I am looking forward to reading the other contributions. And to receiving my own print copy of the Journal! Judging from the previous issues, it is a joy to hold and leaf through. And a collector’s item. You don’t want to miss it! More information on how to obtain a copy, see here
Meanwhile, here is the Abstract for this paper.
This paper presents the first results of an interdisciplinary project, bringing together haiku poets and neuro-/cognitive scientists, to investigate the reading of English-language haiku (ELH) as a potentially paradigmatic material for studying the reception of poetic texts. Our pilot study was based on the ‘eye-mind assumption’, that where and for how long we gaze at sections of text reflects processes of information harvesting for meaning construction. The results indicate that the interactive process between the poem and the reader gives rise to characteristic patterns of eye movements (saccades and fixations) across the text from which (i) the position of the cut (after line 1 vs. after line 2) and (ii) the type of haiku (context-action vs. juxtaposition) can be discerned. Finding (i) is of special importance: it provides evidence that the effect intended by the poet can indeed be traced in oculomotor behavior and that, thus, the cut is indeed a potent poetic/stylistic device with a specific effect in the reader. Moreover, readers’ recognition memory was found to be associated with more explicit, conscious-recollective experience of having read a particular haiku if the poem was self-rated to be understood. This suggests that the realization of the haiku’s ‘meaning gestalt’ in the reader’s mind, which may be associated with an ‘aha’ experience, is important for memory consolidation and remembering. Albeit tentative, these findings and conclusions open up interesting lines for future, interdisciplinary research.
dust devils: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2016, edited by Jim Kacian & the Red Moon Editorial Staff is now out and available to purchase.
From their website:
The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku enters its third decade of gathering the finest haiku and related forms published around the world in English into a single book, the longest run of any book dedicated to ELH. dust devils includes 173 poems (haiku & senryu), 8 linked forms (haibun, renku, rengay and sequences), and 5 critical pieces on the reading, writing and study of the genre.
Here is my contribution to re:Virals 49 (re:Virals is the weekly haiku commentary over at The Haiku Foundation).
Robert Mainone’s poem originally published in Modern Haiku 40.3 (2009)
shows the sponge gene —
was featured and commented upon by a number of poets, yours truly included. Take a look here for the whole post.
Here I reproduce my own contribution, with a couple of minor clarifications/amendments.
Haplogroup, I understand, is the term, in genetics, describing the exact common ancestry of a group of humans, the genetic family tree down to its roots. In this poem’s case, the sponge.
At first, identifying with the narrator, I felt hurt to be classified as a sponge; then I reconsidered. After all, I’d read that sponges share a remarkable amount of genetic material with humans — so not to be taken personally. But did I want to be reminded on a Sunday morning, over coffee, that I have a lot in common with sponges?
It is of course science that gives me this information. Is science the bringer of uncomfortable news? Is it the culprit that clips the angel’s wings (Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,/ Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,/; Poe, “To Science”)? Or am I shooting the messenger? After all, Dawkins and others before him have argued that, rather than “Unweaving the Rainbow”, science reveals the worlds’s hidden beauty.
But here, in this context, it is the poet who reminds me of my humble beginnings. Of course, to their credit, sponges thrived for over 600 million years while I have struggled with fewer than 100. And recent research uncovered clues pointing to sponges descending from a more advanced ancestor than previously thought.
Still, how far am I reducible to bits of genetic information translated into proteins, labellable, traceable, ultimately replaceable? A mere cog in the cosmic machine? I, Stella, poet, writer, and sponge.
Be that as it may, what I find interesting, and welcome, is that the poet feels at ease with bringing a scientific fact into the poem. After all, objective scientific facts are as much part of our world as subjective experiences.
In earlier centuries (as far back as the ancient Greek thinkers), it had been common practice for poets to describe scientific discoveries in their poems; poets popularised scientific ideas – think of Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution and how they resonated with many poets and novelists – and scientists popularised poetry. In the nineteenth century, Dickens, and others, went further than mutual facilitation, exploring poetically, for instance, ideas of energy conservation and dissipation (cf. Barri J. Gold, “ThermoPoetics”). Literature and science have been inspiring and influencing each other in Victorian times, before, and since, as well as competing for access to truth.
In this poem, Robert Mainone’s narrator sounds both surprised and humbled at being reminded that he, we, are all branches of the same evolutionary tree, part of the same cosmos. The penny drops. The distant comes closer and light is thrown on the matter — aha! How humbling! How reassuring! We are all one.
A few years ago, in a paper titled ‘Machine Phenomena’, I explored situations in which the metaphor of the machine is understood and used concretely to express positive or negative, idealised or denigrated experiences — ranging from, for example, the use of innocuous expressions like ‘I need to charge my batteries’ to experiencing being controlled by an influencing machine. This article became a chapter in the book ‘Even Paranoids Have Enemies: New Perspectives on Paranoia and Persecution’ (ed. Berke, Pierides, Sabbadini, Schneider), published in 1998 initially by what was then Routledge.
Since then, from time to time, I check whether, and where the concept of ‘machine phenomena’ is being used and to what effect. So it was with pleasure I came across an interesting article, by Grace Halden, titled ‘Incandescent: Light Bulbs and Conspiracies’, in Dandelion: postgraduate arts journal and research network, v.5, no 2, Spring 2015.
