Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Western Canon In Haiku

The Word from the Corner September 16, 2018 A challenge for you this week. At this past Tuesday's Frost "Hoot" at Cafe Azteca, I had some some fun with haiku. I presented my take on the great books: The Western Canon in Haiku. It can be done! Here are some of mine below. Can you come up with some of yours? Email me and I'll post. Rules of this game: - Theme: Great books and ideas of the Western Canon (as expanded in recent decades, thankfully, beyond the "dead white male" authors...and beyond the Western world...) - Loose haiku form - not restricted to the 5-7-5 rule - Try for 3 lines, max of 4, limit to 16 words (try) - Can rhyme or not - Short, punchy Jim Knowles who hosts the Frost Foundation Hoot suggested these tweaks to the form. He reasons: "The Japanese rules on syllables and topics tie into their grammar and pictographics. American English is a multi-lingual festival of thievery.....and mixed metaphor. We need a short form to celebrate that!" Go for it! What can you come up with?

The Western Canon in Haiku

All those books to read
Skip the Latin, skip the Greek
Here is what you need!

Knowledge, truth, beauty!
Here’s the Canon in haiku!
Wisdom! Brevity!

A rhyming haiku!
How many sy-LAHB-els?
Against form, the purists cringe
Haiku – it must follow form!
Even I must twinge

When I don’t say the prayer
In holy five-seven-five,
That sin I must bear

But onward we go,
For the rest won’t be rhyming
Class! Let’s start the show…

The Old Testament
In the beginning
God gave his people a land
Messiah? Still waiting…

The New Testamant
Jesus was made man
He walked on water, died, rose
Paul made the franchise

Homer’s Odyssey
Odysseus sails
Ten years pass, mom has suitors!
He’s back! Tragedy!

Divine Comedy by Dante
Dante circles hell
Not much of a comedy –
It’s a hell of a world!

The Works of William Shakespeare
Will wrote sonnets, plays –
comedies and tragedies –
yes, Will wrote them all

The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Orphan boy, cruel world
Please, sir, may I have some more?
Says Bumble: No more!

Walt Whitman
He wrote “Leaves of Grass”
He’s America’s poet
We don’t read poetry

Emily Dickinson
More than nobody
She would not stop for death
But I stop for her

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
Sad anna, sad wife
Run away with your Vronsky
A train? Now we’re sad!
(spoiler alert: yes she throws herself in front of a train)

Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
Oedipus complex?
Id? Ego? Super-ego?
It’s just a cigar!

Jean-Paul Sartre and Existentialism
Condemned to freedom!
To be alive, we must choose!
I still don’t get it

The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Yes, one of the giants
Eventually she will be
The future knows, trust me

The dolls are the pills
Three girls seek fame, don’t find it
It sold a lot of copies

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Frodo has the ring
Sauron searches with his eye
Three movies to rule them all!
(no six! Eight? Eleventeen?)

And one more – this is by my daughter Jillian:
(caution - spoiler alert!)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (book 6)
by J.K. Rowling
Pensieve shows the past
Horcruxes must be destroyed
Snape kills Dumbledore!

Thus ends the Western Canon
Our lesson is done
You may not know it all
But at least you know some

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