Proven practitioners of the art of haiku present their own 'testimony' as to their part in the past, present and future expressions of haiku and sharing something of their own creative processes.
The contributions may be made up of some biographical background, personal experience in working within the art-form, personal development of the art-form to give better expression to their inspiration, influences on how their work has taken shape and evolved, difficulties along the way, discoveries, initiatives and expectations for the future of haiku.
Contributors may select haiku by themselves and/or by others that have become, for them, personal exemplars of haiku with a brief explanation as to why they are pleasing.
MY HAIKU JOURNEY
by Adelaide B. Shaw
In college, the teacher of my art appreciation class,, encouraged us students to be observant, to use all our senses, to find beauty in both the spectacular and the mundane. This became a habit, and I sometimes found myself wanting to express my feelings about what I saw and experienced. My attempts were only worthy of the trash basket. The rhymed poetry read like bad greeting cards; the free verse was too long and rambling and plagued with clichés.
In 1969 I discovered the Peter Pauper Press series of haiku books. They were my introduction to haiku, and, after reading them, I knew this was a form I wanted to try. So much was conveyed in so few words. The brief introductions in each volume did not tell me enough about haiku, and I searched for more comprehensive books. Books by Harold Henderson, William Higginson, and R.H. Blyth became my teachers.
I sent my first batch of haiku to Haiku Highlights in early 1970. Michael McClintock, who was assistant editor, accepted one with a slight edit.
falling into the river
catch the floating moon
Michael eliminated the word “frailly” from line 1. Petals, by their nature, are frail. I was
telling too much . Today, I would even eliminate “floating” in line 3.
Many of my early haiku kept to the 5/7/5 format that was popular then, and thought by some to be the only form. With more practice, more reading of haiku and subsequent submissions and rejections, I wrote shorter haiku. More poets were realizing that haiku written in Japanese adhered to 17 sounds, not syllables, and that English language haiku should have fewer syllables. This freed up my haiku. No longer feeling it necessary to add a word to create 17 syllables, I let the haiku form naturally using 4/5/4; 3/5/3; 4/6/4; or any variety of combinations, including 5/7/5 if it felt natural.
The haiku I write, unlike the poetry I had tried to write years earlier, have many differences:
the scent of lilacs
and fresh tar
Kernels, Summer 2013
Conciseness and objectivity with no subjective adjectives and no repeated thoughts:
late winter cold–
frayed at the cuffs
Daily Haiku, December 7, 2009
Experiences that are my own; an instant experience, not something that could be repeated tomorrow or next week:
a ripe plum–
the skin slips off
with the first bite
Notes from the Gean, Sept.. 2010
The experience is written as if it is happening now, even though it could be a memory.
hawthorns in bloom
her crayon trees
all the same shape
Notes from the Gean, March 2011
As English language haiku have evolved so has my writing of it. I use a kigo in most, but not always; some are all season.
crossing the hot sand
a gull’s shadow
Simply Haiku, summer 2011
the voices of the wind
through broken windows
South by Southeast, summer 2008
And, a few of my haiku are what Susumu Takiguchi, the founder of The World Haiku Club, calls vanguard haiku.
new jar of cayenne–
the years it took me
to get here
A Hundred Gourds, Sept. 2013
After forty-eight years of composing haiku I am still searching for that perfect gem, the one that shows the reader what I am feeling without telling him; the one that gives the reader a feeling of “Yes, I understand. I’ve seen that or felt that;” the one that resonates and is remembered.
Depression to Now!
When I came in contact with the external world through my foreign job in Malaysia, I was 26. Within few days of being independent, I realized that there is a huge gap between me and now. More often, I dwelled in the past. Through my new kith, I began to recover but the 26 years of grooming depression still pulled me back.
In early 2010, after being alone in Malaysia for a few months, I began to look out for a useful hobby that I could enjoy and improve on throughout my whole life. I chose writing. From childhood to that moment, all the writing I did was only academic.