In my reading, Grace Halden (2015) illustrates how light, in the form of a lightbulb, became what can be seen as a machine phenomenon (Pierides, 1998), becoming entrenched in concrete fantasies of benevolence and evil. She points out
through examining general technology (such as machines), anxieties surrounding ‘modification, transformation and replacement’ emerge despite the technology being traditionally associated with protection and assistance.
Halden uses the texts of The Light Bulb Conspiracy (2010), The X-Files (1993-2002), and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) to explore how this innocuous, commonplace object, with an enormous beneficial impact in the modern world,
has been used to symbolise the malevolence of individuals and groups, and the very essence of technological development itself.
While waiting for next April 17 to come round, don’t miss the opportunity to watch the wonderful haiku films that were presented at this year’s HaikuLife, the Foundation’s Film Festival 2016. And scroll through the longest haiku collaborative poem,EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2016. This year, in acknowledgement of the United Nations Year of Pulses, the theme of the project was Foodcrop Haiku.
Here are my own offerings to EarthRise:
the seed in the child’s
picking over lentils—
of the evening hour
edging closer to
at the back
of the late night bus
whiff of wild garlic
all seeds accounted for dawn chorus
This week, a terrific haiku by Melissa Allen was up for discussion at The Haiku Foundation re:Virals. Interesting commentaries looking at the poem from different perspectives. You can read the whole post with the poem and all the commentaries here. I am pleased to say mine was this week’s winner. I copy it below:
radiation leak moonlight on the fuel rods
— Melissa Allen, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (2013)
And my take:
In current usage, the word leak refers to a variety of situations: from leaking a document and bringing into the light a secret, to taking a leak, to a wasteful dripping of water, to seepage of radiation. This poem, with its radiation leak, immediately opens up a danger zone. Step in at your peril into an image that gives rise to paralyzing fears, to the dead zones of Chernobyl, Fukushima; to the forbidden zones. Anything could happen here.
From a leak to a fireball, from the atom to the apocalyptic mushroom cloud, you could be walking into a minefield of the results of unbridled ambition and unscrupulous greed, a Faustian deal . . . Whether the leak is from a technological or scientific project, where man sees himself tirelessly bent on expanding knowledge and power over nature, finding solutions to the human problems of illness, poverty, and environmental degradation; whether hubris or dedication to the common good, here is a consequence: the spewing of poisonous material, the fall into a dark, man-made Hell.
But now the poet brings moonlight on the scene. Like a benevolent, all-seeing Eye of God, moonlight bathes the fuel rods in light we associate with understanding, with cool logic, in forgiveness. I am reminded of the Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos’ Moonlight Sonata, where moonlight hides smaller-scale follies such as showing white hair as golden, at the same time relentlessly intensifying shadows. In Allen’s poem too, moonlight is both kind and cooling, as well as relentless and permanent, not allowing the fuel rods to hide in the shadows. An image burned into the mind.
Note that the fuel rods are not spent. The young man in Ritsos’ poem too, is present all through the poem, at the end leaving full of energy, bursting into laughter as he walks away. Life continues in its boundless energy, in its perpetual flow, beyond leaks, beyond the night, beyond our human follies, beyond life itself.
In our hands, you said, we hold
the shadow of our hands. I know
the cold absence of the marbles,
olives sprouting from the cracks.
The coffee grinder turns
slowly, gently. The moon
still kind, bathes our wrinkled
hearts in light. In silver. In sorrow.
Old souls sitting by the river
listening to the boat engine
starting, coughing, spitting,
dying. Starting again.
(to Yiannis Ritsos, in response to his poem “Absence”)
Poem written to the poetsonline prompt: Dear Poet: Epistles to the Poets. For the other poems on the poetsonline.org blog, please see Archive, ‘Dear Poet’ on their site.
Please note English spelling of the original Greek name varies (Yiannis [e.g. Wikipedia], Yannis [e.g. Poetry Foundation]). Wikipedia lists a number of variants: ‘Yannis or Yiannis or Giannis (Γιάννης) is a common Greek name, a variant of John (Hebrew) meaning “God is generous.” Variants include Ioannis (Ιωάννης), Yanni, Iannis, Yannakis; and the rare “Yannos”, usually found in the Peloponnese and Cyprus.’
I enjoyed my reading last night, jointly with other writers, at the Open Reading for Writers event, Munich Readery. Many thanks to the writers for the company, camaraderie, their insightful comments and discussion; and special thanks to Lisa Yarger for so wonderfully, and calmly, hosting the event. I read eight haibun, all work in progress. Here is one of them:
With warmer days, newspapers are filling with news of migrant boats from Africa and the Middle East increasing in their numbers, sinking in droves. Hundreds of deaths each week.
We poets, who put our hearts in the shoes of the hummingbird and the beggar poet, the little frog and the mighty spring thunder, the cat and the star-studded sky, are confronted with a reality hard to fathom. I find myself at a loss for words. Reading about other people’s misfortunes, of their fleeing deserts, war, of their placing their lives and their childrens’ lives in the hands of fate, of their washing up on European shores lifeless, I stop writing.
