HAY(NA)KU REVIEWS

DIRECT FROM THE POETS—CONTRIBUTORS TO THE GROUND-BREAKING THE FIRST HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY:

I find the word-based formal constraint of hay(na)ku (as opposed to a syllable or metrical foot based constraint) leads to poems that are in many ways more natural, and that, in particular, the 1-2-3 structure is a pattern that comes up continually in the course of the daily. Poetry lives and breathes in the daily, and hay(na)ku has the ability to capture profound and delightful pieces that might otherwise be missed.
—Dan Waber

The diasporic nature of the hay(na)ku attracted me from the very beginning because it allowed me to express myself in English without being a native speaker…. I feel the hay(na)ku is a form that grants a common space for poetic practice in different languages; a way of writing in English without completely obliterating one’s “mothertongue.” Instead of the conquest and influx that has definec English in relation to other “less powerful” languages, the hay(na)ku is open and flexible, an invitation to share different ways of thought and writing.
—Ernesto Priego

Why I love the hay(na)ku: Because of the zip & pop of it … the flame & spark of it. Like snapping a towel at someone you love.
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Hay(na)ku
flexibly tempered
to American speech

received sound pearls
fit (un)tutored
hearing.
—Sheila E. Murphy

…a way of revealing…a “thinking” form—emotional as well as intellectual thinking. By allowing a lot of space on the page it keeps things tight and loose. Hay(na)ku creates or pushes certain syntactical structures, potentially disruptive through its arbitrariness. Forms aren’t games, or just games—they are ways of paying attention.
—Jill Jones

Every word counts. That’s hard to resist in The Age of Logorrhea. The form encourages paring, discourages padding. Lines shaped by word count rather than syllable engendering more rhythmic variety among poems and within the poem itself. Enjambment abound, bounds.
—Crag Hill

Hay(na)ku is such a seductive form that I’ve found myself rather obsessively viewing the world through its six-word frame. It’s become a problem for me. The problem isn’t the form. The problems is my obsessiveness.
—Tom Beckett


On the Form HAY(NA)KU:

The hay(na)ku is fun to read and fun to write. I like beginning with one word. It puts everything into focus almost immediately. It’s an extreme condensation that feels more natural in English (or Tagalog or French) than as an imitation of the Japanese model, if that makes sense. It’s hard to write haiku without wind chimes and seasonal changes. The tradition is so infused with those things. It’s nice having a new form that accomplishes the same goals but with more directness, more dexterity.
—John Olson

Watching the birth & evolution of a new form is fascinating. And, unlike flarf, which is a process, hay(na)ku is a form. But what kind of form is it? Poem or stanza? Again, I think the answer lies in looking at the quatrain, which is more stanza than finished work. That, ultimately, is what I think this first generation of hay(na)ku writers have created—not a poem, but a stanza, simple, supple, elegant, capable of considerable variation. That’s quite an accomplishment.
—Ron Silliman, Ron Silliman Blog (Full review HERE)

Some of my favorites are Dan Waber’s:

Nothing
adds up.
Love isn’t math.

And Craig Freeman’s:

Moonshine
And great
Quantities of hills.

—J. Zimmerman: “Poetry Form – The Hay(na)ku: a word-count form” (Full article HERE)

What is so beautiful about hay(na)ku is how it allows room for experimentation on the part of the poet. Seductive in its rhythm of one-two-three, it can become quite an obsession.

To my mind, this form, more than any other form, provides an open door, an invitation to writers who have dreamed of, but not yet dared, to write poetry.
—Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, MUNTING NAYON (Netherlands) (Full article HERE)

an elegantly minimalist form (a bit like the tip of an Oulipian “snowball”)
—Michael Leong, Stalactite Chandelier

Poetry
at its
best must sing.

Sing
like a
bird compelled beyond

natural might. Sing
with strength
withheld.

Sing
so that
it awakens passion.

To say the
least. Poetry
moves. Transforming scribes

into dreamers who
cry out,
“Hay(na)ku!”

