By Michele Root-Bernstein
A good quotation can serve as a model for one’s own work, a perpetual challenge … Perhaps writers should begin, in fact, by inwardly uttering again what has already been uttered, to get the feel of it and to savour its full power … [W]e are what we quote.
Geoffrey O’ Brien 1
You should constantly try to paint like someone else. But the thing is, you can’t! You would like to. You try. But it turns out to be a botch … And it’s at the very moment you make a botch of it that you’re yourself.
Pablo Picasso 2
Suppose it a habit of mine — or yours — to copy haiku. I commit the poems of others to memory; I copy them down in my notebook. You copy word for word certain phrases you admire and place them in your own verse. We both copy the theme, structure, or atmosphere of a great haiku and attempt to echo their spirit with our own words and images. What are we, copycats? Oh, yes. We may feel a bit sheepish, a bit secretive or defensive, but we do it all the same. And with good reason. As uncertain and ambivalent as we may be about what it means to copy, one thing is for sure. Copying is an important learning behaviour that can be used to advantage as a creative strategy in the writing of haiku.
Let me be clear about how I use the word copying. According to my dictionary, copying generally means 1) to attempt to resemble or duplicate; 2) to write, paint, etc., after an original; and 3) to forge or plagiarise. This last denotation, the deliberate passing of another’s work for one’s own, in whole or in part, or even the unwitting repetition of poetic ideas and phrases, is not at issue here.3 My focus is on parts 1 and 2 of the definition.
So let me change my language a bit and make some distinctions that will help clarify the utility of attempting “to resemble or duplicate” or otherwise learn the art of haiku by writing “after an original”. As scientists and social scientists interested in the mechanisms of social learning have observed, all copying is not the same. Generally, they distinguish between mimicry, imitation, and emulation. Mimicry involves the exact repetition or performance of a behaviour, whether or not intentions are shared or even understood. Imitation involves reproducing qualities and processes of a modelled behaviour with the same or similar goals in mind. And emulation involves the reproduction of purposes or goals, though the behavioural strategies that lead to that result may differ.4
Additional observations about copying can be made. Faced with a model poem, one may choose to copy the product itself, that is to say, the materials or style that shape the content. Alternatively, one may choose to copy the problem with which the model poet grappled—the questions raised about experience or “the way of haiku”,5 perhaps. Then again, one might choose to copy the processes — physical, cognitive, and/or creative — deemed necessary to the making of the modelled work.6
By and large the kind of copying we recognise on the pages of a journal, a chapbook, or an anthology is product copy.7 It is much easier to see that this poem “looks like” that poem in explicit image, phrase, or structure than it is to “see” a similarity of implicit artistic purpose or creative process. Indeed, any attempt to copy hidden processes or implied mentations will be subject to dissimilarity, but more on that later. Suffice it to say, at this point, that understanding different kinds of copying and copy focus may enhance what we learn through imitation and emulation and affect, as well, the course of our artistic growth.