My mind fills with questions: did they leave books behind? A favourite thimble, a tin soldier, a straw dolly? A mug they liked to drink from, a shady spot they loved to sit in, an icon they lit candles in front of? A carpet they knelt to pray on? Did they leave behind many beliefs, nourishing relationships, did they lose their innocence before or during the journey? What happened to their shoes?
In 2015, The Haiku Foundation celebrates haiku on a global scale, encompassing the work and achievements of haiku poets from around the world. From this year on, International Haiku Poetry Day (IHPD), replacing the THF’s National Haiku Poetry Day, becomes the biggest celebration of haiku poetry word wide. On April 17 each year, haiku poets, haiku poetry fans, and organisations will be getting together under the auspices of the THF in order to honour the depth, reach, creativity, and joy of the genre we have come to love.
For this year, the Foundation has organised a series of events, from local haiku readings and celebrations, over HaikuLife, a FilmFest showcasing work submitted by individuals and organisations, to EarthRise, a rolling collaborative poem.
On April 17th, 2015, from 12:01 A.M. at the International Date Line, a wave of haiku contributions begins and rolls throughout the day, with poets offering their haiku at dawn their local time. The finished collaboration, on the theme of Light, will be permanently archived on the THF site.
I am very much looking forward to the day, and the many exciting contributions from poets around the globe. I will be setting my alarm, and posting my own haiku to the inaugural EarthRise.
I am also delighted that the FilmFest, HaikuLife, features a short film of my haiku together with paintings by Alfred Wallis (from the excellent Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, collection). I created this film with the (much appreciated) support of Rob Ward, After-Effects Artist and Animator. Besides my presentation, there are at least 12 other contributions by haiku poets and organisations, amounting to almost 90 minutes of film.
I hope you will be able to join in the fun on IHPD.
For times, url, and other information about HaikuLife and EarthRise, as well as the local (to the US) readings, please visit the Troutswirl blog at The Haiku Foundation site.
Artwork by Ralph Murre, after a photo by (or of?) Giorgos Seferis
Little Eagle Press presents poems previously published. Well worth another look, we think
Paying homage to Seferis, the poem directly refers to Seferis’ ‘Thrush’, a poem he wrote in 1946. You can read the poem on the Poetry Foundation site.
For information about Giorgos Seferis, see the Wikipedia entry.
You may also want to take a look at this longer, Princeton Uni. entry with photos, or at Edmund Keeley’s interview with Seferis in the Paris Review.
What do Pattern, Poetry, and Polemics have in common? The Arts and Crafts Movement’s poet, novelist, publisher, translator, architect, designer, craftsman, retailer, environmentalist, and social activist William Morris! I was delighted to be able to visit the William Morris Gallery, in Walthamstow, which tells the story of William Morris and his multiple achievements: the elaborate, detailed, inspirational designs and their manufacture/production/application; the poetry and prose; the perfectly hand-crafted books; the politics, speeches and support for the Victorian poor… Morris applied himself with awe-inspiring energy and dedication to an astonishing array of disciplines.
There’s an organic unity in his work, each piece containing seeds from whatever he’d been working on, in whatever field. Despite this connectivity and continuation in his work, Morris has often been strongly and unfortunately linked with mere wallpaper design. I found this contradiction interesting in itself, as if the critics and the viewers, the consumers of his work, could not cope with someone different to themselves, someone excelling in many fields, rather than just one, if at that. It is not the only contradiction. The critical assessment of his work rests on this ground of contradictory perception, for example, when it is pointed out that Morris decorated the houses of the rich while campaigning for the rights of the poor.
Yet, Morris himself was aware of the connections between disciplines and the depth achieved when we become conscious of them. Lecturing on design, in 1881, he claimed,
‘any decoration is futile … when it does not remind you of something beyond itself’.
Beyond Morris’ decorations, patterns, and wallpapers lie references to the medieval world, history and myth, nature and society, beauty, and above all the assertion that we are all made of the same stuff. Although referring back to a pre-industrial age, his is a utopian vision of humans fulfilling their creativity, and themselves, in self-determined, non-alienated work, within an egalitarian society that supports them in this endeavour. In those terms, in addition to his role in the Arts and Crafts movement, he comes across as a social thinker and moral visionary working towards a better world.
I’ve been reading Daniel Klein’s ‘Travels with Epicurus‘, and reflecting on the concept of play in relation to the life stages we all go through.
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Born on Samos, he lived in Athens and Asia-Minor. Epicurus is known for teaching that the purpose of philosophy is to attain a happy, tranquil life.
Answering the question “How does one make the most of one’s life?” Epicurus’s answer, according to Klein, was that
the best possible life one could live is a happy one, a life filled with pleasure. At first look, this conclusion seems like a no-brainer, the sort of wisdom found in a horoscope. But Epicurus knew this was only a starting point because it raised the more troublesome and perplexing questions of what constitutes a happy life, which pleasures are truly gratifying and enduring, and which are fleeting and lead to pain, plus the monumental questions of why and how we often thwart ourselves from attaining happiness.
