12 thoughts on “Before Brunch

  1. This is just to say:

    Here in america, we have this haiku fetish and we all think that they HAVE to be 5-7-5. That is not the case, they only tell you that in 6th grade so that it is easier. Its really just more short-long-short that is important.

    Don’t confuse “convention” with “rules”


  2. Marty, there’s such a thing as too much cutey “subtle” linking.

    Jack, haiku is not only a term for the traditional Japanese style but a global, modern style of poetry that has evolved from hokku over many years, many miles, and many writers. This form is itself derived from a root form called waka, which was sort of like a bunch of haiku linked together.

    The modern conventions of haiku are not American, per se, but rather the stylistic properties of modern English haiku.

    I’m not sure what your source is, but Nobuyuki Yuasa, in his translation of haiku master Matsuo Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North, defines the form as seventeen syllables divided into three sections of 5-7-5. This is meant to approximate the Japanese form, which doesn’t use syllables, exactly, but a kind of mora called on.

    Some formal practitioners of the form insist a work must contain some telling and poetic reference to the season in which the haiku takes place. I went through that phase myself.

    Your assertion above is missing a vital element that holds it back from being strong writing: “Its [sic] really just more short-long-short that is important.” Important to whom? Some writers consider the seasonal allusion to be vital. Others dote on the “cutting word” (about which I’ll write no more here). Even these writers usually agree on the 5-7-5 form as a modern standard.

    In my experience, people teach students that haiku isn’t strictly 5-7-5 as a means of indicating that the form is more complex than usually assumed — but that such people do not often actually know much about that complexity. As a poetic form, though, it’s generally crass and presumptuous to break from the conventions without having first mastered them.

    Do you write much haiku, Jack?

  3. You know, I don’t write much haiku these days, but I have been known to engage in a good renga party when time permits. What annoys me is when people just string 5 then 7 then 5 syllables together and ta-da HAIKU! Cute! LOL CaT! When I say the long short long is what is imporant, I don’t mean it as the most vital element to the poem as a whole, just in terms of the meter. generally speaking.

    You say it is bad form to break from conventions without first mastering them, and I agree. It has been my experience, however, that the haiku, as a form, has been cheapened by this trend of silly, sort of inane syllabic excercies*. That is not to say I am opposed to care-free, fun-loving poetry, but by completely ignoring any of its complexities, I feel a disservice is done to the form.

    We are both missing the point here, though. These comments are merely a medium in which to insult Marty. You got him a little with the subtle linking thing, but we are both going to have to step it up a good bit to be considered serious.

    *no offense to marty’s poem, which I actually sort of like.

  4. Haiku has endured many casual or outright bad writers for more than 400 years. It has not been cheapened by trends and, truly, was never that expensive a form to begin with.

    Tell me, Jack, what other poetic forms are mistreated by writers adhering to their traditional styles? What poetic forms are undermined by their own usage?

    You’ve done a little pirouette, here, in which you’ve gone from insisting that haiku has no strict structure to implying that ignoring “any of its complexities” does it a disservice. Just so I am clear, you mean haiku is maligned only when we ignore complexities other than its syllabic form?

    Poems that do not set the world on fire do not erode the forms they borrow. They may not contribute to some great breakthrough, but there’s a difference there between that which is not innovative and that which is actively withering. Nuance, Jack.

    I reject your premise about points missed. I like to make fun of Marty as much as anyone, but mistaking these comments as nothing more than a cheap soapbox for mocking him whenever he puts a word out into the world is small of you. Using that argument to dodge out of the fire you brought on by pretending to know something just so you could insult someone who made an effort is weak. Your care-free ragging cheapens the Internet, does a disservice to the medium of discussion, and undermines the efforts of blogging as a form to escape from tedium and juvenility.

    In other words, you’re doing it wrong.

    Further evidence that you don’t know how to employ the form: Clearly these comments are also for insulting you.

    Like leaves, you upstart,
    dry and shining, all alight —
    and engulf’d in flames.

  5. Listen, the vast majority of people I know believe that all it takes to write a haiku is a string of 17 syllables across 3 lines. That that is, literally, the only guideline. My point is simply that there is more to it than that. I beleive haiku is maligned when we choose to embrace only one aspect of it.

    Lets say I claimed to write a perfect sonnet. Each line was a perfect 10 syllables, only there were 6 lines and no rhyme scheme to speak of. And then, not only did I claim it was a sonnet, but the general public agreed, too. I would say the sonnet had been done a disservice.

    But that isn’t to say it isn’t necessarily a good poem! That isn’t to say the poetry world in general is not better off. Its just not really a sonnet, thats all. Martys poem is sort of cool, but just because it has 17 syllables doesn’t make it a haiku. stone walls do not a prison make, nor 5-7-5 syllabic structure a haiku.

    You don’t need to get so defensive over Marty. While it is your responsibility to stand up for your friend, it is also my responsibilty, as a younger cousin, to rib him as often as possible. Thats just a fact, man. I was not, in any way, attempting to “dodge out of the fire brought on by pretending to know something”. I was sort of just joking, but you are obviously above that. Maybe in some small, infintesmal way, I have hurt discussion and the internet and blogging and democracy and western civilization, but that was not my intention. Still, if marty is going to put his word out there (and keep comments activated), he is leaving himself open for criticism. I have as much right to put something out there as he does.