Indeed, we can now make some basic distinctions: To copy in my notebook a haiku written by another is to mimic or “perform” it. To borrow certain phrases or images to use in your own haiku is to imitate the model product. To adapt product features such as theme or atmosphere as points of departure for a greater degree of original development is to emulate. By shifting our focus further, from product to problem or process, we move from adaptive copying to enactive or re-creative copying.8 This advanced form of emulation involves the re-discovery of problems and processes inherent in, or stimulated by, the model poem. Recapitulating goals and purposes as far as possible, the copycat or, in this case, the re-creator necessarily finds his or her own path to the desired end. This appears to be what the 17th century haiku master Bashō had in mind when he said, “I do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; I seek the things they sought.”9
Whether understood as imitation or emulation, as adaptive or enactive, copying can be a powerful tool for skill acquisition and craft training. Consider long-standing copy practice among writers. Novelist and poet Robert Louis Stevenson famously described his self-study as “playing the sedulous ape” to any number of writers he admired.10 Some hundred years later, novelist and educator John Gardner observed that it was “still instructive” to imitate old and unfamiliar masters of form. Close, line-by-line imitation “enables the writer to learn ‘from inside’ the secrets of some great writer’s style”.11 For poet and playwright Derek Walcott, “[Y]ou just ravage and cannibalise anything as a young poet … The whole course of imitations and adaptations is simply a method of apprenticeship. I knew I was copying and imitating and learning…”12 Short story writer and poet Grace Paley also remarked that a “period of imitation is important and shouldn’t be stopped.”13 And novelist Ursula Le Guin noted that “conscious, deliberate imitation … can be good training, a means towards finding one’s own voice …”14 Classroom teachers generally agree.15
Copying to learn may also prepare the copycat for creating original work. If this sounds paradoxical, psychologist Stevan Harnad briefly lays out the case:
By definition, imitation gives rise to something that is not new; hence it is also in general not a creative activity. And yet it too has been found to be an important precursor of creativity, especially artistic creativity. Those who ultimately become creative innovators often start out as remarkably astute mimics of others.16
Harnad concedes that copying has not always been universally admired — in fact, the mid-20th century saw a particularly strong pedagogical backlash against copying of any kind in favour of de novo originality.17 The educational psychologist Seymour Sarason, for one, argued that “[c]opying is the polar opposite of artistic … copying and creating are not on the same continuum”.18 Yet we, like Harnad, like many an artist, musician, dancer or writer, may beg to differ. Copying to learn can connect to originality when, in the course of achieving mastery, close copy gives way to far copy, and adaptation of product blends into re-creation of process and problem.
Writer and artist Austin Kleon begins to make the very point in the title of his self-help book, Steal Like An Artist. “We learn by copying …” he notes. “You copy your heroes. And you don’t just steal from one … you steal from all of them …”19 He reiterates what a long line of notables, including Pablo Picasso, are alleged to have said: “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”20 Picasso did in fact say, on the record, “When there’s anything to steal, I steal.”21 More recently and in another artistic medium, Bruce Springsteen observed that “everyone steals from everyone else… And stealing well is, there’s a genius to it … When you’re playing, you hope that somebody hears your voice, is interested in what you’re doing and then gathers whatever they think might be of value in it and then moves it down the line.”22 That is certainly what dancer-choreographer Paul Taylor has confessed to doing: “I’m not above filching steps from other dance makers, but only from the best … and only when I think I can make an improvement.”23 Fellow choreographer Liz Lerman openly lists the same kind of stealing among her Seven Ways to Be Creative: “Recognise that originality isn’t the whole story. Copy. Make variations. Develop. Diversify.”24
Add to the same crowd of creative copycats poet T.S. Eliot, who really did write, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”25 For Eliot, as for Picasso and many others, originality had its start in imitation, but not its endpoint. He did a lot of “borrowing”, “sampling” and “quoting” in his work, much of which he himself revealed in footnotes and essays. By tearing the disguise of de novo creation from his poetry, he made the case for creativity as a function of adaptation, variation, and the
recombination of ideas and methods. “The good poet,” he concluded, “welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.”26 After all, what is “stolen” must be hidden or disguised. Adapted ideas or images or purposes, heated by association one with the other, smelt into something unlike any one of their diverse precedents, something original and new.
It is this forged end of the emulative process, surely, to which haiku poet Raymond Roseliep referred when he wrote that “Creation is still more exciting than imitation.”27 To copy in order to utter meaningful difference is the true artistic intoxication. Still, imitation and emulation have their excitements, of which Roseliep was no doubt aware, for copying also known as allusion has a well-established role within the haiku tradition.