I have to admit that I experienced a pang of disillusionment when I first realized that Epicurus was not an epicurean… i.e. a sensualist with gourmet appetites. Let me put it this way: Epicurus preferred a bowl of plain boiled lentils to a plate of roasted pheasant infused with mastiha (a reduction painstakingly made from the sap of a nut tree), a delicacy slaves prepared for noblemen in ancient Greece. This was … Epicurus’s hankering for personal comfort, which clearly included comfort foods. The pheasant dish titillated the taste buds, but Epicurus was not a sensualist in that sense: he was not looking for dazzling sensory excitement. No, bring on those boiled lentils! For one thing, he took great pleasure in food he had grown himself—that was part of the gratification of eating the lentils. For another, he had a Zen-like attitude about his senses: if he fully engaged in tasting the lentils, he would experience all the subtle delights of their flavor, delights that rival those of more extravagantly spiced fare. And another of this dish’s virtues was that it was a snap to prepare.
The defining concepts of such a happy life, according to Epicurus, are ataraxia — i.e. peace and freedom from the disturbances of anxiety and greed — and aponia — the absence of pain — achieved through living a non-demanding, humble life surrounded by friends.
Klein’s book, taking its cue from this philosophy, is asking how best to think about growing into old age, and how best to live through this stage of life. The tendency nowadays, Klein points out, is to escape ageing, by spending our lives trying to remain forever young: sport, transplants and implants, botox, diets, all means to prolong and promote youthful looks. But are we missing out on an important stage of our lives, Klein asks.
To look into this question, the author packed a number of books, and staying on Hydra, Greece — where travel is restricted to going on foot, cycling, or riding a donkey — meditated on the issue. The answer he came up with in this book is playful, but I have no intention of reproducing it here. Suffice to say that with all the turmoil of this week’s Greek elections and heated debates, a calm book on growing older, set on a Greek island, juxtaposing the old with the new, matching island life with world-renowned philosophers, provides a much needed good, as well as romantic, counter-balance.
In his unhurried pace, watching a group of friends playing a game of cards, walking the hilly paths of the island, discussing beauty and youth, Klein takes us on his Epicurean journey, savouring the moments of insight, the juxtapositions of beautiful descriptions of nature and human nature with philosophical descriptions of ‘lived time’.
I enjoyed this quirky book, slowed down, looked up references to this and that… thought of acquaintances in Greece who, troubled by their country’s misfortunes, contrary to the Hydriotes observed by Klein, have all but forgotten their ‘ataraxia’; have meditated on the notions of austerity vs growth, and their effects on the mind, long enough.
A timely reminder of Epicurean notions then, a needed breath of fresh air? A New Year’s resolution? Even for those who may not be lacking in material resources, but may be short of (perceived) time?
The language in the book is simple, the images memorable, the light clear… So, keep calm, keep thinking, experiencing… it’s not that difficult to be authentically old… one day… eventually! Alternatively, one can always become a Stoic!
The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (624 – 546 BC), is credited with the saying,
A sound mind in a sound body,’
pointing to the close relationship between physical exercise, mental equilibrium and the ability to enjoy life. It seems a good incentive to incorporate in the New Year’s resolution to improve our health, whatever the state we are in.
So, partly in the spirit of this, on the 15th of January each year, a global event takes place: Greek Dinner Around the World. The main goal is to celebrate Greek culinary culture, Greek cuisine as it is known in every part of the globe, and promote the people, authors, chefs, businesses who are connected to Greece. Everyone is invited for a Greek dinner with friends and family. Partners to this initiative host a dinner using Greek products and Greek dishes. Afterwards, they share a photo of their endeavors and experiences, and tweet using the hashtags #GreekDinner and #EatGreek.
This year, for the second time, I took part in the global celebration of Greek culinary culture, by sharing a delicious Greek meal with friends and family. And books, of course. We met at Lemonia, the old favourite in Primrose Hill. The food was good – especially the fish, which was a ‘miracle,’ to use a Greek expression – the company excellent, and well, the evening a treat. Only problem: we all ate a little too much. We discovered the limits to Thales’ saying. After a point, the amount of food, and drink, interfere with both mind and body! Which led us to resolve next year to follow another Greek saying: the Aristotelian
Παν μέτρον άριστον, i.e., Everything in moderation
Many thanks to Keri Douglas for her tireless efforts in promoting this event.
Great news! The Haiku Foundation’s Per Diem: Daily Haiku feature for December 2014 is on the theme of “Light and Dark,” and the shades in between. I had the pleasure of assembling this collection, drawing on haiku across the range from dark to light.
A seasonal topic. By way of an introduction, I quote from The Haiku Foundation blog post:
“Winter is the par excellence season where this duality comes to a head. For some, the long nights come with festivals of light, religious or secular holidays. For others, winter is a season of slowing down, of depression, loneliness, low spirits, spirits… For some poets, light is the source of inspiration; for others, darkness, against light, the essential element spicing their writing. Either way, wherever poets are, whatever their experience, tradition, or culture, poetry of light flows from their pen.This month’s Per Diem draws on haiku exploring this dichotomy of light and dark, and reflects on our dependence on and appreciation of this duality.“
I am really grateful to the poets who kindly gave permission to include their work in this project.
