Tag Archives: haiku

Faux Koans and Borderline Haiga

26 Sep

Faux Koans and Borderline Haiga

Selected Prints by Pat Nolan

mustardseedIn traditional Chinese painting the relationship between language and the visual appear naturally equivalent because both are represented with the same medium, ink and brush. This pictorial art stems from the single hand designing the original, and the aesthetics behind the strokes used to inscribe an ideogram are the same as those used to denote the leaves of a tree, roiling waters, and the bulk of an escarpment. Because of the unique pictorial character of the ideogram, it occupies the picture plane as an integral part of the composition. A poem or homily is supported by the visual element as the depiction is fixed by its semantic component. Consequently the representations accompany each other as a symbiosis of connotation. The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, a seventeenth century Chinese handbook of brush and ink examples, is a catalog of such a standardization of technique.

It is not uncommon for the ideogram to be the sole presence of an brush and ink composition, its innate pictorial quality suggestive of an elemental nature.  As well, the fog obscured peaks of a landscape hint at unspoken transcendence.  The art of ink and brush, word and picture, has currency in most Asian cultures, certainly not the least in that of Japan’s where it is widely practiced and appreciated.

As with any inspiring piece of art there is the desire to draw attention to the uniqueness of its creativity and to make it available to a wider audience through mechanical means no matter how primitive. Japanese artists popularized the reproduction of this particular aesthetic of word and image through their uniquely perfected development of relief printing.

everytimeRelief printing was derived from rubbings made on paper or cloth of the inscriptions and images on the tombs of ancient rulers and holy men.  The idea of generating an image or an image of a text through the use of charcoal or ink from a unique template is genius in all its natural simplicity. The worthy homilies of great minds were carved in stone for anyone who wished to view them.  Those who wanted to be reminded of these applicable sayings and possess them in a material way resorted to reproducing them on a portable medium. It wasn’t a large leap from tombs and steles to planks of wood inscribed with characters and representations of a natural aspect, often suggested by the grain of the wood itself. The carved relief image slathered with soot based ink allowed for the reproduction of editions to benefit a literate and appreciative culture.

A few thousand years later the aesthetics of the original practice of relief printing has undergone profound change in that its objective is primarily artistic, subject to the decadence of values and their renewal as objets d’art. For that reason, something might be designated a faux koan if its original purpose as a paradoxical form used to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and enter into sudden intuitive enlightenment has been parodied.  Or it can be termed a borderline haiga if the essential spontaneity of the haikai spirit is painstakingly reproduced through a series of planned mechanical steps.

iwokePat Nolan came to printmaking through an avid interest in Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, amassing in the process a large collection of monographs, museum catalogs, and anthology representations of floating world artists who were popular in Japan in the 18th to the late 19th century. The subdued palette of basic colors reminded him of the Sunday funny papers and comic books that were his consuming interest as a youngster. Japanese prints of that era, in their design and presentation, were the epitome of the illustrator’s art, sophisticated and quite modern for their time and culture.  As Nolan learned more about the art of Japanese printmaking he began to appreciate 20th Century Japanese print artists and the powerful simplicity of their black and white images.  Print artists such as Munakata Shikō, Un’ichi Hiratsuka, and Okuyama Gihachiro seemed to embody the modern élan while maintaining their deep connection with tradition.  Nolan’s obsession with the Japanese prints was kicked up a notch when he began collecting affordable reproductions of the Edo masters as well as original work by contemporary artists.

Inevitably, the next level for Nolan was to try his hand at making prints of his own. He had better luck carving linoleum blocks than he did with wood, and chose the path of least resistance. He decided to work with and/or adapt the Japanese motifs with which he had become so familiar, applying the history and techniques he had studied.

kicked“I had the idea of making Buddhist inspired prints featuring what I call faux koans (“Kicked a clump of dirt—my return address” or “The more you know the more you know”) since historically some of the earliest Japanese prints were devotional depictions of Buddhist saints or precepts sold to pilgrims traveling to various shrines and temples. They are faux koans in the sense that they imply an ironic intent and emphasize mystification rather than clarification. I was also particularly impressed by the seemingly effortless and spontaneous prints produced by contemporary artist Kan Kozaki working in the spirit of Munakata, and whose techniques I sought to appropriate. Many of Kozaki’s prints feature a haiku by the 20th Century haiku poet Santoka which also encouraged me to feature language with my images.”

