Month: November 2011

calendar time

first snow / the footprints of the neighbors / we've never seen

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first snow
the footprints of the neighbors
we’ve never seen

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So there’s a calendar that has haiku on it. Maybe there’s more than one. The one I know about is published by Snapshot Press and you can find out about it here. It looks really cool but I haven’t actually seen it yet. I plan to order one or two soon though because it contains this haiku of mine. I’ve posted it here before but what the heck. The first snow will probably be showing up sometime soon around here, so it’s timely. Also, I wanted to let you know about the whole calendar thing well in advance of Christmas so you can order some for all the people you normally give fruitcake to. In the interests of world peace and all that.

Incidentally, I based this very loosely on this haiku by Basho:

秋深き 隣は何を  する人ぞ

aki fukaki  tonari wa nani wo  suru hito zo

Deep autumn—
my neighbor,
how does he live, I wonder?

— Basho, tr. R.H. Blyth

(And how I have managed to go so long without finding the Classical Japanese Database from which the transcription and translation above are taken, I have absolutely no idea. Kudos to Carl Johnson for putting this amazing resource together.)

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Across the Haikuverse, No. 26: The Z Edition

So: number 26. If I’d been lettering these editions instead of numbering them, I’d be up to Z by now. And Z, as we all know, is the end of the alphabet. This is convenient for me, because circumstances are such in my life right now that I am afraid I must put the Haikuverse on hiatus indefinitely. The blog, too, will probably be seeing far less frequent postings for a while.

I will miss you guys. Spinning around the Haikuverse, taking in the sights, shooting the breeze… it’s been fun. I’m not planning on disappearing completely, but I have things to tend to in other corners of the universe at the moment.

Stay in touch.

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underneath
the ice
of the poem
an imaginary frog
slows its heartbeat

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haiku

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the closest
I’ll ever be
to sentimental
a room full of hats

— William Sorlien, Haiku Bandit Society

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spring cleaning . . .
the rhythmic sound of her
sharpening pencils

—Kirsten Cliff, DailyHaiku

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lark’s song –
in an old landscape
I part my hair to the left

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lærkesang –
i et gammelt landskab
laver jeg skilning i venstre side

— Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 2 tongues/2 tunger

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Turning on the light I become someone alone in the house

— Sam Savage, ant ant ant ant ant’s blog

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autumn leaf already i am attached

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without permission part of me starts to bloom

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winter day barely one language

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winter night she knowingly reveals another arm

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another day of snow my jurassic layer

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the only sound that’s come out of me all day firefly

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at this point i just assumed they come alive at night

Scott Metz, ant ant ant ant ant’s blog

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he thinks again of turning leaves her hands

— Angie Werren, Tinywords

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autumn days     straying from the text to marginalia

— Mark Holloway, Beachcombing for the Landlocked

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人ひとに溺れることも水澄めり    保坂リエ

hito hito ni oboreru kotomo mizu sumeri

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a human wallows in
another human…
clear autumn water

— Rie Hosaka, translated by Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World

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swollen rosehips
if you found God
in your body you’d die

— Anonymous (“Jack Dander”), Masks 2

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on 60 televisions the scissors hesitate

— Anonymous (“Bridghost”), Masks 2

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haiga and other art

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dog star -- / the origins / of poetry

dog star
the origin
of poetry

— Aubrie Cox, Yay Words!

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two red butterflies / play strange attractor / in the garden.

two red butterflies
play strange attractor
in the garden

— Kris Lindbeck, haiku etc.

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the universe / these points of light/ I spin

— Rick Daddario, 19 Planets

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tanka

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if we had known
this would be
our last winter
when we professed
our love for the bomb

snow swirls
into light at the end
of the tunnel
echoes of the conductor’s
last call

postscript
for the apocalypse
countless years
from now — a cherry tree’s
first blossoms

— Aubrie Cox, Yay Words!

