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Analyzing the Matsuyama Declaration

posted Jun 17, 2016, 8:42 AM by Michael Dylan Welch   [ updated Jun 27, 2016, 11:44 PM ]
A major new addition to the Essays page is “The Matsuyama Declaration: An Annotated Analysis.” It offers my previously unpublished comments and reactions to this influential 1999 manifesto on international haiku for the twenty-first century. The main concept this declaration is known for is probably the notion of “keywords,” and how they might serve as an international replacement for kigo, or season words. Keywords are not just the most important words in the poem, but words that carry particular allusions, whether cultural or literary. My sense is that haiku around the world have already been making the most of such allusions (see “A Sampling of Cultural Haiku” for American examples). I don’t think world haiku needs the term “keyword” (which isn’t really clear) to refer to this technique. Moreover, I think it’s a mistake for such allusions to be a replacement for seasonal references. That’s because any language, culture, or region can develop its own season words, and all the associations and overtones that go with them—and have already been doing exactly that for many years. Indeed, I think allusions and cultural references should be considered for each haiku in addition to season words. My annotations explore these and other ideas presented in the declaration.