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Monday, 5 September 2011

contesting "acknowledged initiator of haibun in English" claim in new "World Haiku Review"

The new issue of World Haiku Review has an intriguing article on haibun and Basho - Basho's Journey: a Rumination" (Part One)
by Jamie Edgecombe

The announcement for this issue, forwarded as a Haiku Canada newsflash, follows my screed.

This is an interesting article on Basho, and of interest regarding the overwhelming modern adoption of this ancient form by English language poets. But I beg to pick a bone or two with the author and his quote that David Cobb's haibun, Spring Voyage, published in 1997, is the "acknowledged initiator of haibun in modern English".

Please visit my blog posting of May 15, 2011, and refer to my article:
haibun as memoir, historical document, and sacred biography" (Eel Pie Dharma)

Several Canadian haijin, including myself, lay much earlier claims to being the "acknowledged initiators of haibun in modern English". My own haibun/memoir, Eel Pie Dharma, was published by Unfinished Monument Press in 1990, seven year's before David Cobb's work.

My blog post describes two even earlier haibun by Canadian haijin, including Paris, by Jack Cain in the 1960s (!) and Ribs of Dragonfly, by Rod Willmot in 1984. By comparison with Canadian haijin, Cobb comes across as a Johnny-come-lately to the creation of English language haibun.

I suspect Edgecombe is a Brit, and as such, he wishes to steal the thunder of petty Canadian colonial haijin and lay claim to the honour for his fellow countrymen  :  )

But this is BS. My webmaster, Weed, published Eel Pie Dharma online a decade ago, where it has been read by tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of readers. Is it petty for poets to claim first rights - to assert our creativity over later, lesser poets who mine the claims we have already staked?  Of course haibun is first and foremost a highly spiritual literary form, so should we really care who wrote what first and led to haibuns widespread popularity (some might accurately now say it's grossly over popularization)?

But I'm still pissed off at this literary usurpation. Using pseudo-academic terms and references doesn't  justify literary claim jumping. Get your facts straight, man! 

peace and poetry power!
Chris Faiers/cricket
Canadian haijin since 1968

visit the following site for a list of haibun & publication dates:


Begin forwarded message:

From: Haiku Canada Newsletter <>
Date: September 3, 2011 8:36:21 AM EDT
Subject: HC Newsflash

31 August 2011

Re: New Issue of World Haiku Review is now online: August 2011 Issue

The World Haiku Club is pleased to announce that the August 2011 Issue of World Haiku Review is now online. Click on:

Rohini, our Technical Editor, is continuing her noble and arduous task of retrieving and rescuing poems, articles, treatises, reports, contributions etc. of the past World Haiku Review issues 2001 - 2007, which got tragically lost in mysterious circumstances. Her first effort is focused on saving, recovering and rescuing only. She will then gradually sort them out and give them shape. If you happen to come across any of these invaluable items of the past WHR issues, by all means let us know.

We start a new feature which is to introduce some works by our own editors under the title: From the Desk of the WHR Editors. This is designed to provide a two-way sharing of works between our readers and ourselves, a very common practice in Japanese haiku magazines.

The following poets, please take a look at this new issue to find your poems:
Riitta Rossilahti, Bruce Ross, Felice Vinci, Natsumi kosuge, André Surridge, Priscilla Lignori, Marie Shimane, Alan S. Bridges, shanna moore, Victor P. Gendrano, Kai Falkman, Dawn Bruce, GILLENA COX, Steve Addiss, Winona Baker, Minal Sarosh, Dawn Bruce, Owen Bullock, Howard Lee Kilby, Surendra Munshi, William Hart, Claire Gardien, Carolanne Reynolds


We do hope that you will enjoy this issue of World Haiku Review.


Susumu Takiguchi


Jamie Edgecombe said...

Hey there - yes I am a Brit. That said, I had no intention to steal anyone's fire. The reference to Cobb was not my own, but taken from a published interview. One would hope that, given your obvious interest in haibun, the focus of the article (a metaxicalogical reading of Basho in this age of DIY haibun philosophy - where any prose with a something haiku-like is called haibun), would warrent comment.

Chris Faiers/cricket said...

Hi Jamie,
Many thanks for posting on my blog - I'd hoped to stir a little interest in the origins of contemporary English haibun, and to draw readership as well to your article and to the World Haiku Association & its fine Review.

We Canadian colonials have learned to get a bit defensive over defending our turf from the imperial centres : ) Hence my tone in the piece ...

You are most welcome to contribute further to the blog if you so wish.

peace & poetry power!
Chris (Faiers)/cricket

p.s. have you read my online haibun, "Eel Pie Dharma"? I lived in the abandoned Eel Pie Island Hotel in Twickenham in the late '60s/early '70s. My 1990 haibun is about this hippie period - squats/drugs/rock'n'roll/but also meditation/etc. . Actually, I hold Brit nationality as well thru my father, who was stationed in Canada in WW2 for training with the RAF - I live in rural Ontario now, & it was only when I moved out here that I fully realized my dad had been stationed near this area for his training (Picton and Trenton bases).