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first thought, best thought

#Haiku Happenings #12: Paul David Mena’s latest essay on haiku thoughts!



The phrase “First thought, best thought” originated with Allen Ginsberg, but Jack Kerouac popularized it in his essay Essentials of Spontaneous Prose and illustrated the approach in his epic novel “On the Road“. Popular myth holds that the original manuscript was written on a single continous sheet of paper in one amphetamine-fueled session, Kerouac claiming that “punctuation only hindered the process, and that pausing and thinking were also detrimental.

We now know that “On the Road” experienced multiple edits before its publication years later, and that spontaneity and “purity of speech” were all part of a carefully crafted illusion.

I encounter the same dilemma as a haiku poet, and knowing that Kerouac wrote some exceptional haiku allows me to benefit from this very basic struggle: to capture an authentic image in perfect clarity.

The first part of this puzzle, the “authentic image”, hearkens back to the…

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