Author Topic: Hokku  (Read 231 times)

Rachel

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Hokku
« on: May 17, 2018, 12:12:01 PM »
Can anyone help me understand hokku more fully.  I'm a regular contributor to Under the Basho but have never submitted to the hokku category as from their guidelines I'm not really clear about the distinction between hokku and haiku. I've tried to do some reading around the topic but am getting more confused and out of my depth
Thanks!

AlanSummers

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2018, 05:24:05 AM »
Hi Rachel,


Can anyone help me understand hokku more fully.  I'm a regular contributor to Under the Basho but have never submitted to the hokku category as from their guidelines I'm not really clear about the distinction between hokku and haiku. I've tried to do some reading around the topic but am getting more confused and out of my depth
Thanks!


I'm not surprised. Too many people have lumped all Japanese verses as haiku now, even Basho, Issa, Chiyo-ni, Buson etc...

Very basically I would say everything pre-Shiki are hokku verses. Everything from the 1890s moved further away from hokku-like verses.

One big change was that hokku was simply written during Agrarian times, where Japan was mostly farmland or unconquered wild country, with exception of some roads, and residences of the ruling classes.

During the 1860s the West forced Japan to open up to its markets, and a long time in near-complete isolation.  Japanese artists appeared to enjoy access to Western techniques of art including the painting method of sketching from life.

Masaoka Shiki (正岡 子規, October 14, 1867 – September 19, 1902) used the word haiku, which was rarely used, so I would imagine that just like other old words it could be adopted for a new or slightly altered meaning.

So although he didn't create the word haiku, it was sometimes used to mean 'any verse' he made it significant to a new kind of verse akin to hokku. Even the term kigo is a 20th Century one:

[T]he terms kigo and its partner term kidai are Post-Isolation Japan:

“After haiku became a fully independent genre, the term "kigo" was coined by Otsuzi Ōsuga (1881-1920) in 1908. "Kigo" is thus a new term for the new genre approach of "haiku." So, when we are looking historically at hokku or haikai stemming from the renga tradition, it seems best to use the term "kidai." Although the term "kidai" is itself new—coined by Hekigotō Kawahigashi in 1907!

Itō, Yūki. The Heart in Season: Sampling the Gendai Haiku Non-season Muki Saijiki, preface in Simply Haiku vol 4 no 3, 2006.
https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/files/original/c7bea4d53c1ed337b7b361bb2bfe0794.pdf

http://www.gendaihaiku.com/research/kigo/04-heart-in-season.htm

So what does this mean? Think of hokku as purely nature for starters. Haiku came about in the Industrial Revolution so the whole society changed rapidly with trains and factories (facilitated by a Scottish engineer from Aberdeen).

Whereas haiku became a genre, but still retaining some aspects of form, hokku is distinctly a form, and was part of the most highly regulated form of poetry perhaps in the world.

Dr Chris Drake is an ardent fan of classic hokku, here's a commentary on one hokku:
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/translatinghaiku/conversations/topics/4383

Also I feel hokku need not be Natural History, that the depicted nature is not necessarily accurate but romanticised.

I wrote a few hokku for Under the Basho:

marsh marigolds-
open up my hidden suns
to morning clouds

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: 
Under the Basho (Hokku category:September 15, 2013,  Vol 1.1 Autumn Issue)


ragbound soul…
the secrets of night
shining clouds

Alan Summers
Publication Credits:  Under the Basho (‘hokku’ September 15, 2013, Autumn Issue)


green wind…
all the leaves shining
so sharp

Alan Summers
Publication Credits:  Under the Basho (‘hokku’ September 15, 2013, Autumn Issue)

This might be said to be hokku:


the long long throw

of a smoothly worn stone

dying, we live

Alan Summers
Hedgerow #123 Spring (April) 2018

Whereas I would call this haiku:

nuclear winter
I only count
98 red balloons

Alan Summers
Coch Rhi Ben (haiku/kyoku bun) Blithe Spirit 2018

And trains became iconic in Japan, and in haiku:

night train

each window carries

its own little rain

Alan Summers 

Brass Bell: a haiku journal (September 2017)


Here's part of a presentation I use to address Freshers on creative writing courses, on their first official day:


One of the turning points in the advent of modern Japanese haiku was about a train.  Here it is in the original Japanese, followed by Romanised Japanese aka Romaji, and then by my English-language version:


夏草に汽缶車の車輪来て止まる

natsukusa ni kikansha no sharin kite tomaru

summer grasses—

the wheels of a locomotive

coming to a stop

YAMAGUCHI Seishi (1901 - 1994)
English version by Alan Summers


Yamaguchi Seishi
山口誓子, やまぐち せいし

This is, in my opinion, a haiku that alludes to Basho’s famous medieval haikai verse about samurai battlesites amongst the summer grasses, somewhere I’ve personally visited.  Seishi talks about the modern age of Japan, and using one of its most iconic images, that of the train.  Both train and summer grasses meet and move on through the 20th and then into, now, the 21st century.




