I mean liberate it!  Here are some more random, perhaps paradoxical observations that came to my mind in response to further comments in the haiku debate on the ClevelandPoetics Yahoo listserve. Some of what I say may not make total sense if you’ve not read the others’ remarks on that site.


Marcus wrote, “The difference is between people who want to do art and people who want to do blurt. Those who want to do art are trying to get something across. Those who want to do blurt merely want to get something out there. The latter don’t care whether they’re communicating or not.”

I daresay Miles Davis blurted – and Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” qualifies as a blurt. Does this mean neither wanted “to do art” or communicate? Is the difference between blurt and art as distinct as you make it sound?


Even the creation of a blurt is a creative act. 


It might require more creativity to play tennis without a court than with one. One who’s never tried it might not know.


You may say “Without a court it wouldn’t be tennis.” Really? One man can (and did) create a game with a court and label it tennis (it wasn’t tennis until he named it so, and now it is because he did). I hereby create a game with no court and label it tennis.  I also hereby create a poem with one rule (“Say what you will in as many silly bulls as you like”) and call it high coup (spelled “haiku”). Why are my “tennis” and “haiku” labels/definitions less valid than those created by someone else in an earlier century? I admit my versions of “tennis” and “haiku” are not in the dictionary and are not accepted or known as real words by most folks.  But neither was the other (original?) “tennis” the day it was created.  And the poems folks are calling real “haiku” weren’t called by that word until Masaoka Shiki in the 19th century. (Oops – I used passive voice in that last sentence – not because I don’t know what active voice is and why many deem it preferable to passive – and certainly not because I’m lazy – but merely to make a subtle point.)


Why can’t there be more than one meaning to “haiku” – one used by Masaoka Shiki and one by me (and perhaps a third by the poet who unwittingly provided the catalyst for this debate)? Why can’t there be more than one meaning to “tennis”? It wouldn’t be the first word/label that refers to more than one thing (Apple, anyone?).


Words are merely reflections, inadequate at best, of reality. Therefore all words are, in a sense, artificial. To speak a word at all, using its traditional/dictionary definition, or using a newly minted/invented definition that communicates little or nothing to others – like mine for tennis – is to engage, consciously or not, in a form of artifice.  That makes any speaker or writer an artist of sorts, and makes whatever he or she speaks or writes a form of art, whether or not someone (or anyone) else regards his or her words as such.


And why can’t the meanings of words evolve?  If we resist using words with meanings that have evolved (narrowed/broadened and/or changed) from their original meanings, I suspect we would have to avoid at least half of our English vocabulary, including the word “haiku.”


Michael Ceraolo suggested that there is an artificial distinction between the words haiku and senryu.  Since all words are in essence “artificial,” I am inclined to assert that ALL our distinctions between all words, all meanings of words, all spellings of words, and all spieling of words are “artificial” – and therefore (in at least one sense) expressions of art – blurted or not.


“Spieling” might be a coinage – I’ll be disappointed if it isn’t.


And because I’m barbaric and/or creative enough to risk taking Shakespeare’s words out of context, let me suggest that there’s nothing (no poem, no music, no “haiku,” no word, and no art at all) “good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”


Thank you all for some mostly stimulating reading.


Emily Dickinson wrote: “To see the Summer Sky / Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie– / True poems flee.”


Peace and poetry,
John

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