A Happy New Year 2021 to all my friends! A year filled with Health, Love, Creativity, Happiness, and Peace!
Meanwhile, still in 2020, JuxtaSix: The Journal of Haiku Research and Scholarship, the print issue, is available! I just received my print copy from Amazon. It is a very interesting and well-presented issue. I am happy to say it includes an article on Haiku and the Brain that I co-authored. Many thanks to the editors, and reviewers, and well-done to my fellow authors!
Haikupedia opened its doors on 21 June 2020. Now in its seventh week, it has released articles on haiku in several countries, biographies, awards and contests, and other articles for study, for research, and enjoyment. All you ever wanted to know about haiku is being written by experts and gathered in one place: Haikupedia. Every week new material! It is growing and it is getting better. And it is always open, always there. You can visit anytime you like: https://www.haikupedia.org
It is June 21st, 2020, and The Haiku Foundation just announced the debut of Haikupedia, its encyclopedia of all things haiku! I copy below the Troutswirl blog post about the first week of Haikupedia’s existence:
Each week for the next several months we will release a few new articles in our ever-expanding encyclopedia of haiku. These we hope will give you a sense of the potential scale of this enterprise, as well as entice you to become a part of the project.
We begin this week with a long biographical article on Japanese master poet Kobayashi Issa. We present the full English text of the Matsuyama Declaration, a landmark in the establishment of “world haiku.” Our featured country this release is New Zealand, not least because of their supremely executed management of the Covid-19 pandemic. You will also find short biographies of this week’s featured writers, David G Lanoue and Sandra Simpson, as well as the several people behind the start-up of Haikupedia: Editor in Chief Charles Trumbull, Managing Editor Stella Pierides, Photo Editor Iliyana Stoyanova, Haikupedia (and Haiku Foundation) Website Manager Dave Russo, and THF Founder and President Jim Kacian.
Haikupedia is a vast and wonderful project and I am both humbled and honored to be part of it.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been working on Haikupedia, the new project of The Haiku Foundation. This is how it was introduced by Charlie Trumbull, Haikupedia editor in chief, in the June edition of the Newsletter of the Haiku Society of America.
Introducing … HAIKUPEDIA! We are excited to announce the launch of a new source for the enhancement of haiku scholarship and enjoyment! HAIKUPEDIA, an online encyclopedia about all aspects of everyone’s favorite verse form, will debut on The Haiku Foundation website in a few days.
Background My name is Charlie Trumbull and I have been accumulating English-language haiku in English for almost 30 years and making my digital Haiku Database—now containing almost a half million haiku. I have also been collecting bibliographic and biographic information about haiku poets (mostly from back-cover blurbs, obituaries, and the like), haiku organizations, and general information about Japanese verse that I often had trouble locating in my library or online. As I passed 75 years old I began to realize that I had better do something with these massive collections before they get buried along with me. The idea of creating an encyclopedia of everything about haiku seemed to be a good and feasible solution. Online rather than print also seemed to be the way to go. Ergo, HAIKUPEDIA. Now, I am not a particularly comfortable resident of the Internet, and I knew I lacked the experience and smarts to make a complex website on my own. So about two years ago I approached THF President Jim Kacian with the idea. He was enthusiastic and immediately saw how the Haikupedia project dovetails with The Haiku Foundation’s mission. We have a marvelous marriage of resources and capabilities: I have the basic idea and much of the content in my voluminous databases, Jim has the organizational resources, especially in the areas of Web design and access to persons who could help out in the commissioning, writing, and editing of Haikupedia articles. Dave Russo has taken on supervision of the website design and maintenance. For the Haikupedia editorial team Jim also recommended Stella Pierides, a member of the THF Board and recent editor of the Per Diem feature on the THF website. Stella is the Haikupedia Managing Editor. Our search for a Graphics Editor netted us Iliyana Stoyanova, whose experience with the United Haiku and Tanka Society, the British Haiku Society, and the Living Haiku Anthology, are proving invaluable.
