Transcultural Haiku

Polish History of the Genre

by Beata Śniecikowska (Author)
©2021 Monographs 700 Pages
Open Access
Series: Cross-Roads, Volume 28


The monograph presents the Polish history of haiku and the forms associated with this genre – in literature and visual arts. Polish works are confronted with Japanese poetry (along with its aesthetic, philosophical and ethical contexts) and with haiku-inspired miniatures produced by poets from various European and American countries. The book also touches upon the theory of literary genres and translatological problems (translations of Japanese haiku as a touchstone of changes in Western literature). The presented discussion with haiku as the central theme allows for a unique and panoramic perspective of Polish poetry of the last hundred years. It also facilitates original analyses of the relationship between literature and visual arts – in the field of book art, painting and multimedia.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • I. Haiku and the “Extinction of Genres”
  • II. Transculturality
  • III. Notes on “Haikology”
  • Part 1 Classical Japanese Haiku Verse: Form and Prototype
  • I. A Glimpse at the Culture of Japan
  • 1. Religions, Worldviews
  • 2. Aesthetic Categories
  • 3. Language (and Poetry)
  • II. A Brief History of Haiku
  • III. The Poetics of Haiku; Haiku and Senryū
  • IV. Prototype, Invariant, Stereotype: Haiku in the West
  • Part 2 Roads to Haiku: In the West
  • I. Haiku in Europe, Haiku across the Pond
  • II. Vorgeschichte of Haiku in Poland: Young Poland, the Interwar Period
  • 1. Knowledge of Haiku (Prior to 1939)
  • 2. Young-Poland Haiku?
  • 3. Haiku and Interwar Poetry
  • A. “Hay-kay” by Stern, Tanka Poems by Iwaszkiewicz
  • B. Japanese Miniatures by Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska (and Staff)?
  • C. Przyboś and Leśmian: A “Przybosian” and “Leśmianian” Model of Haiku?
  • III. Before Haiku-images: Staff, Brzękowski, Kozioł, Krynicki…
  • IV. Amongst Polish Translations of Haiku
  • Part 3 Polemic Extremes of “Haiku”
  • I. Grochowiak’s Longest Journey
  • 1. The Strange Epilogue6
  • 2. The Refining of Poetry: Grochowiak’s Self-censorship?
  • A. Towards Zen?
  • B. Two Concisions
  • C. A Reshuffle of Poetics
  • 3. What Is a Haiku-image?
  • 4. Imagery
  • A. The Visual Node
  • B. The Obscuring of Images
  • C. Images Facing Each Other
  • D. Parallel Verses
  • D.1. “Tri-haiku-ness:” Grochowiak’s Renga
  • D.2 “Three Incipits”
  • 5. The Reverse of Visuality
  • A. Narrativeness
  • B. Gnomicity
  • 6. Struggles of the Modernist
  • II. Haiku-Blague or “Freestyle Haiku?” The Work of Dariusz Brzóska-Brzóskiewicz
  • 1. Brzóska-Brzóskiewicz’s Haiku (!)
  • 2. Brzóska’s Haiku: Snatches of Everyday Life?
  • 3. “Haiku:” Ferment in Language
  • 4. HiQ
  • III. Grochowiak – Brzóska
  • Part 4 Oscillations around Haiku
  • I. The Poetry of Mindfulness: Czesław Miłosz and Haiku
  • 1. Miłosz’s Miniatures: Towards Haiku?
  • 2. Reading Japanese Poets
  • 3. Miłosz the Translator
  • II. Haiku? Senryū? Mironū? The Poetry of Miron Białoszewski and Oriental Genres
  • 1. Białoszewski’s Zen? Białoszewski’s Zen Poetry?
  • 2. Haikuing in an “Anthill Tower?”
  • 3. “The Most ‘Eastern’ of Polish Poets”193
  • 4. Haiku? Senryū? Mironū?
  • Part 5 Originals or Imitations? On the “Perfectly Genuine” Polish Haiku
  • I. Mimesis1 and Epiphany
  • II. The Poetics of the Revitalization of the Genre
  • 1. De-automatization of Sensorial Perception
  • 2. Metaphorization
  • 3. Conceptism
  • A. Texts-puzzles
  • B. Word-image Concepts
  • C. Verbal Concepts
  • D. Acoustic Concepts
  • III. Into the Depths of Meanings
  • 1. Uncertainty, Ambiguity
  • 2. Intimacy, Eroticism
  • 3. Death
  • 4. The Orient
  • 5. Religious Haiku
  • A. Zen in Polish?
  • B. Christian Haiku
  • IV. Intertextuality
  • 1. References to Japanese Haiku: Paraphrases-Naturalizations, Literary Allusions
  • 2. In Dialogue with the Occident
  • V. Autothematism, Autotelism
  • VI. Continuators or Epigones?
  • Part 6 A “Haiku” Miscellany
  • I. Orthodoxly Christian “Haiku”
  • II. “Haiku-mirohłady,” or a “Liberary Gloss”
  • III. “Haiku” Aphorisms, “Haiku” Epigrams, “Haiku” Maxims
  • IV. “Haiku:” Poetic Miniature
  • Part 7 The Verbo-visuality of Haiku; Haiku and the Visual Arts
  • I. Japan: The Visuality of Haiku (Haiku and the Visual Arts)
  • II. The Aesthetics of Haiku: The Aesthetics of the Occident
  • 1. Antilaocoönism
  • 2. Gesamtkunstwerk?
  • 3. Haiku and Aesthetics of Modernism
  • III. Polish Artists on the Verbo-visuality of the Orient
  • 1. Books
  • A. Anthologies
  • B. Haiku Collections
  • B.1. As Simple as Possible
  • B.2. Illustrations: Between the Orient and the Occident
  • B.2.1. Script
  • B.2.2. Photography
  • B.2.3. Graphics, Drawing, Painting
  • B.2.4. Collage
  • B.3. Visual Poetry
  • B.4. Book Covers
  • IV. Beyond Two Dimensions
  • 1. Haiku and Artists’ Books
  • 2. Exhibitions with “Haiku” in the Title
  • 3. Multimedia Haiku?
  • A. Orientalization: Haiku and Photography on the Internet
  • B. Naturalization of Otherness: “Unity in Multiplicity” or Incoherent Eclecticism?
  • V. Transcultural Verbo-visuality?
  • Conclusion
  • List Of Illustrations
  • Bibliography
  • Bibliography Notes
  • Index of Terms
  • Index of Persons
  • Series index

←12 | 13→



Cz. Miłosz, Haiku, with an introduction by Cz. Miłosz. Kraków: 1992.

