Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Vampire Haiku

Ryan Mecum's Vampire Haiku (2009) sounds like just the sort of thing I should love, doesn't it? Being a speculative poet myself — one who loves haiku for both reading and writing — and having a... er, special interest in vampires, you'd think the book would be just my thing. And, well, I did enjoy reading it. But I also can't help noting some shortcomings.

Firstly, the work is not really much about haiku. It's more sentences with line breaks based on a 5-7-5 syllable count. Some of the sentences are clever, but very few of them are what I would call haiku. My favorite piece in the book is this one:

I have felt no joy
since the night she murdered me —
nor have I missed it.

That's nice, even poignant, but it isn't really a haiku. The syntax is, well, just a sentence. And there's an absence of seasonal reference. I do think there is one real haiku-like feature that some haiku tend to miss out on, and that is the twist. Unfortunately, though, this collection focuses on the syllable count aspect of haiku, which is probably the least important aspect. Many good haiku don't follow a 5-7-5 syllable count at all, and strict adherence to it often spoils what could be a nice poem otherwise.

That said, I did enjoy the story of Mecum's book. It was a fun read, and I'm glad I picked it up recently and was able to read it.

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