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Sunday 26 January 2014

A NOTE ON THE 5-7-5 'HAIKU' by George Szirtes

I ought to explain that I am not really interested in the notion of an 'authentic' haiku. I have no ambition to write authentic haiku.

I am not of that cast of mind.

I am, however, interested in a form that goes short-long-short. It's exactly like writing in rhyme or with stress or with syllabics. The pattern of three short lines in simple language with a swell in the middle offers possibilities that I, and others, like to explore.

In a similar way I am not interested in writing only Spenserian or Shakespearean or Petrarchan sonnets. I don't believe in these mysteries: above all I have no particular love for authenticity.

A sonnet is a 14 line territory with echoes and landmarks that behaves in certain ways but can behave in others. Those echoes and landmarks are other sonnets that include the Shakespearian, the Petrarchan etc.

Rhyme is a process not a merely a product.

A 5-7-5 pattern can be called a haiku for convenience, but, like the sonnet, it is a territory with echoes and landmarks. Those echoes and landmarks remind us of what other, possibly more 'authentic', or possible NOT 5-7-5 haiku have done and might do.

This sonnet and that sonnet are related but not the same.

This 'haiku' and that 'haiku' are related but not the same.

Form is a constraint on process. Ditto all other givens.

Constraints are for enabling processes, not golden rules for the production of a certain kind of product.

This is what I have always believed. It is what I have always practiced. It is a kind of new testament: the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is where my vote goes.

If people want something else they can get it somewhere else.

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