H 1

D. Brzóska-Brzóskiewicz, Haiku, Vol. 1, with introductions by K. Dudek, S. Soyka, M. Świetlicki. Warszawa: 2012.

H 2

D. Brzóska-Brzóskiewicz, Haiku, Vol. 2, with introductions by K. Dudek, S. Soyka, M. Świetlicki. Warszawa: 2012.


S. Grochowiak, Haiku-images. Warszawa: 1978, the cycle Haiku-images.


S. Grochowiak, Haiku-images. Warszawa: 1978, the cycle Haiku-animaux.


S. Grochowiak, Haiku-images. Warszawa: 1978, the cycle Haiku dla Kingi.

Pz 1

M. Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Poezje zebrane, Vol. 1, collected and edited by A. Madyda, with an introduction by K. Ćwikliński. Toruń: 1997.

Pz 2

M. Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Poezje zebrane, Vol. 2, collected and edited by A. Madyda, with an introduction by K. Ćwikliński. Toruń: 1997.

Uz 8

M. Białoszewski, Utwory zebrane, Vol. 8: Rozkurz. Warszawa: 1998.

Uz 7

M. Białoszewski, Utwory zebrane, Vol. 7: “Odczepić się” i inne wiersze opublikowane w latach 1976–1980. Warszawa: 1994.

Uz 10

M. Białoszewski, Utwory zebrane, Vol. 10: “Oho” i inne wiersze opublikowane po roku 1980. Warszawa: 2000.

Uz 11

M. Białoszewski, Utwory zebrane, Vol. 11: Chamowo. Warszawa: 2009.


Cz. Miłosz, Wiersze wszystkie. Kraków: 2011.

←13 | 14→

←14 | 15→


Night, getting colder.

Piling up all around

Mountains of haiku books!


This book is first and foremost an account of Polish literature covering the last hundred years or so. Specifically, it is a story about verse that has been written in Polish (yet not always in Poland) and in various ways can be linked to Japanese poetic miniatures. At the same time, it is a story of the complexities of the broadly understood modernism.2 However, this book is not conceived as a study of influences ←15 | 16→from a certain source in a national literature.3 I am interested in a broader, transcultural4 perspective on Polish literary output. I set out to offer readers a comparative monograph – with Polish poetry at its core yet confronted with the poetry of Japan (along with its aesthetic and ethical contexts)5 and with haiku-inspired twentieth-century miniatures produced by American, English, French, Spanish, and Mexican poets. This monograph also touches upon translatological problems (translations of haiku poetry as a touchstone of modern changes in literature) and takes into account interdisciplinary research (visual and multimedia contexts or repercussions of “haikuing” in Japan and, above all, Poland). The idea is not to track real or putative genetic relationships,6 but to analyse the convergence of forms, aesthetic changes, and fluctuations of cultural phenomena. This monograph seeks to become part of the research that “is best described by the following dialectical formula: ‘literary studies – cultural studies.’”7 I am convinced that “attempts to look at the ←16 | 17→functioning of literature in an international dimension [...] ultimately lead to a better understanding of what is own, local, national,”8 “[as] only a comparative and transcultural approach to national culture can give an account of mechanisms of creation of specific values and unique features.”9

I. Haiku and the “Extinction of Genres”

It may be surprising that today, in the era of “genological distance,”10 the category of genre is the key to the analysis of a substantial part of contemporary Polish poetry (one that at least opens the “first gate” of inquiry). The disappearance of traditional genres (or rather a decrease in their direct productivity), the emergence of syncretic genres, the blurring of boundaries between literature and non-literary forms, the heterogeneity of literary creation, and, finally, the uselessness (or rather: different usefulness) of genre categories in the literary study of hic et nunc11 – all this has already been noted for decades. This diagnosis is ←17 | 18→particularly relevant to extensive, seemingly extra-generic areas of contemporary poetry. Researchers have been at pains to expose – and solve – genre paradoxes of the modern day.12 In this book, however, I do not seek to focus on the genre big picture. Following Stanisław Balbus, I repeat: “Of course, I do not intend to provide here a review of recent theories in genre studies. Their sheer catalogue would be enormous.”13 I will restrict myself to findings (or, for the time being, to finding questions) regarding the form that is of immediate interest to me.

In the Polish poetry of recent decades, a phenomenon has occurred that is quite readily given a genre name. What is more, most often we are not dealing here with the practice, diagnosed by Balbus, of affixing a generic term to works that depart from genre paradigms, “entering into sense-generating correlations, coincidences, or even collisions with them.”14 However, “orthodox” adherence to the genre rules does not exhaust the spectrum of haiku-inspired Polish poetry. The label used by East-Asian artists can be surprisingly ambiguous. Naturally, one should not, as Stefania Skwarczyńska argued fifty years ago, mix up genre objects, concepts, and names.15 In this study, I want to deal with objects, names, and concepts, which in various ways come together under the umbrella of haiku.←18 | 19→

I discuss both poems that meticulously follow a foreign pattern (“Originals or Imitations? On the “Perfectly Genuine” Polish Haiku”) as well as texts that in various ways, intentionally and unintentionally, enter into discussion with rules of the East-Asian poetics, as well as the aesthetics and ethics underpinning it (“Polemic Extremes of “Haiku;” “Oscillations around Haiku”). Some of the poems belonging to this second group can be described in terms proposed by Balbus. I also study verse that indefatigably keeps up – under the guise of fashionable foreign form – the tradition of epigram, aphorism, love poetry or… a mirohład (“A “Haiku” Miscellany; in some part Polemic Extremes of “Haiku”). Finally, I focus my reflection on those miniature verses whose authors never (or almost never) used the Japanese genre name but which nevertheless in various ways approximate to the aesthetics and style of the Oriental form (“Roads to Haiku – the West; to some extent “Oscillations around Haiku”).16

