Here is the second part of the five part interview. So pleased to be able to share it.
Q.: Is Zen over represented–or maybe not–when we discuss contemporary American haiku?
Answer: Good question. As a culture, we’re still getting past the concept of haiku as a neat packaging ploy: anything in 5-7-5 syllables is haiku. Similarly, we’re still moving past a murky sense of haiku being somehow connected with Zen – about which people still have a hazy grasp, not having committed to any introductory formal practice themselves. That is, we’re entering instead into a broader, truer perspective.
I think it’s safe to take a step back and recognize that, as Americans have come to haiku, and Zen – Zen has been a meme carrier for haiku. DT Suzuki and Alan Watts introduced haiku in their writing. Haiku were important to Seymour Glass. For many Americans, these were some of the first inklings of Zen, and of haiku.
At the same time, essential aspects of Japanese haiku weren’t as widely recognized — such as tanka and renga, Pure Land and Shinto. And so on.
So, to answer the question being asked: yes!
Returning to the Buddhist roots of haiku, European Americans are still coming to recognize Pure Land, although it is a larger school than Zen. Yet many are familiar with two stellar examples of haiku influenced by Pure Land: haiku by Kobayashi Issa (“On a branch / floating downriver / a cricket, singing”), and Jack Kerouac ( “In my medicine cabinet, the winter fly has died of old age”).
Haiku originates in Japan, yet I don’t confine haiku’s relevance today to any single school of Buddhism. It’s been seen to reflect Vipassana, Zen, Pure Land, & Vajrayana. And there’s more going on in haiku than Buddhism.