In our city there is a tired, if well fueled debate that has been going on the last year, at least, among poets.
At the face of it, the debate is on haiku: What is a real haiku? There are folks who get up in arms because they think they know the answer. To these, haiku are sacred. Not for the layman to toy with. Then there are folks who respond by saying the "problem", the question, is artifice. They want to enjoy in their own fashion clever, sweet, sad or funny short, three-lined poems. And they don’t mind if it is in theory, haiku or not.
At the true core, there are folks who really sucker on to the idea that there is some deep rift: academic vrsus…well they don’t say vrsus what.
It is the minority which sees the rift.
I don’t think it is anti-academic to sidle up with folks who accept a book of dog haiku or baseball haiku for what they are, clever mindshifts. Witty escapism. Something to read and muse on. Something fans of baseball and dogs can sink their teeth into without having to work. In short, diversion.
Short poems that fit on a post-it note can pack a whallop. They can be startling or funny or drive home some point. Whether they are haiku may be worth investigation, but there is even the problem of whether haiku can be written in English. There are Japanese syllables, and then there are English syllables, and they are dissimilar. Attitudes in the West and East are dissimilar. Seasons are, and traditions are. Some say there is no such thing as an English-written haiku. Others accept that despite the differences and gaps, there exist trusty enough guidelines, guidelines that are generally enough agreed upon in aged tomes, and which ought be obeyed. Yea, even revered.
It would really take a serious investment to attempt any true investigation.
So much so, that some believe it can only ever be opinion.
To constantly bring up the paranoid delusion that to enjoy a layman’s haiku is to loathe the academy is to bring to light one’s insecurity. Perhaps the bringers up of such subconsciously suffer, on account of their education. For example, a piano teacher I had told me he was unable to compose music anymore, having been a student and later a professor at a prestigious music academy. The man could play—world class improvisation. He knew his instrument and nuance. Soulful, driven and witty, he was able to converse with other instruments and move a song to new places, only to bring it back to its core and breath. But he could not sit with a pencil and compose. Everything he learned and taught about composition would muddy his waters—all of the rules and guidelines and standards wld interrupt his course of thought. He was paralyzed by his great knowledge of theory.
I think its possible that these pointing fingers (of some fundamentalist individuals) suggesting that another’s blasé attitude (on what is or is not a haiku) must stem from “hatred of the academy” are wholly fear-based.
People fear what they don’t know. Some people don’t know how to write a freestyle poem. Some people don’t know how to write a poem with the sole purpose of creating a rhythmic bed to lax and laze in. They wouldn’t be able to create a verse ambiguous. They don’t understand how to write from the gut.
Gut-writing delivers a succinct impact. What the gut delivers may be emotional, clever or, it may birth what is carefree. It can be in jest, an intellectual game, or a welcome distraction from the deadly serious rat race. It can be a culmination of various colors, sounds and syllables that (in congress) pack a whallop. Such poems can indeed be like instrumental songs--they create a tone. And only a tone. Some people can’t do this. They can't be carefree.
But, let’s take it out of the academy. Nobody has charged the academy with a crime. (Well, there was name-calling, i.e. "Jazz Police"!) The only actual charges made have been against the blasé, or open-minded, carefree individuals who Take In in a stride, and are down with what pleases, not up in ARMS.