Friday, April 07, 2006

Fibs, Haiku, Senryu, and other poetry

Why do I have a blog? For that matter, why does anyone have a blog? I am sure some people have something to say on a regular basis. I just can't imagine what that'd be like. Sure, I could find something to say, but is it something anyone else would be interested in? I could be all cynical and say, "that doesn't stop anyone else..." But I feel like I'm selling someone else short.

So let me just answer the question. Why do I have a blog? Well, because I needed to sign up for an account here to post to Gregory K.'s blog post about Fibs, a form of poetry he's come up with. I wanted to use it as an opportunity to gripe, in Fib form (that is, a poem whose syllabic lengths are the Fibonacci series 1-1-2-3-5-8), about what haiku really is. So I'll use the blog to expound and expand on that.

Are not congruent!
(Practice poetic pedantry!)

Haiku is not merely a poem that doesn't rhyme and has 5-7-5 syllables. Most claimed-haiku I see are just 17-syllable sentences with a few extra line breaks. "A prose writer gets tired of writing prose, and wants to be a poet. So he begins every line with a capital letter, and keeps on writing prose. " - Samuel McChord Crothers

To be a haiku, a poem should also have its lines each be somewhat independent, each expressing a complete concept, even if that concept is linked to those in the other lines. Not necessarily a sentence, but at least a clause, and at least conceptually complete. That's required for senryu too. There should also be the "ah-hah" moment, at the end of the first or second line, where the poem changes what it seems to be about. Finally, a haiku must contain some reference to the natural world, typically the seasons, the sky, the weather, etc. (By contrast, senryu are about human nature and usually darkly humorous. Most of the "haiku" you read are senryu, or are neither.)

Anyone can write 17 syllables. It takes essentially no craft. Writing three independent lines that say something, that takes a little work. Making that artistic takes, well, artistry.

All should have
element from set
of all possible math concepts.

As proposed, Fibs are poems whose syllabic form emulates a Fibonacci series, specifically, 1-1-2-3-5-8. My proposed amendment is that, like haiku, fibs possess both form and content requirements: in addition to the syllabic form (and I would also like to see lines have some sense of completeness in themselves, perhaps not full clauses but at least give me a reason why the line ended here other than "I ran out of syllables! continued next line"), they should also require some reference to some kind of mathematical concept in them somewhere. I find that adds a much more interesting challenge to their composition.

Now, someone tell me why the first post in my blog is about poetry, when I don't even get 99% of poetry, and am a techie geek type.


Ialie said...

I know you, You know me, Why am I leaving a comment? No one knows. Well actually it would be a great honor to be the very first person to comment on your blog. Well because you are a freaking genius.

Ugh I notice you have moderation on. You freaking pansy. :P

HawthornThistleberry said...

Didn't realize what it meant by moderation; I've turned it off now. The word verification is good enough. Also allowing non-anonymous comments.

Now that that's out of the way... Either die in the vacuum of space, or... tell me how good you thought my poem was!

Gregory K. said...

The great thing about blogging is that you do end up talking about oddball things like poetry, and fibonacci and who knows what.

You are correct about Haiku, and I have a slew of possible rules, etc, about Fibs. But the Fibonacci sequence has been in poetry for a reaaaaallll long time, and it's not likely to be a form that's gonna get popular unless you make it easy. If school kids had to do Haiku following all the initial rules of Haikuery, well... probably wouldn't be known as a genre.

Anyway, thanks for Fibbing AND thanks for thinking about what Fibs can and should be.

litlfrog said...

Restricting fibs to topics of mathematical interest restricts them to a population that have both an inclination to poetry and some understanding of mathematics beyond hazy memories of high school algebra. That's a pretty small subset of people. I'm not saying there should be NO restriction on content, but it might be better to allow physics, logic, rationality, or empirical observation in as well.

HawthornThistleberry said...

good points.
Baby Jesus weeps.
as if the circle had been squared.

Still, anything that lets me write the line "practice poetic pedantry" legitimately is a Good Thing™ regardless of any other considerations.

HawthornThistleberry said...

I just posted some roleplaying Fibs on an RPGnet forum thread on roleplaying haikus.