Scorpion Prize 23 / Joseph Massey

This ku by Philip Rowland was selected by Joseph Massey, author of Areas of Fog (Shearsman Books, 2009) and At the Point (Shearsman Books, 2011) for Roadrunner’s 23rd Scorpion Prize.

Now we’d like to open it up to readers.

What do you make of this ku?

What other poems do you know of, and can share, that are somehow connected or associated with Philip’s ku?

Here’s what Joe had to say:

This issue (11.1) was a pleasure to read in its entirety. The choice was difficult, but I’ve settled on the above poem by Philip Rowland as the Scorpion Prize winner for its extreme economy that opens into wide areas of—layers of—possible interpretation, “meaning,” and enjoyment, without succumbing to the forced epiphany and contrived imagery that bogs down so much so-called haiku.

Anchoritic, as a stand-alone word, is a rather awkward adjective that would, I think, feel more at home in some stilted academic tome. What Rowland’s done, by the seemingly simple gesture of severing the word into three lines, is to show us how an entire world—or, at any rate, a deep glimpse into one—exists within even a most uncommon word. Anchoritic (“ascetic solitude”) thus opens up, breathes, becomes a kind of syllogism to puzzle over.

The “i” floats—or is it being crushed?—between two symptoms of a life of the mind. And the white space of the page provides the perfect room, the cell, for this active poem to move, or to sit still, in contemplation of itself; and so the definition of the word is enacted—shown—by its being turned inside out.

It’s an exquisitely strange, living thing.


47 thoughts on “Scorpion Prize 23 / Joseph Massey

    • thanks, Tom! would love to hear what you make of this ku in particular by Philip. in what ways does it work for you? perhaps you could articulate some things for us.

      • I think the ku is a witty comment on humanity, esp the poetic sort. We do need anchors — and of course we don’t have any. The anchor for some is the “i” — the ego; for some, rather more actually, it is the “tic” — the repetitive compulsive behavior that is a sign of uniqueness (that’s just my style, let me do it my way, the whole heritage of modern autonomy) except of course it’s not (a sign of uiqueness) or an anchor. The i — I — drifts between the dream of certainty, of ground, and the “will” that is really a “tic.” Now, philosophically, I’d put myself in a group that would not accept this as more than a witty aphoristic cubistic pensee, but I’d also put myself in the group that recognizes it as just that, a rather brilliant piece of satire and a image of our “condition” (only I don’t believe in that “condition” as exhaustive of our situation; that’s why I do metaxic analysis, see the blog at

  1. An obvious criticism – but one I’ll make anyway: this arrangment of words has so little of the art of utterance about it that I find it hard to consider as poetry at all.

    The late Stever Jobs would doubtless have known what to make of the iTic. So perhpas this is an instance of iKu.

    • You might want to consider that the idea of utterance itself has long been critiqued by the Language School of Poetry in compliance with French philosophers Derrida, Barthes. There is no Romantic self uttering anything; death of the narrator, author.
      Besides, as to grammar that is another matter of who controls it.
      Between anchor, that holds in place and perhaps crushes, is i or I and the last line is tic (like in tick, like in time, like in heartbeat). Variation of spellings go way back to Pound, et al.

      • thanks, guys.

        the emphasis and focus in this piece most certainly seems to be language itself—the language within and out of language, the meanings and emotions and world/s that can be created from/through it (thanks for bringing up Language poetry right away, Jack).

        John, how is this not working for you as a poem (let alone, it would seem, a haiku—any why not?). how does it not qualify exactly? or did you just feel like spitting on the blog a little and the kind of work we’d like to present and discuss? did you actually read what Joseph Massey wrote about the poem?

  2. I found Philip Rowland’s haiku to be an original; I’d never seen a single word opened up to create a poem. I’ve seen often the breaking up of a word to emphasize the wordness of a word, but nothing like what Philip did. And, I appreciate what Joseph Massey had to say about the poem.
    Shortly thereafter, I wrote a derivative poem in a similar vein, but retracted it from consideration for publication:


  3. I agree that this is a very interesting poem. Anchoritic is a version of anchorite, a person who withdraws from the world for religious reasons. So the floating “I” that Massey finds is appropriate. I think the worst thing you can do in the creation of these kinds of extra-readings—where words are broken apart to reveal other words… other readings—is for the new word to have no relationship to the larger poem. That kind of distracting reading is pointless, confusing. But that isn’t the case here. You have the “I” between a grounded “anchor” and an uncontrollable “tic”. One could say metaphorically between free will and predetermination. There also seems to be a bit of a plea in “anchor I”.