Nolan’s prints emphasize the contrast of black and white, and are printed with water soluble ink on unbleached mulberry washi, allowing the uncarved portions of the block define the picture plane. The blocks are printed by hand using a variety of barens and multiple inkings.  Water color is sometimes added to the verso of some prints while stencils and stamp inks are used to achieve subtle effects on others.



The linoleum block prints presented by Bamboo Leaf Studio are made available in partnership with Nualláin House, Publishers. To purchase a print please go to the How To Order tab on the menu bar for payment options.  Shipping is included with each purchase.


Publisher’s Note: Ambitions are often put in perspective with the passage of time.  The goal of publishing Pat Nolan’s satirical novel, Ode To Sunset, A Year In The Life Of American Genius in 2016 will unfortunately be unmet due to a number of considerations, not the least of which is financial.  In the meantime, installments continue to be published at odetosunset.com and the entire novel posted thus far is available in manuscript form for anyone suitably idle and curious to peruse. OTS bannermonthlink

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ontheroadfront300ON THE ROAD TO LAS CRUCES; Being A Novel Account of The Last Day In The Life of A Legendary Western Lawman
by Pat Nolan

 Pat Nolan’s first published novel, On The Road To Last Cruces; Being A Novel Account of The Last Day In The Life of A Legendary Western Lawman is the story of youthful bravado and an old man’s regret, and as much a dusty tale of buffalo hunts and shoot-outs as a politically driven “whodunit.”  November 2011 ~ 154 pages

 

THE LAST RESORT
A Lee Malone Adventure
by Pat Nolan

Pat Nolan has written a fast paced, tongue-in-cheek, pun filled comedy of errors, misunderstandings, and faux intuition in the mode of a 1930’s pulp thriller.  Instead of the typical splinter-jawed, broken nosed, tobacco breathed tough guy hero, Nolan upends the stereotype by introducing a gorgeous internationally famous former fashion model whose super power is her beauty.
August 2012~ 212 pages

 

 

HELLO LIFE
Poems by Gail King 

The poems of Hello Life achieve their freshness in the particularity of experience. The poet surrenders herself to the moment and tenders that subtle cognition as a delighted welcome to life. The ease of her expression in dealing with the everyday communicates an uncommon wisdom. The poems present, through playful understatement and sly humor, the immediacy of spontaneous impressions.
December 2013  ~  64 pages

 

 

 

Your Name Here
New Poems
by Pat Nolan 

The poems in Your Name Here revolve around that quantum axis with seemingly random discontinuities that do not pin down meaning but are left to mean themselves. Nolan’s poetry enacts a sub-vocal monologue that is like the murmur of cosmic background radiation, noticeable only in its cessation or as pauses when the mind registers the sum of discrete moments in an instant.  November 2014 ~ 80 pages

 

Poetry For Sale
Haikai no Renga (Linked Poetry)

Introduction by Pat Nolan
The eleven haikai no renga included in Poetry For Sale were written over period of nearly thirty years by Pat Nolan and his renku collaborators, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym, Steven Lavoie, Joen Eshima Moore, Maureen Owen, Michael Sowl, and John Veglia.  In these pages haikai no renga is synthesized as a brief, highly suggestive, well spoken, maddeningly ambiguous, read-between-the-lines kind of poetry tuned to a common understanding.  October 2015 ~ 152 pages

Poetry For Sale Now Available!

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from Nualláin House, Publishers

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P4sale15tjPoetry For Sale

Haikai No Renga (linked poetry)
Introduction by Pat Nolan
Haikai no Renga with
Keith Kumasen Abbott,
Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym,
Steven Lavoie, 
Joen Eshima Moore,
Maureen Owen, 
Michael Sowl,
and John Veglia
.

