milky way

The challenges that often occur along-side forward thinking artists, composers, poets, authors seem insurmountable at times. I recollect my long-ago conversation with Cor Van Den Heuvel regarding his poem, tundra. Accompanied by his long, sighing breath he said, "I almost wish I hadn't written it." He, in an introspective moment, seemed to regret his poem's success in the haiku world; he no longer believed it to be a haiku.

In years past, there were haiku wars; there were furious battles as to what haiku is, what it should be in English and other languages. A generation of haiku poets around the earth were pressing against the "normal" bounds of haiku. They were questioning, "What is it? What is it not?" "Should English Language haiku be one line?" "Will it work with just one word, two words, or four lines?" Questions like these were being asked. New, unexplored variations were being submitted as haiku to editors that, ultimately, had to affirm or deny these boundary breaking offerings.

Today, years later, modern haiku publishers have changed what is "acceptable" and "what isn't." Haiku began being judged by editors who have developed revised haiku boundaries and tolerances. Rules of engagement are now more expansive compared to those years. Haiku poets have endurance and persist in submitting what they write, in the style/form they want, while hoping to catch an editor's eye who agrees with them and decides to publish their work.

Today, well, hold on to your hats. We are once again faced with a new kind of haiku. I reference it "Ai Hybrid-Haiku." While Ai Haiku are often easy to spot, hybrids are not. They are subtle in form, leaving few trace elements of evidence for us to discern whether they are machine or human created, or both. And, often, these hybrids are excellent haiku – depending directly on the poet's personal talent and ability. However, experienced haiku editors can be the most dangerous; their Ai work will be the most diffcult to discern – human/machine mix.

The following is an Ai haiku in typical Ai form of 5/7/5

Priest's shame concealed deep,
Cold evening, fading moon weeps,
Secrets forever keep.

Here are the criteria that I submitted to the Ai automated poet

priest hides in shame, cold, evening, fading moon

So far, we are good to go. I submitted reasonable criteria (basis for the poem) and received,
from my Ai partner, a somewhat wordy, capitalized, unfocused haiku. It is easy to spot and deny; any reputable haiku editor could. However, let's take the next step of this clandestine haiku journey – I quickly edit the poem, and it now reads:

hidden shame
a fading moon weeps
his secrets

I edited the Ai original in less than a minute. Possibly I could improve this rendition over the next few days. But I know one thing for sure, it's as good (already) as many poems being published today; therein lies the danger!? Or is it a new haiku landscape?

Another Ai Hybrid-Haiku to ponder:

The following is an Ai haiku in typical Ai form of 5/7/5

Raindrops softly fall,
Chase each other as they dance
Wind whispers their song.

These are the characteristics I offered Ai:

a few raindrops, chase, wind

Once again, I did a quick edit and developed the following haiku:

raindrops . . .
chasing each other
in the whispers

This isn't a bad haiku at all! There are editors that would consider publishing this poem. Here lies the danger on the frontier of artificial haiku that threaten every haiku editor's skill as watchmen of this (once again) waning haiku voice. Questions might come up again as to what haiku is or is not. New definitions could arise. Or, maybe a new art is being born – a poetic art that is a newly formed partnership between poet and Ai? Sonnets, haiku, haibun, and other styles of poetry will be affected by Ai – in fact, it's already occurring.

The next one that Ai and I developed together:

Arriving storm nears,
Tears fall, worry grips my heart
Nature's fierce embrace.

My criteria for Ai is:

arriving storm, tears, worry

I received an Ai typical 5/7/5 poem fraught with useless capitals and descriptive wording. However, with a minute of pondering, I created the following edit:

arriving storm –
her tears fall from
nature's embrace

I agree, this might not be the best edit. But in a few days, what might we have? Will it be passable? Will it be edited beyond recognition in order to have a final draft? Is Ai the new haiku forum, except there are no members – just Ai and the poet in private running ideas back forth as though it's real? Trust me, this is huge! A new star in the sky? Or is it haiku blasphemy?

The next one is (another under a minute edit):

moonlit snail . . .
a few twilight-whispers
fade with the music

additional edit,

moonlit snail –
a few whispers fade
with the music

They were developed from Ai's offering:

Snail in moonlight glows,
Mist whispers in the twilight,
Loud music fades slow.

The following is the criteria that I inputted into Ai:

snail light mist loud music early evening (an experiment of using no commas or punctuation in my offering to Ai)

Once I developed my one-minute edit, I've ended up really liking L1, "moonlit snail." It shines, pardon the pun. L2 is pretty strong though there are several other edits that might improve it. L3 is a common solution and seems to work rather well. Keep on mind, I'm putting almost no time at all in this entire process. Basically, I input my shopping list; I receive a 5/7/5 outline with capitals and punctuation; finally, I offer a quick edit. In minutes, a fresh haiku is on the mixing board and ready to be sent out to journals and magazines across the continent – and world, really. Now, that is worrisome. Or is it?

The second edit is rather strong with solid imagery fraught with wabi-sabi. This one is definitely a dangerous hybrid as it is at the level it needs to be to be published by many skilled editors.

moonlit snail –
a few whispers fade
with the music

The next edit commenced with the following criteria for Ai to respond to:

playing army, Ukraine border, winter chill, death, apathy

My Ai poet-pal was feeling generous – it responded with two haiku, somehow knowing that I submitted too much material for just one haiku! Go figure!

Soldiers in the snow
Playing army near the border
Winter chill, death's call

with an additional Ai offering,

Apathy lingers
As lives are lost in silence
Ukraine's sorrow deep

My first quick edit is the following version:

soldiers snowed-in –
playing army on the border
of death's call

but then,

apathy lingers . . .
lives lost in the silence
of sorrow

Oh, we are in trouble!? This second one is the most dangerous of all the group I've presented so far. It would likely be accepted by the numerous haiku editors/journals. It has feeling, it's relevant – but it's a hybrid between haiku partners, one human, one Ai. Are we in trouble or is another adventure into a new, untapped realm where Ai and humans partner up to write poetry together?

A few other 1-minute versions:

spring whispers her
favorite song

draped flag
bearing a heavy loss –

bounding rabbit –
gunshots in the wind
silence a dance

While the final three haiku in this mix are not that much threat to the haiku world at large, they do assist me in telling my story about a new poet in town named Ai. Ai will improve as the years go on their way; Ai Hybrid-Haiku, today, already reveal nuances at a rather profound skill level that just might challenge even the best haiku editors, regardless of their haiku discernment prowess.

falling leaves . . .
our final words
in the storm

(Ai Hybrid-Haiku)