My Dear Fellow Poets/Readers:
I just published a 30-page detailed study of David Cobb's What Happens in Haibun. The methodological approach for my study is a thematic, textual, and perspectival analysis. This study was written in response to the goals and reasons stated by David Cobb, the renowned poet and a founding member of the British Haiku Society:
What Happens in [David Cobb’s Conception of] Haibun: A Critical Study for Readers Who Want More by Chen-ou Liu
What Happens in Haibun: A Critical Study of an Innovative Literary Form by David Cobb. Uxbridge, UK: Alba Publishing, 2013. UK 12/US 16/EUR 14; also available from Alba Publishing as an e-book. ISBN: 978-0957526518.
Being a reader, I love to read the haibun written by the poet David Cobb, which are crafted in a variety of subject matters, styles, and accompanied with visually and aurally appealing images. However, being a critic, I’m more interested in what kind of a study or how a study is done by a fellow critic David Cobb, according to his stated goals and thesis statement (pp. 5-7). . . . Throughout What Happens in Haibun, the critic David Cobb thinks and acts more like a literary guide who takes readers into the mind of the poet David Cobb. His vision of haibun and his set of critical skills for literary analysis are limited, and he fails to take readers to see beyond the text horizon inscribed by the poet David Cobb or to trespass the boundary prescribed by “gatekeepers” of the genre, haibun.
-- Chen-ou Liu
Thematically speaking, What Happens in Haibun is divided into two parts; the first one consists of Introduction (pp. 5-15) and Conclusions (pp. 75-83), which provide Cobb’s reflections on the literary genre, haibun, practiced in Japan and in the West and his thoughts on the craft of haibun writing, and the second one Commentaries on Marching with Tulips (pp. 16-74), which is made up of detailed comments made by the critic David Cobb on each and every haibun included in Marching with Tulips written by the poet David Cobb.
Cobb’s study of haibun is a rather slim volume, 88 pages in total. Its main aim is to “provide useful material for newcomers to haibun, perhaps tutors of creative writing courses and their students for whom this may be a wholly new field of literature, one that blends prose and poetry, with few pointers how to meet its challenges” (p.5), and he also states that this study may “serve to concentrate some of [haibunists’s] thinking about the form, especially about the roles the haiku play in [their] haibun . . . may also be useful to editors and publishers of literary magazines, websites and anthologies, who sometimes admit they lack sufficient criteria for selecting haibun to publish” (p. 5).
To the best of my knowledge, David Cobb is the first writer in the field of English-language Japanese short form poetry to play two conflicting roles in evaluating his work: the critic and the poet...
Read the full text here
In fact, my study is more than 30-page long. It's because some of the aesthetic, historical and typological issues related to the genre haibun were already published in the following "To the Lighthouse" posts, which were inspired by the reading of Cobb's book: "Essay-like" Haibun?! , Haibun Myth , Misunderstood Japanese Literary Terms (haibun, nikki, karumi, senryu, zappai), and The Art of Titling.
I'll further discuss some of the important issues raised in my study in a forthcoming series of "To the Lighthouse" posts, hoping that the haibun community will rethink how to explore haibun from a more contextualized and aesthetically-rich perspective, and most importantly, that my critical study will be trend-setting (this means no more book reviews or commentaries replete with “praise this and praise that,” occasionally intermingled with “this small quibble or that small quibble.” )
Many thanks for your continued support of my work.