The eleven haikai no renga included in Poetry For Sale were written over period of nearly thirty years by Pat Nolan and his renku collaborators, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym, Steven Lavoie, Joen Eshima Moore, Maureen Owen, Michael Sowl, and John Veglia. This collection of linked poetry presents a fascinating excursion in comparative literature by a cross-section of exceptional, widely-published American poets.  What these poets bring to the collaborative linking of stanzas is a visceral sense of the poetic that transcends two disparate languages and the gap of centuries. In these pages haikai no renga is synthesized as a brief, highly suggestive, well spoken, maddeningly ambiguous, read-between-the-lines kind of poetry tuned to a common understanding.

October 2015 ~ 152 pages ~ $16 ~ paper ~ ISBN978-0-9840310-4-7

click on the How To Order tab for more information


from HARDLY STRICTLY HAIKAI
—An Introduction—

Haikai no Renga is collaborative poetry of Japanese origin normally written by two or more poets linking stanzas of 17 syllables and 14 syllables according to specific rules governing the relationship between stanzas.  Haikai collaboration can be as complex as chess, as multi-dimensional as go, and as fast-paced and entertaining as dominoes.  It is as much about the interaction of the poets as it is about what gets written.  The forward progress of its improvisation is akin to that of a tight jazz combo. Haikai composition has also been compared to montage in experimental film where the discontinuity of images and vectors achieves an integral non-narrative expression.

Haikai no renga is known variously as renga, haikai, renku, and linked poetry.  Generally the term renga is applied to an older, more traditional style of linking poetry practiced by the aristocracy and the upper echelon of medieval Japanese society.  Haikai no renga means “non-standard renga” though it has often been translated as “mongrel” or “dog renga” which places it in the literary hierarchy as common entertainment.

In the introduction to her seminal study of Matsuo Basho’s haikai no renga, Monkey’s Raincoat (Grossinger/Mushinsha, 1973), Dr. Maeda Cana offers a further explication of the word haikai.  “The main characteristics of the haikai are partly discernible in the kanji or Chinese characters which make up the words haikai and renku: hai denotes fun, play, humor, and also actor or actress, and kai friendly exchange of words; ren represents a number of carriages passing along a road one after another and has the meaning of continuing to completion while ku is expressive of the rhythmic changes in speech and denotes end or stop.”

Renku is a literary game of high seriousness valuing cooperation and rewarding intelligence as well as intuition.  A poet’s erudition and sense of language are called upon to clear paths and build bridges that will meander through the landscape of a literary garden.  Its cooperative result, a balance of unpredictable language gestures as insubstantial as smoke but possessed of a palpable humanity, is what is important.  The echo of the response, its relationship to the previous stanza, and how it extends its meaning, poignantly or allusively, is the esthetic ground for this kind of poetry.  The linking process, in renga, and in haikai, allows a sequence whose subtle oscillation of playfulness and gravity walk the tightrope of language’s built-in ambiguities.

“Generally speaking, haikai is steeped in the wit and banter” as Dr. Cana explains, and “it has a brilliance that shocks.  Such brilliance is continual and amazes. . .at every turn.”  Poets are under pressure to produce the unpredictable so that the possibilities of cleverness are continually exploited at a tempo that is swift and witty.  The haikai poets of old delighted in word play, literary allusions, double entendres as well as displays of authentic sensibility. The completed renku is as much a certificate of cooperation as it is a multi-page poem and a sequence of short poems.  Its literary value is in its effervescent spontaneity and transitory nature, a quality much appreciated by the Japanese.

renku sheet1

 

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 Haikai no Renga is collaborative poetry of Japanese origin normally written by two or more poets linking stanzas of 17 syllables and 14 syllables according to specific rules governing the relationship between stanzas.  Haikai collaboration can be as complex as chess, as multi-dimensional as go, and as fast-paced and entertaining as dominoes.  It is as much about the interaction of the poets as it is about what gets written.  The forward progress of its improvisation is akin to that of a tight jazz combo. Haikai composition has also been compared to montage in experimental film where the discontinuity of images and vectors achieves an integral non-narrative expression.  

