Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kerry's Wednesday Challenge ~ Running the Brush

Greetings to my fellow toads, friends, followers and wanderers. Today we will learn to dip our brushes into pots of colourful words and spread them across our blank pages.  This is the method of Zhuihitsu.


Zuihitsu (随筆) is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author's surroundings. The name is derived from two Kanji meaning "to follow" and "brush", and thus works of the genre should be considered not as traditionally planned literary pieces but rather as casual or randomly recorded thoughts by the authors. As a genre largely focused on personal writing and contemplation, zuihitsu writings tend to explore issues reflective of attitudes pervasive at the time of their composition. Many of the works feature instances of poetry, often reflecting on typically “Japanese” themes, such as appreciation for the changing of the seasons. Additionally, Kamakura Period zuihitsu, strongly rooted in Buddhist thought, typically contains the author’s musings on the impermanence of the material world. (Wiki)

Sei Shonagon ~ Source Wiki


The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, completed in 1002, is said to be the original text from which the form derived.

So, how should we approach this style of writing? It is explained in the metaphor of the paintbrush, which is dipped into more than one colour of paint and run across the page, creating a swirling of hues and tones: allow your imagination to be the guide; follow its lead with not too firm a hand on the technical aspects of writing; forget about form and function.  Think of new ways to introduce poetical flair into every day examples of writing: the diary, the memo, the “to do” list, the email.  
This article in LITNIVOROUS may be helpful.

Compare the following examples. The first was written by Sei Shonagon, an excerpt from The Pillow Book, cited above.  The second was written by Kimiko Hahn, an excerpt from her poem Boerum Hill, Late Summer (2001) published in her poetry collection The Narrow Road to the Interior.  One thousand years separate these two poems.

In autumn, the evening – the blazing sun has sunk very close to the mountain rim, and now even the crows, in threes and fours or twos and threes, hurrying to their roost, are a moving sight. Still more enchanting is the sight of a string of wild geese in the distant sky, very tiny. And oh how inexpressible, when the sun has sunk, to hear in the growing darkness the wind, and the song of autumn insects. 
(Sei Shonagon)


41
Even in Brooklyn we hear cicadas - whose young suck the roots of
    trees for seventeen years. No curfew. No disputes.  
(Kimiko Hahn)

We may take our lead from Kimiko Hahn, who summarized zuihitsu this way: “There’s no Western equivalent [to zuihitsu], though some people might wish to categorize it as a prose poem or an essay…some of its characteristics: a kind of randomness that is not really random, but a feeling of randomness; a pointed subjectivity that we don’t normally associate with the essay. The zuihitsu can also resemble other Western forms: lists, journals. I’ve added emails to the mix.”
Read the full interview in BOMB Magazine.

I look forward to seeing how those who attempt this challenge will interpret the methodology, and follow their own creative brush strokes.



48 comments:

Susan said...

I love this challenge, Kerry, and will keep it in my repertoire for another rainy day. It's 3AM here and I hear thunder. I always think a poem takes a few minutes, but when I look at the clock I see that 2 hours have gone by. Two hours of pleasure!

Kerry O'Connor said...

I think it was Shawnacy Kiker who first shared the link to the article on Zuihitsu with us and I saved it for a rainy day too.

nene said...

thank you Kerry for speaking about this form, Zuihitsu. this is the style and form o my writings, at blogspot.com. My thought process has been greatly influenced by Buddhism...musings on the impermanence of the material world.

We, the western mind, have a tendency to establish perameters, once a style or form is introduced, by the process of naming it. Unfortunately, this process has a tendency to introduce limitations onto something new because the western mind feels it to be easier to 'control'. 'Control' being the key motivation. When this happens, we cease to fly.

aprille said...

Hiya Kerry,
What a gift!
Something to think on and play with all day, while watching the Olympic Time Trial in London.
You come up with some amazing tasks. And that picture of the paintbrush is a gem. Well done you.

Kenia Cris said...

I love the idea and will try my best to write to this challenge!

hedgewitch said...

I read the Pillow Book too many years ago to clearly remember, but this form does sound intriguing, Kerry. Thanks for the introduction, and we'll see if anything bubbles up.

Marian said...

interesting, and the comments are interesting, too. yes, please. will do. though i still owe you a Prince, Kerry, and i have not forgotten :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

I have to step in here and say that Real Toads is NOT the forum for people to launch into their personal rants, and spread their negativity amongst the other visitors. I ask that such people use their own blogs to expound on their theories of literature. I shall remove any such commentary today, and in the future.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Kerry, first of all, I LOVE this prompt. It appeals to me right down to the ground (which I will be describing in response.) Also, thank you for the way you moderate this forum, with such integrity. I so appreciate you.

Daydreamertoo said...

Very thought provoking prompt Kerry. I like it :)

Kay L. Davies said...

Kerry, I was just feeling sorry for myself because I'm exhausted today and didn't feel up to writing, but you caught my imagination with a "feeling of randomness" even if "pointed subjectivity" sounds too difficult. I think I'm going to try this. I'm sure I'm the Canadian randomness champion.
K

Ella said...