  4. Stupor

    Scott – don’t invite criticism and then attack the critic for offering a comment.

    To answer your question: yes, I read the cryptogram you mistake for poetry with great care. Likewise the comments of others. J

    • John, what you made previously was just a statement that wasn’t explained or backed up by anything. just a reaction. fair enough. but i don’t see it as a criticism, or an invitation to discuss, but just a comment to annoy readers, an opinion not backed up by ideas. i have no issue with your point of view or anyone else’s who doesn’t like the shared work on this blog: i would love it, however, if you would actually *explain* why you feel the way you do about it (what critics do) and explicate your reason/s for thinking this is not a poem, let alone a haiku (certainly a justifiable point of view, as even the poet has recently written to me), or, now, why it is a cryptogram (a text written in code, or a symbol or figure with secret or occult significance), which makes no sense to me at all. is it too much to ask that you actually provide criticism? how, exactly, have i and others mistaken this for poetry?

  5. The one-word haiku: “a few only may savor their bitter fruit without danger. So, timid soul, before penetrating further into such uncharted lands, set your feet the other way. Listen well to what I tell you: set your feet the other way…”

    Without doubt, haiku as-such may arrive tic-tac-toe inadmissible; horrid little squiggles of paste, glue and gloaming—easy to hate and fear. Yet tempting as the crane in long-distance flight, solitary, they wing their language at the tempest.

    “Reader, it is perchance hatred that you would have me invoke at the beginning…”

    Who cannot but distrust this enterprise of the one-word haiku, nay, the one-word poem, eh, the monocole de mon oncle of those bastardlings we call words on a page? Who with the gall to burn us, let alone pen it, submit it, to prove such poison piercingly true, barb us with the selection, to count coup with a Scorpion Prize?

    Someone close to Adam must be blamed. Some apple or anchor (right?) with charismatic presence filling the room to cast us into the abyss, into the veritable bleakness of literary reference. A one-word haiku, daft limit of the form, veering from the van den Heuvel “tundra,” removed from the 1999 “Haiku Anthology,” yet spoken aloud in 2011 with a lion’s roar:

    “Cor Van Den Heuvel [sic] stood up, his charismatic presence filling the room, then with a powerful voice he blurted “TUNDRA!” His voice resonated in the room with so much power, it was like the word exploding in the middle of a white page. We were all blown away.”

    J’accuse! This unlawful printing, unlawful jailing of a single word into a poem. Poisoning the context with perjurious purity. Eliminating all but ink. The word itself has nothing but itself going for it. It will burn you, out from inside, like the tumescent anthracite it spawns. Unflagging, senseless, get you to those colorless hills of Mineral County, Nevada. No single author has re-scaled the stunted epitome of “tundra” — until now. It was noticed, and noted, and commended, that “i”. Tic toc. Rowland clearly associates with demons. Time runs through the hourglass of self. All the cliches will come to us now, to fill our nostrils. What’s in a word. How can it be poetry. He speaks of revolution. How dare they! How dare they at all!

    Rowland is sly. In his “NOON: journal of the short poem” (#2, 2005), was published the concrete poem ‘SNOW’” by Richard Kostelanetz, a single word on a page, the “NO” in the midst of SNOW in boldface. Picture it. The white page in flagrante delicto. As with “tundra” a word perhaps just right or left-of-center on a blank white page.

    Minimalist infraverbal poems. “Poetry in which what is done inside words becomes significant.”

    “As if you understood the importance of the action no less than the importance of your legitimate appetite as you inhale the ruddy emanations? I assure you the savor will rejoice those two malformed holes in your ruddy snout, O monster . . . for they will be sated with a complete happiness like unto the angels which peacefully and magnificently inhabit the pleasant horizons.”