A Brief Look at Honkadori
Haiku poet and anthologist Cor van den Heuvel is often quoted for his succinct statement that “[t]he writing of variations on certain subjects in haiku, sometimes using the same or similar phrases (or even changing a few words of a previous haiku), is one of the most interesting challenges the genre offers a poet… some of the most original voices in haiku do not hesitate to dare seeming derivative if they see a way of reworking an ‘old’ image”.28 Van den Heuvel refers here to the ancient Japanese practice of honkadori, what Haruo Shirane has defined as “allusive variation on a classical poem”.29 Akiko Tsukamoto, in her article on modes of quoting in Japanese poetry, suggests (like Eliot) that images and phrases borrowed from “famous poems from earlier times” be put to new use, with “different meaning and atmosphere,” even as they connect the imitation to the original poem with “reverberatory effect”.30 No surprise, honkadori gets a fair amount of press in English-language discussions of haiku. Gabi Greve, for instance, takes a great deal of time on her website to educate the Western poet that “[w]riting honkadori is not the work of a copycat … but a work showing respect to the masters”.31
Let me remind you of a well-known set of examples assembled (and translated) by Shirane.32 Bashō made allusions to foundational poetry before him; his poetry became fodder for the allusive variations of those who followed him, no poem more so than this one, written in 1686:
an old pond …
a frog leaps in,
the sound of water
Almost 80 years after “an old pond”, the Bashō-admirer Yosa Buson made an adaptive copy:
and washing off an old poem —
According to Shirane, Buson’s allusion to Bashō made the point that Bashō had ushered in a new perspective on the writing of haiku by wittingly copying a common frog motif and using it in a new way. Bashō chose to ignore the frog’s song that others had typically singled out, and emphasise instead the sound of its entry into the water. Too, he related the frog, not to certain flowers or other sentimental associations, but to a stagnant pond. Image, meaning, atmosphere — all set the frog in a different context. Bashō’s fresh take on spring, suddenly bursting winter’s stillness, offered a new twist on the poetic dimensions of haiku.33
A few generations later, the poet Shiki would have it that “old pond,” so simple and pure a poem, “is impossible to imitate”.34 Presumably he meant that the imitation could never be disguised, but would always announce its provenance. Nevertheless, as “old pond” gained in stature, it gained in copies or allusions. Shirane notes two. The first by the late-18th century poet Ryōkan:
a new pond
not even the sound of
a frog jumping in
and the second by the 20th century American haiku poet, Bernard Einbond:
frog pond …
a leaf falls in
without a sound
By borrowing the notion of no sound from Ryōkan and replacing the frog with a leaf, Einbond’s award-winning poem substantially renewed and expanded contemporary dialogue with Bashō’s old haiku.
In his essay Beyond the Haiku Moment, Shirane argues that allusive variation is rare in English-language haiku, but I submit it may be more common than we think. As associate editor of Frogpond from 2012–2015, I had the privilege of reading several years’ worth of submissions. I was surprised by how many allusions I recognised — and, of course, variations on Bashō led the pack. Over the course of 10 reading periods, from autumn 2012 through autumn 2015, Frogpond received some 258 haiku using the word “frog” or “pond”. Ponds and frogs are common phenomena and a great many of these poems did not necessarily call “old pond” to mind. But some did, whether purposefully or not. Twenty-two haiku definitely invited comparison by using both “frog” and “pond”. An additional 17 poems also invited comparison, either because they used some combination of “frog” or “pond” with “old”, “jump”, “sound” or “silence”, or referred to Bashō directly.
What these figures mean is that, over the course of any submission period, Frogpond was likely to receive an average of 25 or 26 haiku imitating “old pond”, at least four of which aimed at direct allusion. From autumn 2012 to summer 2013, Frogpond published three: The first, by John Stevenson, 35 in obvious allusion to Bashō:
without a sound
climbs out of the pond
The second, by Carolyn Hall, 36 in less obvious, even unconscious, allusion to the classic:
a frog fills the garden of our attention
The third haiku, by Alison Woolpert, 37 may be read without reference to Bashō — and yet, should the reader finger it just so, her frog, too, is ready to hop into the “old pond” pond:
spring morning —
each student’s paper folded
in frog position
Note that all three poems place Bashō’s amphibian in distinctly new waters. Successful allusions travel some distance from the original; without sacrificing the connection, they introduce an unexpected alteration that refreshes the imagery. Less successful imitations, those that did not make the Frogpond cut, for instance, tend to reiterate received thought, adding little to the poetic journey. In other words, “old pond” copies received by Frogpond ranged the copy continuum. So, too, did poems modelled on other iconic ku. Not only does it seem safe to say that imitation and emulation are alive and well in English-language haiku, they appear to reflect a learning and creating practice of use to both novice and seasoned haijin.
