Fathom July 1997



Inside Cover



Mark Anderson
Dan Clark
Jamie Reynolds


Trevor Rockwell
Peter Morden
A. Bell
Todd Banks
Jennifer Reynolds
Nobu Adilman

Poetry and Prose

Mary Kate Arnold
Anthony Quinpool
Dan Walsh


James Matthews
Mitchell Weibe
Siloen Daley
Jamie Reynolds


Mark Anderson



Tasteless Haiku

Haiku, as a poetic form, had its origin in the Waka, a highly ritualize verse structure first written in eleventh century Japan. The rigidity of the Waka gave way to the Renga, a type of poetry that applied to the Waka’s basic structure to a collaborative process. In the Renga, on person writes the opening of 5-7-5, the second write the following 7-7, and a third continues with another 5-7-5. Groups of up to five poets would often create Renga of over one hundred lines. Through the Renga, linked verse parties became a popular Japanese tradition. The host would prepare the Hokku, the initial 5-7-5, in advance, to get the ball rolling.

Matsuo Basho, in the sixteenth century, isolated the Hokku from the Renga form. He left society for the solitude of his famous Banana Tree Hut, to develop what wa now call the haiku, as a serious literary form. Basho, in his haiku, placed great emphasis on the season word. The season word effectively conveys a great deal of information economically. As an example, the single word “autumn” give a reader’s imagination a starting point, from which they fill in the background details of the scene. The essential belief implicit in Basho’s haiku, is that perfect poetry exists in nature. This belief was greatly influenced by the spread of Zen Buddhism in Japan, and Basho’s haiku illustrate the Zen idea of the insignificance of the self, and its greater role as a part of the whole.

The tradition of Haiga, roughly translated as “Haiku Painting,” coincided with the invention of the haiku. The visual nature of haiku lends itself to painting, as both painting and haiku are often involved in the visual capturing of a moment.

What the Tasteless Haiku Contest unknowingly emulates is the Senryu, a form of mock haiku, first written by Karai Senryu in the eighteenth century. Senryu usally imposes logic on an ideal view of nature, this logic is probably what makes tasteless haiku more interesting to western writers than its standard form. That and the fact that some of them are pretty funny. Or we hope so...

last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul