Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cool Announcement : In the Company of Good Poems

In Kawamoto's study of haiku aesthetics, he notes that much of the appeal of a haiku -- because it is a poem, after all, and not just an expression of a Zen psyche -- stems from some "rhetorical anomaly," or distinctiveness in the expression, usually found in the base section (127) 1. The  rhetorical anomaly can come in the form of pun, paradox, repetition, hyperbole, something striking in the haiku's sound or its image, or some disruption of syntax or expectation -- in short, something in the language, some derivation from language's denotative function, that catches our notice. One flaw evident in much contemporary haiku, it seems to me, is that its emphasis on simplicity and invisibility of language called “wordlessness” at times leads to a flatness that often lacks any “rhetorical anomaly...
 -- Ian Marshall, Walden by Haiku, p.50

Of the later poetry collections, the most highly admired was the eighth imperial anthology, Shin kokinshu (The New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems), ... Still emulating the traditional ideals, [the poets] were able to reinvigorate the thirty-one-syllable form through innovative use of such devices as classical allusion, wordplay, and symbolism. Through classical allusion, they could create novel comparisons or contrasts that would expand the meaning of their poems.
-- Makoto Ueda, Modern Japanese Tanka, pp. xiii-xiv)

A haiku or a tanka without "rhetoric" was likely to be no more  than a brief observation without poetic tension or illumination.
-- Donald Keene, The Winter Sun Shines in: A Life of Masaoka Shiki, p 57.

My Dear Contributors and Readers:

As I read over the haiku and tanka submitted for inclusion in the 2013 Butterfly Dream and One Man’s Maple Moon anthologies respectively, the exchange between Anne Elliot and William Elliot that is cleverly depicted in Persuasion 2 came to my mind. In deciding what lifts the submitted haiku and tanka from “good company” to “the best,” I wanted every word to count, to add to the poem, not simply fill a syntactic or semantic gap. The effective use of "rhetorical anomaly" or punctuation marks helped as well. I was also hoping to see some arresting images in the poems jump out and grab me by the throat. I set a high standard, giving equal weight to thematic significance, evocative imagery, skilled use of literary devices, and the two-axis aspect of the poem.

After coffee, deliberation, and more coffee, it is bittersweet to make the following decision: there are no best haiku and tanka for the 2013 anthologies; but, our life at NeverEnding Story is good when in the company of the following poems:

two light beams shining
where there were once twin towers –
my son, my daughter

Jack Galmitz

when my gendai world was flat I kept falling off
                                                                                           the text horizon


a large bruise
deep inside the mango
the way you turned away
when I needed you most

Susan Constable

Many thanks for your continued support of my project. And look forward to reading your new work (see 2014 haiku/tanka anthology submission guidelines ; Deadline: December 1, 2014)



1 The main appeal of a haiku lies in the operation of a dynamic segment, which—while drawing the reader’s interest through powerful stylistic features—remains only a single layer that offers little indication of the poem’s overall significance (or else gives only an ambiguous clue)... We will refer to this part as the “base section.” Similarly we will use the term “superposed section” to refer to those evocative phrases which... work upon and in conjunction with the base sections in order to furnish the reader with clues to the poem’s overall significance... A segment of the base [may] simultaneously function in the role of the superposed section
-- Kōji Kawamoto, Poetics of Japanese Verse: Imagery, Structure, Meter. pp. 73-4.

2 “My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”
“You are mistaken,” said he gently; “that is not good company; that is the best.
-- An exchange between Anne Elliot and her cousin/suitor William Elliot from Persuasion by Jane Austen , Chapter 16,  pp. 147-8.

No comments:

Post a Comment