On my pass through the Haikuverse the last couple of weeks I picked up a hitchhiker from another galaxy who was curious to come visit Earth and observe our peculiar poetry-writing ways. I invited him home to hang around and look over my shoulder for a few days while I swore at my computer in an effort to make better haiku appear in my word processor, which was fine for a while, if a little distracting, but then he got pushy and wanted to write the introduction and conclusion to this column.
I don’t like to argue with sentient beings who can shoot actual daggers from their eyes, so I let him. Here’s what he has to say.
People of Earth:
Fear not, I come in peace. And admiration of your “poetry.” Whatever that is.
I’m feeling kind of quiet and subdued today. (Maybe because I’m not quite certain yet of your customs on this planet.)
So without further ado (I don’t know what that means but I like the sound of it), the haiku.
I’d like to start off by offering hearty congratulations to Vincent Hoarau and his wife on the recent birth of their daughter Pia.
At Vincent’s blog, La Calebasse, he’s collected together many of the haiku he wrote during Pia’s gestation and after her birth, including this one:
lune croissante –
les yeux mi-clos, elle attend
la montée de lait
— Vincent Hoarau
While we’re doing French, why don’t we move on to this piece from Temps libres (this one gets a translation, though):
passage d’oiseaux —
en route vers le nord
de ma fenêtre
passing birds —
heading to the north
of my window
— Serge Tome
(If you don’t know Serge’s website, it’s full of both his own haiku and the haiku of others that he’s translated from English to French. Both categories of poetry are wonderful, and he’s been doing this for years now so there’s a lot to browse. You’d better get on over there quickly.)
Okay, now we can get back to haiku in English. First, a couple of poets who have been following my NaHaiWriMo prompts and posting the results on their blog. Both of them are amazing poets and I look forward every day to seeing what they’ve done with my prompt.
From Stella Pierides:
when did I learn about
— Stella Pierides
From Crows and Daisies:
i go to the river
to write about a river…
its silent flow
— Polona Oblak
And some miscellaneous haiku that have nothing to do with me…
showing the way
— Jim Kacian
From Haiku Bandit Society:
even in soft spring light
I can’t read the words
thinking of father
— William Sorlien
tide fish streak the moon
— Barbara A. Taylor
From Morden Haiku:
without a taste
— Matt Morden
first light confirms the flightless bird i am
— Mark Holloway
I love this experimental series from scented dust. This is actually just part of the series, so why don’t you head on over there and read the whole thing?
in the crows eye nothing and what I want:finished looking into crows eye:what is in there? crows eye hunger black:yawn the empty emptiness in crows eye:what darkness to love crows eye:a way to fall horisontally crows eye limbo:biting whatever cracked teeth and crows eye:sorry, bro, really don’t care crows eye— Johannes S.H. Bjerg
he slips glass bangles
over my wrist
— Kala Ramesh
Kala’s poetry is featured every day this month at Mann Library’s Daily Haiku. Her poetry is wonderful, and so is her author profile at the site, featuring a fascinating discussion of Kala’s theory of haiku poetics related to her training and experience as a performer of Indian classical music. Here’s an excerpt:
“In the silences between notes, between words, between lines, the emotions that arise is rasa —the aesthetic essence— which gives poetry, music or dance, a much greater sense of depth and resonance. Something that cannot be described by words because it has taken us to a sublime plane where sounds have dropped off.
The most important aspect of rasa, the emotional quotient, is that it lingers on, long after the stimulus has been removed. We often ruminate over a haiku we’ve read for days and savour the joy of its memory. Thus, although the stimulus is transient, the rasa induced is not.
What RASA does to Indian aesthetics is exactly what MA does to renku between the verses and the juxtaposition between two images in haiku. This is my honest effort in trying to understand the Japanese concept of MA in relation to my own evaluation of Indian aesthetics.
It is these silences and pauses in haiku, and what this does in the reader’s mind, that fascinate me.”
— Kala Ramesh
I found a ton of haiga I loved the last couple of weeks. I’m putting them in their own special section because I really, really want you to notice they’re haiga and go look at the pretty pictures. Please? Come on, these people spent all this time drawing or painting or taking photos or playing with their computer graphics programs or whatever…the least you can do is a little clicking.
From Lunch Break (HAIGA):
blue bird chasing another
— Gillena Cox
From 19 Planets (HAIGA):
the imprint of a leaf
in the sidewalk
— Rick Daddario
(This haiku was originally left as a comment here and I liked it even then, but now that it is a haiga it is even better.)
From Yay words! (HAIGA):
in the neighbor’s house
— Aubrie Cox
From see haiku here (HAIGA):
how quickly it comes back…dust
— Stanford Forrester
From Haiga (HAIGA):
full moon illuminating
the steeple —
steeple pointing to the moon
— Eric L. Houck
(I’ve just discovered Eric’s site — he’s stupendous. Well worth taking a look around.)
And to go along with these, here’s a general haiga link I discovered recently…
Somehow, even though I’d heard of this, I’d managed not to actually see it before, but then Rick Daddario of 19 Planets left me a link in my comments and I blessed him fervently as I browsed around in here. There’s a monthly contest and the results are awesome.
Found in Translation
Steve Mitchell over at Heed Not Steve did the coolest thing this week — he used Google Translate to transform one of his haiku into another, related haiku by sending it through a series of translations of different languages.
He got from
a clatter of birdsong
sipping my coffee
And my coffee
— Steve Mitchell
….but if you want to know how, exactly, you will have to go over there and take a look.
There’s so much amazing stuff over at The Haiku Foundation’s website, I feel like every time I start digging around over there I find something new. But this really takes the cake. Here’s the description of this project: “The Haiku Foundation Digital Library aims to make all books of English-language haiku available to all readers online.”
So what if there’s only fifteen or twenty books there now? They’re all completely amazing and you can download the PDFs and spend a fantastic Saturday afternoon reading, say, H.F. “Tom” Noyes on his Favorite Haiku (highly, highly recommended) or Kenneth Yasuda’s gloriously old-fashioned, kitschy 1947 translations of classical Japanese haiku in The Pepper-Pod, featuring titles and rhyme. Not to be missed.
warm rain before dawn;
my milk flows into her
— Ruth Yarrow, quoted in Favorite Haiku by H.F. Noyes
Wild the rolling sea!
Over which to Sado Isle
Lies the Galaxy.
— Basho, translated by Kenneth Yasuda in The Pepper-Pod
Dead Tree News
I’m very short on time this week so the extent of my dead tree musings will be to share with you this haiku and related quote from R.H. Blyth’s Haiku, vol. 2, “Spring” (so, so loving Blyth, best million dollars I ever spent), which I found a week or so ago and can’t get out of my head.
Shall be assigned
To the uguisu.
— Issa, translated by R.H. Blyth
“Bestowing what we do not possess, commanding where we have no power, this is of the essence of poetry and of Zen.”
— R.H. Blyth, Haiku, vol. 2, p. 181
Yeah. I know. It turned my brain inside out too.
Have a great week.
Back to our guest:
Thanks for your kind attention, People Who Orbit Sol. I will now quietly return to my place of habitation and share with my people what I have learned about you through your — what do you call it again? — “poetry.”
Fear not. It’s all good.