I began to write movie reviews, then English translation of Tamil short stories and gradually came across a very warm poetry online literary journal, Muse India which ran and still runs a Your Space column for aspiring writers to share their literary works on a daily basis. It greatly influenced me to write free verses and share with them, I was rewarded too at times.
Through Your Space forum, in July 2010, I happen to read few haiku which impressed me as those were full of lives and brought joy to me. I was struck for few days in those haiku images. It gave me a reason to live every moment to the fullest to experience these little extraordinary moments myself. As I began to read more and more haiku, I began to observe extraordinary moments myself, my life got better as I began to use my senses effectively and I was speeding towards now more often.
Though I began to try my hands on haiku and share it in Your Space, Muse India: it took me six months to write a technically correct haiku.
winter twilight –
over my backstroke
Those days, my favorite and only exercise was swimming during the weekends at my condominium pool. I began to craft my experiences into haiku and above is one such haiku that beautifully fell in place and my first haiku to get published in an international haiku journal. I had to wait for three months till December 2010 to see it in print though. It was the longest wait in my life and the excitement I had when I saw it published cannot be expressed in words.
In 2011, I opened myself to international haiku scene and had more success through Simply Haiku, The Heron’s Nest and Magna Poets etc. I spent easily twelve hours a day on haiku throughout that year.
uphill walking ...
she takes me into
In 2012 I returned back to India permanently for personal reasons and my parents saw a new me and they were in awe on my significant improvement in health (body, mind and soul). Since then, I made it a habit to go for nature trips like wildlife safari, birding, visiting landscapes etc., as part of my bi-annual vacation. Most of my haiku are from those experiences.
my child stretches
the end of play
the elders swing dance
in the neighborhood
I also began to attend poetry festivals in various parts of India to read my haiku and more often I use Senryu to break the ice before reading the haiku with the literary audience. Organizers began to invite me often as they saw haiku providing a unique variety to the poetry audience.
working from home ...
my child asks if she can
study from home
Above Senryu came to me through my wife, that Friday (winter) morning, I was actually stretching my sleep. When my daughter enquired about me, my wife said that I would be working from home today to which my daughter replied she will also study from home.
patches of twilight
in the falling leaf
Another haiku from my direct experience with an autumn moment. The moment I reached my office desk, I penned this haiku; this scene happened while I was on the drive to my office.
The haiku seed I planted, six years back, has grown tall and wide and now it is in my veins, blood and everywhere within me and became me or rather I became the aesthetics of haiku. 2016 has been a phenomenal year so far with few international first prizes and with the amount of time I consciously invested in it and it has become subconscious now.
the spot I revisited
I am seeing number of improvements in various aspects of my life; continuously improving consciousness is a direct benefit of reading and writing haiku; significant improvements in my personal, family, financial, general and spiritual life. While I continue to grow on these life aspects, I also sense that I am continuing to get detached from the materialistic values with time.
Giving me back to me is the biggest gift that haiku gave to me.
spring silence with every breath returning me
breaths do I have left ...
No matter where I am, I dedicate the Saturdays to crafting haiku. Some of my best haiku has come on the mornings of Saturday. Before and after writing haiku, I always sense a change in me; better alignment of my mind, body and soul.
of boxed grudges
I am continuing to write on my direct experience with nature, kith, poverty, spirituality, and foible.
As I have personally experienced cure from depression through haiku, in addition to meditation being used as a medicine for psychological illness in west, reading and writing haiku as a way to cure psychological illness could also be explored for healthy living.
waters of spring
winter twilight - Gean Tree, uphill walking – Magna Poets, twilight – Frogpond, night blossoms - Modern Haiku, working from home ... - Cattails, autumn sky - AHG, year's end - THN, spring silence - Haiku Presence, how many - WHR, spring cleaning - Modern Haiku, waters of spring - Acorn.