Do you have a poem on this theme? Please share it in the comment box here
And don’t forget to check out the Per Diem: Daily Haiku here
More photos from the Buecherschau, as promised. The event has been well attended, with visitors browsing the book stalls, relaxing in the chairs provided, and reading into the late hours! It looks like everyone feels at home here, eager to get to know books and authors, touch and feel the texture of book covers and pages.
One of the free events I attended was a daily half-hour interview (part of series) for a radio book magazine, the Bayern 2 Diwan. The interviewee, French author Hélène Grémillon, spoke about her new book, In the Time of Love and Lies (German distributors’ title; in French the title is La Garçonnière), set in Buenos Aires in the late 1980s. Very interesting book, with a thrilling plot (a love/crime thriller) and characters (such as a psychoanalyst, and his wife, a tango teacher and murder victim), in addition to the wonderful setting…
Grémillon claimed that in Buenos Aires, there are, and have been, great numbers of psychoanalysts per capita. Imagine that! Even at the time of the Junta, she pointed out! While I am aware of the important connection between Argentina and psychoanalysis, I have not thought of it in terms of numbers. You can understand that, though it is a few years since I last worked as a psychotherapist, my curiosity peaked. So, addicted as I am to checking, I looked it up.
An article on CNN said so too. Indeed, the country has the unusual distinction of being home to more psychologists (i.e. when we include psychanalysts and psychiatrists) per capita than anywhere else in the world. While there are no WHO statistics for 2011, psychologist Modesto Alonso and colleagues estimated 202 psychologists per 100,000 for Argentina in a 2012 study. Compare that with WHO’s 2011 numbers for Austria being 80 per 100,000! And, as it happens, almost half the country’s psychologists are concentrated in the capital city of Buenos Aires.
But why this interest in the vicissitudess of the psyche? Theories abound. From the influence of the European immigrants, bringing with them the particular culture and society values of twentieth century Europe, through the interest in exploring the psyche of suffering, to the interest in the expression of the self – after all the tango is seen in these terms too – it seems that psychoanalysis not only flourishes in Argentina, but the country is a torchbearer for it. Particularly surprising that this continues to be the case, at a time when most of the other countries fall for the lures of the short and quick approaches to psychological healing.
“And in a sign of its wide acceptance, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her cabinet chief took time out in April to meet with leaders of the World Psychoanalysis Association, which was convening then in Buenos Aires.” (2012).
In this context, Grémillon might be taking too bold a step in her novel: the main character, the psychoanalyst Vittorio, is also the main suspect in the murder of his wife…
I am reminded of a description of magical realism I found on Wikipedia relating to the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez’s style, by literary critic Michael Bell, as involving:
“a psychological suppleness which is able to inhabit unsentimentally the daytime world while remaining open to the promptings of those domains which modern culture has, by its own inner logic, necessarily marginalised or repressed.”
Holding in mind and in the text both, the rational and the shadows… Might this acceptance and celebration of reality and (i)magi(c)nation as parts of one and the same world, be at the root of this society’s welcoming attitude toward the psychological exploration of the human mind?
In any case, I am looking forward to reading this book.
I recently came upon the remarkable work of Christian Boek, who boldly took poetry into areas of science and technology and even created a ‘living poem.’ Although this is ongoing work, it already is accomplishing astonishing results in its encouraging poetry, and poets, to boldly go where no poet has gone before…
Boek inserted a line of poetry coded in a DNA sequence, into a bacterium. The bacterium then ‘responded’ by creating a new protein which, translated back into Boek’s letter coding scheme, turned out to be a new poem in ‘response.’ This xenotext experiment is described in James Wilkes’ article, March 2013, on “Bracketing the world: Reading Poetry through Neuroscience.” There was a blog post on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation blog, by Boek himself, and a very good exposition of the whole experiment on Triple Helix Online.
But I mustn’t keep you waiting. Here are the lines of poetry exchanged:
Boek: ANY STYLE OF LIFE IS PRIM
Bacterium: THE FAERY IS ROSY OF GLOW
So that was it! Inter-/National April Poetry Month 2014 is now over and done with! I hope you all had a great month of reading and writing poetry! I did, and I am particularly pleased to have completed the Writer’s Digest PAD Challenge. I wrote a poem a day (and more)! Now time to wind down (by writing a poem a day, of course!).
I am also pleased to have taken part in the BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY. This was the fifth year it was organized, but the first one in which I participated.
Four people’s names were taken out of my hat – and here they are:
24: Lissa Clouser won Parallels
14: Margo Roby won In the Garden of Absence
20: Linda won The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan
13: Jennifer won Feeding the Doves
Congratulations to the winners.
Please email me giving your postal address, and full name at: stella(at)stellapierides(dot)com
and I will be posting the books to you in a few days.
A big thank you to all those who entered the draw.
the book of sand slips
through my fingers
. The Book of Sand, by Jorge Luis Borges, is one of my all time favourite short stories!
This poem was written in honour of Gabriel García Márquez who was both influenced by and extended/added colour to Borges’ magical realist worlds.