The variety of haiku approximations makes methodological decisions considerably difficult. It is impossible, as it turns out, to find one theoretical angle that would afford an in-depth examination of all the groups of texts discussed. I conclude that in the analyses of miniatures very close to the defining characteristics of the East-Asian miniature it is worthwhile attempting to treat haiku as an invariant set of features. In this case, the typological understanding of genre may work.17 Yet how are we to study poems – often ones highly accomplished artistically – that only tangientially (and from different angles) touch on haiku aesthetics? What about poems that paratextually, not always for obvious reasons, display affinity with Japanese seventeen-syllable poems? In such cases, I decide on the prototypical model of genre.18

My book is situated within the framework of cultural comparative studies,19 which, like Andrzej Hejmej, I perceive as “the individual action of a comparatist, ←19 | 20→[…] the endless process of translation.”20 No universal toolbox for a comparatist has come into being and, as one can safely assume, it never will. The researcher is condemned to endless methodological and interpretative probing.21 In this book, one of the keys to opening and organizing problems of interest to me is the concept of transculturality.

II.  Transculturality

Wherever justified, terminological hypertrophy should be cut down with an academic Ockham’s razor. It is therefore worthwhile asking whether interculturalism, already established in literature, supported by the discourse on multiculturalism and pluriculturalism, would not be a sufficient tool for my intended research.22 In ←20 | 21→my opinion, it would not.23 This is not only the question of the considerable separation, in time and space, of the analysed texts of culture, but also the problem of the very method of profiling analyses. I find that the transcultural perspective allows us to capture the essence of examined phenomena more fully and successfully. In Poland, the term “transculturality” is quite “risky, debatable and not entirely familiarized by students of culture.”24 However, as this concept is still in statu nascendi,25 it can be further determined and modelled.

Above all, I refer here to the propositions of the “founding father” of the concept, Wolfgang Welsch,26 who most fully – and in the simplest terms – described ←21 | 22→the essence of transcultural research. However, following Welsch, I wish to emphasize that his theory “is in no way completely new historically.”27

It is time to present some of the most important arguments and findings of the philosopher. I recommend reviewing selected quotes from Welsch’s articles, which I think, give the fullest account of multifarious aspects of the theory that interests me:

The concept of transculturality aims for a multi-meshed and inclusive, not separatist and exclusive understanding of culture.28

You might think that the concept of transculturality is tantamount to the acceptance of increasing homogenization of cultures and the coming of a uniform world-civilization, and that it assents without objection to this development, whilst conspicuously conflicting with our intuitions of cultural diversity. BUT DOES TRANSCULTURALITY REALLY MEAN UNIFORMIZATION? NOT AT ALL. IT IS, RATHER, INTRINSICALLY LINKED WITH THE PRODUCTION OF DIVERSITY.29

the old homogenizing and separatist idea of cultures has furthermore been surpassed through cultures’ external networking. Cultures today are extremely interconnected ←22 | 23→and entangled with each other. […] Cultures today are in general characterized by hybridization.30


Transcultural identities comprehend a cosmopolitan side, but also a side of LOCAL AFFILIATION. […] The concept of transculturality goes beyond these seemingly hard alternatives. It is able to cover both global and local, universalistic and particularistic aspects.32

The power of great works or conceptions is evidently not limited to a specific cultural context, such as that in which they originated. Rather their force is transculturally effective.33

There is also the question of the everyday dimension of transcultural functioning in the world (interestingly, illustrated by the case of Japan):

To the Japanese, the foreign-own distinction or, to be more precise, the foreign-own distinction with respect to origin is not relevant at all. Their basic perspective is that of proximity. If something fits neatly it is Japanese – no matter where it comes from. This is why things foreign can be considered the own as a matter of course.34

←23 | 24→

Thus, transcultural space is “a meeting place: not so much for conflict, but for interferences of values and norms of different cultures.”35 This perspective on cultural processes seems to provide a convenient research framework for the discussion taking place in my study. I am not interested in the perception of cultures as isolated monoliths.36 I want, as much as possible, to eschew the sharp East-West dualism which often distorts the real picture.37 The nuancing of seemingly insurmountable differences, the exposure of the fictitious status of barriers, the identification of similarities and the discovery of surprising points of convergence – these procedures seem the most compelling to me.

At the same time, I do not seek to escape from what is national,38 characteristic of Polish culture, or, to use Welsch’s idiom, “local.” I want to discern in culture ←24 | 25→a variety of spaces (also, to some extent, various “hybridities”) open to encounters with what at first glance is altogether foreign and untranslatable. I want to go deeper into this sometimes-ostensible strangeness. To see what it was that made possible the adoption of haiku in the (modernist) West and, above all, in Poland; how native literature moved towards similar aesthetics; where points of commonality occur, and what became the subject of heated (and often artistically fascinating) discussion. I think that these types of issues can be best brought together under the rubric of transculturalism. However, it is not worth becoming too strongly attached to the label itself39 – what is of utmost importance is the study of literature and culture.

These introductory considerations can be supplemented with a quote from yet another work. I share the approach that Tomasz Bilczewski described as follows:

I perceive comparative studies as interpretative activity aimed at – often through surprising contexts in which various currents of humanistic reflection converge – juxtaposing texts from disparate linguistic and cultural traditions as well as from different spheres of human expression, giving special attention to the gesture of breaking down barriers and the declarations of crossing various types of boundaries. I see in it a reading practice, one often revitalizing traditional reading practices, striving to consciously bring together literary and cultural phenomena, sometimes very different; a peculiar hermeneutic school of exploring that which eludes us and which through ←25 | 26→the striving to comprehend, which is never a finite process, requires going beyond the confines of our habits.40

III. Notes on “Haikology”

Despite the long-standing fascination with haiku in Poland, no attempt has yet been made at a multi-faceted, monographic description of artistic phenomena in various ways related to the poetics, aesthetics – and ethics – of Japanese miniature poems.41 Most analyses conducted so far (articles in journals of literary studies, book chapters, introductions to poetry collections) have not shown the complexity and internal dynamics of haiku-related literary processes, often rehashing cultural stereotypes42 and distorting the already highly sketchy perception of the genre in Poland. The confrontation with the genological assumptions of haiku is, for me, merely a starting point for further research. Nevertheless, if at this rudimentary level we come across inaccuracies or even substantive errors, it will be difficult to achieve precision in the following argument, which is at least partially comparative. All the more so because numerous European and American haiku incarnations are unknown to the vast majority of Polish scholars (with the exception of the highly overrated component of Imagism).43