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hand in hand
a teenaged boy and girl pass
a cigarette
back and forth on their way
to being twenty

— David Caruso, DavidHaiku

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haibun

Revisit

I thought I had been sucked into the past. That sort of thing happens from time to time. I sat on the train on the way to the big city – well, as big as they come in Denmark – when a hippie-looking guy boarded with his monstrous Big Dane dog. My thoughts went in two directions. I thought: now, there’s a weirdo, knowing very well that in this part of the country many “off-siders” have found a cheap place to live as it’s rather poor. And I thought: great!!! Nice to see a flash of the past, and my nose replayed all kinds of smells associated with the early -70’s. Patchouli, sandalwood, fenugreek, hashish and wet and dirty “Afghan” fur coats, which was a bit of a turn-off, that last part. After having put his corn-pipe away he sat himself down in a very upright position: straight back, both feet on the floor and looking us, the other travellers, straight in the eyes. I nodded. He nodded. Dog said nowt. Then he padded the seat at his left side (he’d taken the window seat) and the dog, big as half a horse, jumped up and sat perfectly cool beside him, straight as a statue. The dog had a colourful tie as leash. We bumped on while I was listening to Incredible String Band.

straightened stream
a mirrored swan
asks twice

— Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 3ournals and frags

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Dead Tree News

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Some gems from the most recent edition of the always stunning Acorn (No. 27):

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enough said…
the moon rises
out of the sea

— Francine Banwarth

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isolated showers —
the genes that matter
the genes that don’t

— Michele L. Harvey

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never touching
his own face
tyrannosaurus

— John Stevenson

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all night love
the candle
reshapes itself

— Jayne Miller

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dad’s shed
a ladder folded
in the shadows

— frances angela

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full moon
from each shell
a different ocean

— Mary Ahearn

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autumn quarry
the feel of a dozer
going deep

— Ron Moss

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starfish…
to feel so much
of what we touch

— Peter Newton

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spring melancholy
I cut my tofu
smaller and smaller

— Fay Aoyagi

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Hey, seriously, I meant that about staying in touch. Drop me a line. Send me a poem. Tell me how your day went and where your life is going. I’m interested.

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away from the window
hearing the rain
trickle down the window

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The Lives of Poets, No. 3: Christopher Patchel

Having, in previous installments of this series, sought wisdom from poets on the East Coast and the West Coast, I decided it was time to hang around my own neck of the woods and spend some listening to a Midwestern poet. Chris Patchel lives in northern Illinois, not too far from me, and I’ve enjoyed talking to him at a few Haiku Society of America events. Before I ever met him, though, I’d admired his haiku, having noticed that his were likely to be among the few that lingered in my mind long after I’d finished reading a journal. I figured he’d have something to say worth listening to, and I was right, not to mention that he brought some much-needed graphic design expertise to this blog (needless to say, any remaining graphic design crappiness is my responsibility, not Chris’s).

(By the way, has anyone else noticed how many haiku poets are also visual artists or graphic designers? Somebody write something about that, will you?)

.Christopher Patchel

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Christopher Patchel: The Interview

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Name/pen name:

Christopher Patchel.

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Day job/occupation:

Freelance graphic designer

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Website/blog/Twitter feed (if any):

Limiting my time online is enough of a challenge as it is.

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Family, pets, non-poetry hobbies, etc.:

I’m single, and presently living in Mettawa, Illinois. Besides my interests in the arts and sciences I’m into biking, walking, pounding on an old Gibson guitar, dancing West Coast Swing, and fretting about things.

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How long you’ve been writing haiku and what gave you the idea to do such a crazy thing in the first place:

Writing was about the last thing I expected to get involved in. Nevertheless, I enrolled in a poetry class, and tried my hand at composing free verse. Shortly after that (as the millennium turned) I happened upon haiku for the first time. What struck me was the evocative power of so few words. That more-with-less aesthetic matched my graphic design approach, and I also appreciated the quiet perceptions, unassuming language, grounding in nature, and temporal/eternal resonance. It added up to a rare eureka experience. I read everything I could about the genre and took up the challenges of learning to write it.

One of those challenges was, and still is, working bottom up instead of top down, starting with concrete images (show don’t tell) and gut instincts, so that abstract thinking (my default mode) doesn’t dominate.

As time goes on I’m becoming increasingly involved in other haiku-related forms as well: haiga (haiku and art), haibun (haiku and prose), rengay and renku (collaborative haiku sequences).

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the skip of my heart / a shooting star

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Do you have a personal philosophy of haiku or a particular vision of haiku poetics? What do you think haiku are, or should be, in English? What do you think they should look like? What do you think their purpose is?

The world of literary haiku in English should look like it does, in all its diversity of aims and approaches, from scenic shasei to experimental gendai, with lots of arguing between and among the various schools of thought (as has always been the case with haiku in Japan). Otherwise the genre would become static.

As an artist I’m open to all forms of accomplished haiku. But what most interests me are slice-of-life moments of perception (whether trivial, profound, or impossible to categorize) which become memoir-like over time as one’s body of work takes shape as a whole.

