One of the greatest gifts I was given in 2011 was given to me by Michael Dylan Welch when he invited me to Haiku North America. I filled one notebook after another taking notes at each presentation.
Two of the realizations that came to me during Richard Gilbert’s presentation were centered around Scott Metz: One, I really love his work and two, his poems seem important in the haiku world.
Like Wallace Stevens’ jar on a hill, Metz’ work changes English-language haiku with its presence. While many have noticed the bird and bush, Metz has clearly also studied and continued to build upon the foundation that modern poetry has given us.
“My hopes for English-language haiku in this year of the dragon (2012) is applicable, really, to any future that it has,” writes Metz in an email reply to my question, “What are your hopes for American haiku over the next year?”
One of my hopes is that the aesthetics and techniques—the poetics—that have become traditional (classical?), and entrenched, in English-language haiku (with all its wonderful and creative misreadings, limitations, misinterpretations and ahistorical stances) continue to flourish and intensify, and deepen. With an emphasis on transparency (and directness) of language, simplicity, plainness, literalism, direct experience, season words, and “ordinary reality”, a remarkable, timeless foundation has been created.
Another one of my hopes for English-language haiku is that it will continue to diversify and evolve; that poets will continue to play (the hai in haiku) artistically (with language, modi operandi, imagery, structure, culture, media, history, literature), go where they need to go—go where they must go—and continue to question and resist. I’m excited to see the unchartered territories the art form ventures into, the nu/neu/neo directions, worlds, microclimates, seasons and infusions created and encapsulated—both the beautiful failures as well as the successful experiments. . . . And that by utilizing the first eight centuries or so of ku (from renga and uta to hokku, senryū and haiku) we can continue to refresh, renew, strengthen and expand this unique and extraordinary global literature.
In addition, I hope that not only will English-language haiku become more integrated and fused with the larger poetic world (as it is, in fact, beginning to), but that it will become more infused with American, English-language and Western poetics by its authors.
I look forward to the craft and artistry and invitations in everyone’s poems: all the doors and windows left open and/or cracked, all the lights on in the attics, all the latches and locks left undone. I hope for more of all of it and thank everyone for sharing it.
Scott Metz is the editor of Roadrunner. With Lee Gurga, he co-edited Haiku 21: an anthology of contemporary English-language haiku (Modern Haiku Press, 2011). He is the author of lakes & now wolves (Modern Haiku Press, 2012).