Thursday, June 08, 2017

haiku & kindle 

I like haiku, you write a thousand of them in a year; they must be doing something for you. You write poetry for yourself though. I can't see doing my best on a single poem and then hoping people read it seriously and give me feedback. I've tried that kind of poetry before, and found I didn't have the patience or the social sensibility to carry it all the way through.

But I care passionately about what I write, and I care passionately that it doesn't always appear in Kindle as a single block of three lines, with no caps, and some punctuation but not much. I want it to look a certain way. I want the reader to see the three lines together.

Kindle is relatively new, and when they set it up, they didn't know how to give the authors control. A lot of them, like me, came straight over from CreateSpace, exhausted from setting up our own book, with formatting requirements, on Createspace, and they say, you want it on Kindle? and I say yes and upload my file and they say, oh we don't like pdf, so I go back and give them a word file. But for a long time they didn't show me what the readers saw. So if my page broke at 58 lines and theirs broke at 20, they would just cut, and I was none the wiser. Now they let me preview it before I tuck it back in. And lo and behold, all my kindle books are skewed. They have spaces where there shouldn't be spaces, and they have haiku, ingloriously split with two lines on one page, one on the next.

I'm going back and changing them all, by golly, one at a time. I have 2017, which just came out; it looks good. I just finished 2016; it took about half an hour now that I know what I'm doing. I'm going to make sure Kindle customers get a good haiku experience.

Actually the haiku are like the books: people who actually read them, really like them. As I've said before, only one out of a hundred or two hundred people will even read a poem, once they get out of high school, and even fewer actually do the mental preparation necessary to really appreciate them. I'm speaking to a very limited crowd here.

But I don't care about that either. One of my goals is to become like the Warhol of haiku. Warhol, you remember, was famous for being ubiquitous; for becoming the bellwether of the art world (his work sets the standard for other work that compares to it), and for being bold, in your face, strong, yet still interpretable. What does the Marilyns painting really mean? I doubt more than one in ten people could give you a reasonable explanation, and the three or four good ones you'd get would be all different (assuming, of course, that you asked about a hundred). Yet it's the most recognizable painting of the 20th century; everyone's seen it. Everyone knows it.

I can't imagine haiku could ever be like that - people care way more about art than about haiku - but, there is a 5-7-5 culture out there. There are people who like 5-7-5 - and, in spite of being Japanese, our own 5-7-5 is uniquely ours, since our language is so unique and different from Japanese. I've found a home in 5-7-5, and I'm incredibly free to express myself. Suddenly, quickly, intensely - kind of like pop art. My first problem was getting a thousand, and making them unique, and getting them to tell a single story. Now, I'm not bound to the seventies for the next one - I'm going Warhol a little, freeing myself up, but sticking to the conventions of haiku, at least some of the basic ones, the ones that serve me. I have no problem with the season clues; I'm getting better at it. I have rules and am sticking to them the best I can.

I'm going to be all over kindle with haiku. People will be able to read the good ones, if they want. Starting now (it's the season for e pluribus, since we're running right up on the fourth) - the best of the e pluribus series, namely the last three years, will be in cycle, free on kindle, at one time or another. I'll keep revolving them around - why not? one wants people to read it. if it's free, people will find it.

but it has to look good. That's my first requirement.

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