Haiku: The Art of Words and My Maiden Journey
by Pravat Kumar Padhy
I used to enjoy poetic feeling and symbolic expression while composing essay at an early age of around thirteen. In school career, I sublimely endowed with the natural beauty and used to write articles pertaining to scenic landscape of resplendent nature. While writing essays in school, often I composed some proverbial short poems (one to two lines) at the end. As an intermediate college student, I submitted some of my poems in my mother tongue, Odia and one day to my surprise, the editor posted them on “Wall Magazine” in the prestigious BJB College Hostel. In 1978 a few of my haiku-like stanzas in my mother tongue, Odia, appeared in the “Deepti” magazine under the short- verses (3-4 lines) sequence Satyameba (Truth Alone). The translation of one of the poems, Jibanata (Life) is as follows:
half-moon in the sky
her body veiled in mixed
colours of clouds
Deepti, Vol.8, No.III Oct-Dec 1978
The Living Anthology
I had written an article on “Ezra Pound and His Poems” and was published in one of the leading Odia journals “Manas”, 4th Issue in February 1980. In an interview for the collection, ‘Interviews with Indians Writing in English' (Writers Workshop Publication, Calcutta,1992), edited by Atma Ram, I opined, “Poems come to my mind as fragrance to flower. Anything I see, it creates a symbolic frame in my mind......... when I see a small grain of seed, I feel it is tiny / because it nests with care / the mightiest in it”.
“A Better Living” (Kavita India, Vol.III, No. 2&3, 1990) is probably the one of the shortest poems I have ever written :
To its nest
I had a chance of over viewing the published review article on “Indian English Haiku and R K Singh” by Razni Singh in e-zine “Got Poetry”, December, 2007. I read the article carefully and the poetic esteem of gracefulness of three lines of expression. Dr R K Singh was my English professor in Indian School of Mines, (IIT-Dhn), Dhanbad. I scanned through my manuscripts of eighties and the published ones. To my surprise, I found that some of my short poems closely resemble (though in strict sense I was not aware of the Japanese short poems) with haiku and tanka. In Sept 2009, I posted a four-line poem “Pretending” in “Poetbay”.
They speak of volume
In reality it fills
Poet Tai, UK with appreciation comments: “This makes a perfect haiku in three lines. Wise words, all the same. Really liked the imagery of thin hopes of vacuum”.
I started searching to know about the beauty and genesis of haiku poem. I could come across the age old exquisite poetic work of iconic literary pursuits of Japanese poets through internet and further corresponding with the leading writers. Since then it has been a thrilling experience of writing and reading haiku. I experimented with interaction by posting some poems in e-zines namely Akita Haiku International Network, The Four Seasons Haiku, Poetbay, Poetry Pages, Dreamer’s Reality, Lit Org, Critical Poet and others. The beauty of definition, more so the essence of aesthetic Japanese style, thrilled me when I got an e-mail from Werner Reichhold on 23 September, 2009 about acceptance of my haiku poem and republished in Lynx-Aha Poetry, XXV:1 Feb 2010.
Dog is misspelled
the child discovered
Lynx-Aha Poetry, XXV: 1 February 2010
(Original poem, “God” first published in “World Poetry Anthology”, 1992)
Dear Mr. Pravat Kumar Padhy,
We received your submission and we will publish your haiku …., first line: 'Dog is misspelled...'
To get even more familiar with what is going on about Japanese poetry genres in the English speaking world, we recommend a book that's available at Amazon.com, named 'Writing and Enjoying Haiku'. It's a hands-on guide with a lot of useful information. I am sure you will enjoy it.
