Friday, May 19, 2017

Cool Announcement: Philip Rowland's Essay on New Directions in English Language Haiku

                                                                                                            ink-stained hands
                                                                                                            my pen leaks
                                                                                                            a haiku

                                                                                                            Michael Dylan Welch

If haiku is to rise to the level of serious poetry, literature that is widely respected and admired, that is taught and studied, commentated on, that can have impact on other non-haiku poets, then it must have a complexity that gives it depth and that allows it to both focus on and rise above the specific moment of time. Basho, Buson and other masters achieved this through various forms of textual density, including metaphor, allegory, symbolism, and allusion, as well as through the constant search for new topics. … Haiku need not and should not be confined to a narrow definition of nature poetry, particularly since the ground rules are completely different from those in Japan.

-- Haruo Shirane, Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku Myths

My Dear Readers:

I just re-read Philip Rowland's influential essay,  titled New Directions in English-Language Haiku: An Overview and Assessment (IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 2:2, September 2013), which was written to mark the "centenary of the publication of Ezra Pound’s 'In a Station of  the Metro,' widely recognized as the first fully achieved haiku in English" (see my reviews of Pound's view of haiku and his "metro poem:" Ezra Pound's View of Hokku/Haiku, Haiku as a Form of Super-Position, Haikuesque Reading of Ezra Pound’s “Metro Poem,”  and Ezra Pound’s "Metro Poem" as a Yugen Haiku).This essay provides an overview of innovations in English-language haiku with a focus on American haiku in relation to the one-line form as a vehicle for innovation (see my reviews of one-line haiku: To Be or Not to Be a One-line Haiku? and Reexamining One-Line Haiku)

I hope all of you will enjoy the essay.


Selected Haiku

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Ezra Pound

distant thunder
the dog’s toenails click
against the linoleum

Gary Hotham

pig and i spring rain

Marlene Mountain

spin on dead and wounded any scratch of  pines

Marlene Mountain

(Philip Rowland's Comment:  The reference to media “spin” brings us abruptly into the realm of the contemporary,  while “any scratch of pines” serves not only as an “experience of nature,” but also,  possibly, as an expression of irritation, or a frustrated call to awareness of what was really going on in the Iraq war. p. 57)

only american deaths count the stars

Scott Metz

(Philip Rowland's Comment: This concisely demonstrates the ambiguity that the one-line form affords. With the word “count” acting as a hinge, the poem makes a general, bitterly ironic claim: “only american deaths count.” However, it also allows for the verb to be read as an imperative (“count the stars”), so putting the claim in a broader, indeed cosmic, perspective—even while “stars” resonates satirically, in the popular sense akin to “heroes.” While traditionalists might dismiss the poem as too “message-y,” it touches on an important political topic and emotion in a particularly concise yet evocative way. p.57)

leaves blowing into a sentence

Robert Boldman

spot of sunlight --
on a blade of grass a dragonfly
changes its grip

Lee Gurga

icy rain
at the bottom of the lake
a door to yesterday

Fay Aoyagi

Put a period deeply
into the desert
at the center of the new world

Ban’ya Natsuishi

In the

    runs the

                  a new century

Kamiyama Himeyo

1 comment:

  1. I have written haiku for nearly 50 years. Perhaps ten have been successful. It is a much more difficult task than the average person knows and yet the attempt must seem natural, almost casual in its observation so as not to come off as smug. I think there is nothing keeping a literary magazine or poetry publisher from publishing haiku except that threshold of achieving the natural voice and an image that rings true for any reader. It is this quality makes the difference in some of your examples.