Tuesday, September 25

What is a Haiku?


Someone just sent me this tweet:

true (ie: not-as culturally appropriated) haiku are meant to include a seasonal reference & juxtaposition: "

and I responded with this:

I'm sorry that you /
can't open my gift since you /
don't value the box

#haiku #poetry #mp


However, I feel that a further explanation is necessary, since I write many, many of what I call haiku, yet others might call something different.  (Possibly twaiku or garbage, depending on their inclination.)

I'd like to start with the term "culturally appropriated."  What exactly does that mean?  It seems like a code phrase for "don't steal ideas from other groups of people because that's bad." 

Which means the Romans would have to give up their gods, Christians and Muslims would have toss their bibles, no one could eat french fries except Belgians, who couldn't even really eat those since potatoes are from Peru.  The U.S. stole democracy from France.  The Beatles "culturally appropriated" their sound from Chuck Berry.  In fact, nothing good on this earth would have been passed around, mutated, and evolved into something excellent if it weren't for our ability to culturally appropriate stuff from other people.

So are my haiku culturally appropriated?  Heck yes!  I am proud of it.  I stole the crap out of the form, and I mutated it right along with every school teacher handing down the 5-7-5 format to their 6th graders.

No, I do not write like dead Japanese poets.  Nor do I want to.  If the Japanese want me to give back their haiku form and the word that goes along with it, then they can hand over hip hop and rap.  It amuses me to think that somewhere in Japan, someone is criticizing someone else by saying, "You do not write rap correctly.  Rap must be like Snoop Dogg."

Though really, a Japanese person has never said to me, "Hey, stop writing haiku in English.  You're doing it wrong."  It's generally a well-meaning, yet snotty literary type with an authoritarian internet link and too much time on their hands.  They feel the need to correct me, since obviously I haven't already learned what a "real" haiku is on my own, so I need their condescending guidance.

Back off.  I know what I'm doing, thank you.  I've written thousands upon thousands of haiku now.  I dream in haiku.  Yes, I call them haiku, therefore they are haiku.  Yes, the word comes from another place, and another people, and I respect their language and their version, but right here, right now, this word is mine, and if I want to call what I write haiku, I will.  Your wikipedia article be damned.  It's written by democratic process anyway, and what good art has ever been voted on?  My artistic process is a dictatorship, in which I am the leader, and I decree that 5-7-5 is a haiku.

If you don't like it, then please don't read what I write.  It would be lost on you anyway.

Thank you.


1 comment:

  1. couldn't have put it better myself Matt - yes, the ones who have 'studied' and refer to themselves as 'haiijin' 'master' funnily enough I have just recently brushed paths with one of 'those' - and just for the record in case you don't already know I LOVE your haiku - :) Lib