Later I could come to know that around the same time my first online haiku (composed earlier in 1990 as a short poem titled “Seed” ) appeared in “The World Haiku Review”, Vol. 7, Issue 2, 2009 with minor edits by editor Susumu Takiguchi.
creation is mystical
vast value of life
compressed in a seed
Werner Reichhold encouraged me to go through some of the haiku poems written by western haikuist with writing literature in Asian roots. He appreciated my observations of image building and encouraged me to turn these observations into poetry. His inspired words encouraged me in my journey towards understanding of the beautiful Japanese short form of poetry. Initially I wrote some of the haiku with sublime metaphors such as:
life takes an absence
amidst roaring cries--
a different silence
The Critical Poet, May 21, 2010
between the dates
The Critical Poet, May 2010
Paul comments: “ I'll play though abstract (with time escaping), this ku is actually closer to haiku because of its profound thought of what is between the pages, a metaphor for fleeting life….”.
Poetry is the essence of human urge and awareness. The mystic of art and literature delightfully reveal the kaleidoscope of science through colorful flair of human aspiration. It amalgamates the spiritual romanticism, aesthetic feeling and intellectual cadence of human beings in the perennial journey along the corridor of nature’s panorama of blissful beauty. Science is the composite reflection and poetry is its genetic soul. Let us put poetry to thrive in time and anti-time, in matter and anti-matter. Let it speak out the truth of human life and truthful endeavour. Let poetry light the lamp of humanism and brotherhood and let the flow of poetry escape with out any sound and merge with solace of silence. Writing haiku unveils the poetic essence and lively moments associated with all the entities within the fold of nature and human observations. Essentially it explores the uncommon in the common as put forth by Alice Frampton.
Art of haiku writing is a way of observing around nature, behavioural sense of man, animal and non-being entities with blend of kigo. The spirit of haiku embodies the use of kigo, kireji, ma, yugen with poetic credence. Haiku is unique in its form and simplistic expression with reference to season or nature as a whole. This makes it distinct style from other poetry. It should reflect simplicity and honesty in expression without scar of artificiality, complexity or pretention. The image that is created through haiku in its brevity is undoubtedly is the spark of self realization (zen moment).
My first printed haiku was published in the journal “Ambrosia”, Summer Issue, 2010, edited by Denis M. Garrison. It was a very simple poem coining images with juxtaposition and assimilating the intrinsic values. Gabi Greve and Alan Summers appreciated this haiku for its simplicity of expression.
Ambrosia, Summer 2010
I have the opportunity of reading the scholarly articles by A C Missias, Jeanne Emrich, Jim Kacian. Jane Reichhold , Robert D. Wilson, Elizabeth St Jacques, Ken Jones, Martin Lucas, Michael Gunton, George Marsh, Fay Aoyagi and others. I learned basic guidelines from various articles published in different sites such as British Haiku Society, Haiku archival in World Haiku Review, Modern Haiku, Simply Haiku, AHA Poetry, World Kigo Database , Graceguts etc. The classical concepts enumerated by Haiku Masters Basho, Busan, Issac, Shiki and Chiyo-ni inspired me a lot.
I got special inspiration from the editors Gisele LeBlanc and Michele Pizarro Harman of Berry Blue Haiku, a journal specially focused for children. The following haiku, alongside with Jane Reichhold, appeared in Issue 2, September 2010 with a beautiful art background by Svett.
falling leaves meet
in one corner
Robert D. Wilson and Sasa Vazic of Simply Haiku, from time to time, critically assessed my haiku and encouraged me a lot. I shall cherish to remember some of the poems they have selected along with my maiden translation in mother tongue, Odia.
spreads its branches
moon in the sky with
Simply Haiku, Vol.8, No.3, 2011
Publishing in The Heron’s Nest is indeed a great occasion to remember. I still cherish with fondness the e-mail I received from Alice Frampton along with references of classical haiku writings. She encouraged me a lot during my journey into haiku writing and I consider her as my mentor.
fills the gap
between the flowers
The Heron’s Nest, Vol. XIII, No.1, March 2011
The haiku published in “The Mainichi Daily News” on November 3, 2010 was accepted by an’ya for display in the exhibition in Liberty Theatre at the Quarterly National Haiku Society of America Meeting in Bend, Oregon, USA, June 3-5, 2011. It reflects the beauty of nature and is associated with tender anxiety of a child.
the child wonders
There has been always a rainbow of pleasure from the critical analysis by iconic poets making my learning curve a splendid ladder.
flight of cranes—
bridging the sea
with the sky
Haiku Reality / Haiku Stvarnost, May 2011
“The haiku exhibits a simple phenomenon for the common observer. The flight of crane is a dynamic manifestation making an image of static linkage between the sea and the sky. The first line, in segment form, juxtaposes the genetic linkage with the other image expressed in the second and third lines.