The most extensive examination of the Polish poetry that can be linked to haiku was offered by Piotr Michałowski.44 In my opinion, however, his inspiring analyses are not an exhaustive account of haiku (as well as poetry “streaked with” and ←26 | 27→masquerading as haiku) in Poland. Michałowski makes only a passing reference to certain aspects, without mentioning specific issues (such as the problem of verbo-visuality, highly relevant to my inquiries). Finally, some of his diagnoses seem disputable. I refer to Michałowski’s works throughout the entire monograph (most extensively in the section Originals or Imitations? – On the “Perfectly Genuine” Polish Haiku), at this point, I just wish to recall the tripartite division of Polish haiku proposed by Michałowski:45

1)Inspirations and approximations – representing this variant are poets freely drawing on the Japanese source, with no consideration for genre rules (examples: Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Jerzy Harasymowicz, Ryszard Krynicki).

2)The syncretism of cultures and dialogue of traditions – conscious, analytical, and comparative poetic experiments, in which three poetics are juxtaposed: Japanese, Imagist and individual (the sole representative of which is Stanisław Grochowiak and his collection Haiku-images).

3)Imitations – mass imitations, starting from the mid-1970s.46

I consider Michałowski’s proposal interesting and in many respects legitimate. However, seen in the perspective of the monographic review of Polish verse which in various ways I link to haiku, this typology is overly simplistic. I put forward my own, more elaborate system of textual categorization and description, where one can detect traces of the modified version of Michałowski’s tripartite classification. I submit to scrutiny miniature poems that are “orthodoxly” haiku-like (although I do not necessarily treat them as imitations of classical seventeen-syllable verse), texts engaging in various ways in dialogues – or discussions – with the foreign form and its cultural background (I describe here not only poems by Grochowiak, but also abundant works by other authors), alongside poems in many ways oscillating around the haiku style. In addition, I discuss a variety of works bearing upon haiku paratextually, revealing very deep roots of other forms that are firmly established in Western poetics. Finally, of vital importance to me are the multi-faceted visual and multimedia entanglements of Polish haiku.←27 | 28→

I suggest a reading path organized chronologically and thematically. I start with a comprehensive – yet inevitably quite general – description of classical Japanese haiku verse, which constitutes the basic pre-text of further literary and cultural processes analysed below. Subsequently, I identify (still in the first part of the book) a set of features of the Western prototype of the form. The next step (Part 2 of the monograph) is the presentation of haiku’s roads to the West: to literatures of Western Europe and the Americas and to Polish poetry (description of the Vorgeschichte of haiku starting from the Young Poland period, supported by an analysis of translatological issues based primarily, but not exclusively, on Polish translations of the Japanese form from the last hundred years). The next, third, part of the book is devoted to polemic extremes of “haiku” (here the genre name must be most often put in quotation marks). It begins with an analysis of one of the most distinct post-war takes on haiku in Polish literature (chronologically the first one),47 Stanisław Grochowiak’s Haiku-images, and concludes with a treatment of contemporary multimedia practices bearing the label of “haiku” and diametrically opposed to the experiments of Grochowiak: works of Dariusz Brzóska-Brzóskiewicz. Part 4 of this monograph shows entirely different approximations and departures from haiku, focusing on the work of two key figures of Polish modernism: Czesław Miłosz (poetry and translation works) and Miron Białoszewski. After walking the reader through the winding paths of modern haiku extremes and oscillations, I go on to offer comprehensive analyses of an extensive group of Polish miniature poems that are very close to the prototype of the genre and are surprisingly difficult to describe (Part 5 of the book). Part 6 of the study is a sort of appendix to the preceding discussion: in A “Haiku” Miscellany I present a wide variety of activities (ranging from religious poems to asemantic neodadaist experiment) bearing the East-Asian rubric, but actually not drawing on the style and cultural substratum of haiku and not entering into polemics with the cultural background of the form. The final analytical part of the book deals with various intersemiotic entanglements of Japanese haiku poems and, above all, Polish ones (connections with painting; haiku and the art of arranging exhibitions; haiku and book art; haiku, haiga and haibun presented online).

My research could be called micrological48 – I am interested both in focusing on miniature verse (which literary scholars often dismiss with disparaging ←28 | 29→judgements) and analysing stylistic “minutiae” within it. Micrology49 – the micro-reading of the small and unremarkable50 – can, I think, tell us a great deal about the transformations and entanglements of 20th-century Polish poetry. Finally, I set a great value on the very “micrological subtlety, as well as its longing for precision, focus and sharpness.”51

Recent years have seen the publication of numerous foreign-language studies (predominantly in English) examining the position of haiku in modernist literature and culture of Europe and the Americas (mainly the United States of America).52 ←29 | 30→On numerous occasions, I refer to them throughout this monograph, but I do not treat any of these as an obvious methodological signpost. Many illuminating texts that reveal to the Polish reader the little-known haiku archipelagos of English, American, German, French or Spanish poetry lack methodological coherence, resulting, in some part, from a superficial perspective on genre problems. The omission of findings on category profiling, so relevant here, and the lack of a precise description of various “untranslatabilities” of the Japanese form frequently lead to a significant blurring of haiku’s specificity. As a result, both texts that are “orthodoxically” faithful to the conventions of classical seventeen-syllable poems and works that are akin to Oriental haiku solely in terms of their size are treated equally. At the same time, the scope of the culture-forming influence of this Eastern verse form is extending over a remarkably wide expanse of modern culture.53 An orthodox treatment of the relationship between Western poetry and classical haiku, close to the classificatory view of genre,54 results, in turn, in a significant narrowing of the spectrum of studied texts,55 putting many excellent works that realize only some haikems (prototypical features of haiku)56 outside the scope of analysis.

