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Why do some people feel 575 is the only way to go?

Started by Laura Sherman, December 02, 2010, 05:21:19 PM

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Laura Sherman

I sometimes run into people who are convinced that haiku must follow the 575 pattern.  They can be quite certain about this and feel all other haiku forms are "wrong."  I know that most Japanese haiku have this format, but that when translated, it doesn't hold.  I'm just curious why there is so much passion about this subject.

Don Baird

#1
Hi Laura,

I'm thinking it comes from such things as junior high, high school and college.  If I'm not mistaking, when I was a kid, 5/7/5 was the only thing being taught (I'm 63 now!).  I think it's a tiny bit earth shattering to some when they find out that there is a different take on it.  Folks like to stand up for what they've been taught and believe.  It's only natural.  That's probably where the passion comes from.

For me, I never really cared.  Once I got up to speed that there "is a new count in town", I just said, "whatever" and went with it.  LOL

It's going to take more time and work to get the educational system involved enough to learn and accept newer information regarding the differing aspects of the Japanese and English languages, comparatively

Just a tip of the iceberg two cents worth of mine.   :)

all the best,

Don

ps... of course, they may be very experienced and just write it that way because they want to... it's all good!
I write haiku because they're there to be written ...

storm drain
the vertical axis
of winter

cat

Hello, Laura,

I can think of a couple of poets who are quite passionate about 5/7/5, but I've never heard either of them say that other ways of writing haiku are "wrong".  And I think that's a big distinction, whether poets espouse 5/7/5 only for themselves or think it should apply to everyone.

It's hard to second-guess why this is such a strongly-held idea.  Maybe they like structure in their lives, maybe they like the challenge of writing in a set form, maybe they feel it's more authentic?  Maybe someone who chooses to write exclusively in 5/7/5 will drop by and enlighten us.

For myself, if something I write comes out to be 4/7/5 or 5/6/5 or another count close to 5/7/5, I'll tweak it a bit to make it fit.  But I don't set out to write to that pattern.

And I have read some very effective haiku that were written in 5/7/5.

cat
"Nature inspires me. I am only a messenger."  ~Kitaro

colin stewart jones

i just posted a 575
i quite like the mental exercise of trying to write a ku in 575
but i do not advocate strict adherence to this format
quite the opposite in fact...most of my ku are minimal

i think ppl are conservative
that is why they go with what they are taught
and are reluctant to change

personally if the poem works ...it works

col :)
_________________________

bear us in mind for your work

Colin Stewart Jones
Editor
Notes from the Gean: monthly haiku journal

www.geantreepress.com

Julie B. K.

I have actually been wondering the opposite question.  Why do some haiku journals refuse to look at 5-7-5 poems and specifically state that you shouldn't send them any?   ???  I can understand a lack of adherence to a syllable count or even a fixation on the 5-7-5 syllable count, but it seems odd to exclude 5-7-5 without even reading it.  Thoughts?

G.R. LeBlanc

Well, I certainly can't speak for other editors, but I think the issue boils down to the fact that many haiku written in the 5-7-5 format tend to be padded and wordy. People will often add unnecessary words to reach the right count which ultimately weakens the haiku. 

In general, English haiku written in the 5-7-5 form hold more information than a Japanese haiku written in the traditional 5-7-5 form. English syllables and Japanese sound units are not the same thing. Japanese sound units (called on or kana) are shorter than English syllables.

Another thing affecting the sound unit count in Japanese haiku is the use of kireji (cutting words) which are basically spoken/written punctuation. These cutting words are included in the total sound unit count. That means that if you translate an English haiku containing 17 syllables into Japanese, chances are that the translation will have more than 17 sound units.

Hope that helps!

Lorin

Quote from: jublke on December 09, 2010, 05:49:46 AM
I have actually been wondering the opposite question.  Why do some haiku journals refuse to look at 5-7-5 poems and specifically state that you shouldn't send them any?   ???  I can understand a lack of adherence to a syllable count or even a fixation on the 5-7-5 syllable count, but it seems odd to exclude 5-7-5 without even reading it.  Thoughts?

I must say I don't understand that approach, either. I don't aim to write in 5-7-5 syllables, but if that's the way a particular haiku turns out best, that will be my final version. I've had  haiku with a 5-7-5 syllable count accepted for a few journals, including The Heron's Nest and, as haiku editor for Notes From the Gean, I'm as happy to receive haiku in this form in submissions as any other. 

G.R. LeBlanc

I agree, Lorin. We tend to gravitate toward shorter haiku at Berry Blue Haiku, but we also publish haiku that follow the 5-7-5 form. If it's a well-written haiku, the syllable count shouldn't matter.   

colin stewart jones

god point about why not use 575

i would like to draw your attention to this 575 poem

1.1.87

Dangerous pavements
But I face the ice this year
With my father's stick

this has everything a haiku should ecept perhaps the title

it has kigo, a cut and no padding that i can see
even "but" adds an extra dimension to the "poem"
as we can infer the death of his father as he did not have the stick last year

like i said before when a poem works it works
this 575 was penned ny the Irish poet and Nobel Laureate; Seumas Heaney

Slainte

col :)
_________________________

bear us in mind for your work

Colin Stewart Jones
Editor
Notes from the Gean: monthly haiku journal

www.geantreepress.com

maggie

I'm glad to see the pros and cons of 5/7/5 ELH addressed here.  I'm a big fan of Richard Wright and what he can do with 5/7/5, and I think that sometimes we get too concerned with the current free-form trends and forget to look at the actual poem--does it work? has the poet conveyed the image/idea? does the language resonate?  That, to me, is the most important part of the haiku experience, regardless of syllable count.

I hope this forum will address two other ELH topics: rhyme, and metaphor/simile.

AlanSummers


Seamus Heaney's haiku can be found in The Iron Book of British Haiku:
http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/the_iron_book_of_british_haiku_david_cobb_martin_lucas_i0286.aspx

I've included the haiku in his own handwriting.

Iron Book of British Haiku 
Iron Press; ISBN: 0906228670 First published 1998, Third print 2000

7

If the imagination (creative unconscious) is captivated by the "idea" of 5/7/5 it will go there, it will want to manifest in that form for its own pleasure. There is freedom in this, I believe, which becomes corrupted when one feels an experience (of freedom, of creation, of authentic connection...) needs to be repeated. In other words, when one intrudes upon the imagination.

merlot

I would like to post a roadside sign by the side of  the haiku writer's highway. It would read:

     REDUCED
SYLLABLE COUNT
     AHEAD

Just sayin', folk.  ;)

colin stewart jones

merlot,

if you put that sign into a cartoon
i would put it up on the back page of notes from the gean!


or i could use it if you can't draw
you'd get credit of course

col
_________________________

bear us in mind for your work

Colin Stewart Jones
Editor
Notes from the Gean: monthly haiku journal

www.geantreepress.com

G.R. LeBlanc

Quote from: merlot on December 13, 2010, 02:22:48 AM
I would like to post a roadside sign by the side of  the haiku writer's highway. It would read:

     REDUCED
SYLLABLE COUNT
     AHEAD

LOL! That is pretty good!  ;)

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