Haikuology, for Kara, after Sonia Sanchez

Sasha Su-Ling Welland. 2024. “Haikuology, for Kara, after Sonia Sanchez.” Anthropology and Humanism, http://doi.org/10.1111/anhu.12512.

Beginning with an autoethnographic reflection on my sister's obsession with writing haiku toward the end of her long struggle with cancer, this essay falls into a wider world of illness and confinement, death and grief, moving from the COVID-19 pandemic to the haiku practices of two modern innovators of the form, Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902) and Richard Wright (1908–1960). As a mixed genre piece interweaving prose and poetry, it draws upon Renato Rosaldo's examination of culture, emotion, and rituals of bereavement, as well as his development of antropoesía as a form of ethnographic attention to emotional force. Survival, as the organizing principal of campaigns such as the War on Cancer, conditions us to privilege individuated cure and protection, with the body defended by promissory regimes of science and security. How do survivors of those lost to untimely death account for the harm this discourse simultaneously produces? The haiku moment—declarative and fleeting—sketches a map across time and place, of struggle and loss, intimate and global. Dwelling in the details of its reparative terrain provides connection to the joy and pain of yearning to be of the world, in spite of and because of the ways it tears us apart.

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