Copying as Learning/Creating Practice: A Personal View
Copying may be more common than we think, but it is a largely unspoken practice. None of the haiku primers on my shelves (with the exception of one aimed at children38) suggest the imitation or emulation of classic and other significant haiku. Yet I found myself doing so routinely and only recently discovered — delightedly — that other poets do so, too.
One of these is Scott Mason, who shared with me a few of his honkadori. Two imitate the well-known phrases “all that remains”39 and “falls utterly away”40 from haiku by Bashō:
all that remains
of yesterday’s thunder 41
car door clunk
a shell of fresh snow
falls utterly away 42
A third plays skillfully with one of Issa’s most admired poems 43 by swapping out the turnip and upending the form’s habitual reverence for the humble, in this case the lowly insect:
which way out
the exterminator points
with his spray tip 44
Mason’s imitations of Bashō make us laugh; they parody the serious or bittersweet with mundane revision. In short, they add contemporary value to the model poems and what we make of them.
As Mason remembers it, he did not set out to copy a classic haiku; rather, “each began with some other stimulus and got to the felicitous phraseology by some sort of free association and/or recollection”.45 Other poets, however, may set out deliberately to copy old masters — Melissa Allen, for instance, who posted the following on her blog Red Dragonfly:
I started with a list of favourite haiku by Bashō… Then I tried to distill each of these down to some universal theme or structure or atmosphere — to figure out what it was about them that made them seem so great to me. And then for each of them I tried to write a haiku that echoed in some way the spirit of what Bashō wrote, while coming up with some new insight or image that was entirely my own. 46
Allen (like Mason) takes on a centuries-old challenge here. Bashō was known to advise prospective students, “Don’t imitate me; / it’s as boring / as the two halves of a melon.”47 Yet Allen focuses on three elements of the exercise guaranteed to disarm the master’s admonition: Forgoing the direct quote that was part and parcel of Mason’s modus operandi, she singles out theme, structure, and atmosphere for adaptation or copy-change,48 in other words, for emulation. Taking a look at three of Allen’s Bashō poems (all based on translations by Makoto Ueda49), I’ll refer to these elements as image, structure or order of experience, and mood or insight.
In response to the following by Bashō:
And the white paper screen
Reflecting one another’s color
and the sky —
Without mimicking, Allen closely copies image, structure of experience, and insight. She sticks with flowers, substitutes the sky for the paper screen and asserts similarity between reflection and echo. Grammatical structure and thus order of experience remain the same. So does insight and mood.
In this next example, Allen pairs Bashō’s
A white chrysanthemum —
However intently I gaze,
Not a speck of dust.
with her own
no matter how long
I stare at hydrangeas —
In this instance, she continues to copy-change image (still a flower) and mood or insight (“not a speck” infers clean infers pure). However, she alters somewhat the original structure of experience, flipping the stare and the object of that gaze. Like the previous example, however, the copy remains quite close.
Finally, consider how Allen plays on Bashō’s
At night, quietly,
A worm in the moonlight
Digs into the chestnut.
with this adaptation:
new holes in the leaves
someone’s night shift
In this poem Allen’s adaptive imitation, at increasing distance from the original, begins to shade into emulation and original development. Changing night into morning, holes in chestnuts to holes in leaves, she explores a subtle alteration in image. The structure of experience is also altered. And an element of ambiguity is added, which affects mood. Whose night shift? Some insect, it seems, is joined by a night worker on a cigarette break. As Allen herself recognised, some of her honkadori are “different enough from what Bashō wrote that they could stand alone” — this one certainly so. Allen generates here the excitement of creative contribution.
At this point, the question poses itself: How does a learning process that depends on copying something tried and true allow for creating something newly effective? The short answer, I would suggest, is this: when the poet copies not just product, but process and problem, a certain amount of ambiguity and thus ad hoc variation necessarily enters into the composition.