    Haphazard references:
    Philip Rowland, “From Haiku to the Short Poem: Bridging the Divide” (MH 39.3, 2008) []

    Jessica Tremblay, “We were all blown away” (Old Pond Comics) []

    Minimalist infraverbal poems. []

    Cor van den Heuval. “tundra” in “the window-washer’s pail” (1963), etc.

    Anchorite Hills, Mineral County, Nevada []

    Unassigned quotations: Lautréamont, “Le Chants de Maldoror” (trans. G. Wernham) 1-3.

  6. “Not long ago I stood with a friend next to an art work made of four wood beams laid in a long rectangle, with a mirror set behind each corner so as to reflect the others. My friend, a conceptual artist, and I talked about the minimalist basis of such a work: its reception by critics then, its elaboration by artists later, its significance for practitioners today, all of which are concerns of this book as well. Taken by our talk, we hardly noticed his little girl as she played on the beams. But then, signaled by her mother, we looked up to see her pass through the looking glass. Into the hall of mirrors, the mise-en-abime of beams, she moved farther and farther from us, and as she passed into the distance, she passed into the past as well.
    Yet suddenly there she was right behind us: all she had done was skip along the beams around the room. And there we were, a critic and an artist informed in contemporary art, taken to school by a six-year-old, our theory no match for her practice. For her playing of the piece conveyed not only specific concerns of minimalist work – the tensions among the spaces we feel, the images we see, and the forms we know – but also general shifts in art over the last three decades – new interventions into space, different constructions of viewing, and expanded definitions of art. Her performance became allegorical as well, for she described a paradoxical figure in space, a recession that is also a return, that evoked for me the paradoxical figure in time descried by the avant-garde. For even as the avant-garde recedes into the past, it also returns from the future, repositioned by innovative art in the present.” –Hal Foster, from “The return of the real: the avant garde at the end of the century”

    • Thank you Mark,

      Spent some nice hours reading from Foster, following up on your post. If you catch the beginning of the 2005 Sell Intro here ( to his “Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism,” this idea of the avant-garde returning (from the future), or, of an avant-garde whose proposals and possibilities are yet to be investigated, is one that continues to re-enter 21st cen. (post-post-post/apres-moderne N. American) criticism. In poetic criticism, this idea has been championed by Perloff (with Foster as relevant influence, at a guess).

      “new interventions into space, different constructions of viewing, and expanded definitions of art. Her performance became allegorical…. [E]ven as the avant-garde recedes into the past, it also returns from the future, repositioned by innovative art in the present.” It is the community of reader-critics, heaving on the chains, who link the word to its depths. The more the merrier. Pass the grog, man.

      • a little left, it’s yours. A delicate operation, this returning from the future, could easily end in charade. I’m fascinated by the idea that the first time round the act unfolds in an environment so hostile and unready as to be rendered incomplete. With a few exceptions–your reference to Duchamp jogged my memory of Foster’s brilliant intro. Thanks for the link. I’ll read it more soberly in the morning.

      • for sure. Just ordered some Foster books …the avant-garde past/future issue interests me, I’ve read three critics on this, which is a surprise. different topic/thread, OT as they say.

  7. Funny how often “haiku people” when asked to comment shift to theory and go on and on. (I include myself in this.) I don’t see this poem as requiring that kind of “defense” — I think it’s delightful. I could do a “defense” of it in terms of a core meaning which is quite in line with haiku culture as we know it in Basho, esp with Pipei Qiu’s groundbreaking work on the Zhuangzi in mind. It’s a “cool” poem, to revert to the minimalism of facebook.

    • The poem certainly works for me. The destruction of the word, which in itself is surely a poetic act, is delightful and alot harder to do well than critics of such things would be willing to believe.

      What really works for me is the fact that an anchor is and can be seen to refer to our temporal state. We are anchored in the here and now. The revelance of time especially in a era when time is seen as a luxury or a burden dependending on the circumstances gives the poem a wonderful platform to expand from.

      With this in mind the concluding ‘i tic’ to me is a most amusing and original way of saying with each breath and action we are all aging, and that life is merely a collection of moments.


