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Messages - John McManus

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Sea Shell Game / Sea Shell Game 5
« on: August 03, 2012, 02:24:12 AM »
Here is a brand new Seashell game. I hope the following poems will spark a good bit of conversation, please do chime in with your thoughts and preferences.

under the clouds of imaginary numbers
fighting silently
against a monster

Ban'ya Natsuishi. Translated by Ban'ya Natsusihi and Jim Kacian.

under the nitrogen blue sky
the white horse
of my life

Patrick Sweeney

Sea Shell Game / Re: Sea Shell Game 4
« on: August 03, 2012, 02:08:50 AM »
Thanks for particpating guys. I will call this a victory to Fay as the votes now stand at 3 to 2 in her favour.

All my best,

New to Haiku: Free Discussion Area / Re: I found a good book
« on: July 30, 2012, 01:54:54 AM »
Chase, is it alright if I let Susan know her ku is your current favourite? I know she would be delighted to hear it.


Well John, let me make this clear just so there's no confusion.

You do not have my permission to quote me under any circumstance in any form of media.

I know you've already screen captured me and I find it disturbing that you are trying to dress up your shenanigans as some kind of personal quest for understanding.


And why would you want to quote me John?

I gave you my honest opinion on the verse you posted. I make no claims to have any kind of superior knowledge or authority. I'm just a guy who loves to read and write haiku.

I'm not interested in telling anybody what they can and can't do and I certainly have no interest in playing games with anyone who does such things.

John, the only way the above verse can be a hokku is if you're planning on it being the opening verse of a linked verse.

Why on earth would you want to call it a hokku if it's a standalone verse? I think there's enough debate over what a haiku is and isn't already. There's no need to muddy the waters any further.


Hi Gabi, I can't speak for anyone else, but personally I do make a distinction between haiku and other short form poetry which I have encountered.

I actually have came to the conclusion that it is dangerous to call haiku short, as short is just another word for small, and things which are small are generally dismissed as limited and flimsy.

Could anyone who has seriously studied haiku, even if they didn't feel any affection for the poetry honestly say haiku is limited or flimsy?

I think what people who are against free form haiku need to realise is that free form, experimental and gendai haiku do use aspects of traditional haiku which are non-existant in other types of poetry that employ brevity. So even a mutant haiku has more in common with a traditional haiku than it does with a cinquain, lanturne, kural, limerick or epigram.




Here's to hoping Alan!

Of course the people who are supposed to represent the common man are smug, how else would they be able to ignore the damage they do or justify the damage when they are brought to book on it?

I realise I am probably paraphrasing from Bill Hicks here, but I honestly think that if all the money which is pumped into warfare every single year was used to clothe, feed and educate then we would wipe out poverty and ignorance before the turn of the next century.

I also realise that it will never happen, whilst resources for energy, materials and food are finite, but one can always dream ;)

Getting back to poetry, I think that there's a core appreciation to poetry that runs through all human beings.

For goodness sake we introduce language to our young by singing lullabies and reciting nursery rhymes. I think that is proof enough of our natural predisposition towards poetry, but like most things that we grow accustomed to I think it is all too easy for people to take language for granted and become desensitised to it's power and possibilities.

On the question of form, I think that form arises from our need to compartmentalise things. I also think that form has nothing and everything to do with why haiku is seen as niche poetry.

I think on one hand if someone is told a haiku is a poem consisting of 17 syllables, three lines and  based solely on nature then it seems like a relatively straight forward and easy enterprise, and since the difficulty of a task goes a long way to establishing the value of the task then haiku is off to a very rocky start when people are given this tired and shallow definition.

This is nothing to do with the form of haiku in itself as anyone who does seriously study haiku will see it is not just 17 syllables spread over three lines concerned purely with nature.

The real question is how do we permanantly rid the world of these tired definitions that encourage people to think of haiku as a small, easy to write, nature based poem?


Alan, thanks for this intriguing and lively post.

I would argue against the opening of Olson's statement. I don't personally believe any culture anywhere in the world prides itself on how efficiently it kills people, instead I would say all of us live in cultures that pride themselves on how efficiently they control people. Control is sometimes acheived through murdering people but there's a number of other ways too which are much more comon and harmful to art than murder is.

I'd wager that poets were banned from the Whitehouse because they were against the war on terror and had the ability to not only articulate their beliefs on this matter, but were also able to succesfully challenge the beliefs of the politicians with their words.

What concerns me is that the level of education which is delivered to the vast majority of working class people in many industrially developed countries is shockingly low. It is a sad fact that a number of children and adults do not enjoy reading and writing.

The value of literature that challenges society and demands participation is non-existant in mainstream culture and there are no signs of a reversal in the offing.

Sorry to sound like a pessimist, but until we are somehow able to create education systems which encourage people to explore and enjoy literature then poetry in all it's guises will be viewed as irrelevant by the vast majority of people.



Other Haiku News / Warning!
« on: June 23, 2012, 10:36:09 AM »
Hi everyone, if anyone has had any emails from me in the past couple of days then do not open the attatchments in those messages. I have had my account hacked. I have changed my address and hopefully the hackers won't get back in, but I thought I'd just give everyone a heads up.


New to Haiku: Free Discussion Area / Re: Glossary
« on: June 21, 2012, 09:45:27 PM »
Hi Rebecca, here's a link that should help with the pronunciation of Senryu . . .