Definition and basic structure Haikupedia is a Web-based encyclopedia dedicated to all aspects of haiku worldwide. It is a project of The Haiku Foundation compiled, edited, and published by the volunteer Haikupedia editorial staff under the direction of Charles Trumbull. Haikupedia articles are written and signed by specialists. A title list is being developed for Haikupedia entries as follows: Core Articles—Long and short essays on major topics in haiku. This category will include chapbook-length articles on fundamental topic such as “Haiku,” “Renku,” etc. Countries Also articles of appropriate length detailing the discovery and development of haiku in the principal countries, nations, and regions where it has taken hold.Biographies—sketches of haiku poets, translators, critics, etc. The number of subjects for biographical treatment runs into the tens of thousands. In the beginning for Haikupedia we have adopted a temporizing strategy favoring quantity over quality—well, at least thoroughness—and created a subcategory of ‘Short Biographies” of 50–100 words with just the basic facts. At the same time we will be commissioning regular long Biographies.Glossary—Definitions and glosses of terms used in and about haiku.Gazetteer—Information about places mentioned or otherwise important in haiku.Organizations—Information on international, national, and local haiku organizations and groups, their sponsors and organizers, members, and main activities.Events—Reports about haiku meetings and other events, dates and locations, sponsors and organizers, attendees, and main activities and presentations.Awards & Contests—A tally of all haiku-related contests worldwide with information about the sponsors, adjudicators, number of entries and countries represented, prizes, and winners for each.Publications—Information on haiku publications in print and online, including major books of haiku, translations, and criticism; anthologies, journals, websites and blogs, etc.Bibliographies—topical lists of books, articles, and online sources.
Where we’re at and where we’re going You’re reading this message before Haikupedia is available to the public. Stella and Jim worked out a schedule for releasing the first volley of Haikupedia articles. We’re going live on Sunday, June 21 Jim will post an inaugural message, announce the Haikupedia URL on The Haiku Foundation’s Troutswirl blog a few days before the launch. Mark your calendars!
For the formal launch we plan to post these items Kobayashi Issa by David G. Lanoue [Bibliography; 9,000 words] an essay based on Dave’s longstanding interest and many books about everybody’s favorite Japanese haiku poet. The article also includes a comprehensive annotated bibliography of work by and about Issa.Haiku in New Zealand by Sandra Simpson [Country; 8,000 words], a detailed history of haiku and report on the status of the haiku enterprise in New Zealand/Aotearoa. The bibliographic sections list the important work of or about Kiwi haiku.Matsuyama Declaration [Document; 4,700 words], the text of the landmark 1999 statement by a group of leading Japanese haiku poets and scholars essentially acknowledging that haiku is no longer exclusively Japanese and presenting standards for “world haiku.”Mini-Biographies of Haikupedia principals [unsigned abstracts of longer Biographies that will come later; 50–100 words each] (Haikupedia dignitaries Charles Trumbull, Stella Pierides, Iliyana Stoyanova, Dave Russo, and Jim Kacian) and the authors of the posted major articles (Lanoue and Simpson). In the following weeks, every Sunday, two or three major articles and a handful of short Biographies will be posted, each release billboarded on Troutswirl. We’ll stick to this schedule through the end of October, then take a breather and decide how to go forward.
A caveat Perceptive readers will quickly notice that Haikupedia is currently set up to serve only an English-speaking audience: all articles are in English and nolens volens our focus hews pretty closely to North American topics. We hope this will not be so for long. We plan to expand our coverage of non-American topics. Moreover, we want to “double” some of the key articles by posting a translation of, say, “Haiku in Croatia” in Croatian side-by-side with the English version. Alternatively, we may commission essays to be written in, say, Japanese and have them translated into English. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have, side-by-side, a Japanese and an English article on, say, Richard Wright or renga!
Join us! The Haikupedia concept is virtually limitless — and far grander than a half-dozen editors and two dozen authors can possibly realize. We welcome [read: “desperately need”] volunteers. Can you write us an article in one or more of the categories mentioned above? Would you like to help out by taking charge of a “cluster” of related articles? Would you have the skills to help with administrative tasks, data entry or other website work? Contact me at trumbullc\at\comcast.net or Jim at jim.kacian\at\thehaikufoundation.org and let’s talk. Charlie Trumbull,Editor, Haikupedia
Happy International Haiku Poetry Day 2020! And what a day it was! The Haiku Foundation announced the Touchstone Awards, hosted HaikuLife, the haiku Film Festival, and administered the collaborative poem “EarthRise” on the theme “Nurse.” And everyone had fun!
