Monday, July 6, 2009

Malicious Anal-Retentive Nerds

OMG, Henry Rollins said it best on "A Rollins in the Wry" - poets are "a miserable f*cking bunch for the most part" who only write "revenge poems for the other @sshole poets in the room" of a poetry reading.

I have just been slammed by the The Haiku Foundation's malicious group of nerds! To be fair, I set myself up for it. All I wanted to express was my outrage at their criticism of Susanna Speier's blog, because they feel she's too strict in accepting submissions of the traditional 5-7-5 syllable format. I posted a comment quickly and emotionally, obviously didn't make the point I wanted to make, and also didn't really look around their website to see what kind of brainy anal-retentive folks would be picking it apart for their own perverse, scholarly pleasure.

Hey, Haiku Foundation nerds, pardon me for having my own rigid opinion - because I do have a rigid opinion - but you don't have to make me look uneducated. I DO realize that there is a language difference between Japanese and English, so a Japanese haiku would not fit the 5-7-5 format. But if you're English speaking, then we're defining the format as 5-7-5 syllables for haiku poems written in English.

And yes, I DO know that there are other "formats" for haiku - if you can call them that. I mean, what's the point of working outside a definition? By changing the definition, you have now eroded the meaning of the word. If you want to write in other formats, that's fine. But in my opinion, you're now writing a poem and not a haiku poem. I really don't care that other forms of haiku have been around for centuries. The challenge of "traditional" haiku is to stick to the format, and any master can do it without padding syllables or changing the format by adding syllables. Hey, why don't you nerds educate me on why other forms of haiku came about? I'm guessing it's because the old haiku masters got better and better at writing poetry and wanted to express more complex ideas, which resulted in longer formats being developed. Does that make the short 5-7-5 format irrelevant or less worthy of our attention? Why do you view the 5-7-5 format as strict instead of simply just different?

It's just a shame that they're so snobby about haiku that they didn't focus on the point of Susanna's blog - to express strong emotions about timely topics. Does it matter that she chose to accept only "traditional" haikus in the 5-7-5 format? No, it doesn't matter. Because if you were any kind of good poet, you would be able to write within the format instead of snubbing your nose at it. And yes, I do think other haiku formats erode the genre and are used by wussies who don't deserve to call themselves haiku poets or wordsmiths. I'll grant that they may call themselves poets, but not haiku poets. That just means I'm stubborn, not stupid.

I don't care how many people are writing "modern" forms of haiku because most haiku is a bunch of flowery crap. By expanding the number of "allowable" syllables, you can write even longer crap. The challenge of haiku is to write something powerful or elegant and to write it concisely. The point of my blog, and I think Susanna's also, is to hit the reader with a powerful punch. Obviously there is a market for "modern" haiku poetry. Provocative Haiku and Politiku do not fit that market. And I think that's ok, so please don't disregard the awesome poetry that has been submitted to both of our blogs. Every one of my Friday Featured Poets has tremendous talent, and most of them are writers in other genres of literature.

In conclusion, they are "poet snobs" and so am I! I have now officially become part of the "miserable bunch" of poets, so of course I had to write a revenge poem:

Poet scholars slam
the 5-7-5 format -
but can you write it?

P.s. If you want to know why I didn't post a second response on their blog, it's because they're poet snobs and so am I. No good can come of it.

P.p.s. today's photo, "Sour Grapes," is from Sally Minker who has photo art that's worth taking a look at! Very creative and bizarre!



David said...

"Einstein's Drain," my first published poem from the Spring 2005 issue of Space and Time Magazine, follows a 5-14-5 structure. The middle line is actually two side-by-side verses of 7 syllables each. Choosing either one yields 5-7-5, illustrating the nature of quantum mechanics (the subject of the poem). Hence form reflects content.

Would you call this a haiku? I can see the argument either way, but I don't think you're at all out of line in your criticism, Alison.

Margaret said...

I can't comment much on haikus or poetry, but I like your blog. It is very lively and sassy. Good work. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Alison said...

Hey, these days, there are several haiku formats. Is David's poem a haiku? Sure! Is it a provocative haiku?! I don't know - I'm waiting for him to send me some!

P.s. check out Margaret's very cool blog - worth a visit! She was recently chosen as a Blog of Note. I like her stuff!

Sheila Hageman said...

Everybody was Haiku fighting...Haiku fighting!

Nick said...

Check out what you started!

Susanna Speier mentions in one of her posts that Scott Metz's comment about her blog and your comment to him started "a multi-writer, genre elucidating literary wrestling match."

She commented at huffingtonpost saying first, "Thank you V. Alison, for fearlessly jumping in and dropping the gauntlet"

Alan Summers said...

There's a case for everything and I like to encourage people not to be afraid of words or poetry.

I agree that poetry snobs put people off, even I get affected, and I'm a published haiku poet! ;-)

I think it's great that so many millions of people from politicians and deathrow inmates to ordinary people write haiku, including people who are too ill to leave their homes. Now that's what I call democracy!

So please continue to have a go at haiku whichever way you want, because it's fun, and liberating. ;-)

I thought I would supply Nick's webpages into live links:

Nick's weblinks:
a multi-writer, genre elucidating literary wrestling match

"Thank you V. Alison, for fearlessly jumping in and dropping the gauntlet"

If anyone wants to support me while I'm live on the Fourth Plinth watch the livecam from 4pm - 5pm Monday 27th July 2009 (U.K. time):
Fourth Plinth

I'll be collecting important words (what word is particularly and personally important to you?) and haiku from people both online and live in Trafalgar Square, London!

Please continue to have a lot of fun with haiku!


kender said...

ignore ' have better things to do than argue with snobs...

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