RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Friday, February 22

Philadelphia Hand-to-Hand Haiku Tournament/One Thousand Feathers Reading

Just as a general note of awareness to all potentially interested parties, this next Friday, March 1, there will be a Rojonekku/Fresh Dipped event at the Fresh Dipped Space at 26 South Strawberry Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the First Fridays thing of artistic things. What will this particular event entail? Great question, bro.

#1: RAILROAD SPIKE DISPLAY - as seen on my Workingman Shop etsy which of course will be for sale or just looking at and shit.
#2: STUDY STYLE CRYPTIC LEARNED ELDER ART - because Fresh Dipped is a screen-printing joint, we will have some dope ass screen-printed wackiness on display. Me and Deric the Fresh Dipped proprietor have been working on this in the cloud, which is not an online storage area but us communicating to each other above the chemtrail clouds, so that our thoughts are pure. If we are going to encourage you to study another person's style, we want it to come from a good place. There was some discussion about whether you "learn" a style or "study" a style, and ultimately we felt that you cannot actually "learn" anything completely, and once you do, it all changes anyways so you yourself become unraveled by your own attachment to your own "knowledge".
#3: ONE THOUSAND FEATHERS READING - I will be reading something I guess, I don't know. There will be some of my One Thousand Feathers pamphlets with me, which I may read from, or I may recite some old rhymes, or I may read some of the haiku from the Beerbox Haiku Project, which I've purged from this website and have been editing like a delirious wino the past few weeks, to be released in March as a gangsta ass book of poetry that doesn't suck. Speaking of which, if you have ever been to a reading of poetry or writing, then you know how much they usually suck. The spirit of this event is to not suck, so whatever I read, I will try to make it as chaotic as possible and encourage you to yell and scream and holler and curse along with me or at me. Which brings me to...
#4: HAND-TO-HAND HAIKU TOURNAMENT - which I will be hosting. Below in quoted form is an in-depth description of how this even takes place, BUT I NEED SOME WILLING PARTICIPANTS to jump up in this thing. The spirit of this event is community and expression and all those other dumbass creative buzzwords. No seriously, I need some vibrant motherfuckers to come vibrate with their natural born word rhythm skills in a friendly-but-competitive environment. We had the first one of these this past weekend at the Bird Tribe Compound in rural Virginia, and it was a blast. I am very excited to bring my backwoods down home folksy anarchistic mystic fuckery to a wonderful clusterfuck of western civilization like Oldtown Philadelphia. I ALREADY HAVE PRE-GROWN MY JAYSON WERTH BEARD (even before he grew his own, which is actually a Raven Mack beard)! If you are interested in taking part as a haiku competitor or judge, hit me up at ravenmack at gmail dot com or on my twitters @SSVa_Raven. Below tells you what the fuck is going to happen, with my reading/hosting haiku kicking off around 19:30 on 01 Mar 2013 aka 7:30 or so in the evening y'all.

