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New to Haiku => New to Haiku: Free Discussion Area => Topic started by: josie hibbing on December 12, 2010, 09:28:11 AM

Title: punctuation marks
Post by: josie hibbing on December 12, 2010, 09:28:11 AM
Hi! I'm very new to haiku. I always have trouble about punctuation marks. I notice that people use comma, dashes, and ellipsis the most. I know when to use them in a sentence but with haiku, I get confused especially with dashes and ellipsis. I have a couple of haiku examples here. The 1st one I used ellipsis; the 2nd one I used dashes. I wonder if I did it right and I wonder if I should just leave them without any punctuation. (You may also make suggestions about the haiku. :))

clay jar...
I remember
my first broken heart

a chilly day--
only the wind
in the swing set
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: AlanSummers on December 12, 2010, 09:38:02 AM
Hi Josie!

Good question, because people have different approaches regarding punctuation.  

As haiku evolved from hokku which was just the starting verse of a longer poem where each verse was written by a different poet, haiku is often seen as an incomplete sentence. So haiku evolved from this longer poem called renga or renku, and would link up with the following verse, so that's why so many haiku appear incomplete, yet so much. ;-)


clay jar...
I remember
my first broken heart


I really like your clay jar haiku, and the punctuation seems perfect to me.

a chilly day--
only the wind
in the swing set

Again, I like your haiku and the punctuation appears fine to me.

Sometimes I use two n dashes, although a single m dash is fine too.

Black Mountains--
the stagnant chill
of snowmelt

1.   HI #60   (HIA, Japan 2005)
2.   Haiku Friends    ed. Masaharu Hirata,  Japan  (2003)
3.   MATCH 1 SESSION 3 "SNOWMELT"/"MELTING SNOW" (KIGO)  WHC/Japan Times online Renga Tournament 2002  

But it could be just a single long  dash.

Black Mountains–
the stagnant chill
of snowmelt


You seem to be okay with punctuation, and writing some good short haiku too! ;-)

all my best,

Alan
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: cat on December 12, 2010, 09:44:23 AM
Hello, Josie,

As you read more and more haiku, you will notice that punctuation choices are often a poet's preference more than a strict rule.  So there are various ways of approaching the use and non-use of punctuation. 

Punctuation is necessary to clarify, sometimes, especially if you have a word at the end of the fragment that could -- but for the sense of the haiku should not -- be attached to the phrase.  Here's an example of mine from this year's Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival:

cherry blossoms --
from the homeless man's trumpet,
“Ode to Joy”

If I had not included the dash, as well as reading "from the homeless man's trumpet, 'Ode to Joy'", the haiku could be read as "cherry blossoms from the homeless man's trumpet", which is of course complete nonsense. 

Sometimes you might want to include a dash or ellipsis to make the reader pause for a heartbeat or two before moving on.  IMHO, the ellipsis tends to fade/dissolve from one image into another, while the dash is a sharper shift, almost like an interruption, or a lead-in to a surprise.  I'm sure others do it differently, though.

If you have the fragment first, and an article (definite or indefinite) begins line 2, you often don't need any punctuation.  Same if line 2 begins with a pronoun.

The important thing is to experiment, try out different marks or no marks, and see what comes closest to what you're trying to convey.

I think you have chosen the fitting punctuation for your two haiku, but i also think that both of them, due to their syntax, would work without any at all.  See, your choice, not right or wrong.

Hope this is helpful.

cat

Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: merlot on December 12, 2010, 08:17:12 PM
Punctuation varies and like most haiku writers I have no standard preference.

I observe, though, that when there is no punctuation then the effect simulates an initial flash of perception as it arises freshly--before an idea gets packaged into grammar and syntactical patterns. There is less an impression of "statement," of explicit telling, and more an impression of immediate insight in the process of happening. It is a freshly birthed, pre-grammar kind of dramatic moment.

Personally, I usually reserve the dash for a strong cutting effect--a slightly more unexpected and stronger reversal of perception than weaker punctuation marks, or none, suggest.

It doesn't bother me when lack of punctuation creates temporary confusion as to meaning, because at second reading I see I have caught an interior insight just arising from raw psychic flow.

I don't like over punctuation.
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: josie hibbing on December 12, 2010, 10:42:48 PM
Hi Alan! Thank you for the haiku lessons. You clarified my doubts.

