submission deadline: August 1st

Submission deadline for R’r 12.2 & MASKS 4 is August 1

send ku for R’r to:

scott AT roadrunnerjournal.net

 

 

send ku for MASKS to:

haikumasks AT gmail.com

 

“es fallen” by the don juan remainder

Bashō, extracting genius & mediocrity

“Haiku after Bashō became increasingly popular, and with the growing stability of the tightly regulated feudal regime under the Tokugawa shogunate—a phenomenon unprecedented in world history—it was perhaps only to be expected that haiku poets would become decadent. It would not be correct to say that this was because later poets neglected the spirit of Bashō, or that they stopped seeking out the same things he did. We should instead recognize that this decadence followed directly from the continued adulation of Bashō. It was not simply that Bashō’s words underwent a process of mystification at the hands of his followers and later commentators. The cause lies rather in the failure to abandon Bashō. Art does not permit both artistic genius and artistic form to be studied at the same time. When the attempt is made, the spirit of genius is taken to be conveyed through form, leading inescapably to the formalization of the spirit itself. The result is called academicism or mannerism. Bashō studied Saigyō and Du Fu through the very different forms of waka and Chinese verse, so he had no choice but to extract and absorb only their genius. This would seem to account for Bashō’s ability to escape mannerism while still absorbing the spirit of the past. But since later haikai poets studied only haiku and called constantly for a “return to Bashō,” mediocrity was the unavoidable result.”

Kuwabara Takeo / “Modern Haiku: A Second-Class Art” (1946) [Tr. by Mark Jewel]

Mark Harris’s *burl*

I’ll admit that over the last decade there have not been too many haiku collections by individuals that have really excited me. A few now and then (Fay Aoyagi’s Chrysanthemum Love [Blue Willow Press, 2003], john martone’s dogwood & honeysuckle [Red Moon Press, 2004], and Philip Rowland’s together still [Hub Editions, 2004] come to mind) but not many, and not many, i mean, that have had a strong impact on me, or have sustained my interest.

Over the last couple years or so, however, there has been a nice cluster of haiku collections by individual poets that i think are outstanding (mostly at the hands of Jim Kacian’s Red Moon Press), collections i really enjoy returning to, find inspiration in, and seek out pretty regularly: Jim Kacian’s long after (Albalibri Editore, 2008), john martone’s ksana (Red Moon Press, 2009; out of print; but here’s a review), William M. Ramsey’s more wine (Red Moon Press, 2010), Fay Aoyagi’s Beyond the Reach of My Chopsticks (Blue Willow Press, 2011), and also her In Borrowed Shoes (Blue Willow Press, 2006), paul m.’s few days north days few (Red Moon Press, 2011) as well as his called home from 2006, and Peter Yovu’s Sunrise (Red Moon Press, 2010; out of print)—pretty much my favorite of these for its range of content, form, and techniques, and sucessful experimentalism (its melding of “tradition” with the “avant-garde”). The latest issues of Chris Gordon’s journal ant ant ant ant ant have been chapbooks of an individual’s work (Chris Gordon, Jack Galmitz, and Jim Westenhaver, respectively), and each has been well worth the waiting time between issues, and are nice to have close by. Two excellent, and important, retrospectives have also been published, Martin Shea’s waking on the bridge (Red Moon Press, 2008) and Robert Boldman’s everything i touch (Red Moon Press, 2011).

Mark Harris’s new collection, burl (Red Moon Press, 2012) is now among that group for me. It is outstanding in pretty much every way: the personal, oftentimes deeply intimate, emotive, and sometimes imaginative, poems; the range of poetic techniques and forms employed (the poems’ “internal energies”); the sequencing; and the excellent cover (utilizing Mark’s own artwork) which employs some of the “simplicity” haiku is supposed to be known for with a strong touch of modern complexity in execution (mirroring, in many ways, the poems within, and, i think, especially some of the content matter). Out of all the collections mentioned above, i think Mark’s work perhaps best displays the range of what is being done in English-language haiku today.

It all comes together amazingly. It’s a collection i’ve found myself going back to again over the last many months since it arrived, the poems offering new readings and new insights (and new inspiration) each time, always with something new to pick up on.

A powerful collection, and highly recommended.

8 poems from the collection:

Issue 12.3 of R’r will contain a substantial essay on Mark Harris’s burl by Jack Galmitz

heartbeat

“Haiku is poetry, and rhythm (beats) is the life of poetry.

[T]he 5 / 7 / 5 beats are the rhythm of Japanese haiku only, and thus the requirement does not apply to haiku written in other languages. To begin with, it is meaningless for haiku in other languages to adhere to the Japanese 5 / 7 / 5. What should one do then, when writing haiku in another language? It is best to determine the rhythm of the heartbeat of that particular language.”

Hasegawa Kai

/ Simply Haiku 7.1 (2009)