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My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Haiku Monday / DANCE: The Winner

First, thanks to all who participated and to our voyeurs. Some folks just like to watch, and some have time constraints. All understandable.

DeepBlue -- the only one to link to a visual -- called me out for being fussy. I’ll own up to that. Personally I like the idea of the firm haiku rules, at least every so often anyway. It certainly has made the writing side tougher, and the judging perhaps easier. Moi said we need to make this whole gig more difficult because the competition’s become so good. I think the proper combination of theme and strict haiku observance makes this enterprise as challenging as drunk haikuing or haikuing on a ledge. We really don’t know what mind-altering substances people have been on up until now anyway, and with Moi submitting entries from 40,000 feet, no one’s getting any higher than that.

Speaking of DeepBlue, I’m glad he did link to his blog. Neat video, and I especially liked the music. Anytime you get more than two people working in a kitchen -- even at home -- a bit of a dance is involved. Nice to see when it all works for harmony and beauty.

First, the omissions.


Chickory! A true goddess of all things arts. Nada on dance and poetry?

And someone who for me has in a short amount of time come to represent an essential element of Haiku Monday, as much for himself as the people he’s brought along: Princess! Nothing? Really? We need you here.

Boxer . . . czar’s font of mystery and supporter of far-flung rants. I can certainly understand otherwise consumed. I don’t even know what I’m doing here right now.


Frankly, even in my dance ignorance (ignordance?), I thought these topic possibilities were obvious, and maybe even too obvious. For a combination of dance and season, how about Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring? Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker? How many of you are doing the facepalm dance right about now? Frankly, I thought DeepBlue was somehow evoking the Nutcracker until I saw the video.


We had a few; I expected more. Even though I’ve stated on previous Haiku Mondays and in some related correspondence that I’m perpetually oblivious to metaphors -- and I am -- I tried thinking of idiomatic expressions and relating them to seasons:

* dancing around a topic, and bringing a chill to a relationship?
* the heat of the bolero?


Many folks went for the fall theme, to nice effect. Some beautiful phrases emerged. It’s charming how, with the restraint of this haiku format, even simple strings of words assume a different air:

Curmudgeon’s “the aspen retire,” which swings and sways on its own (unfortunately, the 2nd line had 8 syllables)

the resignation inherent in foam 1’s “sighs . . . the rake in hand.”

Fleur, Fleur, Fleur: In a class by herself. Who else could toss off “Autumn’s mosh pit”?


foam 2 and karl hit similar funny notes about the act of dancing, and humor’s always good in the czarist universe.

I really like the way foam’s last line echoes the words themselves: “dog days hoedown stomp” = BUMP bump BUMP bump BUMP. That’s a stomp to me.

The humor of Karl’s verse is endearing. I’m wanting more punctuation there, not as an editor, but as a reader. I’m also wondering how the season and theme relate. The juxtaposition of crisp breeze and warm hand was one of my favorite moments this week. Maybe there are some fall dance memories in Karl’s past? “Oh sorry, your toe” is another classic.


I’ve already paid some homage to DeepBlue. “Fine Spoons’ arabesque” is great; “arabesque” by itself is a poetic word. As Count Basie was known for, sometimes you can just play one note, but if it’s the right note at the right time, you’re a genius. As DeepBlue acknowledged on his own account, the rules were secondary. Still a great verse.


RafaDe enters the metaphorical realm, it seems. Another excellent line: “Writhe in flames of blasphemy.” One of the other haikuers mentioned some rule about not using the theme word in the verse; I’m not holding that against RafaDe, as I didn’t mention it. But I am missing the seasonal reference here. If I’m overlooking it, it wouldn’t be the first time. (Late thought: season of the witch?)


Interesting that Moi and Uncle went back to junior high and high school, respectively, for entries. Both place the reader in a specific time and place . . . crucial.

My musical library and Moi’s only barely intersect, but I figured that something must be up with the Limburger reference; I didn’t think it was meant to refer solely to the smell of a southwestern junior high gymnasium, thick with sweat and socks and hormones. And I wasn’t disappointed: took a minute amount of research, but the reference is to a 1979 B-52’s lyric — which is smack dab in Moi’s wheelhouse. Did I get that right, Moi?

Uncle 1, on the senior prom. Uncle, you cad.


Uncle 2: Again, placing us not only in a specific season and time and place but in a crucial few seconds in time . . . bringing us up to the moment slowly . . . then climax! . . . the resolution and the celebration. As far as using the word “dance,” see RafaDe above.

Uncle 3 and Aunty rewrite: Sure it’s sappy. But it could just have easily gone blue:

Last dance, hold her tight;
does she feel my heart beating?
[Fill in here your own snide 5-syllable comment about lust-inspired throbbing organs.]

Okay, Uncle, pick Aunty up off the floor and offer her a fan and something cool to drink.


Aunty: I do love your verse, but as was pointed out some weeks back, some phrases are too good to split across lines. With “Ancient choreography” — a beautiful combo — coming in at seven syllables, why split it? Same goes for “chill night air.” May I be so bold (I feel like Uncle cutting in at the prom):

Owl swoops, mice skitter:
Ancient choreography —
Night-chilled matachin.*

*Matachin = Spanish ritualized sword-dance or battle dance (I had to look it up).

If you like the edits, keep me in mind for that book you’re certainly writing. Maybe I’ll make an exception and grant you special Auntian rates. :-)


CoreyJo, whose name alone is poetry, presents a beautiful take on the fall theme begun above. The clinging and falling evokes some dances whose names escape me. (I wish I knew more.)


