Friday, May 01, 2015

e pluribus haiku 2015 

After writing furiously over the winter, and then coming to a virtual stop around mid-February, I decided to wrap up this issue with the thousand best, and publish it, so I did. I was proud to have a thousand, and have enough more, so that I could eliminate any repetitiveness, or ones that I found not good enough for any reason. I still have some whose kigo is unclear, or even repetitive; others which just don't say enough or say too much. The thousand I ended up with are all ones that I still like.

There are several trends I would like to comment on here. First, I have begun to consider th-, as in th'pool, to be a sound but not a syllable. In everyday speech, words like the, in, on, and and are often reduced to a single sound, not a full syllable, so I feel that I'm within my rights to do this. What it has done, however, is made me wonder why I'd leave any of these words taking up an entire syllable, if I don't have to. If I can say that much more, why don't I? And indeed, I've begun revising. While there are hundreds of new ones (I'll get the count to you soon), there are hundreds more revised. And the book continues to evolve more toward its own character.

Another trend is the relentless failure to capitalize anything. I think some people would criticize me for lowercasing everything, but since geographical names play a huge role in this poetry, I find that lowercasing them at least puts them on a level with the other words. I have special trouble with the double names: San Marcos, Los Angeles, which, in a small poem of not more than a dozen words or so, stand out, with capitals, and look ungainly. Better to lowercase everything.

And while I was at it, I lowercased the dashes as well. They really should be the longer ones - the emdashes, I guess you could call them, though I'm not really sure which is which. The longer ones are generally used to divide up pieces of sentences, while the short ones combine words. I use all and only short ones, though I can't guarantee that within the thousand I don't have a few exceptions. I tried to make them all smaller. It was in the general spirit of making the sounds themselves more important - make the punctuation smaller, or nonexistent. I also tried to avoid having more than one dash in a single poem, or, having anything besides a dash - ellipses, semi-colon, etc. Eliminate 'em.

What this adds up to, I realize, is that as a collection these poems break some rules. I imagine they'll stay that way. I'm not sure it'll be the same rules, though.

I'll close with a single story that might shed light on the entire series. I think that, if you bought e pluribus haiku 2014, at least seven hundred of the poems will be the same, if modified a little. But in the rush to write a few hundred more, get over a thousand, etc., I started by trying to make it more complete. Some states, I'm still a little spare in; some, I've only visited at night, if at all. I dove into my research, then had to imagine what it would be like in the 1970's, when I actually traveled. But a funny thing happened while filling in the gaps of the states I scarcely knew. I got a much stronger desire to actually capture every moment of the trip itself. And I took a little more time to actually dredge those up and express them. I decided to make this one, 2015, more true to the trip, and thus took out any that were about airports, or Wal-Marts, or Black Friday, or really in reference to anything that happened in the time since 1975. Now I know I wasn't totally thorough in that regard, and I'm sure you can catch me in a few places: here's something that we didn't see until about the eighties. But in general this collection is more true to the trip than any of the others. And I hope it remains as the first, 1000-haiku, complete & non-repetitive, collection that I've made. Enjoy! Click on the picture to order it.

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