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)