Tag Archives: haiku

“Haiku and the Brain” in Juxtapositions

A week ago,  I mentioned in this blog a second paper, addressing the haiku community, Haiku and the Brain: an Exploratory Study, in Juxtapositions: The Journal of Haiku Research and Scholarship. Well, it is now online over at The Haiku Foundation. Do visit and check it out along with the other papers.

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.

Juxtapositions
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.

Haiku and the Brain: An exploratory study

The relationship between poetry and science has been a long-standing fascination of mine. I am happy to report that for the last couple of years I have been involved in a study spanning the two, using haiku to understand how the brain receives, analyses, and constructs meaning. The first exploratory study has been written up and discussed in 3 papers, one of which can be found in the Journal of Eye Movement Research here
Journal of Eye Movement Research

 

 

Mueller, H., Geyer, T., Günther, F., Kacian, J., & Pierides, S. (2017). Reading English-Language Haiku: Processes of Meaning Construction Revealed by Eye Movements. Journal Of Eye Movement Research, 10(1).  doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.16910/10.1.4
This paper is the more detailed, scientifically oriented description of the exploratory study.

Juxtapositions

 

 

 

A more compact version of the same work, addressing the poetry community, is included in the forthcoming JUXTA 3.1: Pierides, S., Müller, H., Kacian, J., Günther, F., Geyer, T. (2017). Haiku and the brain: an exploratory study. Juxtapositions: A Journal of Haiku Research and Scholarship 3(1). Due out mid March 2017!

‘Out of This World’ in Haibun Today

Out of This World

Haibun Today

In the deepest of dark nights, the idea that we may be living in a computer simulation created by a higher intelligence appeals to me. I muse over the possibility that we may be simulated beings living in a ghost world without realising it!

What if the simulation hypothesis were true? What if we really lived in a version of Plato’s Cave: unable to see beyond the projections on the wall of our senses, we became captives of our perceptions. How would we ever be free? Would there be a way out? Even if a wise philosopher, daring scientist, or escaped prisoner were to tell us of the real world outside our cave generating the projections, we wouldn’t believe them.

Assuming there’d be some way out of the simulation, in those sleepless nights I think of possible glitches in the system, devise tests. This is my latest: try watching pools fill with rain, the noon slide towards evening, the inexhaustible torment of the sea: if you can bear their beauty, be well. If you can’t, you are sure to be out of this world.

revving up the engine
despite the rain
because of it

In Haibun Today Volume 11, Number 1, March 2017

‘Touching’ bringing poetry & science together

Touching

Imagine your left hand is being made to feel a brief vibration and you’re being asked to estimate how long this vibration lasts. In one version of this scenario, you are holding a small ball in both hands; in another, your right hand is free. And in both versions, you see a safely suspended, potentially catchable ball moving towards you.

Would your estimate of the vibration duration be the same in both versions, or would it be different? Scientists tell us that we overestimate the duration of the vibration when our right hand is free.

Of This WorldSurprised? The scenario may sound unlikely, but all for a good reason: the investigation of the experience of tactile time. Perhaps unlike other bodily times, touch time appears as if time slowed. Your hand is free and ready to interact with the possibilities of a touchable object. The present moment gathers momentum: memories, anticipations, balance, co-ordination, visual cues… the time your father threw you a ball to catch, your sister’s expert throw, your playful nature entertaining the idea to catch the ball and surprise the scientists… Time slows for the possibilities; time slows with possibilities. The ‘touch’ body and the ‘touch’ mind ready themselves for the game.

infinity
a deer appears at the edge
of the woods
*

Bringing poetry and science together!

This haibun is from my new book Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017) and appears on the LMU site MSense .

Of This World is also available @ Amazon  Germany and the UK

‘dust devils’

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.

dust devils,haiku,anthology,
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.

Honoured to be included!

Don’t delay, order it and enjoy!

