Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Untied kites.
thoughts and views on haiku and the haiku world and questions, questions, questions

A bit of a foreword: The following was written for the blog on haikumatters.wordpress.com and presents only - and that should be noticed and kept in mind - a personal view on haiku and the haiku world as it is seen by a middle aged writer in a comatose village in Denmark. There is no educational value in it whatsoever as the text and opinions has no bearings on how other writers should approach haiku. To this blogger there is no right or wrong haiku. There is is only haiku. There is no “right way”, there is only The Way. There might be “good” and “bad” haiku but as long as it is with in the vague but quite discernible “haiku parameters” it is still considered haiku. “Bad” haiku to this blogger is mostly that which is written without the writer having taken his/her time to learn about the fundamentals - which goes somewhat beyond the three line structure – and thus writes 3-line Western poetry. And yet he (I) does (do) have personal preferences ... In the following weeks I will babble on about what I have observed as far as the state of the haiku world goes. I won't be educational,(deliberately) polemical, wise or clever but will hopefully end up with advocating freedom of writing, mind, choice and mutual accept and respect. And I might fail at that as well … and you will see why I don't normally write texts longer than the odd 5-line poem. Everything written is an utterly subjective view and based on the blogger's uneducated glances into the world of haiku

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Expansion, contraction- action/reaction pt. 1/6 Replication and repetition is a fundamental thread in the weave of human society and life in general. Repeating the same actions in daily, weekly, monthly, annual cycles creates a sense of continuum and safety. And because some of these rituals are based on nature's own rhythm, one we are dependant on, they lie very deep in us though in various disguises according to climate and culture. Replication/reiteration of certain events in history/mythology is one of the threads that binds together societies with their history and inherited “ways” of living within them. We do as we did last year and all is well. We remind each other often based in a “glorious past” - of what is fitting for us in the way we conduct ourselves, our values and so on. This is one aspect of human life, of living in a society. And if we did nothing but repeat what our ancestors did nothing much would happen. But no “old way” goes unquestioned. Repetition and replication, doing what our fathers and mothers were, and are, doing, in itself isn't enough. Every generation and every individual (or some individuals) will at some point need something more or something different. It's a question of the norm not being fulfilling or meaningful, it's a quest for finding the core of “truth” in deafening ritualistic repetitions. Some will always ask: does it have to be like this? and will go about things differently seeking ways and means that will meet his/her cravings and needs for substance and usefulness. Humans are multidimensional beings. We can exist and handle both the predictable and the vaguely unknown new. Humans are by nature curious and nothing “written in stone” really remains unquestioned in the long run. And thus other ways of doing things and new ways to look at the world is born and it spreads. Evolution is inevitable. We are always standing on the latest step of history putting our foot forward. The nature of creative intelligence is expansion and evolution towards ever greater fulfilment, as the Vedas say.

And this movement has its opposite, its opposition. With every new way, new vision, new method, new angle there is a longing for things to remain as they were; the good old days -even if they weren't good at all. Human inertia or a resistance (maybe a lacking ability to keep up with things, who knows?) that maybe rooted in a lacking vision of and urge to understand what lies beyond one's own efforts and results. This resistance is very human as well. The sense that new things are frightening and unsafe. Why try to improve what “the times” has shown is working?

And maybe the arts shows this action-reaction/expanse-retraction dynamics in the clearest way; and to us in this context: the world of haiku. Here you find inexhaustible attempts at finding new ways to write haiku, new subjects, new ways of transcending while yet keeping the form AND the most bitterly reactionary reactions. Much more fierce than one (I) would imagine among poets. With every new way of keeping this old poetry form alive and relevant for people living in the 21stcentury there's a reaction claiming that adhering to aesthetics from ancient Japan is the only way to write, or the elevation of some deceased poet who cannot answer for him/herself to a Pope- or saint-like status not to be questioned ...

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Quite a conundrum for a human being. Evolution, development, creativity, rethinking, renewing, reexperiencing etc. a poetic form with such an impact cannot be but good, eh? “Taking the scroll and eating it” (i.e. absorbing it and making it part of your existence) must be good, mustn't it? Following the advice of ancient teachers (loosely after my faulty memory): Learn the rules, internalize the rules and forget them must be good, eh? Attempting to take the poetry where it hasn't yet been must be good because it's in the nature of poetry to renew itself must be good, eh? Writing from your times and circumstance, from how “the world” looks and works in this place in history must be good too? Apparently not for the reactionary if what comes out of haiku doesn't fit their personal taste or the aesthetics they've chosen as the ideal ones.

Whenever we see new ways emerge we see attempts to go backwards - or opposition based on the notion that the new possibly cannot be as good as the old stuff. I guess it's in the nature of things. It's most likely a natural law. And my guess is, that this is how evolution/development in any art (and in life in general) comes about: expansion of the field of the already known breaking down agreed borders, questioning conventions, and then the attempts to keep an imaginary status quo, to remain faithful to what “is already known”, stick to the good old (and tried) ways. Stay at home and watch the wallpaper ...

And the “keepers of the old ways” rage and damn like fire-and-brimstone preachers. Like it has always been … But conservatism of this reactionary kind is in my eyes contradictory to the nature of art itself; to nature itself. Art exists to help the “consumers” of art to look at life in a new way (reflecting the searching gaze of the artist), but art at the same time takes training and some level of having been initiated into art's language(s). (You have to learn to place your fingers right on the piano to make music, and you have to learn to listen). It's a two-fold way as very many aspects of human life is - as the very human existence is. We stand with one foot in the past and one in the future while we in the present make the decision to go forward … or stand still. If art doesn't represent other ways of looking at the already know it is merely decoration and affirmation of things as they are. And that is o.k. It doesn't become less “art” for that. But some of us prefer art that challenges us to art that merely re-affirms what has already been shown.

Stating what has already been stated, saying what has been said a million times, writing the same haiku over and over make things hollow, the receiver (me) deaf and blind. One(I) can only take in that many herons, crows, sunsets, Basho-frogs …it becomes meaningless when repeated to the degree it has already been.

But luckily history has taught us one thing: evolution/development is unstoppable.

