Friday, November 11, 2016

Special Feature: War and Peace Haiku for Remembrance Day

                                                                       Living Sepulchres

                                                                       One frosty night when the guns were still
                                                                        I leaned against the trench
                                                                        Making for myself hokku (haiku)
                                                                        Of the moon and flowers and of snow
                                                                        But the ghostly scurrying of huge rats
                                                                        Swollen with feeding upon men's flesh
                                                                        Filled me with shrinking dread.

                                                                        Richard Aldington

My Dear Readers:

Today, we commemorate Armistice Day and Remembrance Day through the study of three haiku essays:

An essay examining the role haiku played in the poetry of the World War I and considering the way haiku can be used as tool for remembrance and honoring

Selected Haiku:

bursts from our guns
the town on the horizon
a brief vision of light

Julien Vocance

Anzac parade
shoulder to shoulder
headless shadows

Andre Surridge

even the names
in the shade have faded --
memorial park

Lorin Ford

no higher
a boy

Sandra Simpson

war memorial --
the silence in a hand

Carole Harrison

half light --
the whispers of soldiers
on Anzac Day

Anne Curran

II Haiku and War by Paul Miller

"In the first part of this essay I will examine the landscape of war haiku. I will look at its history, discuss why poets might choose haiku instead of other genres for their impressions of war, look at who is writing war haiku, and point out some major themes. Additionally, since a haiku’s small size often means that its specific war is left unmentioned, I will discuss the sometime use of particular referents—and how those can help build a vertical axis. In the second part, I will move from the landscape of war haiku into the important questions that the poems and poets themselves raise. I will discuss the differences between the haiku of war participants and those who comment from the sidelines, look at haiku that take a moral stand, ask questions concerning authenticity—including creating a definition of authenticity that extends beyond war haiku, and examine the thorny question of historical revision. I will also discuss why any one of these issues can potentially cause a haiku to fail."

Selected Haiku:

after the bombing
ruins of a bridge
linked by the fog

Nebojša Simin

Spring evening.
The wheel of a troop carrier
Crushes a lizard.

Dimitar Anakiev

spring dewdrops
cling to a blade of grass –
Iraqi children

Chen-ou Liu

talking to the tree
outside the window
about rain, about the war

Marlina Rinzen

fall leaves
burying toy soldiers
her small son

Fonda Bell Miller

war dead
exit out of a blue mathematics

Sugimura Seirinshi

This is our reply to violence: to make haiku more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. Changing the world one haiku at a time.

-- Chen-ou Liu paraphrasing Leonard Bernstein

Selected Haiku:

long-stemmed roses
he's back
without his leg

Melissa Allen

sun dogs
on the winter horizon ...
another body count

Francine Banwarth

suicide bomber
a head of lettuce
splattered with blood

Robert Lucky

a drizzling rain ...
washing their blood
into their blood

Michael McClintock

all that remains --
dreams of jungle,
sand, sky

Marilyn Hazelton

only american deaths count the stars

Scott Metz

A machine gun --
in the middle of the forehead
a red flower blooms.

Saito Sanki

To conclude today's "Armistice Day and Remembrance Day" post, I would like to encourage each of you to take time to rethink the politics of war memory and commemoration:

Collateral Damage
for Susan Sontag

white poppy
pinned to her son's first suit
Remembrance Day

Inside the top drawer of her husband's wooden desk, there is an old photo album. It starts with pictures of toy trucks, toy soldiers, toy tanks, and other delights of boys from the neighborhood playing in the sunlight. It ends with the picture of a new military cemetery with a row of white crosses in winter mist.

 Kokako, 24, April 2016

Note: First introduced by British pacifists in 1926, the white poppy is used as a symbol of peace and worn as an alternative to (or complement to) the red poppy for Remembrance Day.

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