As for the two little dashes on the 1st line of the second haiku, if I write it on paper it would just be a single longer line like how you write it on your 2nd "Black Mountains" haiku. I just don't know what key to type to make a single longer dash; so I push the short "dash line" key twice :)

Thank you for sharing your Black Mountain haiku. I had goosebumps. It's so beautiful!

Sincerely,
Josie <3
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: josie hibbing on December 12, 2010, 10:51:24 PM
Hi Cat! Your haiku lesson on punctuations is very much appreciated.

I see your point in your haiku. If there is no dash after the 1st line it would sound kind of funny. I will try to experiment with marks as you suggested.
And thanks for sharing your cherry blossom haiku. It has a sweet message with a hint of sadness. I love it!

Sincerely,
Josie <3
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: josie hibbing on December 13, 2010, 01:08:09 AM
Hi Merlot! Thank you for your response. I appreciate it. I could use a lot of haiku lessons.
Sometimes when a read a haiku without punctuation marks, I get confuse so I read it again. Often times I get the message the second time I read it.

I get your message-- use punctuations in your own judgement, but do not overuse them.

Thank you so much.

Josie <3
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: sandra on December 13, 2010, 03:10:29 AM
Hi Josie,

You've had some good responses here so I won't repeat that useful advice, but would like to also remind you that punctuation contains a visual element.

An ellipses can be used to subtly underline, say, a notion of "footprints" or of trailing off; a colon is like a wall to be climbed; a semi-colon is a crumbling wall, not so daunting; a dash is a span to cross, offering time to think; etc

Fanciful, yes, but haiku are allowed to have a graphic element too and I quite like playing round sometimes to try and reinforce that.

And, of course, our punctuation carries in-built pauses, even when one is reading silently - a comma is a short pause, a fullstop a long pause, and so on.

BTW I much prefer the em dash - if you're using Windows you type a word, enter a space, type the dash, enter a space and type the next word and then when you enter the next space, lo and behold a hyphen becomes an em dash. Using one at the end of a haiku line, enter the second space before you make a carriage return (ha, and that shows my age, doesn't it? = "enter").
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: G.R. LeBlanc on December 13, 2010, 12:40:40 PM
The em or en-dash issue will depend on your formatting settings. I'm not sure if it works with all computers, but if I need an em-dash, I press down on the ALT button and 0151, or ALT and 0150 for an en-dash. 

Gisele :)
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: AlanSummers on December 13, 2010, 12:54:53 PM
Macs are simpler, just press down alt and then dash, voila! ;-)

Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: josie hibbing on December 14, 2010, 02:02:40 AM
Hi Sandra, Gisele and Alan! Thank you so much for the punctuation lessons. Every information helps. I will try to play around with punctuation marks.

I tried your suggestion on how to make em and en dashes but so far no luck for me. I'm a very technologically-chalenged person. There are certain things that is hard for me to comprehend. I think I have a backwards brains. (For one thing I can write backwards in cursive  :) ) Anyway, I will ask my son to show me how to make the dashes. Beacause of haiku I joined FB and my two older kids are my helpers to get started with FB.

Thank you again and may you have lots of haiku inspirations these days :)

Josie <3
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: cat on December 14, 2010, 05:02:31 AM
Hello, Josie,

I can't figure that keystroke thing out either, but in MS Word, if you go:

space hyphen hyphen space

it makes a dash.

Which seems much easier to me, and is all I've ever used.

cat
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: G.R. LeBlanc on December 14, 2010, 06:28:48 AM
I can't figure that keystroke thing out either, but in MS Word, if you go:

space hyphen hyphen space

it makes a dash.

I also use MS Word and just tried that, and it didn't work for me. I think it depends on if your automatic format settings are on. I don't keep mine on because the automatic formatting sometimes causes problems for typesetting in print publications--well, as far as I know, it used to, anyways. Fancy quotation and automatic formatting can also cause problems when you're emailing material. The formatting doesn't always come through when the message is received and will result in odd symbols in place of the formatted punctuation. That's a whole other topic of discussion though...lol.

Josie, when you try the Alt key and the 0151 (or 0150 for the en-dash), don't use the numbers at the top of the keyboard. It only works with the number keyboard that's on the side. And you have to keep the Alt key pressed down at the same time as you hit 0151. Unless you're on a Mac, I'm pretty sure it should work.

If it works, at least you'll have a temporary solution until you can figure out the automatic formatting.

