Monday, 31 October 2011

haiku and intentism

daily her bread

is always sold out

but her smile remains

I composed this haiku after reading about intentism on George Szirtes' blog. Does the intent of the author actually matter? Some readers may miss my intended word play, using the sound of the words 'but her' for example and still enjoy the haiku. Another writer may decide to run with this haiku and rework it in some particular direction having perceived my 'intent' as being a statement (a) for the small bakery businesses (b) against the growth of impersonal supermarkets (c) that to smile is as easy as to spread butter (d) that traditional home baked bread is healthier than mass produced bread (e) that people who smile sell more bread (f) for something I didn't intend. And all these are legitimate, even the last. The last especially, for it's the reader or critic or the next writer who will have the final say. The original author writes and then lets go.


  1. I have been reminding people recently of Samuel Johnson’s famous quote: “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.” Intent is all well and good but often works get co-opted for other purposes, e.g., The Cars’Drive during Live Aid and the music of Wagner by the Nazis. People take works of art, pieces of music, books, poems and make them their own and I’m all for that.

  2. Hi Jim,
    I'm currently reading Thomas Bernhard's 'Frost' in English translation. I think you'd enjoy it, if you haven't already.
    Best, Gwilym

  3. I have a collection of his very short fiction – a story to a page – and they were quite good. I keep meaning to read more of him but then I keep meaning to read more of most everyone. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. I know the book you mean. It's not his best.

    Frost is good. Justifiably won prizes.

  5. Lookit 'MySoulAccomplishment' - feel free to put your pic, too. God blessa youse -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

  6. Hi Kold Kadavr, Phew! Havta getaback to youze!


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