularly published and his books reviewed (unlike in the U.S. where they were not reviewed). Now and then Hackett would give a talk, but there would be years between such appearances. Hackett wasn't a hermit, but, on the other hand, he seems to have been content with his life as a poet, and with his circle of friends that included his wife. He and his wife would eventually move to Hawaii where they resided in the town of, guess what?, Haiku (for real).

    Hackett also wrote theoretical works on haiku. In the 70's when many North American haiku poets became attracted to minimalism, Hackett criticized that approach. Rereading that essay today, it strikes me that he had remarkable foresight as to the negative effects minimalism would have. Minimalism never took hold in England to the extent that it did in North America, and perhaps that is one of the reasons Hackett seemed to have smoother relationships with the British haiku world.

    Hackett is one of my favorite English language haiku poets. I regularly reread his collections and always learn something from doing so. Unfortunately his works are out of print at this time, but used copies are available.

    The date of his death,
    Reading James Hackett's haiku
    As the sun rises.
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Morning sun enters
    like a broom. Light brushes dust
    off the temple steps.

    Yeshaya Rotbard - The Calligraphy of Clouds, 2007

    I don't know anything about Rotbard other than what is written on the back cover; that he was raised in Milwaukee and currently lives in New York State. 'The Calligraphy of Clouds' was published through print-on-demand technology, in this case iUniverse. More and more haiku poets are using this technology, which, as I have noted before, has dramatically changed the ecology of English Language Haiku. The field has become much wider, and the fauna far more varied. English Language Haiku (ELH) used to be confined to a few journals who had, in my opinion, narrow views as to the parameters of ELH. Now it is easy to stroll past those gatekeeping journals and just speak directly to an interested audience.

    I like Rotbard's collection; it consists of haiku and tanka, the older form of Japanese poetry in 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. The poems are well crafted and I feel they have a musical quality to them. I have read it several times and enjoyed each reading.
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    froth on his whiskers
    a man in the pub explains
    how high the tide was

    David Cobb -- Global Haiku, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks

    David Cobb passed away last Friday. He was one of the founders of the British Haiku Society. I have enjoyed Cobb's haiku for years as well as some small anthologies that he edited. British haiku has a different emphasis than North American Haiku. It feels to me that it is more connected to the overall heritage of British poetry, less given to avantgardism or the minimalism that came to the fore in North America in the 70's. I think this is reflected in Cobb's spacious approach to haiku in that he explicitly stated that he wrote in both formal (5-7-5) and free verse styles. I think that is true of many haiku poets these day. Local poet, Sandy Eastoak, who passed away this year, is a good example.

    Thanks, David, for all your work and your wonderful haiku. Rest in peace.
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Suddenly aware,
    leaves which lately graced our trees,
    now no longer there.

    A. E. Judd -- American Haiku Number Two, 1963
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  40. TopTop #21
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    My daughter leaves home.
    Slowly the quietness grows.
    The autumn rain falls.

    Gunther Klinge - Day into Night: A Haiku Journey, Translated by Ann Atwood, 1980

    Gunther Klinge was a German haiku poet. I don't know his exact dates or much about him, other than he was well-known in Germany, Europe, and seems to have been admired by Americans as well. Tuttle published two of Klinge's collections. One in 1978 called "Drifting with the Moon" and one in 1980, "Day into Night" from which this haiku comes. Klinge wrote formal haiku in German using the traditional 5-7-5 shape. Ann Atwood kept that formal commitment in her translations which are also in 5-7-5. A large amount of Japanese haiku is translated into English retaining the 5-7-5 syllabics which was a likely precedent for retaining the syllabics in a translation from German. What translators are doing when they retain the formal parameters in their translation is translating the form.

    There are two approaches to translating poetry. One is, as mentioned, to translate the form as much as possible. The other is to emphasize the lexical dimension of the poem and to ignore the form. It's a tradeoff; which approach is taken depends on what the translator wants to highlight. As mentioned already, a lot of translators will translate the 5-7-5 form from Japanese (or German in this case) into English. And this is also true of the older Japanese form of tanka. A good example of this is the translation of the 10th century tanka collection known as Kokinwakashu, aka Kokinshu, which contains over 1,000 tanka, by Helen McCullough. The form of tanka is 5-7-5-7-7. McCullough manages to retain the form in her superb translation into English as well as each tanka having a poetic effect.