My Giveaway: 4 Free Books for National Poetry Month! (Free postage included! Leave a comment to be included in the draw!)
I’m very happy to be participating in this year’s poetry event, which involves sending out poetry books into the hands of people around the world. Organized by Kelli Russell Agodon, of Book of Kells, this year’s Big Poetry Giveaway includes a number of poets giving away their and others’ poetry collections through their blogs. For a list of participating blogs visit Kelli here
This is how it works: Participants give away two or more books of poetry, one or more of which must be by another poet. To win a free copy (free postage too), all you have to do is leave a comment in the comment box at the end of this post saying you would like to take part in the draw. Please include your contact information (if you are concerned about giving your email address in the comment box, please leave your comment and then mail an email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org). Beginning of May, I will draw the winners, and email them to arrange posting the books.
1: Parallels, by Johannes S. H. Bjerg
“The publication of Johannes S. H. Bjerg Paralles marks a watershed in the history of the development of haiku related arts…The book contains some of the most moving poems I have read…” Comment by Jack Galmitz, poet and writer.
2:In the Garden of Absence, by Stella Pierides
“A charming collection… This intersection of the past and present is within all of us, and Pierides mines it well. A very satisfying read.” Judges’ comment in Frogpond, Kanterman Merit Book Award for books published in 2012 (third place).
3: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan, by Abigail Friedman
“For its honesty, accuracy, and the pure pleasure of reading, Abigail Friedman’s book joins that small collection within easy reach of my desk for …continuous enjoyment.” Comment by William J. Higginson, poet and author.
4:Feeding the Doves,by Stella Pierides
A book of short stories and haibun
“They (the stories) simultaneously enchant and provoke, lure and unsettle. Some guide the reader to dream lands… Other short pieces come to life through the compelling characters that populate them: homeless men, writers, travelers, immigrants, wives, monks from Mount Athos. Scintillating moments of their existence dilate, to define and symbolize entire journeys…” Comment by Mia Avramut, poet and writer.
A few things about me– in case you are interested!
I like film, books, haiku, haiku, haiku, did I say haiku? The Haiku Foundation, haiku, tanka, stories, water in all its forms, North Norfolk, quark with honey and nuts, walking, playing with ideas, my cat and tortoises, plants, mountains, marshes and open skies, and many other things.
In 2013 I published “Feeding the Doves” through my very own Fruit Dove Press and I am working on the final draft of my next poetry collection… about angels.
Happiest poetry moment: my book In the Garden of Absence winning the HSA Kanterman Memorial Merit Award for books published in 2012.
I participate in a number of FB writing communities such as NaHaiWriMo, and I will also be writing a Poem-A-Day for the WD challenge.
So, here you have it! 4 books: a wonderful collection of avant-garde poetry (by Johannes S. H. Bjerg), an award-winning poetry collection (mine), a delightful memoir of writing poetry in Japan (by Abigail Friedman), and a book of short stories and haibun (by Stella Pierides).
This draw is open from now through END OF APRIL 2014, National Poetry Month!
If you’d like to be entered in the draw, please leave your name and contact info by midnight (Berlin time), APRIL 30th, 2014 below in the comment section of this post and I’ll be randomly picking the lucky winners during the week of May 1st, 2014.
What an exciting month December has been! And it is only the 4th of the month!
The Haiku Foundation’s Per Diem: Daily Haiku, a feature I project manage, is scaling new heights this month. Michael McClintock, in his collection “31 Ways of Looking at a Mountain” is taking us for a mountain hike. Each day a new view here
The Haiku Foundation Fundraising campaign is continuing up to the 6th of December with a number of releases of new material and features. On the 3rd, the new social media account on Pinterest was rolled out. I am pleased to have played a part in this one.
Then there is a new haiga by Jim Kacian, a new digital library interface… there is an endless stream of enthusiasm and creativity coming out of the The Haiku Foundation. And the fundraiser releases continue for three more days!
Are you missing out? Register for blog post notifications via email (see the THF contact page), follow the THF on Twitter: https://twitter.com/haikufound
Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Chanukah to friends who celebrate it. And to the rest of my friends, wherever they happen to be in the world, who would be happy for the opportunity to give thanks for blessings received any time of the year, Happy Thanksgiving too!
I am giving thanks for my family and friends, the creative, nourishing and supportive haiku communities and writers’ groups I am involved with around the world, and the gift of every day on this Earth I continue to receive.
A special note of thanks to the The Haiku Foundation for its breathtaking work on the many and varied haiku projects it sustains and furthers. It too is giving thanks and fundraising for its work during the period from Thanksgiving through St. Nicholas Day. Please take a look to see what they’ve been up to this year, as well as the exciting program they have planned for the coming days here.
While you are visiting their site, I encourage you to sign up for their email notifications, follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook: this way you will be kept up to date with all their offerings.
The Living Haiku Anthology aims to bring “a multicultural voice of haiku to the general public,” its mission being “to provide numerous and varied haiku, free of charge, to readers from all over the world including schools of education at all levels.” The Anthology team is collecting and documenting many of the finest haiku (and living poets) today. So what an honour and pleasure to be included in it. Please visit and browse the poets and poetry in it. You will find an index of poets here
And while you are visiting, don’t forget to take a look at my haiku too. They can be found by clicking here
Over at the The Haiku Foundationblog, Troutswirl, Gene 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:
“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.
