Touchstone Awards 2012

Haiku21-cover

A few books linked to R’r got some recent kudos from The Haiku Foundation via their annual Touchstone Awards for best books of 2012.

Haiku 21: an anthology of contemporary English-language haiku (Modern Haiku Press, 2011), edited by Lee Gurga and myself, shared the Distinguished Book award for 2012 with 3 other books.

Here’s what the judges had to say:

Haiku 21 is a unique and startling anthology of twenty-first-century English-language haiku. Editors Lee Gurga and Scott Metz took upon themselves the daunting task of reading every single haiku published in journals from 2000-2010. They selected what they considered the most excellent work, attempting also to showcase the full range of contemporary English-language haiku, from traditional to experimental, exploring the question, “What can haiku be?” The poets answer, in alphabetical order, sans bio or notes, most represented by a single poem. Although the collection may trend more towards the experimental than the taste of some, the anthology renders a fascinating image of where English-language haiku is in this new millennium, and points the way toward its future

In addition to the award, we received these stones:

gurga2metz2

Reviews of Haiku 21 by Ron Silliman, and Michael Dylan Welch (Modern Haiku 43.2);

additional kudos:

“Haiku 21 is a collection of the same old, same old unmemorable haiku-like poetry. [It] omits many well known poets, has many abysmal poems, and helps to further discredit haiku.”  —Robert D. Wilson, editor of Simply Haiku: The International Journal of English Language Traditional Japanese Short Form Poetry

“We find here a mania for running smugly free in hallucinations. It’s a public nuisance.”  —Klaus-Dieter Wirth (Chrysanthemum 13)

Metz-collection-cover

In addition, my own first collection, lakes & now wolves (Modern Haiku Press, 2012) received an Honorable Mention, sharing that distinction with 3 other books. Here’s what the judges had to say:

lakes & now wolves is the long-awaited, first full collection by a poet justly described as “one of the most innovative and challenging younger poets at work in haiku” (Montage). Few collections of haiku by a single author are as exploratory and wide-ranging. The book progresses from excellent, relatively normative examples of the genre:

end of summer
pressing her body against
the sea wall

to more boldly imaginative one-liners such as:

meadow speaking the language she dreams in

Indeed, many of the poems exemplify the 21st Century trend towards writing haiku in one line, coincident with a linguistically playful turn, at its best. The following, which may be seen as a vertical one-liner, touches tenderly on romantic relationship through a subtle, unexpected line-break:

drop

lakes & now wolves also offers some of the most striking haiku on the topic of war in English, alongside distinctive takes on classical and modern Japanese haiku. While some of the “ku” may disconcert traditionalists, this is a collection that inspires and provokes more than most.

Reviews by Eve Luckring (Modern Haiku 44.1; p16 in the PDF),

and Francine Banwarth (frogpond 36.1);

additional kudos:

“[N]ot worth reading.”  —Robert D. Wilson, editor of Simply Haiku: The International Journal of English Language Traditional Japanese Short Form Poetry

Of the 30 poems I submitted, as editor, from the 2012 issues of R’r (and also 10 more from MASKS), one was shortlisted for a Touchstone, but ultimately did not receive an award:

lilly

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BEFORE MUSIC by Philip Rowland

rowlandcover

Philip Rowland has a new, and deeply moving, collection out, entitled BEFORE MUSIC (Red Moon Press, 2012). It contains, i think, some of the very best and most intriguing haiku in English published over the last decade.

Rowland’s first collection, Together / Still (HUB Editions, 2004), was rousing in that it presented a mix of both haiku and short poetry; not unlike the journal he edits (and hopefully resurrects soon), NOON: journal of the short poemTogether / Still was awarded the 2005 Mildred Kanterman Memorial Award for Best First Book of Haiku.

BEFORE MUSIC, however, is all haiku, in all its free-wheeling forms and contemporary directions. Many of its poems, i’m proud to say, first appeared in R’r and MASKS. Rowland’s poetry very much encapsulates and connects to so much of what he has written about in essay-form over the last decade: haiku as poetry, the avant-garde, western poetics, Language poetry, surrealism, the Black Mountain poets, “the opacity of language,” and experimental Japanese haiku; all in all, the playfulness (or, for some, troublesome blurring) of short-form and minimalist poetries with haiku poetics, all, however, sincerely connected to, rooted in, and informed by our collective normative English-language haiku and traditional Japanese past. At times, Rowland makes terrific use of naked seasonal phrases and words; in the context of the more experimental flourishes, they are refreshing rather than cliche, especially so in the sense that what follows and/or is juxtaposed with them is always different than expected—flashes of a kind of Neoclassicism, if you will. So, to say the least, BEFORE MUSIC has tremendous range, but also exquisite balance, making it, for this reader, all the more satisfying and noteworthy.

Here are some ku from the collection, followed by the back cover, and links to some of Rowland’s excellent and inspiring essays which have had a definite influence on English-language haiku composition since their publication, and are always worth revisiting.

pondmorning after

bright autumn noon  

  night drawing incrowdabsence rowlandcoverblurbs And, finally, some essays by Philip Rowland:

“Avant-Garde Haiku: A New Outlook” (Frogpond 25.2, 2002)

“From Haiku to the Short Poem: Bridging the Divide” (Modern Haiku 39.3, 2008)

“Surrealism & Contemporary Haiku -or- Surreal Haiku?” (R’r 9.3, 2009)

R’r 12.3

way mark harris R'r cover copy– click on the cover to read the issue as a flipbook –

– R’r 12.3 (downloadable PDF) –

. . .

scorpion prize 27 by Craig Dworkin

70+ new poems

Part I of an interview with translator Makoto Ueda

MASKS 4

3 essays by Jack Galmitz on the work of Robert Boldman, Richard Gilbert, & Mark Harris

& the announcement of a new section in R’r: homeland

submission deadline for 13.1 is April 1, 2013: scott@roadrunnerjournal.net