Haikai no Renga also known as renku is a literary game of high seriousness valuing cooperation and rewarding intelligence as well as intuition.  A poet’s erudition and sense of language are called upon to clear paths and build bridges that will meander through the landscape of a literary garden.  Its cooperative result, a balance of unpredictable language gestures as insubstantial as smoke but possessed of a palpable humanity, is what is important.  The echo of the response, its relationship to previous stanza, and how it extends its meaning, poignantly or allusively, is the esthetic ground for this kind of poetry.  The linking process, in renga, and in haikai, allows a sequence whose subtle oscillation of playfulness and gravity walk the tightrope of language’s built-in ambiguities. 

The eleven haikai no renga included in Poetry For Sale were written over period of nearly thirty years by Pat Nolan and his renku collaborators, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym, Steven Lavoie, Joen Eshima Moore, Maureen Owen, Michael Sowl, and John Veglia. This collection of linked poetry presents a fascinating excursion in comparative literature by a cross-section of exceptional, widely-published American poets.  What these poets bring to the collaborative linking of stanzas is a visceral sense of the poetic that transcends two disparate languages and the gap of centuries. In these pages haikai no renga is synthesized as a brief, highly suggestive, well spoken, maddeningly ambiguous, read-between-the-lines kind of poetry tuned to a common understanding.

October 2015 ~ 152 pages ~ $16 ~ paper ~ ISBN978-0-9840310-4-7
go to How To Order page for more information

 

Poetry For Sale, Fall of 2015

17 Jul

Coming Soon From

 Nualláin House, Publishers

Fall of 2015

P4Sale13j
Poetry For Sale

Haikai no Renga
(Linked Poetry)
 

Introduction by
Pat Nolan
Haikai no Renga with
Keith Kumasen Abbott,
Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym,
Steven Lavoie, Joen Eshima Moore,
Maureen Owen, Michael Sowl,
and John Veglia

  

 

From HARDLY STRICTLY HAIKAI

—An Introduction—

Haikai no Renga is collaborative poetry of Japanese origin normally written by two or more poets linking stanzas of 17 syllables and 14 syllables according to specific rules governing the relationship between stanzas.  Haikai collaboration can be as complex as chess, as multi-dimensional as go, and as fast-paced and entertaining as dominoes.  It is as much about the interaction of the poets as it is about what gets written.  The forward progress of its improvisation is akin to that of a tight jazz combo. Haikai composition has also been compared to montage in experimental film where the discontinuity of images and vectors achieves an integral non-narrative expression.

Haikai no renga is known variously as renga, haikai, renku, and linked poetry.  Generally the term renga is applied to an older, more traditional style of linking poetry practiced by the aristocracy and the upper echelon of medieval Japanese society.  Haikai no renga means “non-standard renga” though it has often been translated as “mongrel” or “dog renga” which places it in the literary hierarchy as common entertainment.

Renku is a literary game of high seriousness valuing cooperation and rewarding intelligence as well as intuition.  A poet’s erudition and sense of language are called upon to clear paths and build bridges that will meander through the landscape of a literary garden.  Its cooperative result, a balance of unpredictable language gestures as insubstantial as smoke but possessed of a palpable humanity, is what is important.  The echo of the response, its relationship to previous stanza, and how it extends its meaning, poignantly or allusively, is the esthetic ground for this kind of poetry.  The linking process, in renga, and in haikai, allows a sequence whose subtle oscillation of playfulness and gravity walk the tightrope of language’s built-in ambiguities.

renku sheet1

The eleven haikai no renga included in Poetry For Sale were written over period of nearly thirty years by Pat Nolan and his renku collaborators, Keith Kumasen Abbott, Sandy Berrigan, Gloria Frym, Steven Lavoie, Joen Eshima Moore, Maureen Owen, Michael Sowl, and John Veglia. This collection of linked poetry presents a fascinating excursion in comparative literature by a cross-section of exceptional, widely-published American poets.  What these poets bring to the collaborative linking of stanzas is a visceral sense of the poetic that transcends two disparate languages and the gap of centuries. In these pages haikai no renga is synthesized as a brief, highly suggestive, well spoken, maddeningly ambiguous, read-between-the-lines kind of poetry tuned to a common understanding.