    He changed my diaper;
    Rules of engagement slacken.


  6. Let’s break it down. What you said was that a haiku doesn’t actually need the syllable count — that the count is just something “they … tell you … in the 6th grade so that it is easier.” When presented with evidence that people who know the form don’t agree, you changed your argument.

    Now your argument is that people don’t respect the finer points of the form. Which is it? The aspects you say are bullshit are bullshit but the the others are deeply important?

    If we had a case of ignorant no-nothings trying to pass off completely malformed poetry as “perfect” haiku, you’d have a point. But Marty isn’t representing his haiku as a platinum standard of the form and no one is trying to rewrite the definition of the form here.

    It looks to me like you just casually threw off a comment to rag on Marty and didn’t much care if it was true or not. Does that respect the form?

    Why is it an issue for Marty to write a casual haiku but it doesn’t matter if you capitalize or put a period at the end of your sentence or substitute “its” for “it’s,” Jack?

    I’m playing around with you, obviously, but there’s an underlying aspect of this that I take seriously, sure. For good reason. You take what you do seriously, don’t you?

    Whereas I know that I am rushing to Marty’s defense because I’m a little sick of people ragging on people, do you know why you are so quick to defend haiku from casual usage? I don’t.

    And, yet, you missed the joke. Do I actually think you did a disservice to the Internet? Dry hyperbole, man.

    I even cranked out a quick, imperfect but attentive haiku with seasonal allusions, a cutting word, and a play on the notion of Internet flame wars, just for you, for free. (At my standard mid-rate, you’d otherwise owe me $3.25 for that.)


  7. Jack:

    You’ve danced the line of “ribbing” and “Full on Internet Jerk” lately. You’re also appearing to crossed a line from “elitist” to “asshole.” I know you’re not an asshole–but you do need to rein it in a bit.

    While Will will use logic and rhetoric to point out your flaws, I’ll just put up naked baby pictures.

  8. I don’t know what you are talking about, Marty, as I just went back through everything you have posted the last two and a half months and the only comments I have left, besides the original comment on this post which I maintain was never actually an attack on you personally, was a long thoughtful post on how I saw the political divide in this nation in the aftermath of 11-4-08 and a joke about not wanting to live below you and shannon as you both practice your new instruments. Considering that would apply to absolutely anyone who is starting a new instrument, and is obviously a joke because I prefaced it with “haha”, I have a hard time believing it is that that triggered my jump ship from elitist to asshole. For “one pretentious bastard” whose trademark logo is the middle finger, I would have thought it would take more for you to consdier someone a “full on internet jerk”. It””’s not like I get my feelings hurt whenever you flick me off and ask why you are using such a crude gesture so liberally. Maybe we should ask grammie what she thinks.

    I have not changed my arguement. The original reason I posted my comment was not to attack Marty’s haiku– I even made a point to say that I actually liked it. This is just something that is a pet peeve of mine. You might wonder how often I run into people using the haiku in pop culture, but you’d be surprised.

    Maybe I didn’t make it as clear as I should have in the original comment, but I never dreamed anyone besides marty would even read it. The point I was trying to get across was that, of all the aspects of a haiku, the one that is followed the most dogmatically is also the one that is not necessarily the most set-in-stone. My point was that it is possible to write a haiku that was not 5-7-5, but that most people on the steet wouldn’t tell you that. That being said, there ARE certain characteristics that should be present. My whole frustration from the beginning was that casual poets/writers/bloggers ignore a huge portion of what makes a haiku a haiku and embrace the most approxamated aspect of it.

    It is you who first implored me to use nuance, but I don’t think I have been lacking in it from the beginning. I never predicted the end of poetry as a whole, or the haiku as a form, because Marty made one up about coffee. I never charged him with the task of haiku defender or declared the whole world was watching his every post to rewrite the rules of poetry. All I have ever said is that it does a disservice to the form (disservice is not a synonym for catastrophic injustice), in whatever small way. It just sort of bothers me. I don’t even consider Marty’s to be in the group of “haikus that annoy me”; it is far more thoughtful that the run of the mill examples I see on t-shirts and in NFL season previews (its true). Marty’s was actually reasonably thoughtful, which is why I began my original post with “this is just to say”. Just sayin’.

    I actually did not miss your joke/trap. I never would have just agreed to your accusations of wrecking the internet if I thought the charge was serious. I even added democracy and western civilization to the list of things I was destroying through my commenting. No, I do not actually believe myself to be the George W. Bush of internet blog commenting.

  9. Jack, you clearly missed an opportunity here.

    “‘…which is why I began my original post with “this is just to say’”.

    Any references to “This is just to say” on the internet MUST be followed by a bastardization of the William Carlos Williams poem of the same name, like so:

    This is Just to Say

    I have eaten
    your memes
    that were in
    the comments

    and which
    you were probably
    for lolcats

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so viral
    and so old

    (My apologies to, well, everyone, for succumbing to the call of the meme and butchering the Williams.)

  10. You know what I think? I think the originators of haiku never thought there’d be an internet “arguement” over proper haiku form.

    LOL your poetry.

    Also! I’ve taken three bodhran courses and have practiced significantly in the past. While I’m no expert, I wouldn’t consider myself a newbie bodhran player either. One day I’ll take it up again and maybe even get the cajones to play in public.

    Miss you Jack! And Grammie too.

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