And then again, you can't go forward if you're not coming from somewhere. None of us exists “out of the blue”. In each and every one of us certain “amounts” of history is accumulated, in each of us the next step lies. 3

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Expansion, contraction - action/reaction pt. 2/6

All of us are children of history, our history. Said in another way: we all stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. They are our teachers. They in their turn set out from their own time's pattern of repetitions, rituals and norms and learned something new, found new ways which they in turn built on what they learned from their predecessors. This is banal but worth keeping in mind. In life as in haiku. Obviously we have to learn the basics of haiku before we set out on our own path. We have to absorb and make those fundamentals part of our writing as well as part of our thinking. And with this I mean the “technicalities” adhering to language, cuts, fragmentation, kigo (if you want them), the juxtapostion of images and so forth. We don't need to learn to be Japanese. That is a misunderstanding in the same way you don't have to adopt a Russian way of life if you convert to Orthodox Christianity. Most learning in haiku goes through reading and writing, reading and writing and it stops only at death (or if you stop caring about haiku). We have the advantage in this age that we can sit at home and read haiku from almost any age and almost any part of the world. From the classics to the first trying steps here and there on the web. And I guess many of us daily go web-about for digging up some Issa, Santoka and Buson but also to see what goes on in heads of the writers at R'r and the numerous blogs by writers all over our home planet. We need both. But do we pay our predecessors respect by replicating their poetry? By treating their art as something frozen in time, written in stone and not to be challenged? Do we open doors to the new (or even our present) by doing what they did, by re-writing their oeuvre, by replicating what is essentially original? Or do we take up the glove (pen, keyboard) and in our own small ways try to make the spirit of haiku our own? I think the latter - if haiku is to remain a living, breathing poetry form. I would hate to think our parents who taught us to walk would actually prefer us running behind them for as long as they lived and kept on the same paths after their death. Most parents probably want us to stagger out in the world and see things they haven't. If they're good parents accepting you being your own person and not first and foremost an extension of themselves, that is. The old masters - even the ground-breaking writers from last century in the West that we now think of as having contributed to how haiku looks and reads in the 21st Century - worked within their local, historical, cultural and climatic (etc.) reality, and working from and within our own reality is the only basis we have. Even if we have to “discover” things already discovered by others. It's necessary to get personal experience if our writing is to be honest. Haikai (and the short Japanese forms we have adapted) is in constant flux; growth and experimentation, always searching new ways, incorporating new subjects because it's a human activity and art form. It's an expression of the human mind and consciousness AND being. And, as mentioned, someone wanting to keep things as they are will want to shoot these attempts at development down. That's a fact of the haiku world. In short: it's alive. … and if haiku (or writing as such) is a way for you to be (exist, act, absorb and return) in the world you have to be somewhat indifferent to this action/reaction and the noise it makes and work on finding your own 4

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

way. Your own way is what counts and keeps haiku interesting.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Expansion, contraction - action/reaction pt. 3/6 (an utterly subjective view and based on the blogger's uneducated glances into the world of haiku) The constant - and inevitable - renewal and rethinking of haiku causes the traditionalists to react. (I'm repeating myself …). Curiously, traditionalists in haiku not only means those who adhere to the old Japanese masters' ways but also to those who have become stuck with one kind of haiku that has emerged only a few decades ago (when they themselves were emerging and developing as haiku poets) and holds that for a standard to be upheld for coming generations. These traditionalists are good at organizing groups, “schools”, forums and journals where a specific set of aesthetics (more or less intelligible) and their preferred way of writing is promoted as the “right way” of writing. That isn't “good parenting”. As I speculated in the previous post: good parents teach their children to walk but they would probably want them to walk their own walk. As humans we have a tendency to grow to a certain point and then continue doing the same from there. Some artists certainly do. Some call it “refining” already achieved insights … or something like that. And so their art sort of looses zest or geist or relevance and becomes an endless repetition of the same. But art (and haiku) is dependant on living humans and can't be halted at a certain stage of development and so new writers will go forth from whatever stage haiku is in when they start working. Open-minded and alert artists have the ability to keep up with new currents in their art. Even if they don't adopt those they will understand them and see them as additions. As reality changes so will haiku. And in the West where reality is at times very individual - or very individually centred - it of course will grow according to Western culture, mindset, history, linguistic conditions etc. Or it is about to … if it hasn't already. In that respect I think we're in a situation where some haiku has become Western and some hasn't. Whatever circumstances people have it will rub off on haiku. Ideally. And the norms that went before may not be sufficient to deal with the reality of the present. That is why haiku grows. So one can only wonder why so much haikai seems to be written - in rough terms - by one person or very few persons. Why it is so uniform in the same way it can be hard to hear the differences between 16 different recording of Mozart's 41 Symphony. These days it's hard for this blogger not get overwhelmed by haiku-ennui when he (I) opens a printed journal, views an on-line publication or visits one of the groups on the web. The uniformity within mainstream haiku is such these days that really individual voices seem far apart. Of course, we can't all be ground-breakers and far from all of us want to be. There is a large group of writers who seem to be satisfied with repeating what they read in the previous editions or threads or they are content with living up to one of the emperors' guidelines (in essence mimicking his/rarely her style). And that may be alright and o.k. But merely repeating and replicating what others do seems to this blogger un-dynamic or un-eye-opening, not “original”. But then again: should it be? Maybe one has to look at the haiku-world as a vastly differentiated place and not as one place with an underlying consensus as the tendency has been. Maybe there's not One (ideal, conceptual, “god-like”) Haiku but many “small” haiku just as there globally just is Water but it is in many places and go by many other names according to its temporary state as rain, sweat, ocean, river, piss etc.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

There are as many reasons for writing haiku as there are practitioners and some of them are really just having a good time jotting down an innocent and cosy verse giving off good vibes. And peace be with that. But those of us who for some odd reason - maybe because of a dysfunction or because we mistake our lifeblood for poetry - take haiku seriously might need to continuously work on how we, having learned, internalized and absorbed the basics, make haiku our own, an individual expression, rather than a massstatement adhering to topics, themes, rhythms, constructions of an “approved and tried” nature. Just as rock 'n' roll once was an eye (ear, mind) opener but has regressed to be part of the furniture for some, so has haiku and the Japanese short poetry forms. As in all other arts there are the masses, the “judges” (self appointed), the has-been forerunners now walking or standing still, the renegades, the new thinkers etc. It is how it should be. It has always been like this. You just have to deal with the stuff you yourself find meaningful and exiting and let others deal with their thing - as long as you're true to yourself. Write and let write.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Expansion, contraction - action/reaction pt 4/6 As I see it there's a lot of similarities between rock music and haiku. Among those is: one original gives birth to a swarm of copies. It has always been like this in the arts and it will continue to be so. We go after what is considered “in” and “good” in a broad context often guided by critics and “if you like this, you'd probably like this as well”. We learn to play instruments by copying our idols, we learn about haiku by reading the masters and copy them as far as it goes. In the initial state of learning this is essential but eventually all that we learn should hopefully become part of our being and take on forms, colours, shapes, scents etc. that are our own. Merely sticking to the original won't make haiku (or music) your own. You will remain an imitator not a generator. The wide mass of “mainstream haiku” seem to a function much like a master - or a fashion. What is comme il faut or widely accepted as “modern haiku” (though no modernity is to found there) is by and large a mass of people each echoing the other or the faceless body of consensus. You (I) see one haiku after another cut over the same form, rhythm, vocabulary, standard phrasing and much on the same subjects treated in the same way. And this mass seem to be good at keeping the individuals in check. (Like: “If you write this way you will be in our journal”). It may be the human need to belong to a larger group of piers that comes in play here. It may be the need to “speak the same language” as the group you want to be associated with or it may be just the aforementioned fact that not all of us have the urge to twist and turn, fight and stretch the form to see what it can actually do, how far we can take it before it becomes utter nonsense - all to make it own. Some are content with creating a haiku that fits in with what others apparently think of as haiku and that is o.k. Maybe that's why mainstream haiku more and more appears to be small private notes of feel-good scenery, get-well cards and diary entries of good/bad love cut into 3 lines; utterly “harmless” (in as far as a poem can actually “harm” anything or anyone) and with no intention of showing the reader an unexpected view on reality. No eye-openers but affirmations of the feel-good aspects of living with scented tea, home knit socks, purring cats and cherry blossoms. Even if you live in a culture where the blossoming cherry trees doesn't signify anything special. And it too is fine if you want nothing more from (your) writing. But if you want to use the haiku format as a literary tool conveying and examining your “way in the world”, “your being, acting and reacting in the world”, it might not be of much interest. Except for a taste of what occupies the minds of those writing - an anthropological view. I recently read Jack Galmitz's book “Views”. In this he deals with haiku poets whose work have grown into a distinctly personal way of writing haiku. The poets he chose for interviews and reviews have “learned, absorbed and forgotten”. In their writing haiku has become full-fledged Western (American mostly another angle that needs examination as Western haiku does not equal American) in the sense that the subjects, thematics, structure, consciousness clearly lives and breathes within an American reality in the 20th and 21st Century. These poets show that you don't have to be semi-Japanese or make use of “Japanisms” - thematically, aesthetically or otherwise - to write relevant and highly vibrant haiku. You “just” have to undergo the tedious and tough process of making it your own. So again I end up with concluding: writing from yourself (or your self), your own perception of reality, your own circumstance, your own sphere of inputs is the best soil haiku can possibly have. -Jack Galmitz uploaded his book “Views” for free reading and download on Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/103908441/Views-PDF-for-Cyberwit 8