Look, it even works here: —  –   :)

And, good luck with your haiku!

Gisele
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: josie hibbing on December 14, 2010, 07:46:33 AM
Hi Gisele! Look at this — and – !!! I made an em and en dashes! I finally figured it out (without the help of my son  ;)). I pressed the number keys on the right side of the keyboard, not the ones on top.

Thanks so much for your help!

Josie <3
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: G.R. LeBlanc on December 14, 2010, 08:26:47 AM
Yay!!!! I'm so glad, Josie! I know whenever I figure something out on the computer without my husband's help, I get so excited! LOL!  :D
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: Don Baird on December 14, 2010, 11:39:36 AM
What a great thread!  Thanks for bringing the subject up.  It is always a good one to plow through once in awhile.  I'm one to think that less is more regarding punctuation in haiku.  And yet, I find myself using it more than I thought I would.  :)  What I do these days is attempt to keep the haiku in tact without punctuation but, after several tries, I begin to work punctuation into the ku.

I like ambiguity in haiku and puncuation has a tendency to reduce that effect.  imho  So, we have to be careful that punctuation isn't taking away a bit of the resonance of the ku.

Thanks again for the great thread, everyone!

all my best,

Don
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: chibi575 on December 18, 2010, 06:20:33 PM
I remember back in the day, as they say, I used ~ exclusively to represent where I prefered "pause" or "cut", then, an editor told me this drove her nuts because in the editing world "~" caused mixed interpretations (she was not specific or I can't remember the exact reason).  So, I changed to "--", "..."  and the occasional ":", but, I stopped sending to that editor, too.

There was at one time a semi-standard for kireji (cutting word or phrase) to English symbology:

: was "ya"
-- was "kana"

I've forgotten the rest but there were six or seven in the list (does any members remember this?)

Anyway, you seem to have the knack naturally... so go with that until further authority can specify.

OBTW send to a variety of editors and experiment just for fun  ;D
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: Don Baird on December 18, 2010, 08:32:24 PM
hmmmm I remember seeing that.  Now... to find it again.  ::)
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: chibi575 on January 11, 2011, 08:44:59 AM
There is a good discussion of "punctuation" in robin d. gill's book, "Rise, Ye Sea Slugs", pages 446 and 447.  Robin has translated Japanese for going on 30 years; and, in my opinion is one of the best and most insightful authors on Japanese short poems, both, hokku and haiku.  I recommend his books.  His website link:

http://www.paraverse.org/newbooks.htm

Here are the pages through google books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=hFWpECE_RtwC&dq=Rise+ye+sea+slugs&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&source=gbs_vpt_read

PS I hope the administration will allow a bit of what may be considered "spam":

I encourage supporting Robin's efforts. As far as I know, Robin's sole income is his books... as he can attest, his income is meager as a translator/author of a somewhat limited market of IPOOH (In Praise of Olde Haiku); eventhough, this his passion.
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: Don Baird on January 11, 2011, 10:47:42 AM
Great info Chibi.  Thanks a lot!  I'll check the links/books out.

Don

:)
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: AlanSummers on January 11, 2011, 02:47:56 PM
I've bought several of Robin's books.  They are fantastic, and worth every penny.  I can certainly endorse them, as they are highly educational, and inspiring, and full of humour at the same time.

Alan
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: Kat Creighton on June 22, 2011, 02:53:24 PM
Hi Josie,

I've just come across this topic and it got me to thinking about my own choices in punctuation. I've never looked for or studied rules regarding punctuation in haiku. When I first started studying haiku I tried to avoid punctuation altogether but found it often left too much ambiguity. Although we like to leave something to the reader's imagination, our message still needs to be somewhat clear.

The examples below are my own haiku except where noted.

My personal rules are not really rules at all but more about flow and feeling. Chibi mentioned the tilde "~". I use this often (and grammatically incorrect I think) when my haiku has to do with motion, floating, wind or water. It is more of a visual choice than grammatical. I rarely see it used by published haijin but I am rather attached to that little wavy dash.

ignoring
the fork in the road ~
summer breeze

As Sandra mentioned, I too use ellipses when I want to separate but continue a thought. In a haiku relating to a path or steps the ellipses mimics the feeling of continuing on.

evening walk...
the beachcomber savors
the last light

And the dash gives a strong definite break.

