World Haiku Review
December 2012 issue
Editorial, on this page
General Common Room - Poems of Anita Virgil and John W Sexton
Haiga by Adelaide Shaw
James W Hackett by Susumu Takiguchi
Journey to Oiso and the home of R H Blyth
A Personal Conclusion from "That Art Thou: A Way of Haiku"
by James W Hackett
The Great Cloud of Witnesses:
R.H. Blyth writes to James W. Hackett
A Personal Haiku Selection, May 2001
A Personal Haiku Selection, August 2001
A Personal Selection, November 2001
Reflections and Suggestions for creating haiku poetry in English
R H Blyth and J W Hackett
James W Hackett by Debra Bender
It has been a while since we at World Haiku Review abolished the usual style and contents of our Call for Submission, which were common or in line with others, and replaced them with a rather unusual list of general points of what sort of submission is likely to be accepted or rejected (see the end of this Editorial). The list, if implemented rigorously and strictly, is very stringent. So stringent that it would eliminate the best part of haiku poems written across the world today. This is after allowing for the subjectivity question, of course.
Even among excellent haiku poems the ones which satisfy all the good points, or even just many of them, are few and far between. On the other hand bad haiku poems very often have many points listed on the rejection list. This means that haiku poets should apply the rejection list to each of their haiku before submission and see if it clears each point (e.g. Is it not imitative? Or, is it not a ‘So what?’ haiku?). This much is really the minimum that every haiku poet should endeavour to practice at all time. It should be only after that that he or she would start checking the points on the “Likely to be accepted” list.
It pains me to see so many haiku poems submitted which are littered with the points on the “rejection” list. The worst pain is when I encounter a submission with all the haiku poems having these points and none of the good points, with the result of rejecting the whole thing altogether. This makes me wonder if these authors are at all concerned with these negative points or totally oblivious to them. I also wonder if they would think hard why the ones rejected are rejected. Do they think that it is just a difference of opinion and/or that the editor in question does not understand? Or is it simply that they do not understand the whole thing and that they just have to go on trying to learn?
One can speculate why the situation has become like this. One highly likely reason is that the majority of haiku poets outside Japan have somehow failed to be on the right track in terms of haiku composition and appreciation. How did it happen? Most probably, it happened because they have made a false start. Why? Because they were not initiated into haiku correctly. Why, then, have they not come to realise the mistake? Because they see all these haiku poems everywhere (except in Japan in the Japanese language) masquerading as genuine or good haiku. An apt analogy may be junk food. If you are surrounded by junk food how can you possibly know good food?
Can we do anything about this problem, a problem of utmost seriousness, or is it too late? Without wishing to demoralise you, let me be honest with you and say that it would certainly be too late if you did not recognise and accept this problem as such and did not do anything drastic about it now but that it would not be too late at all if you did so. Well, if you recognise and accept the problem how would you be able to go right back exactly to where you started, eradicate the false start good and proper and make sure that this time you will have the right start and therefore will be on the right track. How? Follow your innate poetic sensibility, instinct and intuition regarding Japanese culture and good sense in terms of your English rather than bad haiku textbooks and misguided teachers. If you want me to help you, I would be most happy to be of any assistance in any small way. For the last fifteen years I have tried to do my bit to guide the beginners in the right direction and to help those who stumbled or went astray to be back on the right path. These are shown in numerous papers, articles, essays and comments I have published during the same period. You are most welcome to read them now.
THOSE LIKELY TO BE REJECTED
1 Hackneyed, clichés, imitative or derivative;
2 'So what?' haiku;
3 Too short to be good;
4 Made artificially vague (false 'yugen');
5 Gimmicky as opposed to real skills;
6 Bad English;
7 Template-like, or ticking-box-kind factory haiku;
THOSE LIKELY TO BE ACCEPTED
1 New and/or original;
2 Have something to say;
3 Reflecting truths, sincerity and honesty;
4 Coming from your heart and soul;
5 Based on your real and deep experiences;
6 If products of your imagination, true, fine and deep at that;
7 Away from rules & regulations and yet good;
8 Good choice and order of words;
9 Have good rhythm;
10 Pictorial and/or musical feel;
11 Have some sense of humour;
12 Reflecting the grasp of the essence of haiku (a sense of brevity, humour, somewhat detached view or karumi)
Cover Art : Susumu Takiguchi