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Get Yer Words Ready!
Hand-to-Hand Haiku Battling might not be a concept you are familiar with. And that is okay. Raven Doctorlounge Mack is here in Virginia to guide you through the process he created.
In 2013 I was lucky enough to attend and fight in two different haiku battles put on by the (in)famous poet, storyteller and time-traveling Raven Mack. I really had no idea what to expect, but Raven is an excellent host who entertains the audience with his rich storytelling while facilitating the battles themselves.
5-7-5 is the main thing to know. Those are the syllables for each of the 3 lines that make a haiku. These haiku battles are not confined by subject matter or propriety. If you are coming out to an event, Raven suggests you either bring 20-25 prewritten haiku to battle with, or a large dose of lounge to chill with. Both times I competed, I wrote most of my haiku on the fly at the event, and that type of sweat ain't pretty. Definitely try to write yourself a bunch of haiku ahead of time.
Coming out to the event, competing, and reading Raven Mack's work is some of the best inspiration for writing my own haiku and poetry I've had in years. If you are in need of a good time or the motivation to put pen to paper, you will find it here. Raven Mack hosts these events in a way that empowers everyone to write and hopefully participate.
The battles are akin to a poetry slam, but limited to the one form of poetry. The content created by Raven Mack is uniquely Southern and working class. I love reading his haiku; they are relevant to my life which I appreciate to no end. Never before have I heard of poetry about construction work or redneck life, but reading Raven Mack's book is like a rural Southern revalation.
From his book Beerbox Haiku:
Cheap truck with toolbox
and ladder racks makes me feel
like poor man's Mad Max
Old man struggles with
a nicked-up chopsaw; it's blade
squeals like a baby
I might try to say more about Raven Mack, but it wouldn't do him justice. The man is a powerhouse, a family man, a poet, a skilled worker, a comic, and an author of multiple 'zines and books. His creativity is a gift he shares with anyone who comes out to a Haiku tournament. Luckily he is hosting them regularly in both Richmond and Charlottesville this year. It sounds like the Haiku battle season will build up to a championship battle in November.
The battle itself is a single elimination tournament, where judges in the audience decide who will proceed to future rounds. The more competitors the more fun. This year, Raven is also offering the option of a death match competition where he and the willing participant go head to head with 25 haiku.
Prizes for winners have in the past included copies of Beerbox Haiku and railroad ties with haiku etched into them by Raven Mack himself. Mine reads:
birds by yelling "What the fuck
is you?" doesn't work
So come out to a Rojonekku Hand to Hand Haiku Battle in Virginia this year! They will be on the third Thursday of every month in Charlottesville at BON, on the 4th Wednesday of each month (March through May for now) in Richmond at Balliceaux, and some assorted shows scheduled for Farmville and perhaps Blacksburg.
More details on Rojonekku are available on Raven Mack's website, along with links to his various written works.
#RVA #Rojonekku #Haiku #PoetrySlam #Redneck #Countrry #Southern