How shall we copy each other? Let us count the ways. Despite the stigma that justifiably attends the copy that is too close, the imitation that adds value or the emulation that transforms borrowed materials provides a surefire tool for learning and growing as a poet. In the intervals of creative flow, novices and seasoned practitioners alike can turn to the copy—and mash-up—of inspiring style, technique and poetic idea for refreshed, original expression.
Creative work is supposed to be new, effective and original. An individual or a collaborating group conceives and constructs a haiku, say, or a renku that is attributable to them as their sole intellectual property. However, this expectation tends to overlook or censure one largely concealed, yet inspired creative practice—to copy the work of other practitioners. Copying is in fact a necessary aid in learning and developing craft. In this presentation, I will explore different kinds of imitation and emulation in haiku practice, with an explanatory look at its role in my own apprenticeship to the form over the last ten years. Whether the haiku poet copies image, phrase or concept, semantic structure or layout on the page, the trick is to “steal like an artist,” to add value to the allusion or to transform the borrowed material into something different and new. Appreciating this process, and understanding it, can provide the haiku teacher and the novice with conscious techniques for composing expression. In the intervals of creative flow, even the seasoned poet can turn to emulation for refreshed expression.
Participant Profile: Michele began to copy, compose and publish haiku around 2006 and appeared in A New Resonance 6 in 2009. In 2012 she became associate editor of Frogpond. She also took second place in the HSA Contest for Best Unpublished Haibun; second place in the San Francisco International Competition for Haiku; and placed in the Snapshot Press’s Haiku Calendar for 2013. Occasionally she teaches haiku to young and old. She also studies, writes and lectures on creativity.