Heartfelt Thanks to all of the visitors who have found their way to the site,
and to all my teachers(all of you), those who supported my efforts, and the
many who allowed their work to be displayed here, and of course, my wife
Paula for reminding me what time it was in the wee hours of the morning.
A letter to the Shiki List
Is it Haiku?
This letter was written by Jane during one of the frequent
discussions on the Shiki Haiku List as to the nature of haiku. I am including it on
these pages because, as I told Jane when I asked to use it here, I read it often when
I am in need of a gentle reminder to stay on the right path, or to center my own
thoughts when some of the discourses get a little heavy handed.
The points brought up in these previous messages are valid
and very interesting. I believe it shows how meaningful haiku
can be when we remove a few pickets from the *fence*. I am
bothered by the several times it is asked, "Is this a haiku?"
I think the better question is, "Do I want to accept this poem
as an example of haiku for myself?" With this way of stating
the question, perhaps one can avoid painful discourses. I am
totally for discussion, but when anyone assumes the authority
to say "what haiku is(or isn't)", I feel the discussion has
ended and turned into something quite different.
The necessity of our asking ourselves this question
becomes weightier when we each realize that we are responsible
for what haiku IS; and what it is becoming. By our writing, we
are defining the form. By our changes in the form it is being
changed. If the style of current haiku seems to be going in a
direction which is not compatible with yours,then you have an
even greater *load* of responsibility to make sure people see
the finest work you can do in your style. Surely someone will
be inspired to work harder with the same rules you have taken
up for yourself.
In regard to Laura's question, "Does anybody out there
know anything about this linked form, or is it just a twist on
the traditional renga?". I was in correspondence with both
authors (Christopher Herold and Maggie Chula) and this renga,
(as it seemed to me from their words), was an experiment -- a
sort of listening to themselves. It is obvious that they both
knew renga from participating and also knew the koan method
of teaching Zen, which surely *gave them the freedom* to use
questions. Using questions is a poetry technique older than
written history. Probably the very early *poems* were teaching
devices in which a question was posed and then an answer given
(like riddles which koans are the farthest extension). In fact
the *magic* that happens between a 'question' and an 'answer'
is the very stuff we aim for in haiku, (and tanka and renga) --
that connectedness which can only be followed by a leap.
Thanks for reading this.
Basho Interpretations, Photo Haiku
Haiku by Contemporary Poets
Gualala, CA 95445 USA
Fax: 707 884-1853