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A Letter To Jane Reichhold re: haiku( ahapoetry web site) - Charles Henderson's Blog

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Never would I have thought I would start writing at 73 years of age. I have thoroughly enjoyed my voyage into the written spirituality of poetry and am thankful for the opportunity.  In my seven years here I have met many new and wonderful persons. Having them accept me as a friend has been a moving experience.


A Letter To Jane Reichhold re: haiku( ahapoetry web site)

Blog Posted:8/4/2011 6:46:00 PM

Dear Jane,
For the umpteenth time I just scanned back through many of your on line pages. I came away with the same definition of haiku I have gotten in the past, and am certain will continue to get. I also look continuously at the other sites, Haiku Society of America, etc.

The prevailing definition of haiku: two visuals of a situation, the second juxtaposed from the first. I probably stated that terribly but you understand, I'm sure, what I mean.

The problem which I am trying to overcome in my own mind is those two visuals. Consistently on the internet, in Frogpond, anywhere new haiku are being written I continually look for the two visuals and they are being replaced by sensory perception. Many of them are subjective, in my opinion, yet continue to win placements in sponsored contests. I don't really mind if one wishes to write about, "my tingling spine" because it does induce in me a recognizable response. But certainly not a visual. In your opinion, is the sensory perception route being included as permissible subject matter for a worthy haiku. I am fairly new to haiku, period, and do not yet feel qualified to advise others about the nuance of haiku evolution. Having only been interested in writing poetry for 18 months, (I am 74 now) I have devoured haiku with enthusiasm and passion. So, much so that many look to me for advice. On the subject of my question to you (above) I have been very strict that the prevailing norm is no more than 4.6.4 syllables with a visual before and after the cut, with as much juxtaposition as can be attained. If I am to tell others now, that the rule is changed then I would like to be ahead of the game instead of behind. If it is ok to use sensory recognitions as a visual, then that is what I would like to tell when I am asked. If not I will continue as in the past, to stress the two visuals.

Thank you for your opinion. I will be saying, well, Jane said this or that, so please let me know with what you are comfortable. I am crazy about your web site. Others tell me I should visit "such and such" site, and I just tell them that if it is not on yours, I don't need it. No, I do look at others and yours ranks very highly with me. It is one of the first I found and I refer back to it more than any other. By the way Michael Dylan Welch is a participant on our facebook Haiku Ink page. I can send you a friend invite if you like. No pressure, just a thought.


Charles Henderson, Florence, SC member Haiku Society America, Poetry Soup, Haiku Ink on Facebook

The answer from Jane Reichhold:

Dear Charles,

Thank you for writing to me. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

Your question addresses several issues with some gray areas in between so I will try to find a way to answer you with useable information.

1. What you refer to as "visuals" in a haiku I would think of as 'images.' I prefer 'images' to 'concrete images' since that idea brings up cement and other un-poetical thoughts. I can understand how you might want to use the word "visuals" because these images in a haiku are seen in the mind, but the use of "visuals" can lead to the idea that only things that can be seen should be in a haiku. I think it is fairly well accepted that any sensory experience can be in a haiku. This would include, in addition to seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching. Many modern English haiku writers would probably also include feelings, an item which was not on the list for traditional Japanese poets in Basho's time, but is now a result of the field broadening itself.

I hope I have given you a cogent answer. You may find more help in the Bare Bones School of Haiku I have just posted this summer on the site.

Thank you for the offer of getting on Facebook. I was there for some time and really enjoyed it, but picked up a terrible virus which has cured me of that joy.

I wish you all the very best! Jane

August 04, 2011

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Date: 8/7/2011 2:06:00 AM
I held my breath/ waiting for the answer.. / I do
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Date: 8/7/2011 2:02:00 AM
Oh no Deb, I didn't aim this at you or anyone but myself. I became wrapped up in my own small definition of haiku and was not broadening. I did notice sensory perception in some yours, but was along with many many others. HSA puts out a quarterly named "frog pond" full of new haiku and that is primarily where I noticed the biggest change. I think I am finally ingrained in the basics and now can begin to write haiku correctly once in a while. Knowing is far different from doing.
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Date: 8/4/2011 9:09:00 PM
I love juxtaposition though I think it's a concept not clear in very many minds. Also, it is not that easy to do and do it well, so I can hardly say many of my own haiku use it successfully. anyway, I love a GOOD haiku with juxtaposition and I like the idea that all senses can be included!
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Date: 8/4/2011 8:14:00 PM
LOL Charles...why didn't you say Debbie what's with all the sound refferances in the cut! YOU should have told me you thought I was wrong, almost no one tells me what I do wrong BUT that wasn't it!!! Light & Love
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Date: 8/4/2011 7:21:00 PM
Charles, this is very educational for me. I haven't studied haiku in depth as you have and there seem to be many contrasting opinions on what makes a good haiku. Slowly I guess we develop our own technique and style. I like the thoughts on two contrasting images. Thanks for posting this informative blog. Love, Carolyn
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Date: 8/4/2011 6:54:00 PM
So, from now on folks I will be referring to two sensory images, the later juxtaposed from the former. Not limited to actual visuals.
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