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Expansion, contraction - action/reaction pt 5/6 Then, what is “our own reality” then? Apart from all the elaborate philosophical aspects it's quite easy to answer on a practical level: it's your (our) reality where you live, how you live, what you direct your attention to, what occupies you, what carries you/holds you up, what gives you a fight or give you pleasure, what you are influenced by and how you deal with it, your past, your present and so on. Everything that has to with your (our) life. Ban'ya Natsuishi talks about reality as a whole consisting of man's outer and inner reality including the learning acquired from history and the stream of information that adds to our “worldimage”, I might add on my own accord. And as I live in a tiny village in Denmark and at the same time in an age where we're becoming a global village because of the web and various other information technologies my reality is quite another than for instance that of a 17th century Japanese wandering poet or an American poet from the 1960's. Historically I have my roots in European culture and history if I am to look at the most immanent influences - but since the 1950's (and earlier) Europe carpet has been bombed by American influences via pop-culture. Via media, education and cultural “exchange” (wonder how much goes from Europe to America) my “world consciousness” is constantly growing. I can more or less effortlessly communicate with people all over the world in a much more comprehensive way than the previous centuries allowed for. My reality as such has very little to do with Japanese culture. As the previous blogger mentioned a Japanese (or Canadian or Peruvian) saijiki won't carry the meanings and implications it does for the Japanese (or Canadian or Peruvian). So what do I gain of solid experience if I try to take on a manner and set of aesthetics that isn't part of my “blood”? Exercise. Pretence. Nothing more. I don't become Japanese - or acquire a Japanese mind - by putting on a kimono, buying a Lucky Cat or write about cherry blossoms. Sticking to the ways of Basho, Issa and the others doesn't make me any more Japanese either. Not by far. If I was confronted with a group of writers from Bali who had decided that the psalms of Hans Adolph Brorson (Danish bishop and composer of psalms 1694 – 1764) was the ideal poetry and they told me they did all they could to recreate, replicate, repeat and beatify his work from the assumption that it was the summit of all poetry, I am not sure I would consider them right in the head. One of my thoughts would be: what on earth can these people, probably Hindus, from a tropical island know about living in the cold dark Lutheran country in those times? I would certainly think of their imitations of Brorson as, well, imitations and smoke and certainly not based in their reality. They might just get the metrics and structures of his psalms right, but then that would be it. They might even wear wigs like it was common in Brorson's days, they might not wash, they might drink snaps and beer and live on a diet of mostly pig and potato and they might even have adapted the then Lutheran version of Christianity (or at least learned a catechism by heart) and so on. But it wouldn't make their poetry more real. It would still be a piece of awkward archaeology - or an escape of some sort. MY reality these days consists of all the information I have (all that I know, think, feel, sense, remember) and it gets wider and wider as time goes, and all the physical aspects of life: my immediate surroundings, my town, the city where friends and family live, what they say and do and so on. It's an inexhaustible sphere that keeps growing with my every heartbeat. I don't have to cross the river to get water (as we say in Denmark: gå ikke over åen efter vand) - or the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. I already have water. Adopting/taking up a Japanese form like haiku might in the West be using the linguistic and structural “technicalities” - or more vaguely: the spirit - of said form, the content (subjects, thematics, imagery etc.) must come from my (our) own part of the world if it is to be a vital and relevant (again: living and breathing) poetry - if we intend to use haiku as a way of expressing ourselves.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

So, my reality is Danish first and then a member of the global village with a Danish backdrop. The latter part is important to me as haiku in Denmark is practically non-existent for various reasons. Haiku (or poetry/art in general) has to touch upon/concern itself with stuff that other people can relate to. Relevance. And luckily people have much more in common than flowers, trees, herons, cherry blossoms and so on. As privileged people (those of us who can afford computers, we who live in places where the information technologies are available and actually work) we can know about what people around the globe think, what is on their minds, how they live and so on and we discover that we share a lot with individuals everywhere, or at least where Western civilisation have had its ways. Much, much more than swooning over roses, dry leaves, crows, full moons and such. We share common human experiences and these are as valid subjects and themes as the “nature” ones. (But what is outside nature, if anything …). People in cities all over the world share experiences, people in hospitals, people with cars and so on and so on. Personally (and this is a strictly and shamelessly subjective series of blog posts; what I convey in these are my own opinions only “valid” for me) I get more from reading a haiku like Brendan Slater's first light my last Rizla taken by the breeze (In Bed with Kerouc, yettobenamedfreepress, Stoke-on-Trent, England, 2012) than winter lake a heron pierces a heron (generic, written for this post by me) I can relate to the scenery/imagery in Slater's haiku much more than the heron in the lake. I've lived Slater's haiku. It oozes off human presence, human conditions (poverty, barely making it, naked existence) vis-a-vis the more “eternal” and ethereal factors of sun and wind elevated to almost a deva state through their usage in Japanese thought and poetry. The heron haiku is empty to me; it leaves me indifferent. The emptiness (like an empty cardboard box) may lie in the fact that I can't say when I last saw one or even were at a place where a heron would be nor do I long to. And I have not specific affections for herons. It may lie in the fact that there's a surplus of this type of smooth and non-vibrating haiku out there and my initial thoughts are always: of what use is this to me? where is the writer? did he/she actually see this or is it a construction meant for demonstrating that the writer has grasped something of Japanese and Western mainstream haiku aesthetics? is it actually a poem or just an “inventory”, a “dead” retelling of what the eye saw? and why would someone want to show me something so indifferent, void of content, meaning, dynamics? Besides probably reflecting some “classical” aspect of haiku and dreamy nature romanticism what is there? I don't know and that's maybe where mainstream/modern haiku looses me - or I loose it. It has no relevance, no meaning to me. And things that are void of meaning I don't bother to deal with. (Like the endless haiku discussions). On the other hand, having lived Slater's ku myself, I can relate. The emptiness here is not ethereal, it's a tangible void, cold walls, the heat is off, ½ a can of corn and 1 tea bag and no money. Not that I don't get the “nothingness” of the Buddhist kind as it's quite immanent to me, I just have no need for communicating that as it's really beyond words … Of course dreams, imagination and such have their place too in haiku but pretence may not have(?). If you 10