Again, Jasminka and I both agreed on this haiku for Second Best of Issue. And again, I liked it for the visuals it presents of a whole "flight of cranes" bridging the sea "with the sky" . . . it was a difficult choice between first and second place for these haiku are actually similar, not in subject matter necessarily albeit they are both about the ocean/sea, but in the way they are both very well-written”- an'ya
The pristine juxtaposition or disjunction indeed heightens the essence of haiku.
the lone bird choruses
Chrysanthemum – 10, 2011
the bat moves
Chrysanthemum – 10, 2011
the tunnel retains
South by Southeast, Vol.18, No.3, 2011
between you and me
a thin moonlight
A Hundred Gourds, Inaugural Issue, December 2011
my mother smiles with
Sketchbook, Vol. 7, No.4, Issue 43, 2012
John Daleiden comments with appreciation: “One of the most important qualities of a vegetable is "freshness", a trait Pravat Padhy associates with his mother's "smiles" in a unique juxtaposition”.
the monks walk
Gems : An Anthology of Haiku, Senryu and Sedoka, 2014
I breathe my
The Heron’s Nest, Vol. XVI, No.4 December 2014
so many cross-roads
to the destination
Wild Plum, Issue 1:2, 2015
my final decision
Frogpond 38:3 Autumn Issue, 2015
millions of stars
EarthRise 2015: Years of Light, Haiku Foundation, April 16, 2015
The interrelationship between living beings and nature has been portrayed through haiku. It extends the association of the living creatures with nature in the form of haiku writings. The minute observations enlighten the natural images and enriches the haiku literature.
a cow listens to the
Asahi Shimbun, September 19, 2014
the shadow connects
Wednesday Haiku # 213, Lilliput Review, June 3, 2015
Kala Ramesh comments about the above haiku:
“Reading Padhy's haiku I was reminded of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, who said, "You may call a tree a standing man, and a man a walking tree, Ultimately the oneness of all things (WH # 213)”.
the paper boat carries
Asahi Shimbun, May 31, 2013
Butter Fly Dream Anthology, 2013
I occasionally do experimentation by assimilating the essence of scientific fragrance with the petals of poetry. In one of my poems titled “The Other Being”, I wrote in “Poetbay” in 2010:
At times I wonder
Perhaps we are the
Of distance cosmic rays
At an imaginative focal length.
I have coined an idea of “Astro-Poetry” assimilating the essence of scientific entities in poetic canopy and manifesting it in haiku writing. It looks fascinating to extend the beauty of haiku to get assimilated into the images of space and beyond. David McMurray in “Asahi Shimbun” and Isamu Hashimoto in “The Mainichi Daily News” published some of my haiku based on such concept. Some are as follows:
I move round
The Mainichi Daily News, May 25, 2011
Asahi Shimbun, October 21, 2011
End of year
celebrating the journey
around the sun
Asahi Shimbun, December 16, 2011
deep dark space
many cosmic townships
with their own light
The Mainichi Daily News, March 23, 2012
Isamu Hashimoto comments for the above haiku, ‘deep dark space’:
“To put it simply, this piece deals with twinkling stars. However, no one could feel sentiments more hearty than those the above depictions conjure up. This is the secret of haiku”.
