Posts Tagged ‘Haiku’
November 18, 2014 | by Damion Searls
The rhythms of overheard speech.
In Martin Walser’s 1987 book Brandung, about a German professor teaching abroad at the very un-German University of California, Berkeley—a novel really not worth reading unless you are interested in German-English translation and able to read it in the Berkeley sun, to a whiff of eucalyptus or a glimpse of Mount Tamalpais, and even then I didn’t finish it—the professor overhears a bit of dialogue. A student steps into an elevator and says “Going up?”; the one in the elevator says “Trying to.” The professor, “who did after all teach English back home, was crushed to realize, yet again, that he would never master this language.” Not long afterward, he sees a campus newspaper headline, “Sex Blind Admission,” and tries and fails to reconstruct the line in German. “English is a language for headlines,” he thinks.
I saw a headline myself in Berkeley, on the unbelievably trashy San Francisco Examiner: “Cops Fear Pimp Turf War.” Five punchy syllables, each pretty much any part of speech—it took me a moment to understand what it meant, then I knew I had witnessed greatness. (I’m not the only one who noticed: a weekly DJ night called “Cops Fear Pimp Turf War!” sprang up a few months later in San Francisco.)
It was walking in downtown Manhattan, on the other hand, past the new construction of, according to the slogan around the scaffolding, TWENTY INDIVIDUALLY-CURATED FINELY-CRAFTED CONDOMINIUM RESIDENCES, that a couple hurried past and we heard the man say, “The problem is in this country people believe they deserve something ... ” Whether his complaint targeted the members of the 1 percent who were building or planning to live in these super-creative residences, or the passersby resenting that they couldn’t, or other groups altogether, it was also a classic example of American speech:
The problem is in
this country people believe
they deserve something
It’s not a haiku—the haiku form has demands besides 5-7-5 syllables: seasonal key words (kigo), one image, two moments with a turn or jump cut between them indicated by a “cutting word” (kireji). It’s the serendipitous, spoken, American form: the overheard haiku. Read More »
October 31, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
April 3, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
June 14, 2012 | by The Paris Review
February 9, 2012 | by Sarah Braunstein
What poem would I write today, if I had it in me? So many titles come to mind. For instance: On Eating an Orange that is Too Wet. Or: On Drinking Coffee Slowly and Finding it Cold. The poem about Failing to Own a Microwave. Poem After Weird Moon. The poem called Patience.
Of course, the name of a poem isn’t a poem. Or is it? This is what James Shea’s brilliant, funny poem “Haiku” makes me wonder. It is a breathless, cluttered, charming, and heartbreaking list of titles. The poems that follow the titles—were they to exist—would be spare and measured. But Shea refuses to measure himself. These unwritten poems speak of ambition and youth, and suggest a flood of feeling that won't be contained by form. It’s a series of ghost haiku. Yet these traces of other poems, taken together, make a whole no less sufficient, no less moving, for its cobbled parts. Read More »