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

want your output to be an expression of your actual life, there is no reason not to trust your (our) own experiences and write from there. Often the problem is not missing/not having the stuff to write from but our own ability to transform this into haiku. After a turbulent life Hosai Ozaki ended up lived alone in a run down temple on a small island with very little “happening” but there he wrote some of the best haiku I have ever read. A lot of “haiku dos and don'ts” may obstruct the way to our “own haiku” and the choir of doomsday men/women may scare you into writing to please, to fit in, but don't give up. What we need is the haiku that expresses a person's experience and life-breath, not the endlessly replicated uniformity of mass production. What is essentially a deeply personal (not private) way of expression won't thrive by being adjusted to fit norms that doesn't fit with the writer. It works best in freedom. Haiku is written by people, individuals, not on license from an imaginary board of “masters”.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Expansion, contraction - action/reaction pt 6/6 Again, let me point out: there is no right or wrong way in haiku. It all depends on what you use haiku for, what you want from it. On personal preferences and choice of aesthetics - though the spirit of haiku (as imprecise yet recognizable it may be) must be there. You (I) can easily turn away from haiku that doesn't does nothing for you (me). You (I) don't have to go into a rage every time you're (I'm) confronted with haiku you (I) don't like. And I do. Most of us do. At the end of the day you can't argue against personal preferences. You are left with letting other people have theirs without considering them ignorants, bastards, elitist or whatever label you can think off. The world of haiku isn't a totalitarian state and the stream of haiku can't be controlled. The diverse world of haiku may be a mess but it's a beautiful mess brimming with life. So why this obsession with haiku you don't like? Why this obsession that haiku should be “one” or uniform when no other art form is? Maybe the quasi-religious notions that have come into the Western haiku world via then Zen-bagage, the notion that haiku is a special kind of poetry that needs an especially developed sensitivity (the NOW-misunderstanding*) has something to do with it, maybe the inability to let other people write by their own preferences, maybe… who knows. Or maybe the answer isn't that straight forward. As well as the seeds of curiosity and exploring lies with in the human nature so does the tendency to become leader, to “have something to say” (e.g. rule others), to be chief of the tribe, the wise old elder to whom all the young ones come to ask for advice and who can “guide the unenlightened/dim” in questions of right or wrong. And of course it must be somewhat of a disappointment to see the generations following you place your oeuvre on the same level as the works of those you might think your inferior. To find out that you are just one among many and not THE ONE … You clear a new path through the jungle and the youth let it bet covered with undergrowth because they'd much rather go in the opposite direction … Every artist, every writer, spends his/her life trying to get better (hopefully) and that, only that, is what counts. IF someone wants to walk the path you cut, it's good. If not, be satisfied with what you have accomplished. The chances are yours will be one of many tracks being tried out and checked. There is no Christ, Buddha or Emperor in haiku whom we should alone follow. There is no ONE HAIKU. Haiku is many. Working against this fact is fighting windmills, going against the natural growth of haiku, nay, of everything. This doesn't mean that is no core in haiku, nothing that sets it apart from 3-line (Western) poetry. Of course there is. You know haiku when you read it - if you're aptly trained. Haiku too needs some training to read. Time and time again academics have tried to define haiku and only by reading them, study what has been written about haiku over the centuries as far as we're able to, we might possibly arrive at a “description” of it. And definitions merely points to a specific set of aesthetics not taking into account that haiku develops. A synthesis of every “definition” attempted might just point in the direction of the core of haiku. Some might think it unfortunate but a Canon in haiku doesn't exist. You can set up a set of aesthetics and rules, norms and elements to be present in haiku for the type you like, but they will only count for yourself. They don't apply to others just because you say so. To some extend “right” or “wrong” haiku is a subjective judgement. Not an objective classification. As it happens in other arts people mix what they find useful and interesting. No isms or genres remains pure in the long run. Newer writers have far more to build on than those who went before them and in the 21st century (as it was in the late 20 th) eclecticism and cross-over forms will become even more prevalent. Cross-pollination creates new beautiful art.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