    This haiku by Klinge is unusual in that it contains three complete sentences; each line is a sentence. Together the three sentences form a collage. You could look at this haiku as a kind of list; three complete images are combined for an overall effect that I find deeply moving.
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    leaves turning color
    I grab all the words I can
    to end my novel

    Leatrice Lifshitz, Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac, edited by William J. Higginson, 1996

    In Japan one aspect of teaching haiku is known as a Saijiki, or haiku almanac. Saijiki are collections of haiku that are categorized by season, subject, and topic. There are five seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter, and new year. Within each season there are seven subjects: season, heavens, earth, humanity, observances (holidays and memorials), animals, plants. Under each subject haiku are arranged by topic, the topic consisting of key words or phrases. The number of haiku under each topic varies; it can be as few as two or go into the dozens.

    In Japan if someone decides to join a haiku group they will be given a Saijiki, or Haiku Almanac, as part of their study. In this way students imbibe key words and their seasonal association. This way of classifying poems by season rather than by author, goes way back in Japanese history; all the way back to the Manyoshu (8th century) and the Kokinwakashu (10th century).

    In the anglosphere there is not a long history of looking at poems through a seasonal lens. 'Haiku World' was Higginson's attempt to create an English language Haiku Almanac along the lines of the Japanese Saijiki. There is a significant difference: in Japan the haiku selected for a Saijiki will cover a long history, selections will be made from haiku poets both past and present. In contrast, Higginson put out a call to contemporary English language haiku poets to submit haiku for this project. In the Japanese Saijiki a reader gets a distilled view of the whole history of Japanese haiku. In Higginson's Haiku Almanac the reader gets a snapshot of how people were writing haiku in the anglosphere in the mid-90's. I like Higginson's effort and have learned a lot from it. It is out of print, but for those interested in the way haiku is traditionally presented it is worth getting a used copy.
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Ten trillion miles of
    paradise permeating
    all the afterglow

    Yamaguchi Seishi -- A Certain State of Mind, translated by James Kirkup

    Yamaguchi Seishi (1874 to 1959) was a famous haiku poet whose works are widely admired in Japan. Many of his haiku are carved into boulders and placed in public spaces for people to read as they walk by (this is an aspect of Japanese poetic culture). Yamaguchi Seishi was a committed traditionalist in the sense that he regarded a season word as an essential part of any haiku; it is said that if a student submitted a haiku to him without a season word he wouldn't even look at it. (The season word in the above haiku is 'afterglow', a summer season word.) On the other hand, Yamaguchi Seishi was among the first haiku poets to include in his haiku contemporary industrial objects such as trains, cars, etc. Though this may seem non-controversial to us, at the time he first used them in his haiku it was considered almost avant-garde. And structurally, he seemed at ease with structures other than the two-part classical form, using 'single thought' haiku fairly often.

    James Kirkup (1918 to 2009) was a British poet, translator, and essayist. He was one of the founders of the British Haiku Society. He lived in Japan for many years, but ultimately he settled down in Andorra, a microstate found between France and Spain. From there Kirkup worked on his own haiku, other poetry, and translations for various universities in Europe and Britain. Kirkup's own haiku, as well as his translations, retain a commitment to the 5-7-5 syllabic shape of traditional Japanese haiku. Kirkup also wrote theoretical works supporting this approach.

    'A Certain State of Mind' is Kirkup's anthology of Japanese haiku, both classical and contemporary. All the translations are Kirkup's. His selection process was based simply on the haiku that Kirkup personally liked; so in a sense you could say that the 'certain state of mind' in the anthology is a certain state of Kirkup's mind. In other words, it is a highly personal anthology. Having said that, I find the anthology accessible and offering a broad range of approaches to Japanese haiku. In addition, scattered through the anthology are essays on various topics related to haiku; some are biographies of significant haiku poets, and some have to do with haiku theory.

