New Haiku is an anthology of over 300 of haiku and senryu,
celebrating "the dissemination and ultimate consolidation
of the English-language haiku, and the resultant elevation
of the form from its previously considered position as an
example of exotic verse to its rightful place
in the canon of contemporary English poetry." The editors
restricted their selection to poems that had appeared in
the British and Irish journals Blithe Spirit, Haiku Spirit,
Presence, and Snapshots. Poets included naturally
incline to those of the British Isles, but other well-known
haiku poets around the world are also to be found.
book also features a fine "Introduction to the Origins,
Mechanics and Aesthetics of English-language Haiku"
by Barlow, which contains a useful distinction between pseudo-haiku
and spoof haiku:
limited knowledge has led to the proliferation of self-proclaimed
"spoof" haiku (statements or light-hearted poems
written in strictly seventeen syllables) and "pseudo"
haiku (serious poems written in seventeen syllables, often
with titles), neither of which essentially show any regard
for the aesthetics of the genre .
Barlow correctly observes, the spoof haiku are "entertaining
and harmless," but the pseudo-haiku pose a problem
for developing haiku:
is of concern to serious haikuists, however, is the output
of pseudo-haiku writers. As these poets actually believe
they are writing genuine haiku, and their poetry is of
a serious nature, it is far more likely to cause confusion
in others with limited awareness of the form. Indeed,
most of the few haiku found in mainstream poetry journals
are actually pseudo-haiku, or at best imitations of classical
Japanese verses, and their inclusion only fuels misunderstanding
and a general dissatisfaction with the genre .
thought out and useful stuff, this. (Note the confusion,
however, even in this short paragraph, between haiku as
form and as genre.)
made the distinction between haiku and pseudo-haiku, Barlow
unaccountably fails to distinguish between the two in his
discussion of mainstream poets. He appropriately describes
as Seamus Heaneys "Dangerous pavements/But I
face the ice this year/with my fathers stick"
as successful, then laments that fact that the haiku in
Paul Muldoons Hay were ignored in mainstream
poetry reviews. Surely "haiku" such as "A
muddle of mice./Their shit looks like caraway/but smells
like allspice." deserve no better fate? Even Muldoon
seems to have come to his senses and stopped calling his
seventeen-syllable poems "haiku," as in his more
appropriately titled seventeen-syllable "News Headlines
from the Homer Noble Farm" [The New Yorker,
October 29, 2001].
though, this is a fine anthology and a significant addition
to the haiku literature. Given the limitations inherent
in the editors selection criteria for the poems, this
anthology contains many worthy haiku and senryu. A few examples:
due date . . .
through winter mist
the moon rises
the blackbirds beak
opens in song
the black keys