The diversity in haiku isn't a threat to haiku itself. On the contrary. It's essential. As I have said repeatedly: it's a sign of vitality. In spite of its brevity haiku is a powerful poetry form for writing everything from getwell-cards to avant-garde haiku that may need numerous readings and some research to sink in. Haiku is like water, like a river with (yea, yea, another allegory) countless tributaries, lakes muddy or clear, it swells in places and dries out in others, some branches lead into places that haven't yet had water, other branches are attempted dammed up and used for private fishing, some water takes on the states of vapour, clouds, sweat (the water is in us as well), urine, tears and so on. But it's all water. We all might get a little richer if our view on haiku was inclusive rather than exclusive. If we accept differences in haiku in the same way we (try) to accept that all people don't think like us, we might actually regain some hope in the future of haiku (if we've lost it, that is) if we put on a wide-angle lens instead of looking at it through a microscope. Accepting the diversity of haiku might even open up the possibilities of fruitful cross-pollination (happens anyway) and might add to our own way(s) of writing. For instance, instead of being so overly focused on American ELH for instance, we might try to look in the directions opened up to us by groups such as World Haiku Association that includes haiku from very many parts of the world. We might look for European haiku, African, South-American, Mongolian and what have you and we might learn of other ways of making use of this unique poetry form. The possibilities for learning are still endless. ELH doesn't equal American haiku. Far from it. *http://haikureality.webs.com/esejeng79.htm An old one but still useful.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Get localglobal As no one person's, school's, group's or formation's perception of haiku is “the right one” so is no country's take on haiku the right one. Undoubtedly the American way has for some years been prevalent to a point where they might have seen themselves as the true heirs of the Japanese tradition. This might have been because of the right people at the right time took haiku seriously and did it in a generation where authorities were to be rejected, fought against and discarded. (That some of them themselves might have ended up acting as authorities is another matter, another case of: the way the world goes). They might have been better at organizing themselves contrary to the European writers who (and I'm only guessing here) might have another literary culture to deal and struggle with, a heavier body of academics. Maybe the early beatnik culture in America was the perfect soil for the Japanese seed, maybe being taken up by French intellectuals didn't provide the right milieu for a sub-culture of writing to become fertile. And in neither places haiku has gained entry into the “golden halls”, though. And that is probably still is a long way away. With usual American entrepreneurship they (the American writers of haiku) have managed to form a “society” for haiku with journals, publishing houses, associations, web-sites, research and all your heart can desire and I salute them for their efforts, energy and promotion of this unique poetry form. Haiku surely has taken roots in the West to a degree where some of it actually has become Western. In the parts of the world where English is the “lingua franca” of our times we owe a lot to the Americans in that respect. But we also “grow our own”; and luckily the same entrepreneurship now have spread to a number of countries. Now we have to learn (discover) that ELH doesn't equal American haiku. It is as much a “para-national” haiku as anything else. At times it seems, though, that the massive output of American haiku have lead to the misunderstanding that it is the “norm” for Western lingua franca haiku or ELH in general. But it isn't. Haiku is being written in English all over the world for international understanding, sharing and appreciation even if people knows nothing about American haiku specifically. We European haijin need to work with our European identity as far as our writing goes, or rather not to emulate the American way but continue to create our own. Luckily 2012 saw some good European (British) initiatives in publishing and a journal with British and Danish editors. This added to an already considerable amount of haiku “initiatives”. Still, this blogger would like to see new pan-European enterprises that would make European haiku available to more people around the world. But getting into European haiku is much harder. We use a wide variety of languages and because of the genre's lack of appreciation (it's not real poetry, is it? I mean, three lines. What can you possibly do in three lines? O.K. for vignettes and bon-mots on cute cards … but poetry?) very little, if any, is translated for easier access and reading across the language barriers. Eastern European haiku has thrived for many years (some say longer than the American ELH) but the language barriers are tough to overcome and not all translations into English are any good. The 60 years of being cut out from European culture apparently also mean that education in English hasn't been as thorough as in Western Europe. A bilingual anthology of Croatian haiku can be found at Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/87009611/An-Unmown-Sky-Antology-of-CroatianHaiku-96-2007 shows how well this can be done. This is why an initiative like World Haiku Association founded by Ban'ya Natsuishi, Jim Kacian and others in this blogger's eyes is one of the most important enterprises of the past years. Here haiku from many, many countries is represented and for a Dane like me it's a treat, a joy, an uplifting and inspiring experience to read haiku from Africa, the Americas, Nepal, Japan and different parts of Europe. It proves to me that if we are willing to look beyond our own gates and hedges we might actually get richer and learn something. The first thing we learn is: things aren't as we thought they were. Different cultures, circumstance, history, 14

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

realities give birth to a locally based haiku and we see that the themes and subjects we thought eternal and common are just fragments of a variety of things significant for people living in different places. Again: haiku isn't the same all over. Indeed haiku in its core is universal and the proof is out there. It's just a matter of not being self-centred as a culture but curious. You will find examples on: http://worldhaiku.net and in the world haiku anthologies published annually. Various papers on diverse matters are also available there but the site seems somewhat neglected as there are many “404's” (missing pages). But look under “Poetry” and you'll find interesting and exiting works. World Haiku as such isn't a genre but a way to look at haiku recognizing that it is a global form with local roots. Here we meet poets writing from within their own culture with very little aspiration of making it appear like the standard Western haiku. To further haiku as a global poetry form and not tied to any one country/culture Ban'ya Natsuishi promotes “keywords” rather than “kigo”: “Seasonal words, therefore, are keywords only expressing locality. That is because the unique climate of a particular area (like Japan, the U.S., or Europe) cannot be set as a standard for the world; it is merely one aspect of the global environment and of the diverse cultures in the world.” The discussion on and “development” of these “non-seasonal” keywords continues in various places on the web and elsewhere. (http://www.worldhaiku.net/criticism/natsuishi1.html) And so with optimism we can reassure ourselves that haiku isn't about to die and that it is beyond the control of any one person, body or country.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Yea, yea, yea ... Again: a heron piercing itself among cherry blossoms while the crow caws and the moon mirrors itself in a frozen pond with cloned frogs while we think about why we didn't say this or that ... Earlier I speculated whether the uniformity of mainstream haiku has to do with crowd/group behaviour or a general satisfaction with doing what the others do, saying what the others say, agreeing with the faceless mass on what is good haiku or at least acceptable haiku. I also mentioned the fact that some people might not want more than what the mainstream represents and that it is o.k. But to me as a reader (the reader I, me, Johannes S. H. Bjerg, am) it only leads to watering out haiku as a living, breathing form if the mainstream is what constitutes haiku. If poetry (and art) doesn't develop it dies. It becomes ritual - and as such a confirmation of things as they already are - and not an artistic expression. If “modern haiku” is seen as the norm, the “real thing”, then haiku has no literary future in the same way that forever doing things the same way (sticking to tradition and what have been accomplished in the past - just like the Danes boasting about having been Vikings and conquerors ...) brings us comfort and a sense of safety but doesn't add to our experience. It ends up in a perpetual repetition of already tried and accepted gestures that become void of meaning and content. It's important to remember that not all of us want the same from haiku. Some of us are quite happy with swimming in the mainstream and some seek to bend, stretch and challenge the haiku form into something that will carry and contain our own take on life. Some couldn't care less about either. Therefore this - and the previous posts - should be read with the natural diversity of haiku in mind. fresh snow the weight of what we didn't say or frozen lake a track of deer prints enter the shore or cherry blossoms the love I lost returns or icicles the way our silence grows or blooming thistle 16

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

the way he didn't touch me or winter solstice the birch where my lark-dreams died or or or and so on and on. I bet you can continue the list yourself. (though some subjects/themes are overly used because of their place in culture to which we don't belong, they can nonetheless be used in “new” ways and ways that are rooted in a more local culture- as a shown by Alan Summers in his comment on http://haikumatters.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/expansioncontraction-actionreaction-pt-56/ ) These generic haiku written by me for this post might well represent a taste of what is now considered mainstream haiku in various places in journals and on the web and has become somewhat meaningless. Meaningless in the sense that it is being repeated to a degree where you (I) get blind/deaf because the (my) senses aren't provoked to see something new, to stop and ponder/wonder, to read it twice or thrice. It's like the muzak flooding the supermarket. We hear it but we don't listen. Once “London Calling” by The Clash was a rebel song, now I hear it in my village's supermarket ... The choice of words, images and “juxes” have been used to a degree where they have become empty. IF haiku should be a way of awakening the senses, shake the reader's mind a bit, make us see something ordinary in an unusual way, connect things and experiences we haven't yet thought of, this type of haiku fails, and mainly because it has become formula, habitual, ritualistic. It's the “run of the mill”. If you can then spice it up with a little spirituality (preferably Buddhist-ish) or some Western “deep” poetry then why not? This might be where wordings like “treedreams”, “scent of time”, “tasting sound”, “a lark's dream” comes from; phrases that to me seem overly constructed/contrived. Not that I doubt the existence of synaesthesia or deeply refined senses but … Haiku doesn't become more “felt” by using phrases like these. By stating, showing, explicit emotions in a way normally used in Western poetry by the Romantics or by heartbroken teenagers. I do not question animism in haiku or surrealism (wish those were more frequently used tools) but mostly it seems that the writer worked really hard to “deepen” her/his haiku … and it doesn't work. Pouring our hearts out, crying in public (which sells a lot of tv-shows) doesn't really belong to haiku and hardly ever make good poetry. Our personal feelings aren't that interesting if the reader cannot partake in it with her/his own experiences. Haiku as such works more powerful by the implied. In the same way it seems to me that writers taking on “new-new/contemporary (gendai) haiku” tend to write about space or death in various ways as if the subjects themselves were “the new”, but that too has become commonplace and truisms. Newness in haiku might just happen to appear when all kinds of locked and habitual perceptions are dropped and the writer freely accesses his/her consciousness and what lies beneath the everyday level and incorporates the seemingly hap-hazard associations our streams of thought 17

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

come up with. (More about this in a later post).