I like the idea that what is most personal is most universal, and would prefer my work be accessible on some level to everyone, though I accept that haiku is an acquired taste for many.

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midlife…
my car radio
on scan
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What does your haiku writing practice look like? Do you write daily or regularly? Do you have special times or places you like to write? Do you write longhand or on a computer? Do you revise extensively? Is there anything in particular you do to put yourself in “haiku mode”?

Creative process is fascinating to me. Perhaps because my methods (or lack of methods) leave much to be desired, I never tire of hearing gifted creators describe how and why they do what they do. I’ve come to picture it in three main stages—inspiration, perspiration, and appraisal—which also operate in unison at any given time.

Is it ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration? In my estimation, though Edison’s emphasis on the work ethic is well taken, inspiration is not only just as essential, it’s the life-breath of art and literature. And whether it comes by way of brainstorming, hard work, or out of the blue, it comes as a gift.

Such gifts of the Muse are sporadic for me, but more frequent during bike rides and walks (and car trips, with the downside of missed exits). Reading and research can often lead to serendipitous ideas. And specific challenges, such as rengay linking, tend to get my neurons firing, so I would like to find ways to incorporate that kind of motivation into my process.

The writing phase—getting syntax, sound, rhythm, juxtaposition, images, and what have you, to give rise to an experience—is the perspiration part. In spite of (or because of) the brevity of haiku the degree of difficulty involved in the word-craft is ridiculous. And my word-by-word, piece-by-piece adding, subtracting, arranging and rearranging (even articles and prepositions keep me up at night) is more like assemblage than the flow of words I tend to associate with the craft of writing. Rolling up sheet of paper after sheet of paper and tossing them at the wastebasket is sometimes the closest I come to feeling writerly.

When a poem does come together I transfer it to computer. Any initial sense of euphoria will likely turn to dismay the next time I read it afresh and notice the problems. With luck and further revising I may eventually reach a point of contentment. Rewriting is a perpetual in any case, even with poems published years ago.

In addition to time’s role in the appraisal of work, feedback from others is invaluable (and quicker). I was tickled to learn how Nick Virgilio would solicit perfect strangers to get their reactions to his work. I feel pesky enough asking friends what they think.

An editor’s acceptance or rejection of a haiku for publication, though not the final word on its worth, is also part of my evaluation process.

And needless to say, whenever a poem connects with one other person, or many, the creative process finds its completion.

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writer’s block
I clean out
the refrigerator

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last night’s
brilliant effort
in daylight

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What does your haiku reading practice look like? Are there poets you particularly appreciate? Journals you find especially inspiring? Do you read haiku daily? Do you read mostly English-language haiku or do you read a great deal of Japanese haiku (in translation or not) or haiku in other languages? Are there books you would recommend, either of haiku or about haiku?

My reading list of journals and anthologies is typical, albeit limited by my low saturation point. Scholarly volumes mostly sit unfinished. Translated poetry requires more effort for less return, given the divide, so I don’t read a whole lot beyond what the journals publish (shame on me). What’s most lacking on my bookshelves are haiku collections, which I purchase whenever the budget allows.

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Is there anything else you’d like to say about writing haiku? Or about how annoying these questions are?

“Why do you write haiku?” is a question Curtis Dunlap asks on his blog, and I can easily identify with most of the answers given: heightened awareness; living in the now; connection with oneself, others, creation; To participate. (Peggy Lyles); To preserve, share, and savor… (Curtis Dunlap); …because I can… (Charles Trumbull); god only knows (Jim Kacian).

Widening the question: Why engage in any form of art or literature, given the labor involved in such labors of love? In my case it’s apparently part of a larger obsession with meaning, which is apparently as necessary as air.

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Any final haiku you would like to share with my readers?

Thanks for the invitation to process these questions, Melissa.

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catching a maple leaf
just before the ground—
Indian summer

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nameless longings
a floating seed
eludes my hand

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Credits: the skip of my heart—unpublished; midlife—Heron’s Nest v10.2, 2008; White Lies: Red Moon Anthology 2009; writer’s block—RawNervz 9.1, 2003; last night’s—Modern Haiku 41:2, 2010; catching a maple leaf—Frogpond 25:1, 2002; A New Resonance 3, 2001; Haiku Calendar Competition 2007 (November runner up); nameless longings—Heron’s Nest 10:1, 2008; Seed Packets (Flower Anthology) 2010

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