gendai haiku

On gendai haiku – from a master of research and a superb haiku poet in her own right, have a read of this from Melissa Allen.

It’s a great overview of the gendai haiku movement, something which has been fascinating me for months and months now, and includes some startling haiku too

gendai haiku at the Red Dragonfly

Like this one, one of my favourites, a verse from Kaneko Tōta

like squids
bank clerks are fluorescent
from the morning

—Kaneko Tōta (trans. Makoto Ueda)

Note the fact that, aside from being an amazing image, it commits one of the great haiku ‘sins’ of simile, well, ‘sin’ from a traditional standpoint anyway.

10 thoughts on “gendai haiku

  1. Hey, thanks for the shout-out, Ash, and MAN, I should come here more often! You are on a roll lately! I love “it would be unfair to say” down below and also “night train: a haibun.” Nice work.

    • Any time, Mel! I should have done so earlier actually. And thanks for the feedback on those two, very happy to hear you liked ’em. The haibun was fun to write, it’d been a while since I was on a train that packed.

  2. I like how it commits a haiku sin, now I’m imagining a haiku hell and would write a haiku about it but I can’t write haiku which just makes me more impressed by those who can. Will definitely check out the Red Dragonfly.

    • A haiku hell – that’d be a interesting story I reckon! And I bet you could write haiku, Mark. Wanna prove me right?

      Cool – I think you’ll enjoy Mel’s work too, she’s a witty writer and a great haiku-poet too

  3. As for haiku “rules”, I think many of them come from the Basho-basher Masaoka Shiki. It was Shiki who stripped haiku from renga and made it a stand alone form, much to its detriment, I think,

    Here are two Basho haiku which, it seems to me, employ simile. The translations are by Jane Reichhold.

    as to a god
    I looked into the sky at his treasure
    plum blossoms

    Mount Fuji
    a flea on the cover
    of the tea grinder

    In the second poem, the “like” is merely elided.

    I think gendai is simply a circling back to what Basho himself on occasion did. And I think that is a good thing.

    • Agreed! Shiki was rather grumpy when it came to Basho, huh?

      Great translations too – can definitely feel the omission of ‘like’ especially in ‘as to’, yeah, and the juxt of the second.

  4. Ashley, looking forward to your future collection!

    Actually before Shiki died, so young, he did start to like renku (linked verse) and had he been around a lot longer would have possibly incorporated more from Basho I believe. Alas a skewed version of shasei is due to Kyoshi, someone who betrayed the early gendai haiku poets who were the new rising haiku movement.

    The G-force of Blue | Touching Base with Gendai haiku piece is in honour of haiku poet Shimada Seihô (1882-1944) who died under secret police torture for not wanting the Emperor to be bullied into going into war by the big corporates. Now who heard of corporate companies wanting to make money out of war? Wouldn’t happen today, would it?

    kind regards,


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