Constructions like fresh snow the weight of what we didn't say has become so overly used that it is void of impact. Or nothing new or unexpected. Juxing the “fresh snow” (lightness, pure, untouched, undisturbed by the cruelty of man's walk on earth etc.) and the standard “hurtphrase” “ … what we didn't say” is as common as flies on cow dung. Who doesn't expect flies on dung? This standard/generic haiku reflect a “tone” very common (and very uninteresting) in mainstream haiku. A tone of hurting in solitude even though you're with a person you supposedly love and chose to be with. But does it concern other people? Doesn't we all have internal books full of what we didn't say when we should have? Does this phrasing presume that it is the same “we didn't say” for all of us? Is this in concordance with haiku being a short poem that shows something (in theory) commonly experienced/known (or possibly known) in a new surprising way, one that opens a new view on something very ordinary? Is it of such a nature that it should have escaped the diary and made it out into the world via the web or by print? … or maybe it just represent a writer joining two pre-fabricated block of words. My suggestion of an answer ending in more questions could be that the view of the individual, the utterly private as in “confessional” literature, so fundamental for Western poetry and culture have gradually flowed over into what is called modern or mainstream haiku and haiku in general. Haiku being basically an ego-less (non-private) poetry form has to some degree been paired with “die immer traurigen”, the eversulking, Westerners, AND the tendency to place the writer (and his/her hurting) in the centre of things. The private hurt again. It seems as though the emotional expressions, the weight, the colouration, the up-front emotional expressions of a private and personal character that maybe originally belongs to tanka has begun taking over the slightly more distanced, hinted and implied “open to interpretation”/supplied-by-the-reader ditto of haiku. Or is it part of some haiku becoming Western in “mode”/tone? Some basic reading about haiku vs. tanka might help keeping things apart. The difference lies not only in 3 lines or 5 lines. To put it demonstratively blunt: I am not advocating haiku/tanka purity as such but cramming the emotionality of tanka into a haiku may be a bit too much. Though already much writing going under the label “haiku” maybe isn't anything more than 3line feely diary notes, aphorisms, vignettes, (Western) poems, banalities, repetitions, replications etc. it seems a re-invigorated awareness of the basic differences of haiku and tanka may be needed or drawn to attention. Does the “dreaming room” of tanka fit into haiku? How much explicit heartache can a haiku bear? Are we so preoccupied with our own sadnesses that we cannot write from anything else? Have we lost the sense of what we as humans have in common? Does the personal reflections of tanka have room enough in a haiku where the reader himself/herself should complete it? Have we evicted the reader from our (mainstream) haiku to make room for showing forth our own private emotions? Do we serve already complete packages instead of hinting at doors that might open up new rooms? These questions aren't meant to imply “you're on the wrong” path but as means to raise the awareness, ask ourselves, of what we're doing.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

So, one of the essential, important and intriguing features/basics of haiku is making room for reader/listener; to build and arrange half a room and let the reader move in with her/his own stuff to complete it even if it takes some effort to do so. Even if the room maybe hexagonal and pink. To supply some “Rorschach” words/images, implied like unfinished jig-saw puzzles and let the reader interpret and complete it. NOT giving it all away but kindling the reader's own stock of images, memories, experiences and such, that is a beautiful aspect of haiku. You don't present a haiku, you invite others to partake in it. It's a play. A play that has to some degree takes place in a common and not private sphere. I (I) am not interested in having a haiku set before me as a dinner plate, I want to be offered one. There's a difference. The haiku must have enough space/room in it for me to enter. Only then it becomes vibrant and alive, a project that does not solely revolve around the writer but also has something for me, something I can relate to that is not within the author's person and his/her foggy past. This invitation often lies in the fragmentary use of images and words (openings) and it's not done by saying: “ ... what we didn't say”. The invitation into a haiku shouldn't be me guessing what the writer's cranky relationship is all about and where he/she went wrong and so on. That is not completing a haiku. But, alas, what hasn't been said (regrets) is evidently still not being said and man, does it take up a lot of space. True, reality is coloured by the mind that perceives it but as humans we are able to determine what is “mine” and what is “ours”, what we obviously have in common. Still, this kind of haiku is part of the diversity too. Afterword:

cherry boy
from one petal to the other the cherry boy dances in red shoes sore necks one flower should be auspicious a secret spring the cherry boy keeps silent 'bout the whales to fly pink and into a pocket a nation leaving winter populated by cherry kids one chaffinch two

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

sunlit coffee – snails on the table closest to Armageddon piercing a waterfall the cherry boy reveals my future name did I mention did you hear my skull is lined with pollen from an anatomic atlas a cherry boy weaves the pinkest fog of all go out stay in we'll tackle it together 18C in March the cherry boy draws pink eyes on blind stones their dream our nightmare my card is always Death out of nowhere and back – the cherry boy hides inside a girl cctv I won't move a finger a bubble of innocence surrounding this kid – the cherry boy sneaks out a song enough is said we touch The Silent One (“cherry boy” can be used a term for a virgin boy/adolescent in Japanese)