 

‘Touching’

Serendipity! On the day I was informed that my haibun Touching —inspired by a scientific project carried out at LMU university Munich — would be featured on the LMU website, I came across an article in the New Statesman discussing the close relationship between poetry and science!

Take a look: the haibun Touching, included in my new book Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017), at the LMU here and here and the New Statesman article here

LMU, MSense lab,psychology,

OK, may be not so much serendipity, as I often check out writings about the relationship between poetry and science, and have even contributed to a couple of papers on precisely this matter. The papers are forthcoming, watch this space …

Of This World, just released by Red Moon Press!

Delighted to announce that Red Moon Press just released my haibun collection, Of This World

Of This World

Stella Pierides has cultivated a terse, idiosyncratic style in her haibun that is instantly recognizable, and as a consequence is one of the shining lights of this burgeoning genre. Of This World certainly is, but it also takes us out of the world at large and into private spaces we feel privileged to witness. A unique and satisfying read.

 

Red Moon Press
Amazon Europe
Amazon UK

I am grateful for the generous comments:

This is how it’s done! Stella Pierides — in a hushed voice — takes me through what it is to be human — and part of the human history from the roots of Western culture in Diogenes’ tub to the ‘modern’ human — with all the questions and doubts, the uncertainties that come from that.

— Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Writer

Of This World’s marvelous, emotionally resonant haibun are steeped in the grace of the garden, rooted in a physical reality so sensuous that you can smell the fragrance of baking bread, of olives and garlic, of lemon and magnolia blossoms — and yet they also spiral on the updraft of metaphor as poet Stella Pierides ‘put[s] our hearts in the shoes of the hummingbird.’

— Clare MacQueen, Editor-in-Chief, KYSO Flash

A treasure trove of language and image. Pierides walks through dark streets of history, through alleyways of memory – emerging in shiny, unexpected places. Compact, urgent and closely observant, these minute offerings will captivate readers of both poetry and short fiction. An enormously engaging collection.

— Michelle Elvy, Writer and Editor

*
Of This World
ISBN: 978-1-936848-80-5
Pages: 124
Size: 6″ x 9″
Binding: perfect softbound

Poem in ‘Dust Devils’ the Red Moon Anthology

Great news! A poem of mine, ‘typos’,  has been selected to be included in “Dust Devils”, The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2017, now on its 20th year.

The Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku, published annually in February, is “a collection of the best haiku published in English around the world”. The poems are voted in by an editorial panel. It’s an honour to be included in this anthology.

My poem was first published in Right Hand Painting, issue 95, 2016.

Dust Devils will be published on February 1st by Red Moon Press. I can’t wait! Can you?

In A New Resonance 10!

I am delighted to share that my work will be included in A New Resonance 10: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku, along with the work of 16 other wonderful poets.

A New Resonance is a much valued and award-winning series, sensitively appreciating each featured poet’s work. The New Resonance Poets community, numbering more than a hundred-fifty poets, is a virtual who’s who of English-language haiku poets. I am honoured to be included in this group.

Thank you to the editors Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts and also a big thank you to the New Resonance community for nominating me!

The book (by Red Moon Press) will be available in May 2017.

‘Being Remembered’ in Haibun Today

Being Remembered

Salting is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. Fish, meats, cheeses, cabbage, olives have been cured, brined, pickled to protect them from fungi, bacteria, and other harmful organisms, and thus keep them fresh for longer. Still, it comes as a surprise to read of one more entity to be preserved in salt: memory.

A project titled Memory of Mankind aims to preserve humankind’s most precious milestones by engraving them on special ceramic tablets, and then storing them in salt-lined vaults deep in the Austrian mountains. Small tokens engraved with a map pointing to the archive’s location, and other information helping our descendants decipher the tablets, will be strategically buried around the globe. And what will future generations find to define us? The article suggests sacred texts, treatises, classics, scientific articles, images of buildings, paintings, musical scores. And individual histories, family albums, recipes.

