Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Haiku Analog Number 5!

Haiku Analog Number 5!

A reader of my post on Haiku Analogs commented at another site that there is another Haiku Analog called the Zip Haiku. I was unaware of this particular analog and appreciate it being brought to my attention. The Zip Haiku is a creation of John E. Carley a respected Haiku and Renga poet from England. Carley writes that the Zip is an alternative to the three-line, 5-7-5, formal Haiku pattern. Here is what Carley has to say about the Zip form:

“The 'zip' does not try to mimic the Japanese stanza directly. Instead it attempts to perform in English those functions which the Japanese stanza performs in that language.
“The 'zip' has a fixed total of 15 syllables deployed at will over two lines, each line broken by a triple space (caesura). The layout centres on these caesurae.
“The total (15) reflects the relative density of English to Japanese; it also ensures that the stanza does not fall too readily into a facile rhythms.
“Following the Anglo Saxon convention the pause-value ascribed to each caesura is weaker than that of the line break. The pause pattern is therefore weak/strong/weak.
“The interaction between pause structure and syntax paces both the semantic and phonic movement of the stanza. The layout encourages a degree of non-linear eye travel. No other punctuation is used. “Unlike much minimalist verse the 'zip' does not use overly abbreviated, forced or notational syntax. The presence of articles and principal verbs is therefore more frequent than otherwise.
“The 'zip' has regard for the phonic properties of English, but rejects obvious versification. Complex figures of speech are avoided.”

Here are a few examples of the Zip:

orange and tan tan orange and tan
the butterflies beat on

at my feet a blackened penny
dark enough to buy my thoughts

For those who are interested you can find more information about the Zip here:

Comment: I am intrigued by Carley’s attempt to incorporate the structure of pauses found in both Japanese and Chinese verse through spatial placement. I differ from Carley regarding the Japanese language. Personally, if I were to engage in the Zip I would use 17 syllables; I wonder how Carley would feel about that.

I am encouraged by Carley’s explicit rejection of minimalism and the naturalness of the English used in the Zip. If there is one aspect of modern minimalist Haiku that I find bothersome it is the telegraph like quality that is the result of excluding normal English syntax as a result of a fixation on using “as few words as possible.” But, personally, I would prefer a true analog, that is to say a Zip of 17 syllables. But that’s just me. Carley has obviously spent a lot of time contemplating his approach and I enjoy the results. Maybe a 17-syllable Zip should be called Zip Plus! See how easy it is to come up with another form?
Update: Apologies to readers, but I am having difficulty formatting the Zip Haiku quoted in the post. The layout of the Zip requires spacing in the line, but when I put in the spaces, in accordance with Carley's prosody for the Zip, the spacing disappears when I actually post it on the blog. As I said, I've tried several strategies and can't seem to find a solution. So please hit the link to Carley's site, or read the comments to this post which focus on this aspect of this Zip to get a sense of the layout of the Zip. Thanks.


Dan Gurney said...

I find these poems very pleasing.

The one problem I see is that they might not share easily on blogs. It may be difficult to get the format of the caesurae to work on the screens.

On my computer, your caesurae did not appear, so the elegance of the poem was lost until I linked over to the website you provided.

Jim714 said...

Thanks for bringing that up. I tried to correct the post and fix the spacing, but when I reposted the edited version, it came up just as before. I'm sure there's a way around this but I'm no familiar enough with blogspot procedures to know what it is.

Another alternative, and I don't know if Carley would like it, would be to put the Zip on four lines. He probably would not like it because he's trying to distinguish between internal and end type pauses. But if combined with punctuation, a similar effect might happen. Here's an example of what I mean:

at my feet
a blackened penny --
dark enough
to buy my thoughts.


orange and tan
tan and orange and tan --
the butterflies
beat on