Not too late, Pam, not at all. I really like the way you stop the reader with that comma immediately after the first syllable, as well with as the word “waltz,” which is an attention grabber and seems to impose a hard stop anyway (and is a good word to remember for Scrabble). The many little words on line two could be seen as wasted syllables, but they serve very effectively to slow . . . time . . . down, in anticipation of the tempo accelerating on the last line. Quite nicely done.


So . . . where has this late-night dance led us? Another great week of entries, and as usual, I’ve strutted and shuffled on too long. What’s the bottom line on this pas de deux of the judged and the judge?


Fourth an' goal to go;
two seconds left on game clock—
Dive play! End zone dance.

Uncle, your prize, courtesy of the czar, is you get to lord it over Aunty for a week. Our prize, kind sir, is to see you declare the theme and be the judge for next week. Presumably Aunty will let you rent her space for a spell.

Thanks, everybody, for a grand time as always. I'm going to do-si-do back to work. 


moi said...

Correct! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VN8hV4AyNss

Most excellent judging and a spot on winner. Congrats, Uncle!

I was just reading the back page of Spirit magazine, one of those quickie Q&A interviews, this one with the Old Spice Guy, who said the best advice his father ever gave him was: "The quarterback who does a dance in the end zone after making a touchdown is telling the crowd one thing: he's never been there before. Don't do an end zone dance. Just throw the ball to the ref and get out of there: Act like you've been there before."

I'm going to take that as my guiding tenet for the next couple months.

Thanks again. Now get back to WORK!

chickory said...

Rainbow, Brook and Brown
trout choreography; flies
lure dancers to death

* so sorry I missed the deadline. we came home from a 3 day weekend to find the water line to our fridge had burst and flooded our house. Our wood floors are ruined; the rugs, the furniture legs, etc.

so many good haiku, and I agree with you Czar that fussy rules are required now. Its not an easy job to host but you did a wonderful, thoughtful job. I have come to look forward to the judges reviews as much as the haiku!

UNCA! you won? what fun it will be this morning at the house of cracka! congratulations.

DeepBlue said...


Very accurate judging and enlightening comments. Of course, I didn't expect otherwise since this is, after all, in your line of expertise! ;)

Being a classically-trained musician, I intentionnaly stayed away from any references to music and ballet (except maybe for the "arabesque" thing)

I always hesitate before giving details about a haiku since I feel a poetic form must be allowed to freely evoque as many different images as they are people reading them. If you vaguely heard the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in my haiku, then my haiku is about the Sugar Plum Fairy! In fact, I find your interpretation more poetic than my culinary extravaganza! :)

Rafael did put some great visual too, as metaphoric as his verse.

Congrats to Uncle.

And thanks to our host!


czar said...

@Moi: Absolutely agree. The on-field posing and posturing that goes on in all sports these days is damn near intolerable, entirely classless, and hardly spontaneous.

@Chickory: So sorry to hear about your house. That's awful. If it's any consolation, your haiku woulda been a contendah. A very, very strong one.

@DeepBlue: I'm not sure what my area of expertise is. It's not poetry and it's not litcrit. Everything I do here has come from watching those who went before me.

"a poetic form must be allowed to freely evoque as many different images as they are people reading them": Most true. I'm amazed when people read into my haiku things I never imagined myself. Aunty has some fancy words for this.

Oh, I wish Rafael had put a link to the images with his verse. Maybe those images were available online somewhere? [Note to self: live and learn.]

Karl said...

Good morning Czar,

Congratulations Uncle! Next week should be interesting.

Thanks for judging and a fine write-up. I always enjoy your perspective.

That Haiku is a history. Visualize a cool fall day, after weeks of Washington’s oppressive heat and humidity. Walking hand in hand with Mrs. Karl. I did a little happy dance she was unprepared for and well you know the rest.

I'll have to work on the punctuation.

@Chickory: So sorry about your house.

Aunty Belle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aunty Belle said...

Well, drat!

Uncle?? know what that meant this mornin'?

No, not THAT, but...I did have to cook him some smoked applewood bacon as a celebration.

So happens, youse spot on when ya advised:

"Fill in here your own snide 5-syllable comment about lust-inspired throbbing organs".

I edited out far more than I admitted --had to tell that CAD, this heah is a decent,refined group of artistes!

As fer my owl an' mice tango, I DOES find yore edit an improvement--yep, I does.

Lastly, as fer Uncle's *prize*?
In his dreams, Czar, In. His. Dreams.

Thanky fer a grand time--wunnerful hostin' an professional discourse on the judgin' process.

Natcherly, Uncle is thrilled--an iffin' he gits hisself under control I may loan him space--he has a computer but (whew!!) no blog.

Great job all!!

foam said...

nice write-up and congrats to uncle!!
i enjoyed reading all the submitted haiku.

so sorry to read about chickory's flood !

fishy said...

Congratulations to Uncle!
Well done dancing to the win :-)

@ Czar,
Why am I not surprised a man judge, in fall, selected the dance in the football endzone over all others!

czar said...

@Aunty: Happy to have added a little joy to the household -- sorry it wasn't yours.

@Foam: Thanks. I loved your entries.

@Fishy: If you knew this man, you would be surprised. I'm on record in many places stating my absolute loathing of college football as an institution, and it's probably been 20 years since I've voluntarily watched five minutes of a football game. I don't even watch the Super Bowl. If football vanished entirely from our cultural landscape -- from high school on up -- I'd be the one dancing a jig on its grave.

Fleurdeleo said...

Way to go Uncle!

Terrific write-up, Csar.