Abstract of my communication about the specificities of the French Haiku
Festival Francophone de Haïku - Nancy 2004
Serge Tomé

The French haiku differs from the anglo-saxon one by many aspects.

Differences in its development.

The haiku appeared quite everywhere at the same time. Firstly by poetic translations of the Classical Japaneses masters. Very complete works (books) were published at the begining of the 20th century. But haiku rise in the USA after the WWII because of the interest about Japan. That was the Beat generation haiku. It was also teached at school. So quite all Americans know what is an haiku. Atfer that , the writing began in the USA and circles, magazines, associations were created. Nothing similar in Europe and France. The haiku remained in educated litterary circles.

Internet came, firstly with mail exchanges, then mailing lists (1997) and web sites (after 2000). In the French speaking world, the spreading remained slow, expansive and very limitated through books.

Differences in its organization

Firstly organized in magazines, associations, they discovered and mastered after some years the network techniques. They did the critical mass very soon. It was facilitated by their big linguistic sapce. It is the same in the traditional books edition. They created the international community and throgh contests, publications, imposed their "standards" sometimes different than the Japanese ones.

French people are still strongly oriented to the classical means of edition (books) They don't understand the mediatic and cultural issues. They are not interested to be in teh haiku landscape. they are very few visible groups. The consequences are the delay in the creation of the critical mass, the lack of technical (stylistic) informations, the very few number of visible living haiku. French people lack not of specialists but of popularizers, of references, of examples of living (present) haiku. The Canadian situation is very different because they are closer to the US world and have many haiku editors.

Differences in the mentality

Having a strong network cultures, the Anglo-saxons used to publish in others countries (even if it is in English only...) That is very different with the Frenchs who are folded in their language and culture.

Anglo-saxons people are more ready for projects. It is possible to build a project in less than 24h.

In the mailing lists, the follow easier the "standards" of the group and discuss less the necessity of them. I notice a "latin" attitude in the French world that consist in rejecting every kind of "rules" and to always discuss them without taking time to listen the group. The listening attitude of the Anglo-saxons is more adapted to the learning "by example" and to the transmission of knowledge.

I also noticed the dynamic of these groups without hierachical structures. The exchanges give birth to a distinction between members based on teh mutual recognition of competences. A virtual leader is implicitely promoted. He doesn't lead the group but manage it and show the directions. After some time, the group follow another 'elected guide" and the transition is very smooth a bit like a V of geese.

Differences in the style

Lacking of references, the French haiku grows over its cultural bases. The authors are influenzed by their Western poetical education using all the traditional peotical devices extraneous to the haiku world. That is normal in my opinion beacuse we are still in the early stages.

Nevertheless I can notice these constants :

Some positive characteristics :

Some possible negative drifts (very uncommon by now).