One of the reasons (if not the primary) for creating community-oriented haiku sites and journals is to share the spirit of haiku. While there are schools of haiku, techniques, styles, and aesthetic conceptions of haiku, something like haiku spirit derives a cosmos of haiku — an intuitive space of haiku. This sense of spirit can be felt in the writings of artists working in numerous disciplines. Here is a quote from filmmaker/artist David Lynch that I feel speaks of haiku spirit:
People nowadays are suffering from all kinds of negativity, primarily stress, and a lot of people are suffering from traumatic stress. Negativity, stress, and anxieties, tension, anger, fear, all these things squeeze the tube through which ideas flow.
Negativity is the enemy to creativity. But what are we gonna do about it? People have to know that within every human being is a treasury. And this treasury is an unbounded ocean of pure consciousness. So within us all is unbounded intelligence, creativity, happiness . . . love, energy, power, and peace.
If we could contact that ocean, experience it, negativity naturally, effortlessly, lifts away. Turn the awareness from out, out, out, 180 degrees to within, within, within. And once we’re pointed within, we will naturally and easily dive through subtler levels of mind, then subtler levels of intellect, and at the border of intellect. we’ll transcend, we’ll experience that big ocean, the treasury.
(Shangri-la, 2019, Documentary film, Ep. 1; 42:32)
This topic is quite difficult to discuss, and I can’t accept Lynch’s comment literally. Though stepping back to a wider view, when has the haiku community discussed “negativity, stress, and anxieties, tension, anger, fear” as limiting creative, poetic expression in haiku? How may it be that linking these psychological states will “squeeze the tube through which ideas flow”; a direct challenge to or agon of creative life? Is “negativity is the enemy to creativity”? I’m not sure, but it seems worth discussing. Is there a “treasury . . . an unbounded ocean of pure consciousness”? If poetic license is taken here, as an overly romantic notion, nonetheless intuitively there is a mystery in how the richness of creative language in haiku arises out of the space of consciousness. So “treasury” seems apt and the “unbounded” to be invited.
What do you think about Lynch’s idea of contact, of turning awareness within? It’s not about right or wrong it’s about provocation — I find these ideas provocative. How might we instigate conversations on creative process and further validate such intimate, personal experiences?
Here are three recent haiku that seem to echo or evoke topical aspects presented by Lynch:
lotus into pond into lotus from being a seed to being a seed each one wheat in the wind of the other [Agnes Eva Savich; Ashish Narain; Danny Blackwell. All from Bones Haiku Journal 17, July 2019]
The reflexive image reveres the world by turning inside to out; what is outer, to within. Note the transformations — metamorphoses of body and being. Identities flow one into and through another. “each one” in “the other.” From “being” (a seed) to “being a seed” in circular return, metamorphoses commence through the thousand forms returning to identity, “lotus into . . .” “into lotus.” Through comings and goings we return — and return to the poem. Importantly, without rerun: identities return yet the paradox of psychological identity is that, as symbolized by the spiral, each return also marks a cycle of evolution. Eliade termed this the “myth of the eternal return” — putting an emphasis on myth then, is the myth really that we hold ourselves to be self-evident as unitary, named, unchanging forms? Yes, even names in song become myth: “Ride, Sally, ride”; “Do you, Mr. Jones?”
There are many clichéd expressions we might now insert, such as “The one is the many is the one.” Let’s avoid that heavy dose of new-age-easy quip. Good poetry is completely avoidant of the quip, or facile affirmation. To be barely (whether gently or brutally, rawly) simple within an evolving expression of life and being, in just a few choice words represents a mineral vein of high purity arriving in the light of consciousness, brought up from the underland, from a “dive through subtler levels of mind.”
Here, three more poems to comment on:
labyrinth which spiral are we — Michelle Tennison (Heliosparrow, 10 Dec 2019) measured in light years, the night sky again tomorrow — Dave Read (is/let, 25 April 2020) forestrange — Kat Lehmann (is/let, 24 April 2020)
Richard Gilbert, professor of English Literature at Kumamoto University in Japan, is the author of Poetry as Consciousness: Haiku Forests, Space of Mind, and an Ethics of Freedom (illustrated by Sabine Miller, Kebunsha Co. Ltd., 2018, ISBN 978-4-86330-189-4), The Disjunctive Dragonfly (Red Moon Press, 2008, rev. 2013), and Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), among others. He is also director of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, whose most recent book is the tour de force Haiku as Life: A Tohta Kaneko Omnnibus (Red Moon Press, 2019). In January 2020, he announced the creation of Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, an evolution of the Haiku Sanctuary forum.