なつくさやつはものどもがゆめのあと

natsukusa ya tsuwamonodomo ga yume no ato

summer grasses:
the remains of warriors
and their dreams

Haikai verse by Matsuo Basho (1644–1694)
English version by Alan Summers

Basho’s haikai verse is from a climatic section in Basho’s travel journal (haibun), The Narrow Road to the Interior (Oku no Hosomichi).

COPYRIGHT Alan Summers
Contemporary haiku - where are we?
A possible poetry for our times and future times.
by Alan Summers

This won't answer your questions as there are so many crossovers as we swing back and forth between hokku and haiku. And that's only natural. Shiki thought the creation of a different but similar verse form he used the old term of haiku for, might save the memory of hokku for a decade or two under the onslaught of the more popular Western Free Verse. Little did he know that haiku would preserve the memory of hokku verses in the consciousness of millions of people in and outside Japan to such an extent.

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Rachel

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2018, 10:41:56 AM »
Wow thank you Alan..I did draft a rough submission but am so ensure as to whether the fit the criteria, I'll have a read of these links ...though doubt I dare submit till I'm more well versed in this fascinating topic  ;D

greg schwartz

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2018, 08:45:39 PM »
Whereas haiku became a genre, but still retaining some aspects of form, hokku is distinctly a form, and was part of the most highly regulated form of poetry perhaps in the world.

I've never seen the distinction between the two put so eloquently and concisely at the same time.

AlanSummers

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2018, 06:52:20 AM »
Thank you Greg!

I'm finding it's confusing to lump hokku and haiku together. Too many tweets, for instance, make out as if Basho, Buson, Issa etc... wrote haiku, and in English. There's no mention of the actual translation's author, which is weird and confusing.

Also whereas hokku was and is a form, haiku was never going to stay confined in subject matter or structure, as it came about in the great change between the still medieval era up to the 19th Century and the new industrial and urban technology driven era of the 20th century, and now the 21st Century.

It inspired me to write this:
https://the13alphabet.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/why-haiku-is-different/

warm regards,
Alan

Whereas haiku became a genre, but still retaining some aspects of form, hokku is distinctly a form, and was part of the most highly regulated form of poetry perhaps in the world.

I've never seen the distinction between the two put so eloquently and concisely at the same time.
Enquiries for Alan & Karen:
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greg schwartz

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2018, 03:21:59 PM »
Thanks for sharing that article, Alan.  A lot of information in there, and a great timeline of haiku.

I haven't noticed many tweets that leave out the translator, though I'm sure as one yourself you're much more aware when it happens.  I enjoy finding different translations of the same haiku; I think each one reveals a different aspect of the original.

AlanSummers

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2018, 06:09:35 PM »
Hi Greg,

Thanks for sharing that article, Alan.  A lot of information in there, and a great timeline of haiku.

I haven't noticed many tweets that leave out the translator, though I'm sure as one yourself you're much more aware when it happens.  I enjoy finding different translations of the same haiku; I think each one reveals a different aspect of the original.


I did put a feeler out to a couple of people who now know who the chosen translators were, for example, Jane Reichhold who has done many translations, who brought out this book:
https://www.amazon.com/Basho-Complete-Haiku-Matsuo/dp/1568365373/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535760291&sr=8-1&keywords=Complete+Basho

I find what is useful, whether hokku or haiku (1890s onwards) is not just translations into English, but transliterations, which are breakdowns in Japanese word order, but in English, accompanied by Japanese kana/hiragana etc...

It would all help if we saw that hokku is its own wonderful form, and that haiku is a fascinating experiment initiated by Shiki, who thought it wouldn't last. :-)

warm regards,
Alan

p.s.

summer grasses (hokku) from his famous and iconic The Narrow Road to the Deep North:
http://area17.blogspot.com/2006/04/bashos-summer-grasses.html


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Seaview

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2018, 08:34:02 AM »
Out of interest, Alan, are the translators of haiku from Japanese to English always haiku poets themselves? I imagine it would be quite a disadvantage if they weren't.

marion

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Re: Hokku
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2018, 02:45:33 PM »
Hi Marion,

If we say haiku are 1890s onwards, I think it varies, as we have Jane Reichhold (2 hs) who is/was very much a haiku poet, and then Makoto Ueda who, as far as I'm aware, doesn't write haiku himself.

Far Beyond the Field:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Far-Beyond-Field-Japanese-Translations-ebook/dp/B0092XDW4M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536006888&sr=8-1&keywords=beyond+the+field+haiku

Modern Japanese Haiku: An Anthology:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Modern-Japanese-Haiku-Makoto-Ueda/dp/0802062458

I would imagine there are poet/translators, but not necessarily haiku writers themselves, and translators who are good with Japanese. I have an acquaintance who is a corporate translator who's also been approached to help translate Japanese modern tanka and senryu.

Then there are haiku poets who sadly forget to put the author of the translation, and just have the 'English haikai verse' and the Japanese poet's name as if he is/was the original author.

Alan


Out of interest, Alan, are the translators of haiku from Japanese to English always haiku poets themselves? I imagine it would be quite a disadvantage if they weren't.

marion
Enquiries for Alan & Karen:
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