Kerry,
This is beautiful, I love the feeling the tone of this~ I can't wait to try it! :D

Thanks Kerry for inspiring us! My pain meds wore off and I think I can write decent again, not about foolish yard ventures! :D

Susie Clevenger said...

Kerry, love the prompt. My response is dark. A glimpse into what my life has been for the last month. Thanks for all you do!

Mama Zen said...

Liiiinky? Oh, Mr. Liiiiinky?

My effort is up. This is a very cool form.

Marian said...

mine, too. what's happening here? hmmmmm.

Daydreamertoo said...

There was a message in red which said something like:
To the blog owner, you are only allowed to use one linky per day unless you upgrade, something like that. Then the linky and the message disappeared when I came back to see if it was put back or anyone else had posted.

Margaret said...

I'm ready and will be back to see if linky is back up. :)

manicddaily said...

Hi Kerry- I see some others commenting on Mr. Linky.

I really enjoyed this challenge. You know I used to go to a Christmas party with Kimiko Hahn every year and we had a few mutual friends! Kind of crazy - I've not kept up, but sort of kick myself. It's such a cool form and she's great at it.


It was also interesting for me as I had written a prose poem piece on Saturday, then cut it cut it cut it for short poem But I hated to leave out these different elements, so now I went back to it, for this, and approached it from a different direction. An interesting exercise for me at least. Still a lot of cutting, of course, but different.


At any rate, I enjoyed. Here's my link till Mr. Linky's back:

http://manicddaily.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/shaking-loose-retained-rain-zuihitsu/

I'll come back and look for others.

May be easiest to just go to people's blogs based on comments. k.

Kateri said...

I could have sworn Mr. Linky was here when I came and read about the prompt. Glad to see other people saw it too and I am not loosing my mind. :) Enjoyed this prompt and my contribution is up on my blog. Looking forward to reading others.

Fireblossom said...

What's going on with our linky?

I hope that everyone will be patient with me this week. Work is being unusually demanding. Meanwhile, here is mine:

http://fireblossom-wordgarden.blogspot.com/2012/08/after-falling-asleep-in-bath.html

Marian said...

Toads are so great, everyone's coming round even without our linky! i need to call it a night so i will return the favor tomorrow. such an interesting prompt, i'm looking forward to seeing what you all have written. night!

Teresa said...

This was a wonderful prompt. I sometimes miss writing prose. I guess I'd add mine here since the Linky is now gone. http://razzamadazzle.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/zuihitsu/

hedgewitch said...

Phew--this one kept me up till all hours--I just hope it is something remotely like what it's supposed to be. I purposefully haven't read anyone else's yet so I wouldn't cheat. Will be by tomorrow to read. Since Mr Linky is still down, you can find my pome here, the second entry called Drought II

aprille said...

Am I too late to link?
The Link list seems to have faded away. Please let me know.

Heaven said...

If you don't see Mr Linky in the meantime, leave your link in this comment post ~

aprille said...

My brush is running [over] is HERE

phylliso said...

Your blogs are beautiful.I would love to join,but don`t know if I can keep up,everyone is so talented,have a great weekend!phyllis

Marian said...

here's my link, and everybody, tomorrow is music prompt day!! xoxo
http://www.runawaysentence.com/2012/08/aw-shucks.html

Yousei Hime said...

Very enjoyable and informative read. I was unfamiliar with the term, but the form feels like a close friend. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Margaret said...

Since the linky is not up yet, below is my direct link:

Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey, MI

Mystic_Mom said...

I love this form, and I hope I did it justice.

Here is my contribution.

http://sunflowershan.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/zhuihitsu-foggy-morning/

Kerry O'Connor said...

I am not the account holder of the Linky we have been using, since the site was first started by Robb Lloyd. It appears to have expired. Unfortunately, I am not going to be at home this evening, so I can't get onto the problem. Please continue to leave your links in the comment section. I hope to have the problem sorted out asap.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I have used a premade Linky, because we cannot create our own meme without a $5 donation to upgrade to the silver memberhsip. This is an interim measure, and I don't have time (or a poem) to see if it works... so please will someone else try it out?

I will be back in 3 or 4 hours and check in to see if this Linky will suffice.

Margaret said...

Working! :) I will be happy to donate $5

Vaishali Jain said...

I hope it gets up soon.

Daydreamertoo said...

It's working Kerry :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

Thank you so much for the kind offer, Margaret. Marian jumped in with both feet and sorted out a silver membership and a new Toad Link.. so three cheers and a loud Hoorah for her!!!!!

Hannah said...

I'm behind in all areas poetical so please be patient with me... ;) my entry today will explain somewhat why. Big smiles and I look forward to reading you, friends!!

Ella said...

Thanks Kerry and Marian...you both rock! :D

Hannah, I am behind, too...

Hannah said...

Ella!!! Sorry you're behind also. I'll be by to see you soon!! Hugs!!

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