folk art

“Since that time [the 1970s, while studying the poets Issa and Santoka], I have tried to learn how to accept [the] two elements of quality and appeal. As a result, my haiku have changed a great deal. Plainly stated, I wanted to create haiku that could be understood and loved by all. My poems do not necessarily have to be loved, but I want them to be understood. With this in mind, I have continued trying to find my way. I used to think that quality mattered more than popularity, and that it was all right to write as I pleased. But I changed after the seventies. As a result, I fumbled about in various ways on my own. . . .

Lately, I have been saying that haiku is folk poetry and that haiku is a national folk art. This means that it is both popular and artistic. Calling it folk art means that the whole nation loves it. They are proud of it as poetry. This shortest poetic form has great power and popularity. We feel great affection and familiarity towards it. That is what makes haiku great.”

Kaneko Tohta

from “The Artistic Quality and Appeal of Haiku” (2004)

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