I contributed a video haibun, “Noir,” to HaikuLife as well as five poems..
My haibun triptych “Noir,” published in MacQueen’s Quinterly, made into Video haibun “Noir,” in collaboration with Rob Ward, was presented as part of HaikuLife on IHPD! Many thanks to Rob Ward, after-effects artist and animator, for bringing the stills to life, and Alex Menzies for permission to use his haunting piece Gretchen from his composition Faust for this video.
Check out this video: “How I found my voice: A new Resonance Community Reading” from the Haiku North America Conference 2019. From Jim Kacian and Julie Warthers’s presentation on this Community of poets, including members reading out their work. Julie read out haiku by members not able to attend.
clover in flower
the Holsteins come
with four stomachs
This week’s poem by Dan Schwerin (Modern Haiku 49:2, Summer 2018), discussed at The Haiku Foundation feature Re:Virals, attracted delightful responses that illuminated the poem from different and serendipitously complementary angles.
The week’s winner, Garry Eaton, provided an interesting and robust commentary seeing the poem’s environmental concerns, alluding to 19th century farming changes by
… highlighting the mindless, mower-like and digester-like efficiency of cows as in massive numbers they convert landscapes into milk and excrement in an endless search for more green.
The other commentators too, in their own way, provided fascinating inroads to the ku.
One paragraph from Julie Warther’s commentary caught my eye:
We each have our empty places looking to be filled. We hold common yearnings for love, acceptance, safety, sustenance and purpose. The natural world and those in it have much to offer. Do we come ready to receive? Do we return hungry for more? Do we have the capacity (four stomachs worth?) to take in the goodness, beauty and bounty surrounding us?
In the commentaries, desire, pleasure and insatiable hunger come together through the poem’s image of cows with multiple stomachs, mowing down environmental resources. Perfect metaphors for humans for whom – on individual and societal levels – the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and who will employ all means necessary to consume, to obtain the next piece of land, the next oil field… The effects on nature, climate, resources are all around us to see. As Warther asks, do we have the capacity to process and digest what we receive, to ‘stomach’ it, to experience ful/fillment? To contain our desires? To create a sustainable environment, where the milk we receive is both sufficient and good enough to nourish us?
In Schwerin’s poem, c/love/r is in flower. It is not the first time, and it won’t be the last. In the optimist’s reading, the ‘clover in flower’ in this rural idyll has survived previous years, and it sounds that, with care, it is going to survive the next ones.
Refreshing to see clover — considered an invasive weed in the context of gardening — standing for ‘milk’ in its use as animal fodder, and the cows — whose milk is usually associated with nourishment — standing for ruthless, destructive urges. But that’s another poem, and another story.
My video ‘Lake Constance,’ filmed on location, with haiku by yours truly, and edited byRob Ward, is now featured as part of The Haiku Foundation HaikuLifeFilmFest 2018! (with the sound of waves and wind)
Once a year, The Haiku Foundation asks for our help to meet the financial challenges it faces to continue its work. It does so during the period from Thanksgiving through St. Nicholas Day, the time set aside by many to think about our blessings and give thanks. Each day between the 23rd of November and the 6th of December, a blog post on the Foundation site highlights one of its many features, presents a video, offers a sale item from the Gift Shop, and more!
Do visit the blog every day, find out what the Foundation offers, what the people involved with it do, celebrate the offerings, and help in whatever way you can to support the Foundation continue to promote the cause of haiku.
The EarthRise Rolling Collaborative Haiku 2017, the world’s longest poem, on the theme of Reconciliation, is now collated and ready to treasure! You can find it in The Haiku Foundationsite by clicking here
Many, many wonderful haiku.