lone robot on
Simply Haiku, Vol.10 No.1, Summer 2012
Donna Fleisher writes for the haiku ‘blue earth’: “Your blue earth” haiku is extraordinary. A true gateway in consciousness. It shifts perspectives: the widest perspective shift occurs between outer and inner cosmos (planetary and cellular); and other perspective shifts involve human and cyborg, lunar and earthly, astrological and geological, cerebral and emotional; journalistic and poetic…..”.
mystery of the universe
NaHaiWriMo, February 17, 2013
planets move around
The Mainichi Daily News, March 20, 2013
a snap shot of
Culture Haiku Magazine, November, 2013
Association with historic events sometimes can be reflected through poetic membrane. Haiku literature can also link the historical sequences and major events in the form of archival and reflect the advancement in art, literature and science through time.
a migratory bird
busy in nesting
Haiku News (NASA rover “Curiosity” on Mars Surface), Vol.1 No. 35, September 11, 2012
baby’s maiden walk
on bright moon day
The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Competition, 2014 (Award Winning Haiku)
A subtle use of metaphor, for correlation, coexistence and comparison, sometimes twists the fragrance of haiku.
flow of river--
I gather wisdom
at every turn
Diogen Haiku, May 2012
World Haiku Review, August 2012
I felt humbled when Poet Angela Leuck expressed her desire to make a poster on my haiku, ‘time and space’ that I had sent to her:
time and space
life – a season of its
the butterfly wings
its tender touch
Sketchbook, Vol. 7, No.3, Issue 42, 2012
Bernard Gieske comments:
“Pravat Kumar Padhy’s haiku was particularly meaningful to me. Just as the morning is the beginning of a new day, so marriage is the beginning of a new journey in life. The butterfly seeking the sweet gifts of flowers on this morning evokes a promising sunshiny day, the exchange of many gifts, and an array of colorful flowers. So too marriage is a promise of future joys. The butterfly has undergone the transformation of a past life as a caterpillar. The marriage couple now will undergo their own transformation. The wings of a butterfly are fragile and must be handled with care. So too marriage calls for a “tender touch”. The kind of desired transformation of those becoming one will need to take place under all the conditions of love which include tenderness, kindness, trust, faithfulness, and so many other things”.
Robert D. Wilson chose one of my haiku for the ‘Third Choice of the Summer issue of “Haiku Reality”, Vol.10, No.17 Summer 2013 and posted it on his own art.
the old man returns
Robert D. Wilson comments on ‘crescent moon’:
“Where is nowhere? Is the crescent moon a portal from oblivion to this earth? What is the correlation between the crescent moon and the old man? Layered, this poem can be metaphoric, and yet . . . This is a thinking person's haiku. It doesn't bore readers by telling all. It is our job as readers to interpret this activity-biased haiku. Perhaps an old man is stepping out of darkness into a patch of light painting by this sparse, thin moon”.
The Haiku Sequence can help stitching a long chain engulfing the impact of expression. “The World of Difference”, my maiden haiku sequence on the differently enabled children, has appeared on May 5, 2012 in “Akita International Haiku” with translation in Japanese by Hidenori Hiruta. The haiku are dedicated for the cause of those children who can still make the world a place of charm by spreading the light of beauty.
world disability day
they join hands for a
the blind boy senses
from its calmness
world of difference
she shares her smiles
with all absences
her broken voice adds
a lot of colors
falling short of
for the blind
her feeling raises
the stone melts
The fabric of resonance knits the inner feeling of poet and its relationship with the nature, human behavior, culture and spirituality. This is often expressed by haiku.
tender breeze unfolds
Asahi Shimbun, November 2, 2012
Prof. Dennis Woolbright of Seinan Jo Gakuin University of Japan appreciated the haiku and comments:
“This is a lovely haiku and one can easily imagine the spiritual peacefulness one would feel in that place at that time”.
