Sunday, July 12, 2009

And you thought you knew Haiku . . . .

By way of explanation for our loyal blog readers who are not legal writing profs, a couple of times each year - usually around grading season - a few LRW profs post haikus on the Legal Writing Institute listserv.  Others complain that it's "OT," the posts stop and then a few months later the cycle repeats like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  As for myself, I like Kaiju.  Haiku?  Not so much.

But for those aficionados of said Japanese poetry, here's an excerpt from the May 7th volume of the Harvard Gazette that sets the record straight on what is, and what is not, haiku:

'Today it is widely and incorrectly believed that all 17-syllable poems are haiku, and by extension must include natural or seasonal imagery,' says [Adam Kern, Harvard Professor of Japanese Literature]. 'In fact, haiku is just one of numerous modes that makeup a broader tradition of 17-syllable poetry. This tradition, known as haikai, encompasses a range of subjects, such as the erotic bareka.'  There are 30 poetic modes within the haikai genre, all based on the 17-syllable structure. Their form and subject matter, however, can vary significantly.

You can read the rest of the Professor Kern's discourse on Haiku by clicking here and scrolling to page 8.

A big 'ol tip of the hat to legal research authority extraordinaire Chris Wren.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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