‘Deployment’ Haiku in Autumn 2016 Issue of Modern Haiku and Online

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Modern Haiku journal, issue 47.3

In one sense, poems are very much like children: When you put them out into the world, you have no idea where they’ll go, what they’ll do, or whom they’ll meet.

I was surprised when, recently, I was notified by a fellow Ohio poet of the online goings-on of one of my haiku.

I knew some time ago that Paul Miller, editor of the beautiful print journal Modern Haiku, had accepted one of my haiku for publication in the journal’s autumn 2016 issue (47.3). And when that issue rolled off the presses and found its way to me, I was thrilled to read a phenomenal issue jam packed with inspiration.

But what I did not know until fellow Ohio haikuist Elliot Nicely pointed it out is that my haiku has also been published online in the Web Sampler of the Autumn 2016 (47.3) issue of Modern Haiku.

I consider this a great honor. Modern Haiku is arguably the Rolls Royce of English-language haiku journals. It is competitive to get into, it is rich in high-caliber creative content – haiku, senryu, haibun, haiga, essays, and so forth, it regularly publishes the most prominent haiku poets writing in English today, and it is beautifully produced. To have one’s work published in Modern Haiku is in itself a signal event.

But the poems published on Modern Haiku’s Web Sampler comprise a sort of “editor’s choice” for each issue of the journal, a representative sample of the quality and type of poems the journal publishes and encourages writers to submit.

And something I find especially fun about the Web Sampler for Modern Haiku issue 47.3: Of the 10 poets whose haiku/senryu were selected, fully three (myself included) live and work in Ohio.

Congratulations to editor Paul Miller and to all of the poets who make each issue of Modern Haiku a joy to read and an honor to be part of.

Two Haiku Published ‘auf deutsch’ in the German Journal ‘Chrysanthemum’

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Photo: Tamorlan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Translations are like lovers: the faithful ones aren’t beautiful, and the beautiful ones aren’t faithful.

This expression, which I picked up in graduate school from one of the musicologists on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, pretty accurately sums up the general state of translation. When it comes to translations, we don’t live in glass houses; we live in the Tower of Babel, hearing each others’ languages, but  not understanding them – even when, in a literal sense, we speak the same language.  We are always, it seems, playing a game of Telephone, mired in human imperfection as we are, and so prone as we are to hearing what we want to hear. Misunderstanding is all but inevitable.

Given the generally sluttish state of translations, I consider myself extremely fortunate that the first translations of some of my poems into a language other than English were exceptionally brilliantly executed. Big thanks to editor Beate Conrad for publishing two of my haiku in English and in German translation in the most recent issue of the German journal Chrysanthemum.

Here are my haiku as published in Chrysanthemum 20 (October 2016), in the original English and in Beate Conrad’s German translations:

full moon glow                                                        Vollmondschein
blankets eggs                                                           deckt Eier zu
in the abandoned bird’s nest                                in dem verlassnen Nest

dropping from the cone                                         aus dem Hörnchen tropft
the ice cream melts                                                 das Eis, zerschmilzt
into a frown                                                              in ein Stirnrunzeln

I love that German allows “full moon glow” to appear as “Vollmondschein,” speeding up into a single word the ephemeral haiku moment the poem conveys. In the second haiku, I love that German syntax allows the ice cream – “das Eis” – to drop from the verb “drops” at the end of the first line to the beginning of the second line. In English, such a construction would come across as stilted:

out of the cone drops
the ice cream …

But as good as Conrad’s translations are, her editing is at least as compelling. I have long thought that there should be an editor’s Hippocratic Oath, paraphrased something like this: I will use treatment (read: I will edit) to help the sick (read: to help the writing) according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing.

Why is it that so many editors perpetrate bloody murder on writing and get off scot-free?  Why are good editors so few and far between?

I despair.

But Beate Conrad suggested a brilliant edit to my ice cream haiku. My original text read:

dropping from the cone
the ice cream melts
her face into a frown

Isn’t it so much more vivid that not the face, but the ice cream itself melts into a frown, as in Conrad’s edited version?

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

This one edit – so subtle and yet so great – says so much about the essence of poetry, about showing not telling, about using fewer words to say more.

Thank you, Beate Conrad, for making my words better – in English and in German. And thank you for your beautiful journal.

Haiku Don Oxford Gowns

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Photo: Jennifer Hambrick

It’s interesting, the stuff you find online.

Just the other day, I logged on to do a simple search for something on the Web. I ended up getting sucked in, clicking my way from link to link as through tripping along a stepping stone path that made Homer’s Odyssey seem like the travelogue of a summer road trip.

But, much as I did online the other day, I digress.

While tooling around in that virtual rabbit hole, I discovered quite by accident that two of my haiku had been published in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of the Oxford, England-based World Haiku Review. And not only that – one of those haiku had actually won Third Place in the “Vanguard” category, and the other was published as a “Haiku of Merit” in the “Neo-Classical” category.

World Haiku Review describes Vanguard haiku as “the most radical” treatments of the haiku genre. Here’s my haiku in that category. I don’t stick to the traditional 5-7-5 syllable count, and there’s an uncomfortable tension between nature and human nature that complicates how the relationship between humans and the natural world is portrayed in traditional haiku.

World Haiku Review uses the term “Neo-Classical” to designate what they describe as “the most traditional” haiku they publish. Scroll down a bit to see my Neo-Classical “Haiku of Merit.”

Enjoy all of the haiku in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of World Haiku Review.

Thank you, editors Susumu Takiguchi, Kala Ramesh, and Rohini Gupta, for publishing my work in your journal. I am honored.