      • One reason I continue to read and study and write haiku is that the two-part form reflects basic tensions in existence. Given the “ethos” of haiku, as I understand this “ku” the discontinuity, the dis-figuring, of the verbal construct suggests to me a similar mapping of the tensions of existence. Given these tensions, I wouldn’t read it for a cumulative “meaning” or “paraphrasable content.” Like classic haiku, this ku helps me imagine an “image” of reality that corresponds to my understanding of reality.

  8. Certainly “Language Happenings” as Emmett Williams coined in his 70s intro to “Open Poetry” is nothing new. When I was editor of The Sole Proprietor” (a 1970s mag devoted to experimental poetry, ie found, concrete, meta) I published a few concrete “picture poems” –the new Poetics as it was called– in which poetry scurried off the page in all directions at once–toward painting, film, theatre, music and concept art. Of course, with the brevity of the haiku form, you will not find words or letters so far apart as to snap the umbilical chord–but it is an interesting new venture and an obvious extension of Roadrunner’s experimental thrust.

    And I enjoyed the Scorpion Prize 23.

    Hopefully more to come.

    –Al Fogel

  9. i’d like to bring in some other poems which i think connect with this Scorpion by Philip and create a little bit of a web (for both comparison and, hopefully, perhaps, more discussion).

    Richard brought up (thanks!) the one word poem, specifically Cor van den Heuvel’s


    from 1963 (*the window-washer’s pail*, New York: Chantpress; as well as the first edition of his Haiku Anthology, 1974), and also Richard Kostelanetz’s SNOW (the NO in bold) from NOON: journal of the short poem (#2, 2005). Recently, John Stevenson wrote a kind of ode to Cor’s piece, and to the poet himself:


    —which appeared in his *Live Again* (Red Moon Press, 2009; not sure where it appeared first).

    while Philip’s is a one-word poem, quite exclusively (no extra letters, no fusion with other words, or absence of letters, etc.), it is also playful with what has come to be the Western tradition of the haiku as, essentially, a three-line poem (the traditional Japanese haiku being a one-line poem). and so, for me, the stretching out of “anchoritic”—the pulling and fracturing of it—seems essential, as opposed to playing with emboldening, italicization, or other playful moldings of the letters. instead, i see the poem as a way of expanding and playing/experimenting with the notion and definition of English-language haiku—what it is and what it can be— when focusing on language itself. of course, the play of imagery is important and critical, and exciting too: anchor (conjuring a boat, a sea, horizons); and the “tic” (ticking) of a clock (the passage and awareness of time), or perhaps (is this stretching things?) even a a bomb (implying danger, for oneself and those around the author, or anxiety); or maybe even “tick” as a parasitic arachnid.

    some other poems to help create more of a context/web in relation to Philip’s poem include the work of Aram Saroyan and his controversial-at-the-time, but now considered groundbreaking


    from 1965. & his


    and also these two



    Ron Silliman wrote a post ( about these “pwoermds”, a term coined by Geof Huth (in 1987, as Silliman notes in his post), and collected in his anthology &²: an/thology of pwoermds (Runaway Spoon Press, 2004). one of Silliman’s


    Robert Grenier has played with this as well


    all different than Philip’s in that they do a little something extra, or utilize slight absence, but all playing with the language and possibilities of language/a word.

    other English-language haiku poets, besides van den Heuvel and Stevenson (above), have also played with the idea of the one word poem, or pwoermd, and i believe a number of them were included in Huth’s anthology (something i don’t own but would love to get my hands on). for example, Nicholas A. Virgilio wrote a number of them




    and also:


    which Jim Kacian noted in his “The Shape of Things to Come” talk at HNA 2011 is a kind of “run-together haiku, where spaces are left out between words so that an enjambment takes place on the level of letters.” marlene mountain’s “labium” (which i am unable to technically reproduce in this comment), and which Kacian also mentioned in his talk:

    which brings in the whole idea of concrete poetry, and poem as object.

