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May 28, 2008
Try your hand at baseball haiku
Blame it on the book: Baseball Haiku: American and Japanese Haiku and Senryu on Baseball, edited with translations by Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura.
Intentional walk --
Each fan winding up
his own boo
above the baseball stadium
floats by the moon
A spring breeze
flutters the notice
for baseball tryouts
dog days of summer
out of first
Okay, despite the haiku in the title, if you've been counting you know these are not haiku. They're all senryu:
Senryū (川柳, literally 'river willow') is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer "on" (not syllables) in total. However, senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are serious. Senryū do not need to include a kigo, or season word, like haiku.
I can imagine the argument at the publisher's -- "We have to call them haiku, nobody in America knows what senryu means." You'll notice that word doesn't even appear on the cover image, despite the "official title."
But since a real haiku is 17 syllables, 5-7-5, here's mine:
Long ball approaches
the pole, where is Carlton Fisk --
We need him again
Now there's a haiku in the bunch. I figure Carlton Fisk is the telltale kigo.
Go ahead, write your own in the comments section.
To get you warmed up, here's another baseball haiku page.
There's a kicker: Jack Kerouac wrote a baseball senryu:
Empty baseball field
— A robin,
Hops along the bench
Listen to him read it.
Posted by Sheila Lennon at 1:14 AM | Permalink
How about this...
slow roller to first
two outs in the tenth inning
it gets through Buckner
Posted by: John McDaid on May 28, 2008 6:39 AM
Thank you for featuring the Baseball Haiku book, Sheila, and for pointing to the Baseball Haiku page at f/k/a. But, there are two things about haiku that I thought you'd want to know:
First, "senryu" have the same structure as haiku, but contain observations on human nature (often humorous, ironic or course), rather than the focus in haiku, which is the relationship of nature and human nature. See my posting Is It Or Ain't It Haiku?". Haiku and senryu often overlap in content and can be difficult to distinguish.
Second, a more important point in that post is that "Not only is it untrue that haiku must be 17 syllables (in English-language haiku, shorter is better, and many of the best are 10 to 14 syllables), but it is especially untrue that any poem/verse set forth in the 5 - 7 -5-syllable format is haiku." For a discussion of the mistaken notion that haiku must be 17 syllables, so my dagosan's haiku primer. In fact, Japanese poets do not count “syllables” at all -- because their language does not have the concept of syllable. Rather, they count “onji," which means “sound symbol,” and refers to one of the phonetic characters used in writing Japanese phonetic script.
Your readers can find many examples of the poems from the Baseball Haiku book, at my weblog (I have permission from the poets to post their work). You'll find links here
Posted by: David Giacalone on May 28, 2008 8:05 AM
John, I think you've nailed the sports-reporting haiku!
David, we actually do know those two things -- the Wikipedia article does discuss the sounds vs. syllables translation issue, one which most of us encountered in school when the sample haikus didn't scan. (Pound's In a Station of the Metro was the gateway for many.)
We are out of school, and playing beyond the intro to the form. Short freeform sentences aren't as challenging to write as measured, counted syllables that nevertheless make sense. Fortune cookies could benefit from the attempts, though.
Posted by: Sheila Lennon on May 28, 2008 10:29 AM
I shall have to respectfully disagree, Sheila -- which is what having an opinion on any literary form is all about.
Real haiku aren't freeform sentences. Usually, they are two fragments juxtaposed to create an insight or mood. Most English-language haiku poets that I know believe it is far more challenging to write in fewer than 17 syllables (and Japanese poets point out that English haiku with 17 syllables usually end up having too many words, by their haiku standards). Based on a misconception of the Japanese language, the artificial restriction of 5 - 7- 5 far too often creates a padded poem with too many words, and awkward lines and line breaks. If the poem happens to naturally "need" a 5 - 7 - 5 structure to work, that's fine. Otherwise, having to work out line breaks that best fit a particular poem, and doing it in as few words as possible, is a challenge far more daunting than having the 5 - 7- 5 recipe to fall back upon.
Posted by: David Giacalone on May 28, 2008 12:28 PM
p.s. I forgot to leave a baseball senryu:
tied in the ninth
pitcher and batter
Posted by: David Giacalone on May 28, 2008 12:37 PM
David, bless your academic certainty. I lost mine in a newsroom.
You can't possibly know that I'm writing from a roomful of headline writers. We know short, know the need to tell an entire story in five to eight words.
After more than 20 years of daily sparse writing discipline and practice -- and I think some, long forgotten, were sheer poetry AND content-laden -- I don't think short is hard. (:
Thanks for the additional poem.
Here's one of mine that I remember simply because Jay Leno highlighted it:
Swimming in raw sewage
may be hazardous
to your health
Posted by: Sheila Lennon on May 28, 2008 1:00 PM
Hi, Sheila. I'm not an academic, but I have been writing tiny headlines for 45 years -- from my high school newspaper to thousands of weblog postings over the past 5 years. For me, at least, pithy but precise is more difficult than long. I'm talking relative difficulty; for some of us short comes fairly easy, too.
As to "academic certainty?": I haven't made definitive statements about the definition of haiku or about levels of difficulty (but one of us has). My words were couched in that of personal taste, opinion and experience (and that of the scores of haiku poets and editors that I know). Personally, I believe everything everyone says should come with the implied disclaimer "in my opinion, given my limited experience and perspective."
We both appear to need to have the last word, but I will leave that to you and eschew making any further reply. I'm glad we've gotten to have a little discourse on this lovely East Coast day.
Posted by: David Giacalone on May 28, 2008 2:26 PM
Haha. David sounded really patronizing AND self-promoting in his first comment, like he was going to school the rest of us who don't blog from Harvard Law School.
Some people just can't be comfortable unless they feel superior.
I'm gonna let him have the last word, Pete. I thought we were just goofing in comments. (: -- sheila
Posted by: Pete Harwick on May 28, 2008 3:28 PM
Poor Nicky Blackburn
Bobby Abreu felt so bad
The ball's at fault, though.
Posted by: Elayne Riggs on June 1, 2008 4:22 PM