What should save me from analytical extremes in this monograph is the flexible profiling of the genre category – the conceptualization and use of the Western prototype of the form, and, in some research situations, treating haiku as an invariant set of features. However, my book is not intended merely as a diagnosis of the state of “genre transplantology”57 – it also seeks to throw considerable light on Polish poetry and the associated visual arts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


I am grateful to Associates and Friends from the Department of Historical Poetics of the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences: Włodzimierz Bolecki, Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz, Andrzej Karcz, Agnieszka Kluba, Zdzisław Łapiński, Maciej Maryl, Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska, Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik, Janusz Sławiński, and Piotr Sobolczyk, for all the kindness and numerous inspiring discussions on passages of this book. My thanks also go out to Adam Dziadek, Andrzej Hejmej, Paulina Kierzek-Trzeciak, Aleksandra ←30 | 31→Kremer, Anna Tenczyńska, and Łukasz Wróbel for academic and friendly support. I owe a debt of gratitude to Agnieszka Żuławska-Umeda, Leszek Engelking and Łukasz Kossowski for valuable consultations. I am also grateful to the Translator Justyn Hunia for exemplary collaboration. Special thanks go to Grzegorz Gazda, who many years ago inspired me to embark on haiku research.

I also thank Magdalena Hasiuk, Aleksandra Sumorok, and Violetta Wiernicka for all our conversations and meetings, and my Family and Loved Ones for all their support.

Finally, I want to thank the most important people in my life: my husband Jerzy Gaszewski, the best partner in everyday and scholarly life, and our Children, with whom taking notice of everyday epiphanies is so much easier.

This monograph came into being with significant support from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Foundation for Polish Science. The Polish version of this book (Haiku po polsku. Genologia w perspektywie transkulturowej, Toruń 2016) was the result of the ostdoctoral research grant I received from by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education;58 I was also a holder of the Ministry scholarship in the years 2011–2014 and a scholarship of the Foundation for Polish Science in 2007–2008 (START program). The Foundation for Polish Science has also funded translation of this book. The publication of the translated monograph was financially supported by the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyright material. The author apologizes for any errors or omissions and would be grateful if notified of any corrections that should be incorporated in future editions of this monograph.

1Quoted in: R. Krynicki, Haiku. Haiku mistrzów [Haiku. Haiku of the Masters], Kraków 2014, p. 112.

Where no other translator is identified, all translations from Polish (poetry and scholarship, as well as some haiku poems), are by Justyn Hunia (in the case of poetry, translations are more or less literal). Japanese poems, available to me (and, I suppose, to most readers of this book) only in translation, are quoted here only in English translations. Transcriptions are provided only in exceptional cases (analyses of sound patterns). Works of literature written in European languages are given in both versions: in the main text, I quote the originals, in the footnotes – their English translations. Literary-theoretical texts are referenced only in English-language translations. In the transliteration of Japanese names, surnames and nicknames, Western usage is typically applied. The Japanese first write their surname (family name), which is followed by a given name. In Western scholarship, this order is typically (though not always) reversed. Furthermore, old artists often are better known by their nicknames than family names. To facilitate identification of a given author, the most recognizable element of the proper name in the West, usually a nickname (as in the case of numerous haijins) or surname (mostly the case of the Japanese scholars quoted here), more rarely the artist’s given name, is considered as the basis for the bibliographic record. In footnotes, for the most part, an initial of a name is provided, or, when the artist is known mainly by his/her nickname, an initial of a surname (as in the texts by many other scholars, my footnotes feature M. Bashō, with “M.” being an abbreviation of the family name “Matsuo,” and “Bashō” being a nickname). In the captions under quoted poems, taking a cue from Japanese and Western authors, I restrict myself only to nicknames or family names.

2On the broadly defined modernism in Poland see, for example, W. Bolecki ‘Modernizm w literaturze polskiej XX w. – rekonesans’ [Modernism in 20th Century Polish Literature – a Reconnaissance], in W. Bolecki, Modalności modernizmu. Studia, analizy, interpretacje [Modalities of Modernism. Studies, Analyses, Interpretations], Warszawa 2012, pp. 51–96; W. Bolecki, ‘Postmodernizowanie modernizmu’ [Postmodernizing Postmodernism], in W. Bolecki, Polowanie na postmodernistów (w Polsce) i inne szkice [The Hunt for Postmodernists (in Poland) and other Essays], Kraków, 1999, pp. 43–61; R. Nycz, Język modernizmu. Prolegomena historycznoliterackie [The Language of Modernity. Literary-historical Prolegomena], Wrocław, 2002, pp. 9–45; R. Nycz, ‘Literatura nowoczesna: cztery dyskursy (tezy)’ [Modern Literature: Four Discourses (Theses)], Teksty Drugie, 2002, No. 4, pp. 35–46; Odkrywanie modernizmu [Discovering Modernity], ed. and with an introduction by R. Nycz, Kraków, 1998, pp. 5–18; J. Orska, Przełom awangardowy w dwudziestowiecznym modernizmie w Polsce [The Avant-garde Turn in 20th-century Modernity in Poland], Kraków, 2004. See also T. Majewski, ‘Modernizmy i ich los’ [Modernisms and their Fate], Teksty Drugie, 2008, No. 3, pp. 43–67; G. Gazda, ‘Modernizm i modernizmy (Uwagi o semantyce i pragmatyce terminu)’ [Modernism and Modernisms (Notes on the Semantics and Pragmatics of the Term], in Dialog, komparatystyka, literatura, eds. E. Kasperski, D. Ulicka, Warszawa 2002, pp. 115–26.

3On studies representing this orientation see, for example, A. Hejmej, Komparatystyka. Studia literackie – studia kulturowe [Comparative Studies. Literary Studies], Kraków, 2013, pp. 291–8; R. Nycz, ‘Możliwa historia literatury,’ Teksty Drugie, 2010, No. 5, p. 168 and ff.

4Further below in the Introduction I elaborate on the concept of transculturality used in this monograph.

5The book does not claim to be a study of Japanese haiku, however, it is opened by a broadly sketched japanological essay rooted in cultural studies.

6This does not mean, of course, that I put aside all “influencology” (essential, for example, in the case of the study of Western roads to haiku or analyses of Stanisław Grochowiak’s Haiku-images).

