A big thank you to the month’s editor, Sonam Chhoki, for including it in her collection “Writing the Difficult Thing.” Sonam Chhoki’s collection runs all through November, with lots of poems about difficult things to write… Each day, a new poem here. Enjoy!
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
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.
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
Ruth’s wonderfully touching, and humorous collection is “Hands-On.” Hands? Yes, hands. This is what she offers by way of an introduction:
“We are a species heavily dependent on our eyes, especially for connection with others and world around us. But our hands also connect, and that connection often reaches the heart. Right now my beloved mother-in-law, who doesn’t see well, is dying, and when you approach her, she reaches out her thin hand to connect. These haiku about hands touch emotion. They range from humor, as in Randy Brooks’ hand in the cookie jar, to sadness, as in Cherie Hunter Day feeling the weight and warmth of her dying dog’s collar. They include fear, as in John Stevenson’s shiver at a warm hand before diagnosis, sex, as in Sari Grandstaff’s total attention to the hand on her thigh, and even exasperation or anger, as in Kenneth Elba Carrier’s deaf man grabbing at the other’s hands.”
A new collection of poems starts today on The Haiku Foundation homepage. Kala Ramesh is the Per Diem: Daily Haiku editor for September 2012. She offers the following by way of an introduction to the collection:
“The Five Elements
The Hindus and the Buddhists believe that all Creation— including human beings— is composed of five essential elements. When death occurs, everything is transposed into these elements of nature, thus balancing the cycle of evolution.
The elements and their associated sense perceptions are:
This classification is woven into the fabric of our day-to-day activities, and widely used in all our art forms, including poetry, literature, dance, music and painting. The haiku poems showcased here might not appear in the order I had originally arranged them, but you could use your ingenuity and guesswork to ‘sense’ how many of these elements are present in the haiku, when you read them.”
I am looking forward to this daily treat for the whole month, and beyond… If you enjoy haiku, you’ll love this.
For a new poem each day on the Foundation homepage (lower right-hand corner) click here
You can also follow THF Per Diem on Twitter, @haikufound, for a daily Per Diem-related tweet, in addition to Foundation news and announcements.
The Haiku Foundation, a non-profit organization whose aim is “to preserve and archive the accomplishments of our first century of haiku in English, and to provide resources for its expansion in our next,” is the place to hang around if you are trying to make April, the National Poetry Month, last all year long!
There’s a lot to do there! There’s the Per Diem: Daily Haiku, in its box, on the Home page, bringing you specially selected haiku each and every single day of the year; the Haiku Registry, with over 400 poets and poems to browse through; archives of contest-winning poems, and awards, with judges’ commentaries; an exciting blog with thought-provoking posts and information; contest and event calendars, a digital library, and forums for any haiku-related questions you can come up with…
And now, there is going to be more! The Haiku Foundation plans to create
“the first collection of in-depth interviews documenting the development of 20th century haiku. Poets, translators, and scholars…will share their work and discuss their ideas. The resulting video and audio recordings will be available FREE of charge on the The Haiku Foundation (THF) website: http://www.thehaikufoundation.org …”
Now that’s a worthy cause!
The Foundation is asking for your help with this project. Running a Video Archive Campaign, it aims to collect through donations the $6,000 it needs to buy the audio and video equipment necessary. Will you help them reach their goal?
“Imagine if you could watch your favorite poets talk about their craft and lives and respond to questions you always wanted to ask them. While the technology wasn’t available during the lifetime of some of our favorite poets, today we have the opportunity to create a rich resource for our generation and those to come. As we move forward into the 21st century, many haiku poets who led the way in the 20th have already passed away. We need to start working immediately to preserve the voices of those who are still with us. Their stories deserve to be heard.”
I can well imagine…
“If a haiku has ever stirred your heart, pitch in! We will return your generosity with hours of enriching interviews, and you will help preserve a fast-fading history.”
Please follow this link here for a lot more information, including various gifts/perks you receive with your donation, tax free advice, gallery of gifts, comments etc.
Well, April, the cruelest month, is upon us! Thank God we have poetry to help us survive it. Poetry, Poetry, Poetry, Poetry!
The Haiku Foundation, the Poetry Foundation, Poets.org, brim with wonderful poetry to feed the soul – and the senses! Visit them and forget about April; or at least enjoy it! There is also Per Diem, the Daily haiku offered by The Haiku Foundation on their home page (bottom right-hand corner); Couplets, the multi-author poetry blog, coordinated by Joanne Merriam of Upper Rubber Boot Books, the Facebook pages of NaHaiWriMo, and numerous other projects, workshops, readings, and poetry-related events.
On this first day of Poetry Month, I am very happy to host Margaret Dornaus, ‘writer, a teacher, wife, traveler . . . as well as a haiku-doodler.’ Margaret says about herself, ‘I live in a beautiful woodland setting, surrounded by native oak forests, that inspires me to record haiku snapshots of luna moths and our resident roadrunner, and even an occasional black bear as it hightails it across the top of my road, my mongrel dog barking at its heels as I watch with wonder’.
In her post hosted here, Margaret kindly states, ‘I’m thrilled to exchange places with Stella for the day in observance of National Poetry Month and to have her wonderful work featured on my blog, Haiku-doodle (http://www.haikudoodle.wordpress.com).
Margaret herself chose to offer three poems (see below). This is how she reflects on her offering:
‘After we decided to share three of our poems on each other’s site, I contemplated whether I should contribute haiku or tanka. I began writing both about a year and a half ago, and, although I was already familiar with haiku, I knew nothing about tanka until I accidentally stumbled upon a call for submissions to Pamela A. Babusci’s journal Moonbathing. When I started studying this ancient lyrical form and reading the work of other tanka poets, I knew I’d found a home . . . . And so I’ve chosen three tanka to feature here today.’