My list would include my daughters’ photos and paintings, multiple drafts of a haibun, favorite poems, a pin cushion and thimble, an amber komboloi, an oil lamp, a pot of basil; my grandmother’s piece of the Holy Cross, the sound of the sea . . ..

family supper
the same joke for
the umpteenth time

.

In Haibun Today Volume 10, Number 4, December 2016

Memory of Mankind website

 

 

 

 

The Path

The Path

Painting,The Path,haibun,Maria Pierides,haiku,Port Isaac,Amorgos,

 

 

At the top of the stairway snaking up the hill, a white-washed chapel and an olive tree. Blinding sunlight. Some way to go yet. The stony stairs are narrow, a couple of hands-width before the cliff falls steeply into the sea.

Slow down, there’s no hurry. Take a deep breath. Feel the rough warmth of the rock. The wind beating against it raises the fragrance of sage, of thyme and marjoram to the skies, erases the silence.

marble wings—
in the distance
windmill ruins

Feel the salt on your lips, the urgent wind tussling your hair.

This history book under your arm, so well-thumbed, leave it here, against that rock, someone coming after you might linger, take a look.

pillars of salt—
propping her foot
on a stone

And the pebble from Amorgos you kept in your pocket all those years, add it to the cairn over there, where the path widens. Let it go. The trail is moments like this, following the light, teetering on the edge of your desires, of your sorrows.

That bench at the top, see it now, under the olive tree? This is your goal. You can rest there. Wise, gentle Persephone will hold your hand.

embalming my tongue
I rest in the shadow
of the silver-leaved olive

Author’s commentary:

stella-pieridesHaving left Greece in my youth, I keep returning to it in my writing, visiting and revisiting the landmarks and landscapes of the country.

Time has a different texture in and about Greece. Sculptures solidifying the past appear at every corner, at every museum: looming, teasing, reminding. Accompanying us into the future. There’s no escaping the sculptures, the poets know it:

“… I woke with this marble head in my hands;
it exhausts my elbow and I don’t know where to put it down.”

Seferis, Mythistorema 

and

Ritsos approaches the sculptures from different, mythical angles, turning the people and landscape into eternal presences:

“…Nowadays, we don’t think much
about Theseus, the Minotaur, Ariadne on the beach
at Naxos, staring out at the coming years.
But people still dance that dance: just common folk,
those criss-cross steps that no one had to teach,
at weddings and wakes, in bars or parks,
as if hope and heart could meet, as if they might
even now, somehow, dance themselves out of the dark.”

Ritsos, The Crane Dance

In The Path, honoring these roots, I try to present this aspect of my Greek inheritance. I fail, of course, but proud to be trying.

Painting “Golden Light, Port Isaac” by Maria Pierides

In Blue Fifth Review, Broadside #44 Fall 2016

‘on balance’

scales,haiga,

Walking around Augsburg, I came across this intricate, mysterious scales: beautifully balanced, surrounded by watches, clocks, wall clocks, jewellery, it took me to another dimension. Waiting for my watch-strap to be changed, the words “on balance” came to mind, life as a balancing act, time weighing on all of us…

When I asked for permission to take a photo, the kind owners related the scales to the ancient Egyptian Goddess of Ma’at, responsible for weighing the souls of the departed against a feather. If the soul was found to be heavier than the feather, it was denied access to the underworld.

I left the shop lighter, and full of ideas.

‘tree rings’

On a flying visit to the Tate Modern extension, I took this picture of the concrete walls of the underground Tanks that used to hold the oil in the building’s previous life as power station. I saw the oil marks on the concrete become tree rings, marking the age of the structure. The Tanks, kept in their rough state, turned into gallery spaces, now hold the present and enable the future. What a powerhouse of art!

Tate Tanks,haiga,

Revisiting re:Virals 49

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)

my haplogroup
shows the sponge gene —
distant lightning

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.