    in “A Dialogue on the Experimental” (Frogpond 25.3, 2002), Cor van den Heuvel and Philip discuss john martone’s work and his “vision of the poem not only as ‘meditative obbject,’ but also as ‘charm/amulet’.” i think this poem by Philip can, in a way, also be connected to some of john’s work and the way he breaks and fractures words and syllables, and the idea of the poem as amulet/object. for example, here is one of john’s (noted by van den Heuvel in the essay [“A Dialogue…”] mentioned above) that connects to Philip’s




    whereas Philip breaks the “i” away, john keeps it attached (to “not”). however, they both play with misspelling (john’s “cing” as “sing”, and Philip’s “tic” as “tick”, or, then again, perhaps not, but as yet another image: tic=the contractions of muscles in the face of the poet; either way, an extra dimension or possibility to Philip’s poem). i think the idea of the poem as capable of being a charm/amulet/meditative object definitely applies then to Philip’s. and this one of john’s i particularly love

    on his



    from his Ksana (2009), though published earlier than that in one of his smaller chapbooks; the last bit, “ani/mal” really making the whole thing spin and become so much more than if it were not broken up (making me think more about what the word “animal” really means—and the language of it).

    because of the verticality, breakage, and stretching in Philip’s poem, i think the web of poems can be expanded a little more to include such pieces as Carolyn Hall’s powerful



    and also E.E. Cummings’s







    my own (if i may):







    and Robert Boldman’s

    in the chapel


    • Meditative, yes, in that it sponsors an after image in the mind — not sure afterimage is the right word. I hadn’t noticed how the poem breaks the frame constructed graphically, because it’s hard not to supply “toc” to that “tic”

    • Nice summary, Scott — much appreciated. the cummings, enjoyed reading that; and “fossilence” — is “The Shape of Things to Come” by Jim Kacian available/published? I forget where, if so…

      • Richard, no, Jim’s talk/essay has not appeared yet but is forthcoming in Modern Haiku 43.1 (spring 2012). i cheated a bit by quoting from it, but felt it would be useful for the discussion and context.

  10. Scott, thanks for bringing in lighght
    with its addition of an unuttered (in american english) ghost (goced)
    …the political dimness that ensued was and is instructive

    and e.e, cumming’s poem–part reconstruction, part enactment.

    anchorite [ang kuh rahytt]; a person who has retired to a solitary place for a life of religious seclusion; john martone
    his vision of the poem as meditative object deeply resonates.

  11. le
    ave are



    etc., or, how ever Oulipoetic we may wish; infraverbal; calligrammatic (e.g. mm’s “flounder”); the “daft limit” of haiku qua haiku is in question, at play. “Tundra” was a question mark for me, until on the page espied to interact as an ecos among an extensive rectangle (world) of white. Heretofore, a possible limit of negative-space-as-haiku. The “cut” of ink-black/word-sememe/ technical medium-page. “Tundra” works as a visual pun on the haiku form, eliding haiku with visual art, as a visual object. Suitable presentation (preferable to the page?): gallery space, couture fashion as ensemble, which may produce an effect via magnification or diminution — unlike the haiku text as such, which does not rely on dimensional space much more than prose does. Whether on the page or gallery runway, I relate to “tundra” as conceptual art of a logographic variety. The poem represents a limit, hovering on the lip of exits. Our community has housed it as a sigil; even if excised from our most significant 20th century anthology, by its own author/editor. (Cor was asked about this at HNA 2011, replying with his magnificent reading, as reported above. Let it never be said a one-word poem must lack for rhetorical puissance.)

    The key point, “tundra” remains a powerful act of poetry in its reader effect, and remains an exemplar of the action of disjunction in modern haiku. “Tundra” distinguishes itself from wordplay, gaming/riddling, infraverbality, linguistic punning, rule-based logics (e.g. Oulipo), and Language poetry. It is situated (hate that word) as haiku, as a tease, a test and litmus of your mind, and of genre. A test it repeatedly fails. Yet we sail on with it (on the bowsprit). One might argue “tundra” could only have survived as long as it has within the context of haiku. Where else would a one-word poem be memorably housed for over half a century, among our desuetude of narrative poetic structures and schools?