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Between the Janus heads - the metaphysical/philosophical/nerdy post ... In the opposite end of the feely, sobby, sulking or intimately private emotional stuff is the “dead”/inert shasei haiku that Shiki believers (or so they say they are) advocate; a form of haiku that essentially comes across as an inventory, a recount of what the writer has seen or constructed to fit the form. A poetry void of any kind of “person”, ego, observer's reaction or even something actually happening. Ideally this type should reveal “the extraordinary in the ordinary” and it does so in some isolated cases but mostly it in my eyes comes across as a “listing up elements seen or imagined (as some seem overly constructed from “haiku lego” /standard blocks/phrases/elements), really just “re-telling what a person observed”. I am not (personally) moved, touched, provoked, animated by this … and I (personally) need to be challenged not just told. I need to be able to (again) be invited into a haiku not just served a finished package. Something like: bare branches the far off sound of a train (generic, made for this post by me) Reading stuff like this I (remember this an utterly subjective view on things not trying to balance “points of view” or educate) think: and so what!?!? What is the intention of telling me that you've seen a tree without leaves and heard a train? Wasn't your mind active on other levels and with other things (thinking about the financial crisis, the wart on your neck, the speed of light, the limits of science, the health of your parents/children, what you need to get from the shops) at the same time? Didn't reflection at other levels take place at the same time? and so on. I know that a lot of Zen-inspired haijin would think of a haiku like the above as a “state of being in the now and observing reality”, that imaginary state so vigorously promoted by Zennies. (Maybe reflected/grounded in the Blyth-misunderstanding: “Zen is Poetry. Poetry is Zen”). But you can easily recognize your emptiness - and the emptiness in all things - while still acting in and having reactions to the world of temporary things. Or was the intention to create another jar for the museum of “a million look-a-like jars”? to fit in? … which in itself is o.k. and alright, by the way; just not very interesting as writing to this blogger who prefer reading haiku that shows forth something I wasn't aware of myself, haiku that surprises and challenges me. (But that's me, you don't have to take any notice of this). The reality is that we have a mind, a consciousness, and we're aware of having one. Even if we consider it a burden. And we are a species that are aware of being aware of being aware and on and on. We can even be aware of transcending our consciousness … with practice. We are onions within onions. Humans are multidimensional, multi-spheric, multi-layered and at the same time we are a melting pot and a meeting point for a multitude of dimensions, spheres (as we comfortably divide Nature/Being-of-all-things into that our brains shouldn't burst …). We are where outer and inner reality mates. To simplify it I can say (loosely quoting Ban'ya Natsuishi) that our reality is made up from (all) the outer reality - all that we come in touch with through our senses - and (all) our inner reality, from all of our history (personal and as a human in a (local and global) society, the “processing” of all that enters us) and all of our present along with every possible bit of “information” (knowledge, experience, reactions to and reflections on our experiences, whatever sensory and emotional experience we've had and every conceivable “thing”/action/situation/word/gesture etc. that have made an imprint on/in us). This excludes very little - if anything. And this provides us with endless possibilities for writing.

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

Imagine the faces of Janus (or any multi-faced god). In a simplified way you can say one face looks at the outer reality and one looks at the inner. We (I) work (and live) where those two heads are connected. Being human we have a consciousness, a mind, that connects both (or our mind is made up from both(?)). This whole is ever changing as everything in the outer and inner sphere is ever changing, as we constantly acquire new inner “tools” to handle the outer reality and the other way round. And maybe there isn't a difference between those spheres. Ideally they're one. Now, being a “meeting point” for all possible dimensions/spheres and on top having the ability to be aware of being so gives us possibilities beyond exhaustion. This means we can write on multi-dimensional levels. We can draw from every sphere. We can write about blood types in the same verse where we mention the flute of Krishna for instance. Or a worn out slipper. And none of it will be untrue because both exists and is part of (or connected in) our consciousness - well, of this writer's, anyway. In my view and practice this is the motor, the well, the spring. To us the world/reality only exists because we have a conscious mind. You might even say that what previously seemed as separate entities in our consciousness becomes parts of a whole. Squids and space rockets, sore gums and the quantum theory … So let's make use of this neverending connecting of seemingly separate occurrences in the universe we inhabit for the time being. Being aware and making use of our potentially “cosmic” consciousness breaks down the “compartmental” world. As everything is already interconnected we ourselves set the limits, define “genres”, make boxes and cages where we could grow wings, ride on dragons and work on being more aware. Everything is nature as nothing perceivable is outside nature. Nothing man can experience with his/her senses is not-nature. We are nature and our minds are nature. Man cannot see, hear, touch, smell, kick, cuddle, paint or tickle anything that is not nature and seeing our state like this might just open some doors for us. … and then we might be able to write haiku like these:

twenty billion light-years of perjury:

your blood type is “B”

Hoshinaga Fumio, Modern Haiku essay http://www.modernhaiku.org/essays/HoshinagaFumio.html hummingbird I pull its colours to create my own state (Alan Summers, Does Fish-God Know, yettobenamedfreepress, 2012) For a call to hell perhaps unnecessary mathematics (Ban'ya Natsuishi, Hybrid Paradise, Cyberwit, 2010)

while the maps are printing a manifesto-like wind 22

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

(Scott Metz, lakes & now wolves, Modern Haiku Press, 2012) just to point out a few ...

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Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

New? “… writers taking on “new haiku” tend to write about space or death in various ways as if the subjects themselves were “the new” but that too has become commonplace. Newness in haiku might just happen to appear when all kinds of locked perceptions are dropped and the writer freely accesses his/her consciousness and what lies beneath”, I wrote earlier. What we actually can do that is (or seems) new is excluding nothing in our writing and make use of how our mind(s)/attention works on its “automated” level, before it enters the place in us where we form words and draw conclusions, organize and reject or accept. Anyway, that is how most of us go about 80% of our daily life, I guess. We act and react on top of a lot of processes we aren't aware of in their totality. We'd need enormous brains and energy reserves to do that … or to be enlightened which most of us aren't and very many of us don't give a toss about. We absorb a vast number of informations (sensual, intellectual emotional) every day and we, more or less subconsciously, arrange them into relevant/irrelevant, usable and unusable and so on. But even the irrelevant and unusable stay with us even if in an inert state. We can make use of that material in our writing too. In the last post I mentioned that because of our consciousness, because we're human, we have the universe at our disposal, our source of inspiration, our well to draw from. Basically I'd say we're unlimited but as haiku poets we administer this limitlessness in what goes as the shortest poetry form alive. This is the paradox that makes it interesting writing and reading haiku. No subject/theme is beyond haiku as has been said since Basho. This is why this blogger from time to time gets discouraged when writers from what can be called the “new traditional” (what has been considered “modern” haiku in the past 20 years or more) when trying out at gaining new territory chooses a more or less uniform set of “alternative” themes and subjects. Very often we are presented with themes of space, the universe and something with death, blood and guts. Granted, both themes occupy a lot of space in the media but they're hardly “new” as themes except when seen in relation to traditional modern haiku. Or do those writers think that “shockers” such as blood, guts and grit is any different from the adolescent slapping a dead mouse on the table during Sunday lunch? It may be a bit odd to hear the distinguished gentleman/-woman say the f-word but it's hardly new. Nonetheless, writers who try to break away from what they are used to, their modus, deserve a pad on their back. By stepping out of our comfort zone and normal activity field and modus will let new air into their work. Like I pointed out in the early posts a movement can start with a break-away, it will grow for a while and then settle in a form/norm with its own inertia. Movements (in both meanings) are made out of people, and in the writers themselves this start, go, rest, fade/sprout, grow, bloom, die takes place as well. So every attempt at finding new way for one self is commendable. “Haiku can be a lot more than pears and yellow windows” Marlene Mountain once said, and more than “space travels and intestines” I will add. Between the frog pond and Mars (or Kepler 10b) there's an abundance of subjects and themes. As many as you have the energy and time to explore or become aware of. As many as there are human lives being lived. Reality, if seen as suggested in the previous post as a totality of man's outer and inner reality, is unending, unlimited and inexhaustibly varied. This is why we shouldn't limit ourselves or our fellow writers to certain specific subjects, themes and styles. We should draw on all our experiences not tuning our “poet's mind” to just look for stuff in certain directions or aspects of life. There isn't such a thing as a set of subjects and themes for “modern haiku” and one for “contemporary haiku”. Drawing from our own lives may just add weight and substance to haiku. Not excluding subjects and themes because they might seem “un-haiku-ish” just might make haiku richer because it deals with the time and circumstances in which it is written by a person who actually lives, fights and is conscious of it. 24