“Fate” and “destiny” are often used interchangeably to refer to the notion of predetermination; of future events following a predetermined plan or path.
Yet, implicitly, we also make a distinction between the two in terms of the degree to which each is allowing for alterations in the course of events to which it is applied. Fate is usually associated with unalterable events; we are in the hands of the ancient Fates, Gods, or cosmic forces; our lives, and actions, are out of our control. There is a belief in a prescribed future: a higher/supernatural authority (or authorities) has the future laid out for us.
Destiny, on the other hand, involves a course of events where we have a say, or a hand, in preparing or making our future. We may be destined in one sense to higher or lower things, but we can underachieve or push ourselves hard to achieve better than expected.
This month’s The Haiku FoundationPer Diem: Daily Haiku reflects on both of these concepts. Deb Baker, this month’s guest editor, using “Kismet” as the title of her splendid collection, invites us to reflect on the “hinge” moments” or forked paths we encounter and the outcomes that result when we follow one or the other road, believing in fate, in destiny, or a choice we made. She writes,
Poems like these can make a reader feel a sense of momentum, a possible turning or smoothing path. Perhaps such a poem helps a reader discern something happening in the present moment in his or her own life. Or to see a new possibility, a different way forward, through someone else’s hinge moment.
.I’ll be reading with an extra eye for the different ways Kismet appears in the poems. I’ll be having fun too! Join me? You can find the daily poem here
The photo is of a path taken, crossing the river Schmutter, near Neusaess, Germany.
The new THF Per Diem collection, Songs of the Open Road, is up and running over at the Haiku Foundation site. Guest-edited by Tom Painting, it takes us on 31 exciting, meditative, and always inspirational journeys. Highways and motorways, straight paths and winding lanes are there for us to explore all through July. In his introduction to the collection, Tom Painting quotes from Walt Whitman’s poem, Song of the Open Road:
“ Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me…”
I very much look forward to these journeys. Join me on board the THF Per Diem for the ride. Each day a new haiku here
I am taking part in the flash story event, FLASH MOB 2013, celebrating International Flash fiction Day. A sort of literary carnival and international competition in one, with over a hundred writers of flash from around the world taking part by posting short stories in their blogs.
If you love flash fiction, then this is the best place to browse for stories – and if you don’t know anything about flash, this is the place to start! Click here
My own story is in the European writers section here
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of the Uncanny. Freud, the writer often associated with this concept, described the following uncanny experience when he came face to face with his own double. While travelling by train, Freud saw an elderly gentleman enter his sleeping compartment by mistake. Jumping up to let him know of his error, Freud realized it was his own image reflected in the mirror on the connecting door. He had found the appearance of what he thought was another man ‘thoroughly unpleasant.’ Without being frightened, he failed to recognise his ‘double.’ Or was the displeasure he felt, Freud wondered in the last note of his last chapter on “The Uncanny,” “perhaps a vestige of the archaic reaction to the ‘double’ as something uncanny?” He leaves us with a question, perhaps an encouragement to take this further ourselves.
Freud was not the first of course to link the concept of the ‘double’ with mirroring, the image in the mirror as well as the ‘other.’ Ever since Plato conceived of material reality as a poor representation of the true Forms, others have found man’s double in several contexts. In literature, for instance, Mary Shelley made the monster his creator’s ‘double’ and leaving him unnamed, led subsequent generations of readers to refer to him with the name of his creator: “Frankenstein.” Conrad, too, wrote the ‘double’ in his stories (e.g., in “The Secret Sharer”).
So what has this ‘uncanny’ and ‘double’ to do with haiku, and my theme of reader-oriented matters? If you read my previous posts, you may have noticed I like playing with ideas; though more thought games than thought experiments.
Let me throw this thought in the pot: Isn’t there in haiku a situation in which, when you come to the poem, you become slightly disoriented by the presentation of the two separate, juxtaposed ideas? (Remember the field of energy, in the previous post?) I think there is. The ‘cut’ and the pause in the juxtaposition of two ideas/images are device(s) which open up the extra perspective(s), depth, for the reader; they also create a sense of strangeness, a momentary, uncanny disorientation… until there is the spark of realization that transforms what was strange and uncanny into familiar and understood. Once resolved, the two initially puzzling parts of the poem appear to us the way Freud, relating that vignette, stood in front of his earlier self and its reflection; the way we stand in front of a Moore, a Hepworth, a Lucian Freud, or the narrator in Conrad’s novel and his secret sharer.
Are you with me? What do you make of the thought that the moment of insight or realization is preceded by the uncanny? That the uncanny in haiku involves being confronted by the juxtaposition of two on the surface unrelated – but on a deeper level related – ideas within a limited space? That the haiku moment does itself involve overcoming this sensation of the uncanny?
Finally, before I go, and in case you are interested, I’d like to mention a couple of places, amongst others, I like to visit for reading poetry, essays, information, learning, fun (in addition to “Haiku Matters“, haiku journals and the homepages of haiku societies!). Do let me know your favorites.
