Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cool Announcement: A Free Essay,The American Haiku Movement

"The American Haiku Movement,"  Charles Trumbull's essay on the history of the American haiku movement, appeared originally in two parts in two consecutive issues of Modern Haiku, October, 2005, and Spring, 2006. Now, both parts are included in one free PDF document. You can read its full text here (and two related articles, "Towards a Definition of the English Haiku" and Haiku in English in North America," written by George Swede).

Selected Early Haiku:

the blind musician
extending an old tin cup
collects a snowflake

Nick Virgilio

The summer chair
rocking by itself
In the blizzard
Jack Kerouac

frog pond...
a leaf falls in
without a sound

Bernard Einbond

Coming from the woods
A bull has a lilac sprig
Dangling from a horn

Richard Wright

Spring breeze
puffs through the skeleton
of a bird

Raymond Roseliep

A bitter morning:
Sparrows sitting together
Without any necks.

James W. Hackett

one fly everywhere the heat

Marlene Mountain

Note: For more information about the influences in American haiku, see "Cool Announcement: A Free Essay, Intersecting Influences in American Haiku"

"Intersecting Influences in American Haiku," Thomas Lynch's essay on American haiku in relation to both classical Zen-influenced Japanese haiku and American transcendentalism, was first published in Modernity in East-West Literary Criticism: New Readings, edited by Yoshinobu Hakutani (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2001, pp.114–136). Now, this essay is made available for free and open access at DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  You can read its full text here


In contemporary American haiku poetry we find a convergence of the tradition of the American transcendentalists, especially Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, with the Zen-influenced Japanese tradition of haiku composition. This convergence is most obvious in a shared belief in the ability of the poet to see the world anew, and in the desire to efface the subject/object dichotomy between the poet and the natural world. In the work of many North American poets, the transcendental and Zen traditions synthesize to generate a distinctive brand of haiku. Since the mid-1950s, literally thousands of collections of haiku poetry have appeared in the United States and Canada. Hundreds of thousands of haiku have been published in scores of magazines, and the rate of publication increases steadily. Yet English language haiku has so far not been accepted as a legitimate form of American poetry worthy of inclusion in literary anthologies and consideration in critical discussions.

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