7A. Hejmej, Komparatystyka. Studia literackie, p. 295. “Accordingly, the focus is simultaneously on philological issues and ones related to multiculturalism, interculturalism or transculturality, intermedia and media society,” Hejmej adds (pp. 295–6). See also, for example A. F. Kola, ‘Komparatystyka kulturoznawcza wobec wielokulturowego świata. W stronę metateorii krytycznej’ [Cultural studies-oriented Comparative Studies in relation to the Multicultural World. Towards a Critical Metatheory], in Granice kultury, ed. by A. Gwóźdź, in collaboration with M. Kempna-Pieniążek, Katowice, 2010, pp. 213–24.

8A. Hejmej, Komparatystyka. Studia literackie, p. 297.

9Hejmej goes on to add: “It is not so much […] about abandoning a further pursuit of the national history of literature, but about changing the way of conceptualizing it and the need to situate it in a broad cultural and comparative context” (A. Hejmej, Komparatystyka, p. 297).

10P. Michałowski, ‘Gatunki w poezji nowoczesnej’ [Genres in Modern Poetry], in P. Michałowski, Głosy, formy, światy. Warianty poezji nowoczesnej [Voices, Forms, Worlds. Varieties of Modern Poetry], Kraków, 2008, p. 84.

11See, for example, Cz. Zgorzelski, ‘Historycznoliterackie perspektywy genologii w badaniach nad liryką’ [Literary-historical Perspectives of Genology in the Study of Poetry] in Genologia polska. Wybór tekstów [Polish Genre Studies. Selected Texts], eds. E. Miodońska-Brookes, A. Kulawik, M. Tatara, Warszawa 1983, pp. 116–34 (originally published in Pamiętnik Literacki, 1965, No. 2); Cz. Zgorzelski, ‘Perspektywy genologii w poznawaniu poezji współczesnej] [Perspectives of Genre Studies in the Study of Contemporary Poetry], Teksty 1975, No. 1, pp. 7–22; H. Markiewicz, ‘Rodzaje i gatunki literackie’ [Literary Genres], in H. Markiewicz, Główne problemy wiedzy o literaturze [The Main Problems of Literary Studies], Kraków, 1980, pp. 148–81; R. Nycz, Sylwy współczesne. Problem konstrukcji tekstu [Modern Silvae Rerum. Problem of Text Construction], Kraków, 1996 (1st edition: 1984); K. Bartoszyński, ‘Wobec genologii’ [In View of Genre Studies], in Genologia dzisiaj [Genre Studies Today], eds. W. Bolecki, I. Opacki, Warszawa 2000, pp. 6–18; E. Balcerzan, ‘W stronę genologii multimedialnej’ [Towards Multimedia Genre Studies] in Polska genologia literacka [Polish Studies in Literary Genres], eds. D. Ostaszewska, R. Cudak, Warszawa 2007, pp. 269–87 (originally published in Teksty Drugie, 1999, No. 6); S. Balbus, ‘Zagłada gatunków’ [The Extinction of Genres], in Genologia dzisiaj, pp. 156–71 (originally published in Teksty Drugie, 1999, No. 6); B. Witosz, ‘Gatunek – sporny (?) problem współczesnej refleksji tekstologicznej’ [Genre – the Disputed (?) Problem of Contemporary Textological Reflection], in Polska genologia literacka, pp. 233–51 (1st edition Teksty Drugie, 2001, No. 5). See also E. Balcerzan, ‘Sytuacja gatunków’ [The Condition of Genres], in E. Balcerzan, Przez znaki [Through Signs], Poznań, 1972 (abridged version in Polska genologia literacka, pp. 115–36); R. Sendyka, ‘Metodologiczna dygresja: o nieesencjalnych modelach gatunku’ [A Methodological Digression: on Nonessential Models of Genre], in R. Sendyka., Nowoczesny esej. Studium historycznej świadomości gatunku [A Modern Essay. A Study on the Historical Awareness of the Genre], Kraków, 2006, pp. 91–130; G. Grochowski, Tekstowe hybrydy. Literackość i jej pogranicza [Textual Hybrids. Literariness and its Peripheries], Wrocław, 2000; R. Cudak, ‘Sytuacja gatunków we współczesnej poezji polskiej a perspektywy genologii’ [The Condition of Genres in Contemporary Polish Poetry and the Perspective of Genre Studies], in Genologia i konteksty [Genre Studies and Their Cotexts], ed. Cz. P. Dutka, Zielona Góra, 2000, pp. 25–37; R. Sendyka, ‘W stronę kulturowej teorii gatunku’ [Towards a Cultural Genre Theory], in Kulturowa teoria literatury. Główne pojęcia i problemy [Cultural Literary Theory. Main Concepts and Problems], eds. M. P. Markowski, R. Nycz, Kraków, 2006, pp. 249–83; O. Płaszczewska, ‘Genologia’ [Genre Studies], in O. Płaszczewska, Przestrzenie komparatystyki – italianizm [Spaces of Comparative Studies – Italianism], Kraków, 2010, pp. 182–87. On “the devastated genological landscape, wherein instead of genres we see their apparitions wander aimlessly,” see P. Michałowski, Gatunki w poezji nowoczesnej, p. 87.

12See esp. E. Balcerzan, W stronę genologii multimedialnej; S. Balbus, ‘Zagłada gatunków;’ R. Sendyka, ‘W stronę kulturowej teorii’; and S. Wysłouch, ‘Nowa genologia – rewizje i reinterpretacje’ [New Genre Studies – Revisions and Reinterpretations], in Polska genologia literacka [Polish Studies on Literary Genres], pp. 288–305; D. Pawelec, Od kołysanki do trenów. Z hermeneutyki form poetyckich [From Lullaby to Lamentations. Studies in Hermeneutics of Poetic Forms], Katowice, 2006.

13S. Balbus, ‘Zagłada gatunków,’ p. 157.

14S. Balbus, ‘Zagłada gatunków,’ p. 164.

15S. Skwarczyńska, ‘Podstawowy nie dostrzeżony problem genologii’ [The Fundamental and Overlooked Problem of Genre Studies], in Problemy teorii literatury, Series 2 Prace z lat 1965–1974 [Problems of Literary Theory, 2nd Series, Works from 1965–1974], selected by H. Markiewicz, Wrocław, 1987, pp. 97–114.

