Thursday, 24 April 2008

Haikuing around with Jack Kerouac (200 posts and time for a metaphorical cigarette - ps: don't smoke, it's bad for you)

The beat poet Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), best known for his novel 'On the Road' is, believe it or not, the poet mostly responsible for reinventing or more correctly redesigning the haiku, in the USA at any rate. He certainly invested the form with some much needed energy; his haiku won't be sending many to sleep!
In a lengthy introduction to Jack Kerouac's 'Book of Haikus' (sic)(pub. 2003 Penguin Books) the widely published researcher Regina Weinreich speaks of 1,000 haiku found in notebooks, blocks of prose, jottings, scribbles and recycled in other ways. The pocket size haiku book resulting from Weinreich's editorialship contains about half this number and gives more than a broad overview of Kerouac's 'range and styles'.
Poet-in-Residence is not one to engage in 'electronic piracy' of copyrighted materials and therefore publishes the following 'short quotations' in the spirit of the copyright laws as defined and applied by UNESCO (see World Book & Copyright article immediately below).
Kerouac's style and 'new rules' are that more or less anything goes, within the 3-line limit, provided the resulting haiku makes a little picture, is airy and graceful and free from poetic trickery. The first haiku is for the creator of the wonderful cool green space known as the zenspeug haiku site. The rest, the once youthful Poet-in-Residence can these days vaguely seem to recall! Perhaps he was even there? It certainly sometimes feels like it.

Barley soup in Scotland
in November -
misery everywhere

Birds flying north -
where are the squirrels? -
There goes a plane to Boston

Dawn - the tomcat
- hurrying home
with his tail down

Peeking at the moon
in January, Bodhisattva
takes a secret piss

The cow, taking a big
dreamy crap, turning
to look at me

Drunken deterioration -
- ho-hum,
shooting star

Well here I am
2pm -
What day is it?


  1. Don't like the first one.

    I love Scotland.

  2. Interesting choice, loved the Cow one :) It is actually very much in the true spirit of Haiku.

  3. Thanks for a couple of interesting comments on the selection:
    I too, simply love Scotland to bits, especially Arran and Jura, but November can be grim. Ask John McDonald at zenspeug (via P-i-R's link)...he lives in Edinburgh.
    The cow haiku reminds me of my visit to County Clare; it was a misty Irish day and we were in our waterproofs in the middle of a wet field wondering why we were looking at an pile of old stones when out of the mist there loomed a cow...

  4. .
    I got the book in Toppings bookshop published by: Enitharmon Press

    I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and can highly recommend it too! ;-)

    all my very best,

    35 days to the deadline and counting!
    The With Words Online Haiku Competition


  5. Hi, I just wandered into your blog and enjoyed your post. You have great links to poetic resources.

  6. thanks for the nod towards me Gwilym


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