    “anchor/i/tic” diverges fundamentally from “tundra” in several ways. It has both a calligrammic aspect and an infraverbal aspect. Moreso, it speaks to a recent trend, and a disturbing, a possibly infernal Vernian invention minnowing through our serene harbors. Can anyone point to the first published haiku technique of “dis-completion”? For a word to be a poem. That is one thing. For a noun to be a poem. That is another. Thing. For an adjective to be a poem. Emblematic. When. In the haiku world. For a word to be a poem and that world for an adjective to be. After. Or when tea is bitter but. Not only how it ends and when ago “the warp of asphalt” (Luckring, R’r 11.3); “green rain” (Metz, R’r 11.3) low sparks wolves or sails, anchoritic.

    IL PLEUT (Apollinaire, 1918, posthumous)

    It’s Raining

    It’s raining the voices of women as if dead even in memory.

    It is you also that it rains marvelous meetings of my life, oh little drops!

    Those rearing clouds take to neighing a whole universe of auricular cities.

    Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep an ancient music

    Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below

    (trans. mine, adapted)

    Il pleut des voix de femmes comme si elles étaient mortes même dans le souvenir. / c’est vous aussi qu’il pleut, merveilleuses rencontres de ma vie. ô gouttelettes ! / et ces nuages cabrés se prennent à hennir tout un univers de villes auriculaires / écoute s’il pleut tandis que le regret et le dédain pleurent une ancienne musique / écoute tomber les liens qui te retiennent en haut et en bas [original text]

  12. It’s only fair to mention the creator of concrete poetry Eugen Gomringer:

    (“Silence”) is his most famous concrete poem. The word schweigen is printed 14 times to form a rectangle, with the empty space in the middle representing silence.

    • One of my favorites from Gomringer is his 1955 “Butterfly” probably his most playful and lyrical of all his constellations. Here he allows two wordso achieve their full effect through the efficacy of what I would call an “intruder” word that, as it changes from “mist” to “missed” to “meets,” defines the changing relationship of “mountain” and “butterfly”




  13. (“Silence”) is his most famous concrete poem. The word schweigen is printed 14 times to form a rectangle, with the empty space in the middle representing silence.
    Speaking of Eugen Gomringer, the Swiss creator of concrete poetry.

  14. Don’t have much time to participate, other than to read the posts;
    really have enjoyed how this discussion has not only focused on the poem itself,
    but has expanded to look at the fullness of the landscape surrounding it.

    sticking with the idea of the single word poem (or not):
    pwoermds, the way Cor’s “tundra” uses the physical space of the page,
    (or the quietness of the room during verbal recitations), visual/concrete poetry,
    Oulipo, and the idea of poem as amulet/charm–thinking object here!– prompts me to offer this by the Scottish poet/sculptor Ian Hamilton Finley. (Interestingly,
    UNDA was made in 1987, the same year that Scott says Huth coined the word pwoermds.)
    Hope you don’t mind jumping off the page for a moment:

    and Richard,
    your question,
    >>Can anyone point to the first published haiku technique of “dis-completion”?<<

    first one I can remember seeing is Peter Yovu's in Rr 11.1:
    ashes I am too late but for

    I bet Dorothy Howard, show edited RAW NerVZ for many years ( out of Montreal?, somewhere in Quebec?) might have earlier examples.

  15. if i am understudying this idea of “dis-completion” correctly, then a few poems by Robert Grenier from his Sentences (1978) come to mind:

    leafy now almost no sense of a

    at to smooth the walls around

    branches are then moved by negligible quantity the

    of course, these weren’t originally composed as haiku, or inspired by Japanese or English-language work (at least i don’t think so), but explorations of language and syntax and what a one-line poem can be, or what a poem can be—”snatch[es] of language that begin & end in atypical places” to quote Ron Silliman about this period of Grenier’s work.