Hay(na)ku
it haunts
even my dreaming.
Rochita Loenen, Raindancer’s Map of Memories (Full engagement HERE)


On THE FIRST HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY:

All great stories are the result of great obsessions—like the form hay(na)ku by Eileen Tabios. To celebrate the 2003 Philippine Independence Day, she decided to use a passing fixation on counting and her recent reading of Jack Kerouac’s opinion on American haiku to invent the Pinoy Haiku. She announced it on her Winepoetics blog and many poets responded.

Fellow poet Vince Gotera wanted to bring out that a Filipina had invented the “one-two-three” word tercet form; he suggested that instead of alluding to the haiku, the form be renamed to reference the very Filipino expression, “hay, naku” used to convey elation, dismay, and other contexts. Tabios agreed.

The form has attracted poets around the world, with the majority of contributors to The First Hay(na)ku Anthology being non-Filipino. In any event, all use the form to grasp that elusive entity called Poetry.
—Yvonne Hortillo, Galatea Resurrects (Full Review HERE)

I
find it
best to be

play
full when
writing an hay(na)ku

one
has to
be opportunistic — see?
—Ariadne Unst Interviews Jean Vengua, Co-Editor of THE FIRST HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY (Full interview HERE)

There tends to be a lot more ingenuity when a writer is given limited space—more quality than quantity, less room for pretentiousness. The First Hay(na)ku Anthology contains a gentle rhythm with a balance of far-reaching styles—forward thinking while being rooted in something in the past. One can read something like this over and over and receive different meanings from it depending upon the experience at that moment. Nevertheless, an enjoyable read that exudes the air of a bumblebee’s haphazard flight pattern while still feeling the innocence of drinking lemonade as a child on a hot, summer day.
—Annabelle Udo, Filipina Veritas (Full review HERE)


On THE HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY, VOL. II:

The Hay(na)ku Anthology, Vol. II …is reflective of the beauty of the hay(na)ku form – that is, pleasurable and “deceptively simple” to write as well as read. The anthology features different variations of hay(na)ku including traditional, reverse, sequence, ducktail and visual.

“A Stop & Shop in Connecticut” by Scott Keeney is amusing in its mischievousness:

O cover girl
who has
undone

all
but—oops—
one blouse button, [13]

“Modernité” by Rebeka Lembo is striking in its incantatory tone and skilled use of repetition:

grief
that knows
not of tears

grief
that comes
out as noise

grief
that knows
not of fears

grief
that comes
out as voice. [14]

—Aileen Ibardaloza, Galatea Resurrects (Full review HERE)

Do you see how you want to slow your reading down with hai(na)ku? The hay(na)ku form implies this slowing. Zukofsky, Niedecker, Creeley (from Pieces on), Dickinson (and others, of course) wanted that same slowing. But also, Tom Raworth and his skittering speed, the hay(na)ku can hold that boldly, as well.

The rhythm of hay(na)ku is not rhythmic in the sense of beat. The musical rhythm remains in the syllabic force of the words themselves, not the implicated beat of an induced metre. I’m not ranking on metered poetry, just saying that form can overwhelm meaning, fitting words to the pattern. Hay(na(ku doesn’t bend that way.

—Allen Bramhall, The Halo-Halo Review / Mangozine (Full review HERE)


On THE CHAINED HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY:

The weightiest and most interesting part of the anthology, for me, is the section containing the “Commentaries, Open Conversations and Notes on Collaborations”. It is always startling and fortuitous to be given a glimpse into any poetic process. The conversations on “Four Skin Confessions” are thoroughly edifying, a sort of sub-rosa report on the makings of a collaborative poem as well as the workings, dynamics and quirks of the poets….

