A Hundred Gourds 3:1 December 2013
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Le Groupe Haïku de Montréal

| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 |

The aim of Le Groupe Haïku de Montréal (GHM) group is to reunite haiku poets in the Greater Montreal area, in an effort to foster more understanding in the art of haiku. Meetings are held 4-6 weeks apart, usually in a restaurant which has a private meeting room or on occasion at a member’s place. Most meetings have a suggested theme. Haiku written for the theme are then shared and work- shopped.

Like all haiku groups in the Western world, misconceptions of what a “haiku” seems to be is built in and hard to break in the French haiku community. One of these misconceptions is the 5-7-5 syllable count and how a French syllable is not a Japanese more. Another part of the problem is the large elephant in the room; the classical French lyrical tradition in poetry which overuses poetic devices and flowery language. Also, “Modern” haiku is less than 25 years old in French Canada. There is also another factor that separates Modern French Canadian haiku poets from the French haiku poets in France. It is the North American way of life. This brings Americanity to the Japanese forms written in French Canada which is not prevalent in France. Canadians, French or English are bombarded by American culture and the American Way of life. In Canadian cities we can watch over 200 TV channels of which 20 are Canadian. Another concern is that the knowledge base on the Japanese forms is very limited in the French Canadian world. A few essays and books have been published in France with the focus being on the French way of doing haiku and tanka and haibun. Knowledge of other forms such as Tan Renga, tanka strings and Sequences are almost non-existent in practice or, when attempted, the results are lacking in clarity. In reality, this is no different than in the 1960’s in the English Haiku world.

While most experienced members have been published in the two main French haiku journals, PLOC! and Gong (both from France), the majority of the output from the group is through books, whether self-published or through publishers in Quebec or France. Recently, some members have been published in English language journals. A dedicated French Canadian haiku journal does not yet exist, though Haiku Canada Review regularly publishes about a half dozen pages of French Canadian and French haiku.

Our meeting of September 8th had as the theme “Memory.” Poets read one of their poems with an ensuing discussion on how the haiku related to the theme and what improvements could be made to the poem. As with many haiku groups in Canada, there are always newcomers who attend meetings. It is during these workshops that the more experienced haikuists introduce or re-introduce some of do’s and don’ts in haiku writing such as two kigo references in the haiku or eliminating the “I” in the haiku.

The GHM ran its own website, right from its beginning through the efforts of Yves Brillon, an early member of the group. Since the departure of Mr. Brillon, Micheline has constructed a new website for the group .

Potluck lunch during the September 2013 meeting of the GHM.
(top left to right) Céline Landry, Annie Méthot, Marie Dupuis, Mike Montreuil.
(bottom left to right) Micheline Beaudry, Janick Belleau, Diane Descôteaux.

(Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Labelle)