      • Phil,

        A blue anchor grains of grit in a tall sky sewing

        is something I come back to. Half a phrase from Bird; it really swings. doesn’t it also trick the reading sense, in a sense, in essence? (The way its phrases fall out, anti-magnetize, yet elide, and as they do, the impossible or fantastical seems so intimately bound up with the natural/realistic. “A blue anchor” becomes also “A blue anchor grains” or “A blue anchor grains of grit” [on it], yet “in a tall sky” may have grains of grit in it [so always I partially feel this as a NYC poem. Is the sky sewing, the tall sky sewing — or, is sewing a rhetorical comment on the poem or approach as a whole? In this there is whimsy, And one can’t in this thread help but wonder if this is also your hint (as literary reference). In a New York state of mind, the sky is a blue anchor, or am I, the tall sky scrapers, grit for the eye, and really on the street. It’s a multiple helix of codes able to combine, separate and recombine — fantasy in life. cummings does something not completely dissimilar in the poem Scott quoted, using misplaced letters to create strong misreadings. (onliness/oneliness/loneliness, for example).

  16. Thanks Eve, interesting video presentation. And also checked out “Little Sparta” ( which has the header quote: “Superior gardens are composed of glooms and solitudes and not of plants and trees” (the images on-site reveal this). You wrote “poem as amulet/charm–thinking object” — could you elaborate? Interesting thoughts. The talismanic quality of Hamilton’s stones includes the haunting (solitudes) of the megalithic age — carries one to notions of that dawn. A talisman is an object charged with visceral meaning, thus anchoritic, I suppose.

    Scott, yes, I feel that in the Grenier you posted, the first & third possess dis-completion, but #2 “to smooth” seems succinct enough, if not a full stop. To add to my extemporaneous definition, “dis-” is significantly divergent from “in-” or “un-” (complete) — it’s not a matter of something missing, or that the reader cannot “complete” the poem, but rather that the poem dis-allows completion, disassembles attempts at reaching a significant coherent meaning — at the same time as meaning is being posed (does the devilish poem _wish_ to thwart us?). So there is a dance between abrupt in your face denial and the centrifugal imagination flung out by the gravitational force of orbital lexis. Fruffy perhaps, that analogy. I do think though there is strong paradoxicality in the notion, and reversal of expectation. As well, with “anchor/i/tic” the context of the poem — it being set into the haiku genre — creates certain formal expectations which for me add to its potency as poetry.

    It’s interesting to think of haiku, formally, as engrams or codicils of expectation (based on one’s history of reading, engagement). In this sense, “dis-completion” becomes less abstract, and matters more. There is a difference (for myself as reader), whether the works we are mentioning (Phil’s “anchoritic,” yours and Eve’s, Grenier’s work), are perceived (cognated) as haiku or not. Because what’s playful here is that dis-completion offers strong resistance to the concept of haiku-as-genre (not to mention one-word adjectival poems-as-haiku). Likely it is not to everyone’s taste to conceive of haiku as codices or codicils (which shall it be?) of expectation — yet this concept seems key to me — as so much of what’s exciting in haiku right now has to do with fcking with expectation, in, as Eve indicates, a talismanic manner: with historicity, cultural depth — something difficult to achieve in such a short form — always an issue with haiku. As with minimalism in general. Nonetheless, the formal limits of haiku as a genre, versus the extensive res of modern poetry, potentiate specific edges, frictions (frisson). As Mark mentioned concerning the imaginative show of an avant-garde returning from the future, minimal wordplay runs the risk of charade. There might a poisonous aspect, related to amrita; talismans catalyze magical transformation, transmutation. In any case, it seems _we_ make the world such poems live in. Critical discussion such as our wending here helps me locate the vertical dimension of these poems — ascensions and descents– of works which may seem 2-D at first glance.

    As an aside, though I came up with 17 disjunctive techniques in 2004 (for haiku), that limit was arbitrary. I discussed “temporal displacement” (temporal distortion) in “Plausible Deniability” (2007), something I wish I had included earlier. “Dis-completion” seems related to recent R’r publishing. At the same time, there may be a suggestion of antecedents, as in Hosai’s

    coughing, even alone

    There is likely more history to look forward to unearthing.

  17. Here are a few favorites of mine:

    Big Borther
    L O_O K ing

    candles (a child’s breath) happy birthday!

    so small mount
    E V E R E S T

    –al fogel

  18. lovely exchanges, happy to hear more about dis-completion, Richard, so amply represented in R’r of late, this year is so young & this talk and history and theorizing is enough to feed a mouth hungry for

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