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

The link between consciousness and language is intimate - just like the two sides of a coin together make up one coin. Another way of “newness” (“” because it isn't really new) is the various types Robert Gilbert found and treated in his article/essay “The Disjunctive Dragonfly” in his “Poems of Consciousness” (a version can be found here: (http://research.gendaihaiku.com/dragonfly/DisjunctiveDragonfly.htm) here presented in short: Disjunctive Types (in presented order): 1) Perceptual disjunction 2) Semantic expectation 3) Misreading as meaning 4) Linguistic oxymoron 5) Imagistic fusion 6) Metaphoric fusion 7) Symmetrical rhythmic substitution 8) Concrete disjunction 9) Rhythmic disjunction (read the article to get these points explained) And: “The goal of this paper is to offer expanded definitions and concepts for what “proper haiku” in English may be. To date, the English haiku tradition has been constrained, due to selective and intransigent interpretations of the Japanese haiku tradition; as well, a lack of critical focus on creative methodologies unique to English-genre evolution has stymied development. By examining the English haiku through its use of disjunction, new analytical and compositional perspectives will be suggested; as well, disjunctions in haiku will be examined semantically and linguistically to show that the aspect of disjunction may provide the intrinsic basis of both fragment/phrase-juxtaposition and the formal kireji (“cutting word”). Given that a haiku may cohere through its disjunctive attributes alone, disjunctive techniques may demonstrably supervene “traditional” notions of juxtaposition and kireji. By presenting a nomenclature of 17 disjunctive types, such as “reversal of semantic expectation, “the impossibly true,” “metaphoric fusion,” “elemental animism,” etc., new perspectives and guidelines regarding haiku composition and analysis will be presented. As an imported literary form, the English haiku has remained on the margins of Anglo-American literature; by viewing haiku through the lens of disjunction, it is hoped that this nascent form may find greater contiguity with other poetic genres, further validating its role as a multicultural literary art.” (The Disjunctive Dragonfly: A Study of Disjunctive Methodology in Contemporary English Haiku, Richard Gilbert, Kumamoto University Published by: Kumamoto Studies in English Language and Literature, 47 (Literary Society of Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan, March 2004) (some of the writing and research by Richard Gilbert can be found at research.gendaihaiku.com) Accepting the special use of language in haiku as poetry to the fullest, fragments, “baby-talk” as in what is normally seen as an “incomplete”, rudimentary language, lack of the coherency normally found in everyday language, literally using the words as images creating images (symbols creating images) may be a way to 25 10) The impossibly true 11) Displaced mythic resonance 12) Misplaced anthropomorphism 13) The unsatisfactory object 14) Pointing to the missing subject 15) Register shift 16) Elemental animism 17) Irruptive collocatio

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

create the tension in a haiku that will make you think and think some more. An immediate consumption of some contemporary haiku might not be as easy as reading a mainstream/modern haiku (because you (I) more or less know it before it's read through) but some of us actually like to be challenged and spend a while chewing on a concentrated haiku rather than read what we have read before in various disguises. But: each to his/her own. Again, to keep haiku as a living, breathing poetry form I'll encourage every writer to work at creating their own personal take on it, paint it with their own colours using brushes, sledgehammers, syringes, shoes, the laws of physics, Freud's slippers, chequered kitchen floors, cigarette buds, genitalia, coffee pots, smelly feet, allergy, cherry blossoms, geisha's eyelashes, green tea, Valerian roots or whatever “tool” they prefer. By churning the haiku spirit in our own bodies and minds, haiku might rediscover that it's a never ceasing flow. If we can do that while respectfully accepting that others will do it differently, that each of us has our own way, taste, set of preferences and ideals and that they're just as “right” as we are then we might just increase the vitality of haiku literature. Johannes S. H. Bjerg PS: the book “21” from Modern Haiku Press presents a varied selection that to some extend shows what haiku looks like today. In here you can find traditionalist, modern and contemporary haiku. This book provides a great view into a possible future and a vibrant present. – So what does all this add up to, if anything? Well, we shouldn't limit ourselves or other people in how they write or what they write about. We should acknowledge that if we ourselves want the freedom to write what and how we like we can't refuse others the same. And would we endure a haiku world of extreme uniformity? one where (as it seems the case in some corners of this haiku world) a standard set of phrases, topics, themes etc. make up the majority of the written haiku … Shouldn't we rather inspire and support each other to find our own voices rather than trying to fall in with the choir already singing or lashing out at those who doesn't follow our personal taste and preference? Though it alright not to like this or that “genre” others should be free to choose for themselves what they like. Diversity is a gift. Diversity is nature's own expression amongst ourselves - in the world of animate and inanimate things. We all have individual voices, why shouldn't we use them? and why would anyone have it otherwise? Writing haiku is always (to me, at least) feeling like a beginner. Over and over again. And as a beginner I (and I hope you do too) try out a number of things, different takes, uncomfortable “genres” (yes, even shasei ;-) ) all to get rid of that layer of calluses and to get to the vulnerable but breathing skin, so to speak. The “state” where we don't rely on already achieved experience, breaking away from our own comfort zone. And maybe we need to at times reject genres, boxes, fences, hedges and so on (though they'll pop up soon enough again in the common space) and just go along with our flow that the poem finds exactly the form it needs to express our intentions; in the same way we should (and I'm sure most of us inevitably do that during a day, a week) read all genres of haiku not to limit ourselves. The limitations we impose on ourselves (mostly subconsciously) are fairly easy to break, but harder to see. The limitations others try to impose on us directly or indirectly by shouting about “right” or “wrong” and working out elaborate check lists of what elements should be present in an acceptable haiku are tougher. But if we realize that no (one) person, no “board”/institution, no country, no culture can decide what is “right/wrong” haiku and that those who claim themselves to be in that position anyway merely are human beings like ourselves with no divine 26

Untied Kites - thougts and views on haiku and the haiku world

mandate, we can easily let them shout themselves hoarse. We needn't bother with them. Like I've asked before: why stay in a place that makes you uncomfortable? why seek out company where you most likely will be yelled at and abused? If the “emperors” want to rant and shout and fight windmills (things they can't change but will oppose anyway) then let them. You and I can do as little about them as they can do about the kind of haiku they can't stand. It will be written anyway. Nature thrives in diversity, nay, diversity is Nature's true face, we are nature so why not accept the diversity and embrace it … just asking …

For the month of February 2013 and for http://haikumatters.wordpress.com Johannes S. H. Bjerg Denmark

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