Wonderland

The Ragtag Daily Prompt  this morning is WONDERLAND.

I encountered this word several different ways during my childhood, the first being through the well known song, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” I’m happy to say the a warming trend has kicked in here on the prairies and the temp has risen ten degrees. It’s now -21 C here, with almost no wind —and next week is supposed to be warmer yet. Wonderful! Snow tends to lose its wonderland sense after the middle of January.

I also recall an old 45rpm record my cousin’s wife owned. The song, instrumental only with a trumpet lead, was called “Wonderland by Night.”  (Blessings on the ever helpful Wiki, who tells me this tune was recorded in July 1959.) As a girl I often wondered whether there was a real place called Wonderland and where it was. I assumed this would be somewhere in California, where all wonderlands are located, right?

Or was the song a takeoff from the popular children’s story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? The writer Lewis Carroll—in reality Charles Lutwidge Dodgson—delighted not only the real Alice, but millions of other girls and boys since, with his delightful tale of adventure.

I was curious to know if Dodgson invented the place name, but it seems he only made use of the word. His book was published in 1865, whereas the word wonderland made its debut in English in 1790, according to Merriam-Webster, who defines it as a place that is filled with things that are beautiful, impressive, or surprising.

And that ends my knowledge of the subject. You’re welcome to pop over to the RAGTAG Community and read what other bloggers have written. Better yet do a post yourself and share your impressions of WONDERLAND.

Haiku: A Quick History

Haiku & Senryu History

from comments by Alan Summers,
compiled by Christine Goodnough

Most people who know about haiku think of masters like Basho and his famous poem about the frog jumping into the pond. Or the tender-hearted, melancholic Issa who knew so much sorrow in his life. Haiku master Alan Summers, who has spent decades studying this form of poetry, offers the following background for this style of poetry.

Are haiku verses all about nature?

Pre-haiku, as written by Basho et al, were seasonal poems, more than being nature poems. They might be about a human society celebration, the coming of age of boys, children, or Matsuri, which are holidays, religious days or farming events.

When haiku came about, in the 1890s, it was caught in the old medieval mindset, but on the edge of the 20th century, when trains and factories were starting to be built. So I think of haiku, which really came into its own just before WWII and post-WWII, reflecting the industrial revolution and huge changes in human society.

The intimate relationship with the seasons, coming from the pre-Industrial Revolution era when people were super-aware of the slightest shift into the next part of a season, meant that folks would write little postcards with a seasonal reference. Sometimes this was just a note or a hello, and not always poetry. But when haikai poetry came about, the common and popular and normal practice of mentioning the change in a season in conversation, gossip, or greeting cards, also became part of the tiny haikai poems.

In the shift toward haiku, just before the 20th century, writers often used the seasonal ‘mention’ although post-WWII when the industrial revolution morphed into the various technological leaps in warfare and general manufacture, different topics would be added. Of course, as they moved into computer technology and robotics, these would be naturally added.

So nature, or natural history, is often part of a haikai verse in some aspect, but this is only part of the body of haikai poetry.

When Shiki did his reformation of haiku and tanka, little changed for a decade or two, then those society-changing world wars we seem to love for some reason, shifted haiku into its own genre, away from the chains of the medieval hokku and earlier haikai verses penned by Basho et al.

Haiku has been known in the West almost as long as in Japan, interestingly enough. The French were the very earliest to pen haiku very early on in the 20th Century.

See: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton 2013)
ed. Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, Allan Burns; plus Introduction by Billy Collins
Click here for link.

What is senryu?

This was another verse from the big group poem collaboration called Renga, which spawned both hokku (similar to haiku) and the verse named after its most successful propagator.

Senryu was the nickname or pen-name of a poet who was famous for this particular style of verse in the group poetry writing activity called renga, and later, under Basho, the increasingly popular renku. Both renga and renku are the most complicated and intricate poems in the world, with more rules than you could shake a stick at!

Senryu verses were sometimes written to mock the growing haiku writers and, before haiku came about, the various haikai verse writers who wrote hokku.

A good test of what makes the verse a senryu: CLICK HERE.

For more reading, check out these articles & free books:

To learn more about the various forms of Japanese poetry, check out Call of the Page

Why haiku is different and Basho never wrote them in English: Click Here

More than one fold in the paper: Kire, kigo, and the vertical axis of meaning in haiku: Click Here

Free eBook:
Senryū: An Application to be a) human
by Alan Summers

Free eBook:
Kaneko Tohta:Selected Haiku With Notes and Commentary – Part 2 – 1961–2012

There are also a number of online haiku journals where you can find great examples of Japanese poetry:
Troutswirl, cattails, The Heron’s Nest, Wales Haiku Journal, etc.

