Ask Jane 4

Dear Haikujane,
Why are some people in haiku so mean and so vitriolic? I always think of haiku as a gentle, shy way of pointing out beauty, yet some of the people in positions of leadership come across as being extremely dominating. Calm in Colorado

Dear Calm,
For writers in general, because in their skills with words also lies their ability to wound, the better they are with words the greater the temptation to use these words to defend themselves by battering others. Unfortunately it often has the effect of the nuclear accident where the very people who are to be defended as a nation are the victims.
For haiku writers there is a special problem. Many people are attracted to haiku because of the discipline demanded by the form. Look at all the possible rules and the vigor with which some of these rules are defended! People needing discipline in their lives are the ones who are often most attracted to the form. In their need for discipline for themselves and parts of their being that they perceive as being “out of control,” they choose a form that gives them what they need. By extension, out of their need to control themselves, they try to control others. Instead of encouraging people to have wide experiences and permitting them to make their own choices and decisions, a dictator-like person will use any method possible, words for the writer, to stop this process even if it means saying untruths.
Another factor is the actuality that haiku is perceived as a masculine poetry form. Men have always excelled at it, and the coolness, the objectivity of the form all lend an air that fits with the typical male personality. RH. Blyth, who brought so many excellent translations from the Japanese, was convinced that women could not and should not write haiku. This statement, instead of saying something about women’s work, says a lot about Blyth’s own shortcomings. It should not be used as to mean there is no place for women’s work in haiku. We need to be a balance of the male and the female in our lives and in our work. Some people want to forget this, believing that only men are smart enough, dedicated enough, to write haiku.
The greater the soul of the writer is, the less that person sees the works of others as threats to themselves and can be more accepting of the additions others are making to the total literature. The smaller the spirit of the person, the more threatened they are by the good works of others. In fact, the one can often judge the true worth of someone by the intensity of the attack against them.
By staying calm, as you are Calm, by deciding whether to listen those who are obviously not interested in the form or its literature, but only in defending what they have done or want to do, you can counteract this tendency. You can also look at the kind of energy these people have. Do you admire their haiku? Do you feel good reading what they write? Can you learn from them in the way you want to? Do you have a good feeling about the magazines where they work? Then you decide what kind of energy you want in your life and set aside the stuff that offends you. You do not have to read it, believe it and especially – pay for it with either your time or your money.