42nd Street station -
the assault rifles
still startle me

There are times when the haiku has a strong central pivot and no punctuation is necessary. Jane Reichhold gives a perfect example of this in her book Writing and Enjoying Haiku (although she uses it as an example of contrast):

long hard rain
hanging in the willows
tender new leaves

In Jane's haiku both the long hard rain and the tender new leaves hang in the willows, no need to separate anything here.

Josie, I've seen a lot of your haiku and I don't see any reason for you to fret over your punctuation choices. I enjoy so much of what you write. We all continue to study and practice and our preferences change over time.

Kat
Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: AlanSummers on June 23, 2011, 05:34:18 AM
Hi Kat,

Good post !;-)

I must say I'm not a fan of the tilde and believe it's grammatically incorrect, as you mentioned.

I find it a distraction.

Many haiku do not require punctuation if the syntax and semantics are clear, and there are two types of ambiguity:

1) The reader is not included, and simply doesn't know what is happening or what is meant

2) The haiku isn't closed down to just a simple single surface of meaning, and we get more of a vertical axis happening.


I think when Josie originally posted, it was a long time ago, and often newcomers to haiku are surprised about the lack of punctuation as in no period/end stops; commas etc...

I try not to use much punctuation nowadays and too many dashes and ellipsies can make haiku look the same, especially if you are considering a collection such as entering the Snapshot Press Collection Competition(s): http://www.snapshotpress.co.uk

I feel there's rarely a need for an N-dash - or an M-dash – and find double dashs -- a distraction too.

I didn't feel there was a need for an obvious visual prompt for a break here:

lemon balm
I kiss the lost cities better
on a makeshift map

Publications credits: Asahi Shimbun (June 2011)


But used an ellipsis for obvious reasons here:

netsuke...
the hare with amber eyes
jumps back in again

Publications credits: Mainichi Shimbun (May 2011)

all my best,

Alan


Hi Josie,

I've just come across this topic and it got me to thinking about my own choices in punctuation. I've never looked for or studied rules regarding punctuation in haiku. When I first started studying haiku I tried to avoid punctuation altogether but found it often left too much ambiguity. Although we like to leave something to the reader's imagination, our message still needs to be somewhat clear.

The examples below are my own haiku except where noted.

My personal rules are not really rules at all but more about flow and feeling. Chibi mentioned the tilde "~". I use this often (and grammatically incorrect I think) when my haiku has to do with motion, floating, wind or water. It is more of a visual choice than grammatical. I rarely see it used by published haijin but I am rather attached to that little wavy dash.

ignoring
the fork in the road ~
summer breeze

As Sandra mentioned, I too use ellipses when I want to separate but continue a thought. In a haiku relating to a path or steps the ellipses mimics the feeling of continuing on.

evening walk...
the beachcomber savors
the last light

And the dash gives a strong definite break.

42nd Street station -
the assault rifles
still startle me

There are times when the haiku has a strong central pivot and no punctuation is necessary. Jane Reichhold gives a perfect example of this in her book Writing and Enjoying Haiku (although she uses it as an example of contrast):

long hard rain
hanging in the willows
tender new leaves

In Jane's haiku both the long hard rain and the tender new leaves hang in the willows, no need to separate anything here.

Josie, I've seen a lot of your haiku and I don't see any reason for you to fret over your punctuation choices. I enjoy so much of what you write. We all continue to study and practice and our preferences change over time.

Kat

Title: Re: punctuation marks
Post by: chibi575 on June 23, 2011, 06:07:54 AM
English is not Japanese.  Sorry for the statement of the obvious, but, punctuation is different between the two languages, especially in the haiku and ELH.

Use English punctuation as just that.  I feel this a fundemental approach.  Experimental approaches should be encouraged, although, not to the extreme, I feel (may eat those words). 

I like use of the "!" to express emphasis and closure in English, also, borrow from the chess notations (!?, ?!) once in a while (read rarely).  I agree with Al, to a degree, that some punctuation can be a distraction and resolves unnecessarily poetic ambiquity (that's a whole other discussion).  All in all, as a short poem poet gathers experience, the choice of punctuation can become a matter of style.  (My muse seems to think in terms of "... " to represent the emotional touchstone of the moment, with a penchant at times to end with "!".)

Be that as it may... exploration (for both the editors out there and the poets feeding them) is my hardy recommendation (so says my muse...)!?

ciao... chibi