Sunday, December 4, 2005

legal writing grading haiku

'Tis the season for legal writing professors to start waxing poetic about grading papers, resurrecting our bi-annual tradition of writing haiku about grading.  Recall that haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry.  It must be 3 lines long, with 17 syllables.  There must be 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third line.  A haiku usually includes some sort of reference to nature.  And ideally it includes a little something surprising.

John Mollencamp, at the University  of Missouri-Columbia, offers the first grading haiku of the season:

So much to do now
Where did the semester go?
Grades are due soon

Only a few weeks
to grade so many memos
Eleven a day?

Icy winds outside
Tall stack of memos inside
Maybe I'll rake leaves

Forida in-laws
welcoming with warm weather
must grade papers first

Quiet library
students are all studying
my grading begins

(spl)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2005/12/legal_writing_g.html

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Comments

Dear Prof. Liemer, I just found a link to this post this evening. Although it is the Holiday Season, the Haiku Police must be ever vigilant. We applaud your attempt to incorporate haiku into your academic pursuits but, frankly, your Grading Haiku must get a low grade as haiku.

At f/k/a, we've been trying to expose the legal professionals who visit for our punditry and/or silliness to genuine haiku. See http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/ .

Here's a brief description of haiku, from a post called "is it or ain't it haiku?" -- http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/stories/storyReader$3908 .

Quick Definition of Haiku: Haiku is a "one-breath" poem (no more than 17 syllables, with fewer being better) that relates nature to human nature, and usually compares or contrasts two images, which are separated by a pause. At its best, haiku lets the reader share in the poet's "haiku moment" -- a moment of insight or awe.

Quick Definition of Senryu: Senryu is a short poem similar in structure to haiku that focuses on human nature, often featuring ironic, humorous and/or coarse observations.

Often, senryu seem more suitable to the lawyer mindset than haiku, given our jaded perspective on life and our unfortunate estrangement from nature.

As the f/k/a Haiku Police have pointed out: 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. Most of what we see on the internet -- even if quite funny and imaginative -- is really very light verse, or doggerel.

Poet-publisher-professor Randy Brooks adds: "The best haiku capture human perception — moments of being alive conveyed through sensory images. They do not explain nor describe nor provide philosophical or political commentary."

Here's my try at making a haiku from one of your poems (keeping in mind that haiku/senryu should have only two images, presented in two clearly separate parts):

Tall stack of memos
to grade --
she rakes leaves in an icy wind

Please don't let my preachiness turn you off. Click on "is it or ain't it haiku?" to find more information on the haiku concept, and lots of tips about writing haiku, plus helpful links. By this time next year, f/k/a should be able to have a great post about the Haiku Professor and the Poetry of Grading.

Posted by: david giacalone | Dec 29, 2005 9:35:35 PM

More haiku!
Less grading!

Posted by: Prof. Yabut | Dec 30, 2005 8:01:48 AM

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