On this note, hopefully leaving you with more questions than answers, having raised smiles as well as eyebrows, I’d like to say a big thank you to Colin Stewart Jones, and goodbye to folks who found their way here, from both the writer and reader in me.
The Wikipedia on the Uncanny here Sigmund Freud, ‘The Uncanny’ in The Uncanny, ed. by Adam Phillips (London: Penguin Classics, 2003) p. 121-161. Conrad, Joseph, The Secret Sharer can be read here
Barbara Hepworth, sculptor, created her first pierced form in 1931, the year she gave birth to her child.
Jeanette Winterson, appraising Hepworth’s creation in her essay “The Hole of Life,” sees this as a breakthrough not only in art, but also in the understanding of human existence. Pointing to the advances in science – in which, far from a universe of oppositions (like mind and matter, space and form), Einstein, Planck, and others conceived of a universe in constant play, forever involved in creative tension – Winterson shows Hepworth’s sculpture to be a timely response to them.
“The atom itself, the supposed building-block of matter, was no longer an object, but an energy – points of light surrounded by empty space.”
“If the scientists were right, and space is as much a part of form as mass, then it is the space we need to see – but how? Hepworth made an astonishing discovery the day she pierced one of her sculptures. She allowed us to see nothing – a privilege previously enjoyed only by God.”
Nothing and everything! Winterson understands Hepworth to have mirrored the new developments in theorizing about the cosmos in her hole forms as the (w)hole of life, expanding space to include the invisible, and connecting to both time (in terms of the past) and timelessness in her sculptures
Henry Moore, who had studied art at the same time as Hepworth, grappled with spatial form and in his attempts to give it an extra perspective, cut holes through his sculptures soon after her. Of the various interpretations this act has received, I prefer the one which conceives of it as offering a 3-D perspective (literally and metaphorically) to the viewer.
What if we were to play with Winterson’s take on the holes in Hepworth’s sculptures, along with Moore’s contribution, and relate them to ‘the cut’ in haiku? What if we ‘saw’ the space between the two juxtaposed ideas, between the two parts (not only the pause created by the punctuation) as being more than an empty hole to be filled-in, or a gap to be crossed, but as an energy field being fueled by and fueling meaning? We wouldn’t be the first of course*, but the thought experiment is exciting… Do you resonate with this idea?
And, even though I am oversimplifying, isn’t there a paradox here: cutting away in order to create extra depth (which is where Hepworth and Moore come in)?
One might see a similar paradox in the writings of Winnicott, the English pediatrician and psychoanalyst. For instance, in “The Capacity to be Alone,” he argues that one achieves creative aloneness if, as a child, one had the experience of being in the presence of a watchful, but non-intrusive parent. The capacity for attachment is required before one can deal with loss; the capacity to foresee and accept loss, before love can be truly there, and so on. – I see the opening or cutting away in order to increase the perceived depth and space to be similar to this approach.
Interestingly, there is another paradox giving rise to a ‘hole,’ if we look at the opposite case scenario – where it seems that everything is being said, without any ‘holes.’ Lucian Freud, the painter, painted men and women in their naked, real, and true form. He studied his sitters over months or years, revealing in the portrait the person they happened to be (as he saw them) through paying particular attention to their skin.
In a perceptive essay, Dodds,** points out:
“there is an evocation of abjection, of the corporeal mother who must be symbolically expelled in order for the subject to come into being. And yet rather than staging a ‘rite of defilement’, there is a fascination, we are drawn in. The ‘glare’ of the portraits refers both to the external sources of light reflected on bodily surfaces, and also glare as in look, the stare… We are caught in the gaze of bodies. After first looking away… there is a return, to the folds, the textures, the touch and smell, the loving portrait of every bump of skin, to a fascination with Freud’s cartography of flesh.”
Even when everything is said and done, the people portrayed by Lucian Freud are there and not there. The person is present and absent at the same time: present in their corporeality, yet – like a psychoanalysis which is never finished – their portrait does not say it all. What it says is what has been rejected by social and cultural values, yet by saying so, by bringing in the abject, it rejects socio-cultural values, thus creating a ‘hole.’ The viewer has work to do.
The haiku reader too. From the monumental portrait to the miniscule text: it is not the physical size or amount of detail that matter when it comes to the energy available and the meaning(s) generated – especially through the cut – in haiku. In the haiku moment that the opening of the ‘hole’ creates, a space is entered that is a whole world.
An essay by Jeanette Winterson on Barbara Hepworth and her response to the concept of ‘hole’, originally published in Tate Magazine, can be found here
For “The Capacity to be Alone,” an entry point might be here. The paper itself, can be found here
If you are interested in the angle of Lucian Freud and the ‘abject’ you can find a short essay here, together with paintings!
** Based on a paper read to the Czech Psychoanalysis Society on 28 May 2011, “Confronting the Abject: Reflections on Rotraut De Clerck’s (2011) ‘How deep is the skin? Surface and Depth in Lucian Freud´s Female Nudes’” (Dodds 2011b).
On the wider issues relating to space in haiku: “Haiku and its Relationship to Space” by Tracy Koretsky, in the homepage of the New Zealand Poetry Society here