Dear Haiku Maven, Is it just me, or do editors prefer poems about the dark side of life? When I submit a group of poems to a leading haiku journal, although maybe only two or three out of ten deal with loss, pain, aging or mortality in some way, those poems usually get chosen. Could it be that editors find happy, contented, or joyful haiku to be too superficial and not deep or serious enough? Could it be that these editors are mostly older and concerned with aging and mortality themselves? Could it be that it’s harder to create resonance with upbeat material? Or could I be imagining the whole thing? From the Sunshine State
This is a timely question. Haiku Maven has been reading the newest haiku anthology, Haiku in English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013.) In its introduction, poet Billy Collins writes, “The best haiku contain a moment in time caught in the amber of the poet’s attention and the poem’s words. It is the only genre fully devoted to setting down a simple observation in the here-and-now so as to produce in the reader a little gasp.” Your query did not say that you write equally strong haiku, whether joyful haiku or darker haiku. How good are the joyful haiku you submit to editors as compared to those which garner a higher acceptance rate? When read in a workshop setting, do they produce “a little gasp” in the listener? Haiku Maven has been known to read a draft haiku collection manuscript or two. In deciding whether or not the haiku produce “a little gasp” in the reader, the quality of the publishable haiku is of paramount importance. You ask, “Could it be that it’s harder to create resonance with upbeat material?” Yes for some haiku poets and no for others. And this has nothing to do with the relative youth or old age of the editor. Finally, Haiku Maven would like to leave you with this thought: One haiku reader’s dark side interpretation may be another’s joyful appreciation.
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