Surrealism and Haiku?

Over at the The Haiku Foundation blog, TroutswirlGene Myers asked “What do surrealists and haiku poets have in common?” A number of haiku poets contributed very interesting and varied responses. Spurned into action myself, I responded with the following comment:

Hochablass, Lech dam, Augsburg
Hochablass, Lech dam, Augsburg

“Thank you for sharing this, Gene. I have been thinking about connections between the arts and haiku poetry and so find it interesting to read people’s thoughts here.Re. your question: I understand (most) surrealists to have tried to bypass conscious mind and to make contact with the unconscious through dreams, word association, automatic writing, hypnosis, mind-altering substances… This aim to go beyond and beneath the conscious/reasoning mind and pull out a fresh, writhing, alive experience may be one of the things that surrealists and haiku poets share (though not all the means!).

Regarding two-part haiku, I like to see the juxtaposition of the two elements as displaying side by side, literally, unconsciously associated content. In a successful juxtaposition, a sense of strangeness, an uncanny feeling is being set up. Isn’t this central to the attraction for both reader and writer: looking at the seemingly disparate elements/parts of the poem, experiencing the tensions generated and their resolution in a moment of recognition in which the unseen / unconscious connections emerge?

In this sense, surrealists (at least those of the more constructive strand) and haiku poets may be said to use juxtaposition of the seemingly disparate as a means to reach underneath and beyond the well-trodden tracks of our conscious landscape; to (to use your words) ‘jar’ and encourage filling in the gaps/holes between the elements through reconnecting with deeper/hidden levels of the mind. Of course, this is only one of several commonalities; there’s also choice of words, images, form of presentation, and so on.

Happily, we have this month’s Per Diem, Kirsten Cliff’s collection “Dream Speak,” to help us explore this matter further.”

Noticed the last sentence? Why not keep me company, visit the THF Per Diem site, and pull out of the Per Diem box the daily poem; fresh, and only for a day, the daily poem can be found by clicking here


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