Authorial comment is when you are actively telling the reader what emotion to feel, the beauty of haiku is that they are supposed to be somewhat objective, even if they are topically subjective. A good example would be Fay Aoyagi . . .

tadpoles with legs
I assure him there's no need
to leave his wife

Topically this a subjective poem, she is talking about her relationship and her thoughts, but it is expressed objectively. She leaves the reader wondering why she's assuring him. Is it that she knows it won't last long, or that she has no intention of telling his wife like some women would. Does that make sense?

Closeness is when there's not enough of a leap betwen the images or not enough distance in the juxtaposition.



In-Depth Haiku: Free Discussion Area / Re: Purposes and work of haiku
« on: June 18, 2012, 01:40:35 AM »
When I tell people I write poety they genuinely seem interested, and when I tell them it's mainly haiku poetry that I write they look rather confused, and if I recite some of my haiku  for them they often ask 'Is that it?'

For some reason that escapes me it seems some people are dismissive of haiku and short poetry in general because they don't understand that a short poem can say as much as a long poem can and in some cases even more, they also assume that to write something so small is incredibly easy, which as most short-form poets could tell you is a complete fallacy.

The only way that I can think of reversing these misunderstandings is through education and exposure to good short poems whether they be haiku or not. People need to be made aware of the potential that exists in just a few words in order to truly appreciate haiku.

I personally got into haiku after writing longer poems for a few years and was amazed to find that something so small could still carry so much meaning.



In-Depth Haiku: Free Discussion Area / Re: Battered Haiku/Hokku
« on: June 16, 2012, 04:33:55 AM »
Hi Don and Gabi, it's an interesting problem and one that I think is likely to get worse rather than better.

Look at it like this: If haiku becomes more popular and more people start writing and publishing haiku then we are gonna end up with alot of poems which are similar in terms of topic, style, and words used. Would this be a fair assumption?

If the answer is yes then what's to be done about this issue?

Discourage new writers? I'd say a definate no! We need new poets to come along, the number of haiku poets lost in the past couple of years should be a stark reminder to all that we need more active poets, to not only contribute their own poetry but to keep the poetry of others alive. This can be done through allusion, translation, writing commentaries or by simply promoting the work of other poets.

Discourage new styles? That seems to be what some folks want, but I think it's a natural and unavoidable process. Poetry is dependent on language, it cannot exist without it, and since language is in a state of constant mutation  then poetry by extension of that fact is also in a constant state of mutation.

here is a poem I have recently written which shows how we can be creative but still remain true to a number of traditional haiku characteristics . . .

lobster moon
she pulls me back
into the hot tub

This has a cut, employs ambiguity, is lyrical and brief, but most importantly it has something a bit different. 'lobster moon' is my own term. I'm not aware of anyone using the term prior to myself and even google failed to provide any reference to a 'lobster moon' so I'm confident that this provides a level of originality to the ku.




Hi Stephen, good luck with it. You do have a unique angle to work with and I am interested in seeing what you do with it.

I would say that there's a bit more to being a good editor than knowing a thing or two about haiku though, it is a major investment of your time and energy, especially if you're doing it alone.

Have you considered that you'll have to deal with hundreds of submissions which all need replied to. You then have to think about things like artwork and design, getting word out in the haiku comunity, how to sequence the poems you accept, how long it will take to get everything up on the site, how long it will take to proof it all and most importantly how you'll get good writers to send you their work.

There's other things to consider as well, like what the name of the journal is gonna be and what terms  you'll impose on your contributers in relation to publicaton rights.

Please don't think I'm  trying to put you off. I just want to give you a bit of an idea of all the work that goes into producing a quality journal.


Journal Announcements / AHG announcement
« on: June 12, 2012, 04:43:40 AM »
A Hundred Gourds : Wanted, a Webmaster

The on-line journal A Hundred Gourds (AHG) is in need of a webmaster, preferably someone with an interest in haiku and related poetry. The position, as all other positions related to the AHG journal, is a voluntary one, so the compensations are not monetary but rather those that come with working with a dedicated team to produce a high quality journal that serves the world-wide English-language ‘haiku & related’ community.

A Hundred Gourds, a quarterly journal, is published on the first day of March, June, September and December. The AHG webmaster receives the completed sections, one from each editor, six weeks in advance of publication date, with the exception of book reviews for the ‘expositions’ section and the traditional haiga for the ‘haiku’ section, which webmaster may receive up to three weeks before publication date. Features, a separate category, may be received up to four weeks before publication date. The final two weeks before publication are reserved for proof reading of the completed sections and any resulting necessary corrections to text or format before the issue is made available to the public.

The AHG website is presently set up using Dreamweaver software templates; however, the new webmaster need not use Dreamweaver to format the journal.  Ray Rasmussen is willing to act in a supporting or ‘coaching’ role at first to a new webmaster, if need be.

We believe that AHG is a good journal that is needed by the growing haiku community. We look forward to any and all enquiries from potential webmasters, and please circulate this message among your friends.

Please have a look at the current issue of A Hundred Gourds and the two archived issues:

Please address enquiries about the webmaster position to both Ray Rasmussen and Lorin Ford:

Lorin Ford         -<[email protected]>

Ray Rasmussen - <[email protected]>


Lorin Ford, haiku editor

for the Management Team
A Hundred Gourds


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