16The concept of transculturality, discussed hereafter, turns out to be particularly useful here.

17See S. Sawicki, ‘Gatunek literacki: pojęcie klasyfikacyjne, typologiczne, politypiczne’ [Literary Genre: Classificational, Typological, and Polyptychal View], in S. Sawicki, Poetyka. Interpretacja. Sacrum [Poetics. Interpretation. The Sacred], Warszawa 1981, pp. 111–22 (rpt. in Polska genologia literacka, pp. 137–44).

18However, is there a single haiku prototype universally applying to Japanese, Polish, French, American, Australian literature? I describe these problems in detail in Part I of the book, referring to them, naturally, in the subsequent chapters of this monograph.

19See, for example, A. Hejmej, ‘Komparatystyka kulturowa: interpretacja i egzystencja’ [Cultural Comparative Studies: Interpretation and Existence], Teksty Drugie, 2010, No. 5, pp. 53–64 (extensive bibliography – Teksty Drugie; text published also in Komparatystyka dzisiaj, Vol. 1: Problemy teoretyczne [Comparative Studies Today, Vol. 1: Theoretical Problems], eds. E. Szczęsna, E. Kasperski, Kraków, 2010, pp. 67–80); A. Zawadzki, ‘Między komparatystyką literacką a kulturową’ [Between Literary and Cultural Comparative Studies], in Kulturowa teoria literatury 2. Poetyki, problematyki, interpretacje [Cultural Theory of literature 2. Poetics, Problems, Interpretations], eds. T. Walas, R. Nycz, Kraków, 2012, pp. 352–62 (my research is consistent with the models of comparative studies discussed by Andrzej Zawadzki: the typological and cultural ones. Adam F. Kola uses the term komparatystyka kulturoznawcza (“cultural comparative studies”) to describe the research model close to my research (see A. F. Kola, ‘Komparatystyka kulturoznawcza;’ A. F. Kola, Kulturoznawstwo a instytucjonalizacja komparatystyki [Cultural Studies and the Institutionalization of Comparative Studies], in Komparatystyka dzisiaj, Vol. 1, pp. 91–5), while Miloš Zelenka uses the term “intercultural comparative studies” (see M. Zelenka, ‘Komparatystyka a badania interkulturowe’ [Comprative Studies and Intercultural Studies], in Komparatystyka dzisiaj, pp. 45–53). See also R. Sendyka, ‘W stronę kulturowej teorii,’ pp. 274–8.

20A. Hejmej, Komparatystyka kulturowa, p. 56.

21At this point, we can hardly disagree with Susan Bassnett (despite the fact that on numerous other occasions I feel inclined to take issue with her): “The future of comparative literature lies in jettisoning attempts to define the object of study in any prescriptive way and in focusing instead on the idea of literature, understood in the broadest possible sense, and in recognising the inevitable interconnectedness that comes from literary transfer” (S. Bassnett, ‘Reflections on Comparative Literature in the Twenty-First Century,’ Comparative Critical Studies, 2006, Vol. 3, No. 1–2, p. 12).

22For more on these concepts, see, for example, A. Hejmej, ‘Komparatystyka. Studia literackie,’ pp. 196–206; A. Hejmej, ‘Interkulturowość – literatura – komparatystyka’ [Interculturality – Literature – Comparative Studies], Teksty Drugie, 2009, No. 6, pp. 34–47; W. J. Burszta, ‘Wielokulturowość. Pytania pierwsze’ [Multiculturalism. Primary Questions], in U progu wielokulturowości [On the Eve of Multiculturality], eds. M. Kempny, A. Kapciak, S. Łodziński, Warszawa, 1997, pp. 23–31; T. Rachwał, ‘Dylematy wielokulturowości’ [Dilemmas of Multiculturalism], in Wielokulturowość: postulat i praktyka [Multiculturalism: the Postulate and the Practice], eds. L. Drong, W. Kalaga, Katowice, 2005, pp. 13–21; E. Możejko, ‘Wielka szansa czy iluzja: wielokulturowość w dobie ponowoczesności, [A Great Chance or an Illusion: Multiculturalism in the Era of Postmodernity], in Dylematy wielokulturowości, ed. W. Kalaga, Kraków, 2007, pp. 141–61.

23For deficiencies of (some) concepts of multiculturalism and interculturalism See, for example, W. Welsch, ‘Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today,’ in Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World, eds. M. Featherstone and S. Lash, London, 1999, pp. 194–213; W. Welsch, ‘Rethinking Identity in the Age of Globalization: A Transcultural Perspective.’ Aesthetics & Art Science, 2002, No. 1, pp. 85–94; E. Rewers, ‘Transkulturowość czy glokalność? Dwa dyskursy o kondycji post-ponowoczesnej’ [Transculturality or Glocalism? Two Discourses on Post-Postmodern Condition], in Dylematy wielokulturowości [Dilemmas of Multiculturalism], p. 119 and ff. In addition, in the plethora of discourses of/on interculturalism the researcher can choose – and tailor – a version that will be closest to his/her explorations (see A. Hejmej, Komparatystyka. Studia literackie, p. 196 and ff.; see also M. L. Pratt, ‘Comparative literature and global citizenship,’ in Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism, ed. C. Bernheimer, Baltimore, 1995, pp. 58–65.

24E. Rewers, ‘Transkulturowość czy glokalność?,’ p. 119.

25“Transculturalism implies interdisciplinarity. There are no specialists in transcultural aesthetics, as the field of this name, rather than fully existing, is still in its nascent state.” (K. Wilkoszewska, ‘Ku estetyce transkulturowej. Wprowadzenie’ [Towards Transcultural Aesthetics. An Introduction], in Estetyka transkulturowa [Transcultural Aesthetics], p. 9).