 

Pre-orders now being accepted.
Place your dibs at
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Limited Edition: So Remote The Mountains

3 Jul

So Remote The Mountains
after Saigyo

by Pat Nolan

 

so remote cvr So Remote The Mountains is a limited edition fanfold featuring twelve meditations on Saigyo’s tanka, yama fukami (So remote the mountains). A Buddhist monk-poet, Saigyo (1118 – 1190) is one of the most well known and influential of the traditional Japanese poets writing in waka, or tanka, the court poetry style of the late Heian, early Kamakura era. Saigyo had written ten tanka that began with the phrase yama fukami describing the austere and remote circumstances of his hermitage near Mount Koya and sent them to a fellow monk who lived some distance away, north of Kyoto. With a few exceptions, all of Saigyo’s poems are written in the 31 syllable form of tanka or waka favored by the Japanese court of his day. The tanka is a precursor to renga and hiakai no renga (linked verse) and today’s popular haiku. Its 31 syllables are generally broken into sets of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables from which traditional haiku derives its 17 syllable format.

            The twelve meditations on Saigyo’s So Remote The Mountain by Pat Nolan are not tanka, nor are they technically haiku as they do not adhere to the syllabic count for either of these forms. They are probably closer to haiku than tanka because of their succinctness. However it is best to think of them as call and response. The call is Saigyo’s line yama fukami, and the response is the meditation on the line, sometimes sober, sometimes humorous, all of which emphasize a sense of isolation and distance.

            This limited edition of So Remote The Mountain is a fanfold printed on rough unbleached mulberry paper set in a cover of 100% recycled Bogus art paper with Japanese silk screened endpapers imported from Kyoto. The cover is an original stencil print by the author. Each is numbered, signed, with the author’s seal. The fanfold measures 3-11/16th x 8-7/8th inches (9.5×22.5 cm) closed, 7-3/8th x8-7/8th inches (19.3×22.5 cm) open.  Japanese silk screened endpapers can vary from what is shown.  However all endpapers are genuine Japanese silk screened paper.
so remote intext

 

So Remote the Mountain is available from Nualláin House, Publishers Box 798, Monte Rio, CA 95462, for $10 (postage included) cash, check or money order (make check or MO payable to ‘Pat Nolan’).

 

Limited Edition: Carved In Stone

3 Mar

carvedcvrf
Carved In Stone, a tanka sequence by Pat Nolan, was published by Empty Head Press in the Summer of 2013 in a limited numbered edition signed by the author with his seal.  The covers are printed on heavy weight dragon cloud washi featuring reproductions of one of four Japanese prints from the series Imayo sugata (Stylish Appearances) as are the bamboo leaf endpapers.  Carved In Stone measures 4.25×3 inches (10.7×7.8 cm) and is bound in the Yamato style binding.  The 26 text pages (including 5 illustration) are printed on recycled paper.
 carvedend

Tanka ,meaning ‘short song,’ is an unrhymed poem with a fixed thirty-one syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7.  In Westernized stanza form, it is a five line poem.   Tanka, one of the oldest of Japanese verse forms, dates back to before the 11th Century.  Tanka gained renewed popularity in the late 19th Century among radically modern young poets who brought its diction and subject matter up to date.  Historically, tanka is a precursor to renga, haikai, and haiku.
   carvedpem2                                 

The poems in Carved In Stone do not follow precisely the fixed syllabic count nor do they conform to many of the accepted tanka conventions but seek a synthesis and accommodation brought about by translation into a radically different language and culture.

carvedcvrb
A few copies of Carved In Stone are still available from the publisher for $20 each plus shipping.  See How To Order for more information.

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