Editors. Who are they? Where did they come from? Are they biased? How does one operate outside of their personal perspective? Is it possible?
A few of the words from the thesaurus paralleling bias are: prejudice, partiality, partisanship, favoritism, unfairness, one-sidedness, intolerance, discrimination, leaning, tendency, inclination, and predilection. Do these, at least one of the group, resonate with you regarding the tagging of an editor? And, if so, is it wrong?
Editors are not appointed by a super human figure. They are appointed by themselves (a choosing of career or hobby); or, appointed by someone else. That's about it. They come with their biases and also with those of who has brought them aboard to "do the editing they do." Is it fair? Is there a clear road to being a perfect editor? Is there only one-way to write and, if so, who appoints the way?
There is a Tao of writing. Is there a perfection? There is a preferred way (by a journal/anthology etc.) but is there an absolute? If so, who decides?
Our anthology is edited. Absolutely! However, is the anthology an "exclusive" entity or an "inclusive" one? Is the Living Haiku Anthology staff exercising heavy bias as to what is haiku (or even as to what is good haiku) or do we perceive it as one of pliability, letting folks who visit decide what they like or do not?
I would have to say that the latter description describes our team the best - "the propensity for letting folks who visit decide what they like or do not." In that, though, are there poems that, in the end, get turned away? Yes! Absolutely. Are they bad? I wouldn't say and can't. They just don't fit — our choice of bias comes into play. Somewhere along this journey, there is our vision. In that vision, there are boundaries. With boundaries, even pliable ones, there are those poems that will not fit. Does that mean anything? Not cosmically. They just don't fit. We're not claiming they are good; we're not claiming they are bad. It is nothing personal.
A sonnet is not a haiku. There is no question by any of our team members regarding that. A tanka has haiku qualities (possibly contains a perfect haiku) but as a whole, it is not a haiku? Is a hokku a haiku? Is a haiku a hokku? Possibly . . . and possibly not. Did Shiki ever write a hokku? Did Basho ever write a haiku (without even knowing the name?). Possibly? Is there someone who is the perfect judge of all of this that can come out of hiding and enlighten us as to "truth"? Probably not.
In the end, a journal and/or an anthology will embrace a written or unwritten mission statement — a style. An editor is brought in to reflect that style (choices) and assist in developing the "voice" of the publication. In that reflection, there will be a narrow (intolerant) or expanded (tolerant) view of what should or should not be accepted.
The Living Haiku Anthology has a mission statement: "to accept and publish as many quality voices of haiku as possible while retaining an expanded acceptance of style." This is not an easy task. There are two techniques we embrace to carry this plan out: 1) accept haiku that have been published by mainstream journals; 2) to accept unpublished pieces as the editor chooses without causing unnecessary contraction as to what is or what is not haiku. Again, not an easy task. Is there such a thing as a "land of no bias"? Probably not — not as long as humans are the editors. We can try, however. And, the LHA team does.
Let readers participate; let readers decide. Poets will be liked for their styles or not. There is no absolute; there is only bias. Is bias, whether contracted or expanded in definition, right or wrong? Either way, we will leave as much to the readers that we can.
As a team, we attempt to remain as broad minded as possible without any harshness toward the world of poets endeavoring to write haiku. We do our collective best to embrace the world of haiku while at the same time not deteriorate the quality of haiku that is presented in the Living Haiku Anthology.
We hope you are enjoying the anthology. We also hope that you encourage other haiku poets to join in — to become part of this terrific experience that has grown so close to our hearts.
Editor in Chief