“Daisy Chain Poems” by Jean Vengua, Michael Fink and Margo Ponce is rhythmic, delightful, whimsical, with some parts unmistakably suggestive of folk tales:

Gloss,

lady floss,

shiny men spin

red

candy resin:

gingerbread grin. Bring

toil

bring trouble

stir the bubbles [12]

—Aileen Ibardaloza, Galatea Resurrects (Full review HERE)

I’ve always enjoyed collaborating in hay(na)ku, and now with a whole volume of collaborations, we can see just what’s possible with this form. The hay(na)ku is so well-adapted to this age of shifting authorship and identity; and in fact I think the hay(na)ku is often at its best when created with others.

The lengthy commentaries and conversations that are included give us some insight into the often pleasurable processes of collaboration—and also, in the Pilipino manner, the sharing self of kapwa. I’m thinking especially of something Ernesto Priego wrote (p.120):

At the beginning, I must say, I was afraid that the poem would feel disconnected or lacking articulation, as if it were only the result of random brainstorming. But then, also thanks to the conversations we had, the poem took a life of its own, also so to speak, and the most beautiful and uncanny thing, when I was reading it all out loud even before we had finished it, was realizing that I no longer remembered which parts I had written and what parts had been written by whom. This just “proves” or exemplifies, for me, hay(na)ku’s truly diasporic form, that it also means a way of thinking, it proposes a particular position in the world, an organization of material, but also a flow, literally a process, where it is almost unavoidable to feel that all things are interconnected.
— from “Four Skin Confessions”

—Jean Vengua, Jean Vengua poetry-art (Full engagement HERE)

Several works incorporating visuals appear in this gathering. One should realize and recognize that this book was developed largely online, via email and listerv, where collaboration exists as an essential dynamic. The hay(na)ku format invites concatenation, or it does now. I think originally more people used hay(na)ku to produce 3-line poems, like haiku. An inherent invitation to add one to another seemed obvious, and has been exploited.

What this means is that verses have a discrete power. The six words team up to maintain a local gravity while spinning around the idea of The Poem. I know, for myself, that the segregation of the regulated 6 words of each verse creates a separation from the larger work, even while supporting that larger work. A centripetal force occurs in tandem with the gravitational pull. I hope that’s not too much science for humanities types.

The thunderstruck core of this book would be the poem “Four Skin Confessions”, and the divagations on same, by the curators of this project. The divagations are in fact conversations on the process. One feels genuine weight in the matter. The poem is thoughtfully executed.

This book is a charming adventure because the format forces restriction, and yet the restriction hardly restricts. We all were on our best behaviour, counting words in lines, yet always intimating a region outside that restriction, where the poem lives. Trust me, this book offers lots more than I have indicated. I recommend this book as a learning tool.

I say that for several reasons. First, the poems read well as poems. That’s a nice little bonus when reading poetry, taking it as a given that a lot of poetry sucks. The self-interrogation of the authors here is surely instructive in not just a Paris Review Interview way. One feels the ruction of collaboration as one reads the poems themselves and their process notes, jounce for jounce.

Our revolutionary educational friend Paulo Freire advocated dialectic over the pressed meat into sausage casing model of education (i. e. lecture lecture lecture into sponge brain ninnies, Sponge Brain Square Bob). These collaborations ruffle appropriate feathers in the demonstrative debate for the poem’s fair creation. This book is a beautiful thing.
—Allen Bramhall, Tributary (Full review HERE)

..you find many collaborations that are fascinating to no end. Many of these are just one page. The others range over three, five and nine pages. It goes on and on. Then sadly it stops. A few notables in particular include “Daisy Chain Poems” by Jean Vengua, Michael Fink and Margo Ponce. A section entitled, “Peregrination” reads, “On/ the commute/ she glances over/ another/ rolling terrarium/ landscape in miniature/ receding. / Windblown fields/ falling to wayside.” Wonderful writing. A brilliant microcosm of society. Another is “The Dragon” — photographs with caption by Hannah Newman, Ellie Haworth, Kate Studd and Lucy Morris — which we found out was “done in a ‘creative session’ in the library at Trigonos in Nantille, North Wales on 23rd March 2008.” One of the texts, ‘hay(na)ku’s, “Mellifluous/ Mountain mist, / Dappled light through.”
—Chris Mansel, The Halo-Halo Review (Full review HERE)


On HAY(NA)KU FOR HAITI:

Particle and Wave and From the Chair by Jean Vengua is two short sequences, the first of which has a beauty which is both eerie & sad. From the Chair might have been a sermon had it not been so visually clear

what comes alive
across time,
space?

a digital photo
of blood
registers

—Lars Palm, mischievoice (Full engagement HERE)

Each writer fit their effort into three constraints.

