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

of the new

Ban’ya Natsuishi

/ Rhythm in the Vacuum (1986)

“[A]n example demonstrating how haiku bring the reader toward the phenomenology of the hard problem via adumbrations of the paradoxical and hypothetical can be found in this haiku by Natsuishi Ban’ya.

“Put a period” begins with what seems a trivial action: put a period somewhere. Usually we put them on paper; yet the second line represents a left turn with “into the desert,” reversing semantic expectation. Putting a period into the desert evokes a different line of image, action and form, from what might conceivably be done with a literal, textual period. And so, realism is subverted. The sense of paradox is heightened by the imperative grammatical tone. The poem is so short that while thinking this part out I’ve scanned the whole several times. Though having read this poem some years ago, I continue to formulate possible worlds: the aspect of explaining, in fact, the “explainer” of intellect rides behind the propulsive process of reading/misreading.

Some of my hypothetical speculations: the period implies “end of an era,” death, finality, a flag (of some sort); the desert is real and inhabits the new world, or a speculative new world; is an actual place (e.g. Death Valley, the high desert of Nasca); the haiku is political, “center of the desert” represents America’s current government and its war in Iraq; the period is a wounding; the haiku is historical, relating to Columbus’s “discovery” and eurocentrism; so, the haiku is revisionist and ironic, accessing “new world” in a post-colonial manner; the haiku landscape is that of another planet awaiting discovery; an alternative universe where putting a period exactly thus makes good sense; the haiku is a surreal remembrance, a novel myth. Alternativity spawns alternativities. The period is wherever my attention is.”

Richard Gilbert / “Plausible deniability: Nature as hypothesis in English‑language haiku” & in Poems of Consciousness: Contemporary Japanese and English-language Haiku in Cross-cultural Perspective (Red Moon Press, 2008)

R’r 12.2

 —click on the image above to read the issue as a flipbook via issuu

OR

—DOWNLOAD A PDF DOCUMENT OF R’r 12.2 : 2012

cover: Masako Metz (2012)

scorpion prize 26 by Mark Wallace

* 78 ku *

two essays by Jack Galmitz:

then I must go to the Mountain: (space reserved) for Marlene Mountain

&

Descant: Dimitar Anakiev’s Rustic

*

submissions for 12.3 due by December 1st / send to: scott@roadrunnerjournal.net

space

Kitasono Katue 

/ “Semiotic Theory” / White Album (Shiru no arubamu, 1929) [tr. John Solt]

Excerpts from and extensions of                                                                                  Oceans Beyond Monotonous Space: Selected poems of Kitasono Katue

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

HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?

Le fils de l’homme / The Son of Man by René Magritte (1964)

tr. by Burton Watson / From the Country of Eight Islands

tr. by Burton Watson / Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems

1960 / Haiku: This Other World (#436)

September 21 1965   # e b ’ / The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner

Poems 1966-1967 [Pages, Random House, 1969]

/ A 2nd Flake (1974)

/ Modern Haiku 6.2 (1975)

Viral 7.2  by Chris Gordon

Gendai Haiku Kyokai Sakuhin-Shû (Modern Haiku Association Anthology), 1982              tr. by Fay Aoyagi

/ Opera in the Human Body (1990) [Turquoise Milk, Red Moon Press 2011]

/ Modern Haiku 35.1 (2004)

Haiku Shiki (Haiku Four Seasons), October 2008; created from a tr. by Fay Aoyagi

/ Ginyu 42 (2009)

MASKS ONE (2009)

 / R’r 9.1 (2009)

Chris Gordon :: Jack Dander

MASKS ONE (2009)

/ Ginyu 42 (2009)

:: Jack Dander / MASKS 2 (2009)

/ Ginyu 42 (2009)

/ R’r 9.2 (2009)

/ The Heron’s Nest 12.1 (2010)

/ R’r 10.1 (2010)

/ R’r 10.3 (2010)

/ Haidan (Haiku Stage), September 2011; new arrangement using a tr. by Fay Aoyagi

/ A Hundred Gourds 1.1 (2011)

Ron Silliman on Haiku 21, Jim Kacian & john martone

::::

Ron Silliman wrote a post on English-language haiku and minimalist poetry yesterday (May 14, 2012), focusing on Haiku 21 (edited by Lee Gurga & myself), Jim Kacian’s long after, & john martone’s ksana collection.

Comments? Reactions? Thoughts?

::::

Castor & Pollux by Chris Gordon (mixed media, 2010)

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)

something unexpected

“. . . I am inclined to think that short poems, even short poems with a seasonal reference and a 5-7-5 syllabic structure, written in English can’t be, strictly speaking, haiku. Or to say it another way, the haiku is still acclimatizing itself, in this country, to the cultures of American poetry. . . .  I expect something unexpected will eventually evolve from our admiration for and attempts to translate the practice of the short Japanese poem.”

                                       —Robert Hass (from R’r 7.4, November 2004)

home on the range

“In so much of poetry and thinking about poetry right now, there is a good deal of appropriate skepticism about the assumptions behind realism as a literary mode and therefore about the whole question of what we do when we think to represent nature. It might be useful to let this tradition—and the range of anti-realist practices, from surrealism to language poetics—enter the practice of haiku, if only to take away the sort of easy wow! poem that tends to be the first stage of our attempts to appropriate the form.”

                                        —Robert Hass (from R’r 7.4, November 2004)

A Dragon Is Born

Pomme dragon by Salvador Dali (1969/70)

Pomme dragon by Salvador Dalí (1969/70)

suddenly
the pregnant woman’s shout
—Year of the Dragon

Anthony J. Pupello
from Frogpond 11:1 (1988)

Each time I’m born
from a dragon’s bone
I smile

Ban’ya Natsuishi
from Opera in the Human Body (1990)
translated by Ban’ya Natsuishi and Jim Kacian

price of children drops
the red dragon is being
with your wounds the dance

DA Levy
from ant ant ant ant ant number 5 (2002)

In the woods
a dragon rises
Shall I go in?

Ed Gallagher
from Asahi Haikuist Network (2009)

Prevalence of the
Dragon. Tail color of the
Last leaf of autumn.

Charles Henri Ford
from Emblems of Arachne (1986)

Moving anger
into clay
dragon

Marlene L’Abbe
from Raw NerVZ (1998)

My lover
like a clay dragon
stays wet

Tomizawa Kakio (1935~1940)
translated by Masaya Saito
from Modern Haiku 24:3 (1993)

what I cannot own the dragon takes a new lover

Jason Sanford Brown
from No. 33 (2008)

From the fog
the rush hour bridge
a dragon’s voice

Mike Taylor
from Modern Haiku 17:1 (1986)

Rain falls.
In each tangerine
a dragon is born.

Norberto de la Torre
from The universe in a hat (1995)?
translated by Ty Hadman
from Modern Haiku 36:3 (2005)

a groaning in the
jungle, that dragon
made of water

Robert D. Wilson
from “Vietnam Ruminations” (2003)

In the house of ice
playing with
a dragon nail

Yasui Kôji
translated by Ban’ya Natsuishi
from Kuhen (2003)

In the western sky
Beauty like a sick dragon

Yasui Kôji
translated by Eric Selland
from Kuhen (2003)

on the metro a homeless dragon to the weakening dollar

Jason Sanford Brown  
from No. 33 (2008)

*special thanks to Charles Trumbull for assistance in putting this selection together

The Dragon Awakens by Li Poon (2009)

The Dragon Awakens by Li Poon (2009)