Hand-to-hand haiku is an actual thing that has existed as an offshoot of poetry slams for over a decade, but I am bringing it to the here and now because it is a thing I wish was happening so that I could take part, so I guess I will emcee the affair and create its existence locally.
WHAT IT ENTAILS
A hand-to-hand haiku battle works as a single-elimination tournament, meaning eight people start out in one-on-one matches, where one winner advances to the next round, and so on. Thus, there will be four first round battles, two semifinal battles between first round winners, then a final showdown between the two semifinal winners. For our purposes, the first round will be a best of 5, semifinals will be a best of 7, and the finals will be a best of 13. What does that “best of” mean, and how does that work? Well, that’s easy.
There will be three judges pre-selected for the evening’s festivities. They will have two flags (different ones obviously, we’ll assume red and blue for ease of explanation). In each match-up, one competitor will have a red flag, and the other a blue flag. Red flag reads a haiku first, then blue, then after a brief moment of thought, the three judges raise the flag of who won that round. Whichever flag a majority of judges raise is considered the winner of that round, meaning if two out of three judges say blue, then blue wins the first round, and is up 1 to 0. Loser of a round reads first the next round, so red would read another haiku, followed by blue, followed by judges’ decision, and so on, until one of the first round competitors wins 3 rounds. At most this would need 5 rounds to decide, thus it is called a best-of-5. The same process is repeated, but with more rounds, for the semifinals and finals.
Thus, for all people reading haiku, you may need up to 25 different haiku, in the off-chance the first round, the semifinals, and finals all go to their maximum amount of rounds. Thus, I say you need a minimum of 25 haiku, although if you are eliminated early or win rounds quickly, most likely very few of you will actually use 25 haiku.
Here is the thing though: you select which haiku you read for each round, rather than reading them in a set order, so to have a large arsenal of haiku, so to speak, gives yourself the freedom to choose ones that might fit your opponent or the moment more easily, to tap into the flow of the evening, which one would assume would strike a favorable mood with the judges. I look at it as each haiku is an arrow, and the more arrows you have in hand, the more likely you are able to find a sharp one. So come equipped as you see fit.
A personal aside, as a man who has literally written several thousand haiku over the past five years, a method I use is writing them one per index card. This seems like a good method for a hand-to-hand haiku battle, as you can have your handful of index cards, mark out ones you use, and shuffle them around and use them accordingly. Just a tip, you can use it or ignore it as you see fit.
WHAT ABOUT HAIKU?
Ah yes, the terribly pretentious question us westerners are forced to ask ourselves with regards to a Japanese literary tradition based on a language of characters while we speak syllables. Haiku traditionally was tied to the seasons, and the most common western translation has been a three-line poem of five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables was the truest replication of the Japanese poem. We are going to go with this. Now somebody may say, “Wait, counting syllables goes against what haiku actually is, Raven!” Well, let me tell you, I know this form deeply, and could tell you that haiku is not even a poetic form on its own, but is part of a larger group form of poetry called renga where the first part was called hokku and became the title of famous renga poems, thus it became its own thing as literary time passed. So haiku is not even technically what the hell it is supposed to be. So for all haiku traditionalists insulted at counting syllables, once you are holding mass parties where groups of people compose poems together with 100 verses per poem, you can hold your complaints to yourself. We cannot accept part of a traditional but pretend the rest doesn’t exist and call ourselves a traditionalist. I mean, we could, and in fact that’s what most people do, but I’m not supporting that.
So for our sake, our haiku will be three-line poems, preferably of 5-syllables, 7-syllables, and 5-syllables. I will not count them though, and if you feel overly confined by this structure (form is good for you though), you can stretch the definition of haiku to mean a short poem of 17-syllables (or less).
Also, traditionally, these have been tied to the seasons, or nature, but I regard the act of haiku as more a meditation or habit of observation, which means all the fucked up parts of the world made by man are as natural as nature, and perfect for haiku. You can go traditional or you can go with observing the world around you or you can go experimental. Whatever’s clever.
And obviously, you should write your own haiku.
BUT HOW WILL THESE BE JUDGED?
A valid question, as none of us wants to be judged, and yet judges will be involved. Honestly, there is no right or wrong way to pick a winner, and this method will always be subjective. Always. But I am going to have three judges, and sort of suggest each of them concentrate on a different vague aspect that pertains to them, such as “artistry” or “spirituality” or “dope ass rhythm” and so on. Judges’ decisions will be final, and also subjective, so never take it personally. This is meant to be fun, and will be fun, so nobody needs to get all, “Damn, why wasn’t my eternal creativity of poetic greatness not properly recognized in this fucking hand-to-hand haiku thing? This is bullshit!”
Judges: You will judge as you feel appropriate. Like I mentioned above, I’ll give you a theme as a suggestion for your focus, but you can toss that aside completely and just go with your heart. In fact, the whole point of haiku is to go with your heart, and this whole nonsense endeavor of a tournament is meant to motivate people to go with what’s in their heart, not worry and become anxious.
SO WHAT DO WE WIN?
Winner of the night’s tournament will receive a railroad spike etched with HAIKU LOUNGER. I carve haiku onto railroad spikes as a thing (as seen here - http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorkingmanBooks). You will not get an actual haiku spike, but you will get the HAIKU LOUNGER trophy spike, and you will be declared the victor in some sort of fashion, and end up with something tangible to hold in your hand and be like, “YES! I have finally arrived!”

That is the plan. This will be the first of these we host in Philadelphia, and we hope to do it once or twice a year at the Fresh Dipped space moving forward. The whole point of this is to spread the joy of quick poetry, and also make a fun battle-game out of it. It will only be as fun and amazing as we all make it though. If you are worried at any point, be assured I am emceeing the whole event, and will make it entertaining on my own if need be. Do not feel any pressure at all. Enjoy the experience.
If you have any questions beyond this, hit me up. ravenmack at gmail.com.

3 comments:

kami said...

damn! wish i could get there.. sounds like yr gonna kick some ass... get someone to video it so us suckers on the other side o' the planet can see the goodness

Raven Mack said...

Man I actually looked up cheap plane tickets to Sydney, contemplating a trip for the hell of it and doing one there. Reality shattered that contemplation though. I'm still struggling to make sure we have enough competitors so it may just end up being me reading with myself.

kami said...

yeah flights here aint cheap - even within the country they get hard... i do the same looking outwards but right now i aint going nowhere... countin coins for bus fare some days so overseas aint happenin anytime soon