I copy below my own contributions to the poem:
a pressing need
and who would hear
the sound of the sea…
letting the wild garlic
a stork pair picking
revving up the engine
despite the rain
because of it
First appeared in Haibun Today Volume 11, Number 1, March 2017
folding and unfolding
his paper boat
First prize, Sharpening the Green Pencil, 2017
a pen and a feeding spoon –
the baby’s laughter
First appeared in Inner Voices, International Women’s Festival, 2017
In my presentation ‘Arrivals‘, a HaikuLife format reading of some of my recent poems, I weave responses to the refugee arrival crisis in the Mediterranean, and the conflicting reception refugees received so far, with the more general human challenge of ‘arriving’ anywhere…
The film, edited by Rob Ward, After Effects artist and animator, was presented during HaikuLife 2016, part of International Haiku Poetry Day, an initiative of The Haiku Foundation, held 17 April 2016.
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.
At the beginning of this year, I wrote about my visit to Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, to view their collection of paintings by Alfred Wallis. At that time, I was inspired to put together a presentation for the HaikuLife FilmFest, organised by The Haiku Foundation. The presentation, Haiku Journey, was shown on International Haiku Poetry Day, April 17, 2015, together with a good number of other films. It is now archived on the site here.
Poetry and arrangement: Stella Pierides; film editing: Rob Ward
Images: by kind permission of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge
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.
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!
On October 16th, 2014, a global discussion is being held on the topic of inequality. Organized by Blog Action Day, this year’s theme brings together bloggers from over 100 countries to contribute on a matter that becomes increasingly urgent.
Wars, civil and religious violence, scarcity of materials and ecological concerns, the spread of disease, are increasingly diverting our attention from the inequalities that abound, and increase in our societies. Yet, to a large degree, inequality is the result of all those processes individually and cumulatively. Wars, for instance, are about real or perceived biases in resource distribution, in turn often resulting in huge increases in inequality. Just think of the thousands of refugees looking for safety in the Mediterranean, and the response they get when (and if) they make it to the European shores. (see here
all the refugees asleep
It is ubiquitous, but so are the processes that ameliorate and even help reverse it: awareness and reflection, empathy, generosity; pooling of resources and co-operation; language, art, literature; institutions, policies, humanitarian approaches at national and international levels are just a few that come to mind.
Inequality is an urgent and vital topic for discussion, and you may have noticed, I am taking part this year with a series of posts.* Are you? If you are not sure what to write about, Blog Action Day on FB has a number of tips for bloggers. If you don’t have a blog, you may use your FB account or other social media. See also the Blog Action Day 2014 site.
If you are looking for literary inspiration on themes of poverty, homelessness, begging, and poetic resonances to these issues reflecting perspective and culture, see The Kindness of Strangers, a six-part series by Swedish poet Anna Maris on The Haiku Foundation site (you’ll need to scroll down the blog entries for the earlier posts).
February is National Haiku Poetry Month – wherever you might be on the planet. The shortest month of the year for the challenge that may become the longest-lasting commitment you will ever make!
But let’s start small. First write one haiku a day for the whole month. Join a community of poets around the world who endeavor to write at least one haiku a day. And see how it goes… I did, four years ago, when it all started.
The NaHaiWriMo Facebook community encouraged me, nurtured my writing; and this quiet, positive, non-critical presence of people helped me grow. This steady, unfailing presence provided a background for my daily attempts: poetic ventures, haiku versions to work on, check with others.
Other members let me know if they’d read my poem, if they ‘liked’ it, if a different version would work; if they shared my experience or predicament, my point of view, or appreciated my difference. Not often, but cumulatively, in doses that my ego could take…
It worked! I’ve made the commitment to haiku and its special way of seeing and conveying experiences.
Try it yourself. You may like it and start writing haiku each day of every month, all year round. It may help open up time, expand moments the way only haiku can.
To see how it works, take a look here
For how to go about finding out how to write these poems, there is help from the founder and co-ordinator of this project, Michael Dylan Welch here and in more articles posted on this site
You will find the NaHaiWriMo Community here
And for inspiring, prize-winning as well as thematic collections of haiku by poets the world over, you will do well to visit the The Haiku Foundation site here
There’s also a daily poem treat, the Per Diem: Daily Haiku ready for you to pick up here
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.
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’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
Photo and image manipulation: Stella Pierides
Literature, Art, Culture, Society, and lots of Haiku