    I find Kirkup's work both as a haiku poet and as a translator to be exceptional. It is only last year that I began reading his work thoroughly and it has really grown on me as I have become more familiar with it.
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  45. TopTop #24
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    On the willow hangs
    like a spider on its thread
    the moon's low lantern

    James Kirkup - Formulas for Chaos, 1994

    I thought I would post one of Kirkup's haiku since yesterday I posted one of his translations. Kirkup was a skilled poet. Here Kirkup uses both metaphor and simile effectively. Metaphor and simile are significant tools for both Japanese and English language haiku. In this haiku Kirkup uses simile in line 2, 'like a spider on its thread', and in line 3 the metaphor of a lantern is used to signify the moon. This kind of complex texture is often found in English language haiku (see, for example, Hayden Carruth above). A haiku is a very brief poem and it surprises me how often poets are able to weave a complex fabric of meaning in such a short form.
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Wind, water, and stone
    Listening for Ancient ones
    Blackbird steps forward

    Brian R. Martens -- Three Raven Gate: Haiku & Other Poems, 2019

    Martens is a local poet. When 'Three Raven Gate' was published in 2019 he gave a reading at Many Rivers Book & Tea that I enjoyed. This is his first book of poetry. Martens used a local editor and print-on-demand technology. I am very enthusiastic about how new technologies have opened up publishing possibilities for so many poets. This has hugely enriched what is available for English Language Haiku. I see ELH as primarily located in popular culture where most of the creativity, insight, and craftsmanship in the form is taking place.
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  49. TopTop #26
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    The door of the shed
    open-shuts with the clangor
    of red against red.

    Paul Muldoon -- Hay, Hopewell Haiku, 1998

    Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet, born in 1951. He has published over 30 volumes of poetry, taught in numerous universities, won the Pulitzer Prize, and is internationally respected. His poems are typically metrical and rhyming and he brings that focus to his haiku. As far as I know Muldoon has written three collections of haiku; these collections are part of larger books of poetry, forming a small, but influential, part of his poetic output. Hopewell Haiku is found in his poetry book 'Hay' and consists of a series of 90 haiku. All the haiku have 1st and 3rd line end-rhyme; often very clever and unexpected rhymes. Because of Muldoon's skill with metrics, his haiku also have a compelling rhythmic quality that draws the reader in. An example of his metrical skill is found in this haiku where the scan reveals identical rhythm for both lines 1 & 3: the DOOR of the SHED / of RED against RED. The pattern is an iamb followed by an anapest for both lines. The rhythm of line 2 deviates from this pattern; for example line 2 ends with a trochee: CLANGor, or a unstressed syllable, whereas both lines 1 & 3 end with a stressed syllable. The result of this kind of construction is that line 3 feels like a return to the opening rhythm of line 1, which is a satisfying feeling for the reader. This kind of attention to metrical rhythm makes Muldoon's haiku a pleasure to read and reread.
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  50. TopTop #27
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    A thousand petals
    Drift gently onto the ground
    Like beautiful thoughts.

    Jinna Johnson - A Thousand Petals, 1971

    'A Thousand Petals' is one of the haiku books published by Tuttle in the 60's and 70's. Johnson was an Illinois poet who discovered haiku while reading about Japan. She found the form very attractive and began to write them based on her reading and studies. This is the pattern I have observed for English Language Haiku poets; usually the introduction to haiku occurs when we read well-written haiku. A lot of people are introduced to haiku in grade school because it is such a simple form and assists kids in learning to count syllables. But I haven't noticed that this is enough to get people to actually writing haiku or becoming dedicated to haiku. Usually that takes finding an example of well-crafted haiku by another poet. That was the case for me. My introduction to haiku was through the book 'Alaska in Haiku' (another one of those Tuttle titles).

    I think this is the way any poetic form gets transmitted. For example, I have written a lot of sestinas and though I knew about the form for many years it was encountering sestinas written by Donald Justice that made me think that this was a form I wanted to write myself. The sestinas by Justice showed me not only how the form worked, but how they might work for me.

    In a similar way, well-written books of haiku not only show a reader how haiku works, but also how haiku might work for the reader; they open a door to the reader. Not all readers will respond that way, but some will. This is why I think that the books of haiku published by Tuttle in the 60's and 70's are of significance for ELH history; a lot of people found the door to haiku opened by reading these books.

    I like this particular haiku. It is an excellent example of how simile can be used in ELH (English Language Haiku). In this case the simile compares an interior experience of 'beautiful thoughts' to a sensory experience of petals drifting. This kind of usage teaches us that the world of our interior experience, and the world of our sensory experience, are the same world of great nature, that the interior realm of thoughts and the world of sensory experience are, in a deep sense, the same world.
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  52. TopTop #28
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    Sitting in the dark
    With the garden bells tinkling,
    I feel less alone.