Let me explain what I mean by looking at a few of my own imitations and emulations. In this first example, I chose to work with a haiku by Peggy Willis Lyles:
turtle through the reeds
our secrets 50
As must be obvious, I begin with a close copy:
deer by the back door
in our stillness
There is some alteration of image and mood, but not much else. But the exercise gets me wondering. In imitating the end-product — the poem — one may also attempt to emulate the mental processes or existential problems that produced it. What was the original poet thinking or experiencing? What questions guided her selective attention within that experience? How and why did she write this haiku?
Of course, one can never be certain what lies in someone else’s mind — many aspects of the other’s perception and thought must always remain unknown. Moreover, as one group of social scientists has noted, the more opaque the model task, the more difficult it is to infer the intermediate — process or problem — steps.51 If I pursue the re-creative copy of perceptions and conceptions, of necessity with regard to my own experience of the world, I must miss the mark in recapitulating Lyle’s experience — I must, as Picasso said, “make a botch of it”. And that is precisely when I may develop the germ of poetic difference that is mine and mine alone. To copy-change John Stevenson, that is the moment I can be “pretty sure my ku is not quite your ku”.52 So I ask myself: What happens in authentic encounter to my relationship with wildlife? Why do I care? How else might I express this?
“Deer by the backdoor” leads directly in my notebooks to a variation that depends on my understanding of Lyle’s problem — why care about encounter — and discovers enough of my own voice to push through to far copy and emulation. By shifting aesthetically towards linguistic ambiguity, and otherwise altering artistic strategy, I come upon fresh poetic expression:
the doe and I
in one regard 53
Another way to think about and take on re-creative copy is to reverse-engineer 54 the modelled poetic experience or its artistic manufacture. To reverse-engineer means to take something apart and analyse how it works in order to remake something similar. If I can figure out the poet’s strategy for making, I can adapt the artistic process to my own purposes. In this copy exercise, I begin by immersing myself in a poem by the 12th-century Japanese poet Saigyō (as translated by LaFleur 55):
All so vague:
In autumn the reasons why
All fall away
And there’s just this
Saigyō’s poem “works” by conflating leaves with human purposes, season with mood. His depressed response to the fall of leaves and approach of winter is a familiar one, but the basic metaphor implies that leaves in bud or in full flower may signal other moods. So I opt to displace the focus of attention from one part of the metaphor to another. In essence, I ask myself what is the poetic experience just before the leaves and the sadness fall? Can I transpose that moment just before impending loss to another season? Moreover, can I assert a different meaning to the metaphor, one that ties loss to eventual renewal? I try my hand with the following:
before the reasons why
all blow away 56
As a consequence of my change in seasonal attention, I accomplish a shift in mood and insight — and, I believe, add something of my own to the copy of craft process.
Finally, I’ll use one more example to anticipate my conclusion that imitation and emulation as a learning practice can also function as creative strategy. The exercise begins with a straightforward and close imitation of a poem by Lee Gurga. In response to Gurga’s
for the other’s silence —
April birdsong 57
for the other to speak first
Little is altered with regard to image, structure or insight, except for a shift in focus from individual silences to a shared silence. There is a slight change, too, in season, from spring to late winter on the cusp of spring. Not content with this uninspired copy, however, I consider how I might alter or otherwise subvert my naïve borrowing of phrases and ideas by altering the why and the how, the problem and the process, of the model poem. My thinking ultimately leads me to “not waiting” and the expressions we use to convey impatience:
From the rather polite manners of a spring already under way we come to the rather rude announcement that winter must come to an end. From close imitation we arrive at far emulation and re-creative copy that is, personally at least, a leap forward in learning the craft and articulating the art of haiku.
At last we come back to an earlier question: how does a learning practice become a creative strategy? As I hope to have demonstrated, copying can be an indirect and imprecise behaviour. It is indirect and imprecise because it involves not just products, but problems and processes of varying levels of opacity. It involves, as social scientists might say, a “theory of mind” — the supposition that you have consciousness much like mine and that I can infer your thoughts, though I may never, really, verify them. Adding further to the imprecision, the copycat must intuit artistic intents from nothing more than a handful of words on a page; words that may or may not appear in translation; words that may or may not have altered in meaning over years, decades, or centuries of utterance. Inevitably, there is as much opening for mistake and variation in artistic reproduction as there is in biological replication.59 What’s more, the re-creating poet purposefully strays from the original, seeking alternative expressions and strategies of composition.
