Hockey Haiku: The Essential Collection

Bob Sillibus

Hockey Haiku: The Essential Collection
by Chad Davidson
St. Martin’s Press

Not since Agamemnon and Menelaus tore down the walls of Troy have we been witness to such atrocities as Poch and Davidson inflict upon us in their new anthology Hockey Haiku: the Essential Collection. Essential! The hubris! Have they forgotten all the groundbreaking work of their forebears in the realms of hockey haikuology? Let us pause for a moment and remember some of the titans of the hockey haiku anthologies. Where is Jan Svedic’s 1954 classic, the fabulous Hockey Haiku! Hockey Haiku!? Ubi sunt Grady Deetler’s 1961 opus, the grand and stately three-volume Blood and Ice? And what of contemporary must-reads, such as Darius Visparov’s 1989 virtual pantheon of greats, the mythic More New Hockey Haiku? And these are just the more notables. I should like to say to Davidson and Poch: “Look on these works, ye Mighty, and despair.” Alas, they wouldn’t hear me for the din of their own super-inflated egos, so big I still spot them behind the monolithic Zambonies of hockey haikudom they hide behind.

As if their title weren’t obscene enough, they then proceed to arrange the hockey haiku not according to their authors but rather by their own sordid taxonomy, with their own names prominently displayed on the cover. It’s as if Poch and Davidson wrote the blasted haikus! The gall! In an interview with the North Dakota Hockey Haiku Weekly, in fact, Davidson had the nerve to suggest he and Poch were actually “honoring” the form and, thus, felt an “imperative” not to ascribe names to the actual haiku. Boys, call it what you want. In Winnipeg, it’s known as balls. And the world of hockey haiku has no room for such over-inflated ones. The ad hominem attacks on the Winnipeg School in the footnotes of their so-called “Introduction” reveal most ostensibly their weak rhetorical technique and crude, half-fictitious fashion.

For I’d rather stab a narwhal in the eyes repeatedly with its own silly nose — which I’ve broken off and rattled in its face first — than pretend to be doing the hockey haiku world a service with this flaccid affair they call an anthology, and an “essential” one at that. And talk about caucaso-centricity? Where are the great Japanese hockey haikuists? Doesn’t the Kyoto school of the mid-90s count for anything? What about Brasheer’s burgeoning African-American hockey haiku traditions? This thing is as white as the deathly pallor of a corpse, and just about as lifeless, too. For years it has been completely evident that if it was hard to be a post-avant hockey haikuist in North America, it was twenty times harder if one operated on the margins – -or beyond — of the counter-institutions that literary insurgents had established in order to make their own work resonate. Can these hockey haikuists actually be “great” or “essential”? Scluney, Bash-Øferdehedde, and Fivolovic are has-been pimps, thus we stand by our claim that they represent “the new pornography.” Besides, any book claiming to be the “essential” compilation of hockey haiku would have to include excerpts from the H=O=C=K=E=Y Haikuists, too, and also showcase some of the Winnipeg school artists of the 90s. These two strains alone represent aesthetics drastically different — and perhaps threatening — to the hegemonic display Poch and Davidson have conspired to arrange. Who could leave out, for example, the fantastic, guttural flourishes of Gnomi Skivi, the great Indo-Finnish hermetic deep-image hockey haikuist:

     pond pond frozen pond
     pond frozen pond pond frozen
     pond pond frozen pond

or the famous witness/peace-studies hockey haikuist, Bart Churlstein, and his greatest effort:

     YOU, Po-eeeet. Bona fide
     needless-ings are im(perv)ious
     to icewar. Peace is up. Shizzle, my pizzle.

Are Poch and Davidson fascists? Do they fear poems of authentic (and authenticated) political and social value? In their presumptive attempt to reach a wider audience, these populists have taken merely a slice of hockey haiku traditions and set it under the heatlamps, garnished it with some wilting lettuce, and called it essential. Essential.

I have paper clips that are more essential.


Poch and Davidson respond:

We appreciate the comparison with those powerful Greeks, Agamemnon and Menelaus, though we feel a certain familial affinity more craftily violent, akin to Odysseus and Telemachus, covered in righteous blood after they had slain the profligate suitors.

May we suggest the Winnipeg School wouldn’t know the difference between a narwhal and a bathtub. They couldn’t catch a narwhal if it were presented to them bloody and dead in a bathtub. It is grievous for us to dignify the criticism of mental lepers, but we should attempt to clarify for second graders the fallacies obvious to anyone with further education. (We apologize to second graders who attend Montessori schools.)

Via their perverse methodologies and narcoleptic (narwhaleptic?) whimsies, they attempt to “subvert” our humility and turn it into hubris. This might work for Derrida, but he was French, is dead, while they are only French-Canadian, and are, sadly, still among the living. (We apologize for various pseudo-protozoan forms of life, which must endure the same biological classification.) The Winnipeg School is merely perverse. It is difficult to call them a school. It is hard not to call them what they are: puerile, rotten-narwhal mongers.

Sillibus has provided two examples, and we should like to offer one more, of the disgusting “experimental verse” for which the Winnipeg School is responsible. Here is something Walt Grommet published in his sordid and misogynistic anthology, Chicken Haiku or Chik-ku (remaindered after a sale of 23 copies, and, as of this writing, ranked 2,003,047 on’s sales rank):

     The Resuscitation

     I breathed into its beak, and its dadgum eyes popped open.
     I breathed into its beak again, and its eyes popped open again.
     I said, I think this chicken’s alive. Keep it warm.

Talk about the pathetic fallacy. Ruskin, turn in thy grave! If we may speak to you more directly, o whining pegleggers: in the mean time, continue toying with your paper clips. May you, in one of those narcoleptic moments for which you are becoming famous, fall on your paper clip, thereby impaling yourself in the lower intestine, and may the foul noise and putrid stench which arise from your wounded bowel awaken you to your own filthiness.

In the spirit of Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound, we say:

Blast Winnipeg Blast Gnomi Skivi Blast Guttural Flourishes

Blast Donald Brasheer Blast The Kyoto School

Blast Your Bowels

–John Poch and Chad Davidson

Smartish Pace
Smartish Pace