Friday, April 24, 2009

haiku spelled backwards

Some years ago, a friend moved to a small town near Ukiah, California. The change was good for him & he responded by becoming an accomplished author of haiku. But he was there for a long time before I saw that Ukiah is haiku spelled backwards.. This Sunday is the annual one-day Ukiah haiku festival.

It bothers me that I didn't make the Ukiah/haiku connection on my own; it had to be pointed out. My language synapses are just not geared that way. I'm not a natural at Scrabble, & when I play it I always have to turn the board around because upside-down writing is a visual abstraction. On the other hand, I can obsess over the sound of words, where syllables break & accents are placed. Rather than reverse the letters in Ukiah, I amuse myself by saying Yoo-KI-ah, OOH-kee-ya. In my writing, I have to resist dialect & phonetic spelling. I know it comes from an aptitude more musical than literary, a desire to notate language like a music score. I came to poetry from music, which my poet mentor noted was opposite the prevailing trend; other young poets thought they'd make money reciting in front of a band, like Patti Smith. All it meant to me was that you'd have to cart a lot of equipment to showcase night at a club & perform a fifteen- minute set at 1 AM for a crowd of drunk, abusive punks. You only got paid if you learned a minimum of 50 cover songs & played drunk, abusive frat parties in New Brunswick NJ.

Today, I'm puzzling over a poster at another website who identified himself as a "Zen-Anglican." I know there's a joke in there someplace, possibly in the form of a nasty haiku, maybe about the Queen's corgis, but I can't find it.


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