This “decoupling of ends and means”, the severance of model poem from the processes and problems of making, is what “gives room to creativity in imitation”. 60 On an individual level, the poet has made something personally new and meaningful. Whether that poem offers sufficient difference and value must determine whether or not he seeks publication and artistic recognition in the public sphere.61 Ultimately, the novel variation that is effective in the public sphere contributes to cultural accumulation and evolution.
That is one answer.
Another answer suggests that there are different kinds of copying for learning and for creating. Well before the would-be poet begins to compose, he or she has in all likelihood read, and read again, a number of haiku. To read and to recite is in essence to mimic, to copy a poem “word for word”. To compose haiku, however, requires more sophisticated kinds of copying, the adaptive copying of words, images, themes and so forth. Adaptive copies may involve faithful imitation, as when selected words or images are borrowed wholesale, without substantive change. They may also involve emulation, when the copy-change of text becomes paramount. As the novice becomes increasingly familiar with the basic skills of haiku construction, emulation may manifest at increasing distance from the original model. Too, with increasing facility the learner poet may deliberately focus on divining compositional processes, as well as the artistic questions and purposes of model poems. With increasing confidence, she may take on the ambiguous challenge of re-creative copy. And somewhere along the way, immersed in the rigours and, yes, excitements of far emulation and the recapitulation of intents and purposes, a strategy for learning shades into a strategy for creating.
The question is not shall we copy, but how shall we copy. We can count the ways: Whether haiku poets imitate or emulate image, phrase, structure, purpose or process, the trick is to “steal like an artist”, to transform the borrowed material, as musician Bruce Springsteen would have it, into “something beautiful of their own …”62 When all is said and done, copying provides a powerful tool for learning poetic craft and for creating something novel and effective that connects with something tried and true in the “communal poem” that is haiku.
1 O’Brien, Geoffrey. “We Are What We Quote.” The New York Times (March 3, 2013), 9.
2 Ashton, Dore. Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1972, 53.
3 For a comprehensive discussion of highly similar haiku published by different poets, see Michael Dylan Welch’s trio of essays on his website, Graceguts: “An Introduction to Déjà-ku,” “Some Thoughts on Déjà-ku,” and “Selected Examples of Déjà-Ku”.
4 For a wide range of specific views on imitation, emulation, and social learning see: Tomasello, Michael. “The Cultural Ecology of Young Children’s Interactions with Objects and Artifacts.” In Winograd, Eugene, Robyn Fivush & William Hirst (Eds.), Ecological Approaches to Cognition, Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser. Hove, UK: Psychology Press, 1999), 150; Huber, Ludwig. “Emulation learning: The integration of technical and social cognition.” In Chrystopher L. Nehaniv and Kerstin Dautenhahn (Eds.), Imitation and social learning in robots, humans and animals: Behavioural, social and communicative dimensions. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; and Christine A. Caldwell, Kerstin Schillinger, Cara L. Evans & Lydia M. Hopper, “End State Copying by Humans (Homo sapiens): Implications for a Comparative Perspective on Cumulative Culture,” Journal of Comparative Psychology (first online publication April 2, 2012), doi: 10:1037/a0026828, p. 7.
5 “The Way of Haiku arises from concentration and lack of distraction. Look well within yourself.” Bashō, cited in Richard Lewis, The Way of Silence, The Prose and Poetry of Bashō. New York: The Dial Press, 1970, 70.
6 Characteristics of copied product, problem or processes taken from Robert Root-Bernstein & Michele Root-Bernstein, “People, Passions, Problems: The Role of Creative Exemplars in Teaching for Creativity.” In Ronald Beghetto & Bharath Sriraman (Eds.), Creative Contradictions in Education: Cross Disciplinary Paradoxes and Perspectives. New York: Springer Publishing, 2017.
7 With few exceptions, the déjà-ku in the Welch essays cited in endnote 1 are all published examples of poems sharing words, images, and syntactical structure.