26Welsch introduced the concept of transculturality, in the sense that interests me here, in 1991 (see Transcultural English Studies: Theories, Fictions, Realities, eds. F. Schulze-Engler Schulze-Engler Frank , S. Helff, Amsterdam–New York 2009, p. xi). However, Welsch was not the first scholar to use that term – he explains this, for instance, in Welsch, ‘Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today,’ in Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World, eds. Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash; London, 1999, pp. 194–213. The hybridity of modern European culture has already been described in a similar way (yet, of course, without the term in question); for example, among contributions to this understanding of the concept of culture were Ludwig Wittgenstein’s inquiries (Welsch, ‘Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today, pp. 202–3). According to Teresa Kostyrko, ideas akin to Welsch’s understanding of transculturality can be found in the writings of André Malraux (Cf. T. Kostyrko, ‘“Transkulturowość” w ujęciu André Malraux – przyczynek do pojmowania terminu’ [‘Transculturality’ as Understood by André Malraux – a Contribution to the Understanding of the Term], in Estetyka transkulturowa, pp. 21–9). See also W. Welsch, ‘Rethinking Identity in the Age of Globalization: A Transcultural Perspective,’ pp. 85–94. Hoerder, A. Macklin, ‘Separation or Permeability: Bordered States, Transnational Relations, Transcultural Lives,’ International Journal, 2006, Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 793–812. For various aspects of transculturality, see Transcultural English Studies: Theories, Fictions, Realities. See also the collection of studies in Polish, Wielokulturowość – międzykulturowość – transkulturowość w perspektywie europejskiej i pozaeuropejskiej [Multiculturalism – Interculturalism – Transculturalism in the European and Non-European Perspective], eds. A. Barska, M. Korzeniowski, Opole, 2007; as well as the discussion on the functions of the prefix “trans-” (and concepts based on it) in literary studies: B. Sosień, ‘Hipoteksty, teksty i mity’ [Hypotexts, Texts and Myths], in Intertekstualność i wyobraźniowość [Intertextuality and Imaginationality], ed. B. Sosień, Kraków, 2003, p. 11. On the use of the concept of transculturality (as understood by Welsch) in psychological research, see Z. W. Dudek, A. Pankalla, Psychologia kultury. Doświadczenia graniczne i transkulturowe [The Psychology of Culture. Limit and Transcultural Experiences], Warszawa, 2008. Naturally, the concept of transculturality has an entirely different meaning than “transculturation” (See, for example, G. Nielsen, ‘Bakhtin and Habermas: Towards a Transcultural Ethics,’ Theory and Society, 1995, Vol. 24, No. 6, pp. 803–35).

27W. Welsch, ‘Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today,’ p. 199.

28W. Welsch, ‘Transculturality,’ p. 200.

29W. Welsch, ‘Transculturality,’ p. 203; emphasis added. Welsch also writes about transculturality in the context of globalization and particularization (considering both concepts excessively one-sided) – see Welsch, ‘Transculturality,’ pp. 204–6.

30W. Welsch, ‘Transculturality,’ p. 197.

31W. Welsch, ‘Rethinking Identity in the Age of Globalization: A Transcultural Perspective,’ emphasis added. Welsch writes: “What is the shape of our cultural formation like? Among academics, it certainly comprises elements not only of one’s home culture but of foreign cultures too. Greek philosophy, South-American literature, Japanese art – to give only a very short list – have had a decisive influence on my cultural formation over the years. And German or French philosophy, Chinese and Russian literature, and the arts from many continents have probably played an important role in your cultural formation, representing strong factors in your world view and way of thinking. […] Transcultural identities, despite their differences in some respects, will in most cases also have a couple of elements in common. So there is overlap between them, and this allows for exchange, understanding and transitions between those networks. Hence identities of this transcultural type are altogether more capable of affiliation amongst one another than the old cultural identities ever were.” (W. Welsch, ‘Rethinking Identity’). See also T. Kostyrko, ‘“Transkulturowość” w ujęciu André Malraux,’ p. 22.

32W. Welsch, ‘Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today,’ p. 205.

33W. Welsch, ‘Rethinking Identity in the Age of Globalization: A Transcultural Perspective,’ emphasis added.

34W. Welsch, ‘Rethinking Identity,’ emphasis in original. Welsch supported this conclusion with an anecdote. I am quoting it to demonstrate the specificity of his understanding of tranculturality: “On my second day in Kyoto Japanese friends took me to a ‘typical’ Japanese restaurant. Everything was supposed to be genuinely Japanese. Upon entering, I immediately liked the restaurant. But I saw, all over the room, a piece of furniture very familiar to me: the chairs. I have the same ones in my dining room at home, and I know they are Italian. So I asked my friends if they really thought everything there is genuinely Japanese, including the chairs which we were just sitting down on. The friends were astonished by the question, even a bit annoyed, and hastily assured me that everything there – including the chairs – was completely Japanese. But the chairs were the model “Cab,” designed by Mario Bellini and produced by Cassina in Milan. Of course I didn’t address the matter further. Still less did I dare to mention that the crockery we were eating from some minutes later were Suomi series plates produced by Rosenthal in Germany – these too I have at home. For days I was puzzled by this experience. What was astonishing, was of course not that European furniture and crockery should be found here, but that my Japanese friends held those items to be genuine products of their own culture. How could they not sense that these items were foreign? How could they THINK AND FEEL that those in fact foreign items were genuinely Japanese? (W. Welsch, ‘Rethinking Identity,’ pp. 41–2; emphasis in original). According to Welsch, the explanation lies in the transcultural specificity of the Japanese identity.

35E. Rewers, ‘Transkulturowość czy glokalność?,’ p. 128.

36“Transculturality does not presuppose relations between cultures conceived as a whole nor is it an encounter or dialogue of two monolithic cultures; transculturality breaks wholes apart and penetrates them all, becoming a vital feature of today’s societies” (K. Wilkoszewska, Ku estetyce transkulturowej, p. 14).

37My study, at least in some measure, is intended as a contribution to the process of recovering the truth about the Orient begun by Edward Said, see E.W. Said, Orientalism, New York, 1978.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2021 (November)
Polish literature literary genres verbo-visuality visual arts Japanese culture cultural studies
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 700 pp., 50 fig. col., 12 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Beata Śniecikowska (Author)

Beata Śniecikowska is a literary scholar and art historian, Associate Professor in the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Her main research areas are intersections of literature and visual arts, as well as figures of sound in experimental poetry.


Title: Transcultural Haiku
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