Great Things To Come

I few days ago I wrote an article about mental health issues. More humane care has been provided and sufferers have been treated in various ways through the 1900s, with questionable success. Writer/poet/blogger Frank Prem, in his younger days, worked at an Australian asylum and has written a number of poems to capture the lives and feelings of the afflicted.

Now he’s excited to be launching his compilation of these poems. He says The New Asylum should be live on Amazon November 1st and you can pre-order it now. In mid-November he’s doing a local book launch — here are the details — and here’s the book cover:

The New Asylum: a memoir of psychiatry (Poetry Memoir Book 3) by [Prem, Frank]

His other poetry books, SMALL TOWN KID and DEVIL IN THE WIND, have gotten great reviews. You can read my review of this second book HERE.

Devil In The Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires (Poetry Anthology Book 2) by [Prem, Frank]

Manor Matters

This week’s Creative challenge from Crimson involves an interesting set of manor gates. My first impression has led to this 150-word tale.

Manor Matters

“Another one asked about the gates, sir. Some old lady from Canada this time.”

“Well, what can they know about history and culture? Living in igloos, running about on dogsleds half the year. EH?”

“Piddly little, I suppose. Gets tiresome, though.”

“True, but they’re paying £25 each to see the place. Our bread and butter, if you will. Stiff upper lip, Witherham. Fall is coming.”

“I’ll do my best, sir. But if I hear one more, ‘Why don’t you paint the other one?’ I may go off my nut. Say, could I perhaps trade with Franks? I’ve always wanted a crack at being the manor ghost.”

“Then you’ll hear a steady stream of ‘Who’s under that sheet?’ and ‘I don’t believe in ghosts.’ Tourists are impossible to satisfy! Franks has threatened to throttle the next skeptic. He’s doing the turret tour now; we’re getting a robot for the ghost.”

Global Storming

Good morning everyone and happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians.

I want to extend sympathies to our suffering next-door-neighbours in the province of Manitoba, as residents there recover from a major snowstorm. They took quite a bashing at the end of last week.

News reports say that heavy wet snow, up to 60 mm of precipitation, fell across the province, leaving 32,000 residents without power, including most of the city of Portage-la-Prairie and 2000 in Winnipeg. Manitoba is asking for help from utilities in their neighbouring provinces and the state of Minnesota to help restore their system after power lines and pylons were damaged or downed.

The Mayor of Winnipeg and the provincial premier, Brian Pallister, both declared a state of emergency yesterday, according to today’s Winnipeg Free Press. This gives city employees and Manitoba Hydro work crews more authority to enter private property for assessment and repairs as well as and giving both governments access to additional support.

In addition to lack of power, Winnipeg’s emergency response manager Jason Shaw reported that, “At least 30,000 city-owned trees have been impacted by the storm, with a significant portion completely felled or damaged to the point where they may need to be cut down. There is no estimate how many non-city-owned trees have been damaged.”

Twenty years ago we were hearing so much about Global Warming, and since then we here on the prairies have seen some of the coolest, wettest summers in memory. My husband and his relatives were talking not long ago about the hot summers they remembered when they were young, back in the late 50s – early 60s and I can recall summers in the late 60s that daytime temps over 100 degrees F were common. In our old age none of us want to go back there, so we were giving thanks that climate change has been good for the prairies, with our cooler summers and more abundant rainfall. 🙂

I also recall that when I was a teen, weather forecasters were predicting a coming ice age, since globally temperatures were dropping. Considering that they had the 1930s stats factored in, that’s not so surprising. Summers on the great plains of North America were fiercely hot, winters fiercely cold, and all seasons fiercely dry. Temps had moderated a lot by the 1950s. As I recall, the idea of global warming swept in around the late 1980s. The world would get hotter and drier.

I’ve since read that the “proof” for global warming came from juggling weather statistics and omitting those that didn’t fit the theory. While I have a very small — and very regional — understanding of  world climate, from what I gather the globe really hasn’t gotten much warmer. Consequently the concept has been replaced by “climate change” — supposedly being responsible for the increase in severe hurricanes and storms we’re seeing in the news nowadays. Considering what our neighbours in Manitoba have just been through, “global storming” might be a more apt expression.

Weather history includes some really wild storms, like the freak thunder storm in July of 1935 that left a good strip of southern Alberta covered with 20 cm, or 8″, of hail.

I’m definitely against polluting the environment, but whether there are actually more — or more severe storms — in our day, I just can’t say.