8 Definitions of adaptive copying and re-creative copying taken from Root-Bernstein and Root-Bernstein, “People, Passions, Problems.”
9 From Bashō’s Learn from the Pine. Lewis, Richard. The Prose and Poetry of Bashō. New York: The Dial Press, 1970, 82.
10 Cited in Terry, R. C. (Ed.). Robert Louis Stevenson: Interviews and Recollections. London: MacMillan, 1996, 87.
11 Gardner, John. The Art of Fiction, Notes on Craft for Young Writers. New York: Random House, Inc., 1991/1983, 142-143.
12 Cited in Baer, William (Ed.). Conversations with Derek Walcott. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1996, 53.
13 Cited in Darnton, Nina. “Taking Risks, The Writer as Effective Teacher.” New York Times, Education Life (April 13, 1986), 67.
14 Le Guin, Ursula K. Steering the Craft. Portland, OR: The Eighth Mountain Press, 1998, xiv.
15 E.g. Wiggerman, S. and Meischen, D. (Eds.). Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, Austin, TX: Dos Gatos Press, 2011, 105-107; Rebecca Dierking, “Creative Copying, Or in Defense of Mimicry,” The Quarterly 24:4 (Fall, 2002), National Writing Project. . Accessed 27 August 2015. And in other arts, e.g: L. Green, How Popular Musicians Learn, A Way Ahead for Music Education. Abingdon, Oxon: Ashgate Publishing Group/ Ashgate e-Book, 2002; Cain, Patricia. Drawing: The Enactive Evolution of the Practitioner. Bristol, GBR: Intellect Books, 2010.
16 Harnad, Stevan. “Creativity: Method or Magic?” In H. Cohen & B. Stemmer (Eds). Consciousness and Cognition: Fragments of Mind and Brain. Amsterdam: Elsevier Academic Press, 2007, 130. Also available here.
17 For mid-20th century shift to free expression in writing, see Alexander, Philip. Emulation as a Creative Step: The Mimetic Mode in the Teaching of English Composition. Unpublished masters thesis, California State University Dominguez Hills, 2000. For visual arts see, Wilson, Elaine L. Art Education: A Study of the Effects of Copying-to-Learn and Free Expression on the Skill Development and Growth of Art Students. Unpublished masters thesis, Pennsylvania State University Graduate School, 1983.
18 Sarason, Seymour B. The Challenge of Art to Psychology. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990, 1-2.
19 Kleon, Austin. Steal Like An Artist, 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. New York: Workman Publishing Company, 2012, 33-36.
20 O’Toole, Garson. “Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal,” Quoteinvestigator. com (March 6, 2013). Retrieved November 17, 2015.
21 Cited in Caws, Mary Ann. Pablo Picasso. London: Reaktion, 2005, 17. For an account of Picasso’s “stealing,” see Galassi, S.G. Picasso’s Variations on the Masters, Confrontations with the Past. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.
22 Springsteen in Powers, Ann. “A Long Road to ‘High Hopes’: An Interview with Bruce Springsteen,” The Record/Music News from NPR. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
23 Cited in Macaulay, Alastair. “No Tiptoeing Around His Opinions,” The New York Times (February 24, 2013), AR 25.
24 From a poster mailed to supporters of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 2007. Text by Liz Lerman; Design John Borstel. Full text reproduced here.
25 Eliot, T.S. “Philip Massinger” (essay), reprinted in Kermode, Frank (Ed.). Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975, 153.
27 Cited in Brooks, Randy. “Genesis of Haiku: Where Do Haiku Come From?” Frogpond 34.1 (Winter 2011), 46.
28 van den Heuvel, Cor (Ed.). The Haiku Anthology, Haiku and Senryu in English. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999, ix-x.
29 Shirane, Haruo. Traces of Dreams, Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Bashō. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998, 295.
30 Tsukamoto, Akikio. “Modes of Quoting: Parody and Honkadori.” Simply Haiku, 2003/2004. Pdf retrieved July 15, 2013.
31 Greve, Gabi. “Introducing Haiku Poets and Topics” (Haiku in Context), World Kigo Database. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
32 Shirane. Traces of Dreams, 14-17.
33 Shirane. Traces of Dreams, 15.
34 Ueda, Makoto. Bashō and His Interpreters, Selected Hokku with Commentary. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991, 141.
