▲ The Haiku Death Battle bracket. Photo by Lauren Flenniken
Jeju’s foreign community gathers once again to watch 16 poets battle it out for the title of Haiku Master.
Due to the success of last year’s Haiku Death Battle, Stephen Smith, the event organizer, once again brought the foreign and some of the Korean community out to Haebyun Concert, Jeju City, to watch and delight in an epic night of poetry.
“Last year’s Haiku Death Battle was too amazing not to recreate again this year. People kept asking when we were going to do another,” said Smith.
Originating from Japan, haiku is a short form of poetry characterized by “cutting” (the juxtaposition of two images or ideas), 17 syllables, and nature or seasonal references as the core subject. In Jeju, however, things are done a little differently. The contestants were given the freedom to pick their topics which ranged from the vibrational benefits of the iPhone to perspectives about politics and current events.
Regardless of the topic, the audience was left entertained as poetry filled the room. With audience members filling chairs, sitting on the floor and standing crowded next to the bar, Smith agrees that the night was a success.
“Overall, I felt like it went really, really well. It’s been said before, but truly, any night a venue is completely filled to the brim for poetry, that’s a win in my book!” he said.
The audience seems to have agreed with Smith. “It was a blast! I was amused and entertained start to finish and the talent was exceptional,” said Jewels Gibronics.
After almost four hours of head-to-head haiku battling, Aaron Dorman ultimately beat out Matt Leman to take over the title of Haiku Master from last year’s winner, Sean Ferguson.
“It feels pretty special to win — I’m glad I got to go against the gracious gentleman Matt Leman in the final round,” Dorman said. “Basically the night was as good as it could have been for me: I got to hear and enjoy some of the other poetry on the island, I made people laugh even when they were supposed to do their little hand-spaz thing, and I was genuinely delighted to be King.”
While entertainment by poetry may have been the drawing factor for the night, the event also raised 241,000 won for the Ugidongmul Animal Shelter through the sale of tickets and the raffling off of goods donated by members of the foreign community.
When asked what he likes most about this event, Smith responded: “It’s the room, the way the room gets right before a poet speaks into the microphone. When a jammed packed room of people are silent, ready to lean into every syllable. When a whole community is listening with enough focus and intent to make a poet feel like their 17 syllables have wicked force and importance. That’s magical for me.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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