One reason to dread February: “National Haiku Month” and the abominations committed against this ancient form by well-meaning syllable-counters too presumptive and lazy to get it right or even give a shit.
While it may seem petty to ponder this subject as the world burns around us, “haiku” stripped of its technical and thematic elements hits my ear more sharply than fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s like hitting a piano with a baseball bat and calling it music.
I’m not suggesting that I’m any sort of master of the art. Far from it. But I do have a deep appreciation for this subtle and complex poetic tradition, and for 11/12ths of the year I don’t give it a lot of thought. And then, every February 1, my facebook feed fills up with measured grotesques, soulless and tedious evocations, self-consciously pithy (more often just banal) observations transferred into 5-7-5 syllable structure.
My wife says I should be better, that I should revel in the fact that, for a month, folks are toying with and enjoying language, and I get that, but Christ-On-A-Crutch, people. If you don’t give a happy hoot about what you’re doing, or doing it right, why do it at all?