35 Frogpond 35.3 (autumn 2012).
36 Frogpond 35.3 (autumn 2012).
37 Frogpond 36.2 (spring/summer 2013).
38 E.g. Donegan, Patricia. Haiku, Asian Arts & Crafts for Creative Kids. Rutland, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 2003, 22-24.
39 Blyth, R. H. (trans.). Ah! Summer grasses! / All that remains / Of the warriors’ dreams. Haiku. Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1952/1976, v.3, 309.
40 The shell of the cicada; / It sang itself / Utterly away. (Trans. Blyth, v. 3, 235).
41 Modern Haiku 36.3 (2005).
42 Winner, British Haiku Award, 2007.
43 The turnip-puller / Points the way / With a turnip. (Blyth).
44 Honorable Mention, Haiku Poets of Northern California Haiku Contest, 2012.
45 Personal communication, November 18, 2015.
46 Allen, Melissa. “November 15: Bashō and me,” Red Dragonfly. Blog post retrieved December 1, 2015.
47 Hass, Robert (Ed. & Trans.). The Essential Haiku, Versions of Bashō, Buson, & Issa. Hopewell, NJ: The Ecco Press, 1994, 47.
48 Term used by Dierking, “Creative Copying”.
49 Ueda, Makoto. Matsuo Bashō: The Master Haiku Poet. New York: Kodansa America, Inc., 1982.
50 Lyles, Peggy. To Hear the Rain. Decatur, IL: Brooks Books, 2002, 46.
51 Caldwell et al., “End State Copying by Humans (Homo sapiens),” 7.
52 Stevenson, John. Roadrunner 9.1 (February 2009): pretty sure my red is your red
53 Modern Haiku 43:3 (autumn 2012).
54 Term as used by Kleon. Steal Like an Artist, 33.
55 LaFleur, William R. (Trans.). Mirror for the Moon, A Selection of Poems by Saigyō (1118-1190). New York: New Directions Publishing, 1978, 13.
56 Dancy, Carolyn Coit. (Ed.). This World, Haiku Society of America 2013 Members’s Anthology. New York, 2013.
57 Reprinted in Ross, Bruce (Ed.). Haiku Moment, An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1993, 79.
58 Haiku Canada Review 7.2 (October 2013).
59 See Cook, Guy. “Genes, Memes, Rhymes: Conscious Poetic Deviation in Linguistic, Psychological and Evolutionary Theory.” Language and Communication 15.4 (1995): 387 and passim, for a discussion of the similarities and dissimilarities between biological evolution and change in literary culture and probable mechanisms of linguistic innovation.
60 Wohlschäger, A. and H. Bekkering. “The Role of Objects in Imitation.” In Stamenov, M.I. & V. Gallese (Eds.). Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language (Advances in Consciousness Research, 42, pp. 101-114). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, 2002, 111.
61 Welch makes the point in “An Introduction to Déjà-ku”: “Only when one wishes to publish might one have to think about whether a poem is fresh or distinct enough. If a poem is too similar to something already published, then perhaps the newer poem should not be published…”
62 Springsteen in Powers, Ann. “A Long Road to ‘High Hopes’”.
Editor’s note: This essay was first published in Modern Haiku 48.1 (2017) and appears here with the permission of the author. A version of this paper was presented at HNA 2013.
Michele Root-Bernstein is an award-wnning haiku poet and a former co-editor of Frogpond haiku journal (2012-15). Michele teaches at Michigan State University where she facilitates the Evergreen Haiku Study Group.
In her other life, Michele researches and writes about creativity. She is author of Inventing Imaginary Worlds: From Childhood Play to Adult Creativity (2014) and, with her husband and colleague, Bob, co-author of Sparks of Genius, The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People (1999). Bob and Michele work together on art-science interactions, polymathy, and creative education. Occasionally, she even gets him to pair up his photographs with her haiku.