Tag Archives: micropoetry

The Advent of the American Haiku

It’s pretty hard to turn around on the web today without running around, stepping over, or bumping into a haiku. These short, three line poems are quickly becoming ubiquitous, and one of the internet’s favorite forms of poetic expression. I know I’ve commented before on this subject, but I think it’s worth taking a closer look.

Haiku, as you may know, are short Japanese poems, originally and more correctly known as hokku. They traditionally feature a single image, glorifying nature or using the natural world as a metaphor in some way. They are meditative and to-the-point. The writing of Japanese haiku is as careful and methodical an artform as the practice of bonsai. As Wikipedia is eager to tell us, the English-language form of the haiku is much less defined than its Asian predecessor, ranging anywhere from 10-14 syllables. A set number of syllables per line is encouraged but not required. The haiku is a very accessible foreign form of poetry, and as such has gotten wide play in America and other countries with a strong emphasis on cultural diversity in the last several decades. I, like many others, was first introduced to them in elementary school.

The internet, however, has redefined haiku, just as it’s redefined newspapers, phone calls, and pizza delivery. Somewhere along the way, internet poets, amateur and professional alike, have taken haiku and morphed into something new: something that’s both uniquely American and tech-savvy. Because they are short and relatively easy to produce, haiku are now the poem of choice to express the every day, from random spurts of thought on Twitter to hilarious and creative error messages. The contemplative and naturalistic nature of haiku has been replaced by the technological, the delightfully mundane, and the American sense that a poem can be anything it wants to be.

What we see now each day online is the beginning of a new era of popularity for haiku, both in reading and writing. This ancient form of poetic expression is having a renaissance right before our very eyes. Enjoy it while it lasts!

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A New Wednesday Tradition

There are so many places out there to read or post poetry. A broad spectrum of web tools has been employed to help disseminate all the poetry out there, putting it into manageable chunks for us to happily digest. As the beginning of what I hope will be a long-standing tradition, I’d like to use the Wednesday post here at Paradise Tossed to list five poetry web sources that I think are worth checking out.

1. Poetry Wikia

This poetry wiki, which uses wikia.com as it’s particular base of operations, is the best poetry wiki that I’ve found. As a wiki should be, it’s very user-oriented and makes a concerted effort to foster a community. They’re doing well so far, with 228 poems to date, and a quick look around the site shows that the folks in charge know what they’re doing technologically speaking. Also, my favorite part is that some of the poems include links to specific quirky Wikipedia articles that define some of the poets’ words. It’s a very meta-wiki-experience.

2. Open Micro

Open Micro, a tumblelog for micropoetry, gets its submissions mostly from Twitter users, but the site itself is part of Tumblr. They’re really breaking into this whole idea of reading and discussing micropoetry outside of Twitter. It’s also nice to have a source that sifts through the wide array of micropoems that are out there.

3. World Class Poetry Blog

Not only does this blog have a completely understated and modest title, it’s also a nice comprehensive poetry source. There are plenty of poetry posts, but also lots of discussion about the internet and the direction in which poetry is moving. They just started accepting guest bloggers, so you may want to see if you’ve got two cents to put in!

4. The Library of Congress

Now, I’m sure that when most of you think of poetry, the federal government is not the first thing to come to mind. That’s why I’ve included the Library of Congress’s site on the list. This site offers information about the Poet Laureate, resources for teachers and students, information about archived poems, and a whole bunch of poetry news that’s hard to find anywhere else.

5. Poetry Notebook

I try to stay away from plugging more personal blogs, but Dirk Johnson’s site is exceptional. His poetry is both deep and accessible, his knowledge of poetic history is very informative, and he links to a bunch of other good sites. This site is a great starting point if you’re thinking about starting your own blog-as-personal-poetry-journal.

All of these sites, along with future recommendations, will be added to the “Sites You Should Visit” list for reference. Please comment with suggestions for sites you think deserve a shout-out.

I leave you today with yet another great poetry comic. I told you two posts ago that Randall Munroe constantly pushes the envelop, and he certainly didn’t disappoint in today’s comic:

Title-text: It's even harder if you're an asshole who pronounces  brackets.

Title-text: It's even harder if you're an asshole who pronounces brackets.

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