1. The hay(na)ku format. You probably already know, but if not, this format simply consists of 3-line stanzas. First line, one word; second line, 2 words; third line, 3 words. Oh look, I used the semi colon!
2. Page count. The first page provides a note about the project, so five pages remain for the text. Four stanzas fit a page, so 20 stanzas at most marks the limit for text.
3. Relevance to the situation in Haiti. The project compels one to relate the work to that human crisis, because it would be tacky not to.

That last point presents the real fandango. The mastering idea, I think, consists in engaging that human situation in Haiti. Engagement is the province of poetry. Anyone and everyone understands that the destruction from the earthquake is bad, and that something must be done. We don’t need poetry to say that: we have prose in orderly logic to commit that testament. No, the poetry to be written in this earnest position is much more personal than that. It is also more far-reaching.
—Allen Bramhall, tributary (Full review HERE)

Small, concise, full of life, something to read and read again. To soak up. These mentioned above and I suspect more too will appear and should be sought after if you want to spend time with words….good times. That it is and was done with Haiti in hand and thought and heart again…needs to be noticed. Those who responded to the call…deserve our time.
—Jim McCrary, Galatea Resurrects (Full review HERE)


On NO SOUNDS OF MY OWN MAKING by John Bloomberg-Rissman:

In further expression of the poem’s emphasis on conjunction, these contextual and material shiftings, created by the collage form, are woven across the architecture of three-line hay(na)ku stanzas. The hay(na)ku is, itself, a form of integration and conjunction: the form of hay(na)ku was created by the poet Eileen Tabios by combining principles of counted verse and haiku. It takes from the haiku the form of tercet-sized stanzas composed of minimalist lines. From counted verse the hay(na)ku inherits the pattern of word count, repeated by each tercet, of 1-word, 2-word, and 3-word lines. While some of the stanzas of No Sounds are end-stopped, most of the text syntactically runs on while, at the same time, enjambing over the hay(na)ku’s discreet units of language.

By weaving the long poem continuously over this stanzaic structure, Bloomberg-Rissman creates a meditative, continuous experience of reading, a rhythm that gets into the body and stays long after we leave the text. This rhythm not only holds the collage elements together, but also gives the poem a pulse that works nicely in contrast to the mechanics of the algorithm underlying most of the composition. “Being,” to quote Bloomberg-Rissman quoting Aristotle at the end of his endnotes, “is said in many ways.”

Like many texts that hinge on the strength of “and” No Sounds of My Own Making eschews categorization. The work does not belong in a category of “pure” conceptual writing: Bloomberg-Rissman breaks his own rules too often to make a conceptual statement, and the text feels too much to be a member of what Craig Dworkin defines, in his introduction to the ubuweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing, as a pursuit of “meticulous procedure and exhaustively logical process.” However, given that most of the subjective statements in No Sounds are gleaned from other authors via algorithm, the poem cannot read as a purely subjective baring of the soul in the tradition of Wordsworth’s ‘spontaneous overflow’. Perhaps the most apt category would entail Jack Spicer’s notion of dictation, where the ‘Outside’ constitutes a series of texts informing more texts.
—Karla Kelsey, Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture (Full essay HERE)


On NOT EVEN DOGS by Ernesto Priego:

