ninjin o narabeteokeba wakarunari
if you arrange
carrots in a line
from “Shinsen 21” , (“New Selection 21,” an anthology of the haiku poets under 40-year-olds) edited by Bansei Tsukushi, Yasuko Tsushima, Leona Takahashi, You-shorin, Nagano, Japan, December 2009
Fay’s Note: This haiku has several ‘issues’ when it is translated; 1) it sounds like ‘a sentence,’ because there is only one image; 2) because Japanese does not use ‘subject,’ this could be ‘if I arrange…’ Even in Japanese original, a reader will not know what one will understand. About a carrot? About a poet himself? Yet, I am attracted to this haiku….
It sounds to me as if he is being regimented. So many times I come across these “sentence” haiku that are not really sentences… but they have the same impact as a conventional haiku. I do see the cut though after the word line (at least in English there’s a shift there)… At that point you realize he’s not talking about carrots…he’s talking about something you should understand if you’ve had the experience he’s had. He feels he’s been demeaned to the point of a vegetable…then lined up ready to be chopped up for the pot. At least that’s what this haiku sounds like, and I for one feel it is a true haiku whether some people may agree or not.
I don’t care!
I’m attracted to its surreal irony. I laughed out loud!
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