    Jinna Johnson - A Thousand Petals, 1971

    I felt like posting a second haiku by Jinna Johnson because I particularly enjoy this one. What I admire about this haiku is the seamless way that Johnson merges sensory experience with interior experience. She does this effortlessly. I also admire how Johnson has used a single-sentence approach to the overall construction. The single sentence acts as a frame for the haiku and a lens of focus. In a collection of my favorite English Language Haiku, this would definitely be included.
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    Re: Haiku Habitat

    On the barren cliff
    The fir for her roots finds room --
    Love on less may bloom.

    Sadakichi Hartmann -- November 8, 1867 to November 22, 1944
    Japanese Rhythms, 1933

    Sadakichi Hartmann was born in Nagasaki of a German father and a Japanese mother. Sadakichi was the second child, preceded by another son. Sadakichi's mother died soon after he was born. His father was an international trader. He decided to take his two sons to Germany to raise them. As Sadakichi grew into his teens it became clear that he didn't fit in. Partly this was due to a lack of parental guidance as the elder Hartmann continued with his international trade which meant that he was away most of the time. The elder Hartmann had relatives in Philadelphia and arrangements were made for Sadakichi to be raised in the U.S.

    Sadakichi took an early interest in poetry and sought out other poets. Sadakichi had an uncanny ability to connect with artists, poets, and intellectuals. He visited Walt Whitman and took notes on their conversations which he later published. He also travelled widely, visiting Ezra Pound, T. S. Elliott, and the poet laureate George Bridges in England. He also visited the Rossetti's in Belgium. In the U.S. he was equally present among artistic and intellectual circles; for example he was involved with Emma Goldman and her anarchist circle. He even had a stint in Hollywood working on scripts and appearing in bit parts.

    Sadakichi wrote many books, mostly about art history, as well as publishing poetry. He was married several times and had many children. He became a naturalized citizen in 1894.

    Covering all of his creative endeavors, including poetry, painting, sculpture, art theory, requires a book length review. For the purposes of this post, Sadakichi published a collection of poetry in Japanese forms in 1933 called 'Japanese Rhythms'. It was a small collection that included tanka (5-7-5-7-7 syllable structure), haiku (5-7-5 structure), and a few dodoitsu (7-7-7-5), an obscure form that had a brief period of popularity in Japan during, I think, the Muromachi period. Sadakichi referred to his haiku as 'haikai' as the word 'haiku' had not yet become standard in the anglosphere. 'Haikai' is a type of linked verse with 36 verses overall. It is the type of linked verse that Basho made a living teaching. The opening verse of a haikai was called the 'hokku'; eventually the opening verse, which was considered the most important verse of a haikai, took on a life of its own and evolved into what we call haiku today. I think Sadakichi referring to 'haikai' was based on this history.

    Most of the haikai/haiku in 'Japanese Rhythms' rhyme and they all retain the 5-7-5 traditional syllabic shape of the Japanese. The collection, though small, introduced many people in the anglosphere to several important Japanese poetic forms.

    When WW II broke out Sadakichi Hartmann was investigated. However, he was not interred due to his many connections who testified to his loyalty. But he was closely monitored. He died in 1944 while visiting his daughter's family and grandchildren in Florida.
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  56. TopTop #30
    Jim Wilson's Avatar
    Jim Wilson
     

    Re: Haiku Habitat

    With the wind of all
    in the red hawk's wings, his heart
    how smoothly he flies

    Brendan Mobert, Age 8 - The Land of Six Seasons, 1983

    'The Land of Six Seasons' was an anthology of locally written haiku published by the Gualala Arts Council. It includes a variety of approaches to haiku with a few of them using the traditional syllabic approach. The one here is by an 8-year old. One of the things I enjoy about haiku is that as a traditional form it is easy to access; for this reason it has become a useful tool for introducing children to the concept of syllable and at the same time some of the basics of poetry.

    I often think of haiku as resembling the recorder, the wind instrument often used to introduce children to music. The recorder is basically a big whistle and most children get the hang of it fairly quickly; soon they can play a simple tune. In a similar way, most children can get the basics of haiku down fairly quickly and write a well constructed haiku. In both cases this is an encouraging experience.

    In both cases, that of the recorder and haiku, someone who is interested and dedicated can go further with these means of expression, building on the basics (such as the 5-7-5 syllabics) as they explore additional methods and meanings. In the case of the recorder, someone can go on to become a virtuoso performer.

    Haiku is a hearty growth and I think part of that strength is due to its ability to grow in diverse hearts and minds at an early age. Haiku is agreeable to all ages and backgrounds.
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