As a prominent hay(na)kuist, Priego has been dubbed a writer of “jainaku” (a Spanglification suggesting further transnational travel). Mostly in English with some Spanish included, his collection features one individual hay(na)ku and hay(na)ku sequences ranging from two to 42 tercets each. In his January 2006 blog review of the [THE FIRST HAY(NA)KU ANTHOLOGY], Ron Silliman asserts that the hay(na)ku, like a quatrain “is more stanza than finished work” and that the “first generation of hay(na)ku writers have created—not a poem, but a stanza, simple, supple, elegant, capable of considerable variation.” Silliman’s analysis holds true of Priego’s hay(na)ku sequences, titles of which are often the entire first hay(na)ku in the sequence. Sometimes he uses reversals of the form, like the highly charged coda of “Considered the possibilities”: “Stars,/ considering wreckages,/ willing to giving// It all again/ for one/ word” (22).

Many of Priego’s poems interrogate properties of language in ways reminiscent of Jacques Derrida’s writing. Derrida, whom Priego cites in an epigraph to one poem (23), frequently utilized the trope of “ghost” to further his elaboration of the deconstructive logic(s) of absence/ presence. The figure of the ghost surfaces in enough poems in Not Even Dogs for Priego to admit, in the opening lines of a hay(na)ku sequence, “How/ I wish/ I could write// about/ something other// than my ghosts// but/ what are/ words if not// traces/ of absence. . .” (31). While these lines may be uncomfortably close to the ur- deconstructionist’s lingo, other poems on language exhibit much less derivative discourse. Especially, note one interlingual example where non-equivalence is declared elegantly and symmetrically:

Recordar
another language
is not Latin

Amar
untranslatable word
cannot be learnt

Hambre
impossible experience
you simply ignore

Pobreza
distant madness
you once imagine
d
Justicia
once meant
something to us (36)

—Thomas Fink, Word For/Word #11 (Full review HERE)

Your
Beauty, wounded, …

still
prevails, even
if in dreams.

For
you, I
sing these blues.

(“Ninth City”)

I like these poems, am moved by them, am enabled by them, encouraged to feel my own life more deeply. To not shy away from pain. To not shy away from ecstasy. To live in love, obviously.


it’s a joy

bearing
witness …

(“[In / this case / it’s a joy]”)

Witness is withness, if you know what I mean.
—John Bloomberg-Rissman, Galatea Resurrects #7 (Full review HERE)

You
were here
before I could

understand
what cities
do to people.

I
used to
play baseball in

cornfields
now condos
with tennis courts [.]

Priego’s thoughts seem to echo those of Basho and Sora, the cornfields are now condos that have been built over his memories. It’s as if he were reproaching the city for allowing him to understand and comprehend that what cities do to people is make them change, forget, move on even they don’t necessarily want to. Change is the only constant in a city.

It comes as no surprise then that both poets [Priego and Basho] knowing how life, cities, countries and cultures change that they choose to write poetry firmly cemented on form. They can vary their poems any way that they wish but the basic structure will be the undercurrent to anything that they write. Haiku and hay(na)ku were created in completely different eras and their development and diffusion are opposite of each other but their essence is similar. They allow those that read and write haiku to learn to take a step back and view the world in a different way. Those that intend to do the same with hay(na)ku can learn to interpret and give form to their world while allowing their world to give form to them.
—Mario E. Mireles, Galatea Resurrects #5 (Full essay HERE)

You
Said: Poetry
Is like Music

But
Priego’s jainaku
Is like Dance

The Body speaks
In these
Poems
—Leny M. Strobel, Galatea Resurrects #4 (Full engagement HERE)

Poetry is his mother tongue. that sounds like a floppy statement but give me a chance. Poetry is Priego’s lingua franca. His language is largely ordinary and conversational. which is sneaky, because his words reveal such depth and perception. hay(na)ku’s pace works perfectly with his thoughtfulness. I want to note the book design by Michelle Bautista. the central columns of the poems are offset by larger boldface repetitions of the 1st stanza, essentially performing title duty. this demarcates the poems from each other and is visually gratifying. I mean, even if my description doesn’t zackly make it sound so. altogether a lovely book.
—Allen Bramhall, Galatea Resurrects #3 (Full review HERE)

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