the beggar lights up
candle of faith
Asahi Shimbun, April 5, 2013
close to God
Bottle Rockets, February, 2014
A gentle feeling that unveils inner urge and gets associated with intimacy of the surrounding creatures is the key of aesthetic sparkling. That is what haiku is. Every living being has its importance in the creation. It is through poetry, we can recognize them with high honour. Their images through haiku assemblage a separate entity in literature.
measuring sand dune height
a lone lizard
The Notes From the Gean, Vol.2, Issue 1, June 2010.
the snake on its
The Notes From the Gean, Vol.3, Issue 2, June 2011
warm the garden
The Heron’s Nest, Vol. XIII, No.2, June 2011
The Singing Light Anthology, Nov 2014
the crows veil
Ginyu, No 53, January 2012
the old dogs lick
Editor’s Choice, Icebox, February 8, 2012
I feel warmth
LYNX, 28:1 February, 2013
the spider in the
Under the Basho, Inaugural Issue, September 2013
my thought caught
Under the Basho, Inaugural Issue, September 2013
I wish to translate into
my mother tongue
Mu International, Fifth Issue, 2013
across the borders--
same blue sky
Creatrix 26, April 2014
camels follow shadow
Creatrix 26, April 2014,
Creatrix Haiku Prize 2015, WA Poets Inc, Australia
an owl stares at me from
the hanging cloud
Asahi Shimbun, August 29, 2014
it moves with its
Writers & Lovers Café, Fall 2014
of the helicopter--
a kingfisher departs
Atoms of Haiku, Author’s United, April 2015
the house-fly jumps from
one place to other
Atoms of Haiku, Author’s United, April 2015
a frog jumps into
Brass Bell , December 2015
Staying thousand miles away from Canada, one can still scintillate the blend of beauty of nature and spread the immortal aroma.
the scent bridging
the long river
Honourable Mention, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, 2013
One-line haiku (monoku), I often write, emits the feeling instantaneously. It has its own beauty and style of expression and it ignites the spark in the readers’ mind.
in front of the mirror I repeat myself
A Hundred Gourds, 3:1 December 2013
melting away my pain-- garden dew
The Heron’s Nest, December 2013
floating clouds birds fly the other way
Brass Bell, July 2014
snow fall he hardens his words
Gems : An Anthology of Haiku, Senryu and Sedoka, 2014
for all your denials the smiling Buddha
Under The Basho, 2015
The art of imagination needs to be extended in subtle form beyond the boundary so as to create the aesthetic beauty of haiku writing:
the trees share their
NaHaiWriMo, February 13, 2013
the sweeper gathers
Haiku Presence, Issue 49, 2013
the sky blooming with
Shamrock No. 27, February, 2014
the slum boys stare at
the distant stars
The Heron’s Nest, March 2014
The essence of haiku lies in unveiling the implied expression of the happening of the moment. I feel that haiku literature can have a psychological overprint in the form of tender healing touch. As an extension of solidarity to the suffered people on the event of Fukushima nuclear disaster, I shared my deep sorrow in the form of a haiku, published in the anthology “We Are All Japan”, edited by Robert D. Wilson and Sasa Vazic in 2012.
unlike the other day
in the east
We Are All Japan Anthology, 2012
the river swells
The Temple Bell Stops: Grief, Loss and Change Anthology, 2012
Bewildered with the horrific cyclone in Odisha in 2013, I wrote:
a lonely pigeon’s
Writers and Lovers Café, Fall Issue 2013.
The grief-stridden human migration in recent time pained me a lot and I penned the following one-line haiku for “Asahi Shimbun”. David McMurray, moved by the emotional scene of crossing of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea, chose it on the top of his selected Ten haiku:
Shadows swim across a floating migrant
Asahi Shimbun, November 30, 2015
with her toys--
Haiku Foundation, May 2015 (Kathmandu Earthquake Disaster)
Interplay of pathos can be expressed in the form of haiku writings. This can be imaged to express depth of grief and anguish.
widow wipes her
LYNX, 28:1 February 2013
I miss the colors
of a rainbow
Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Vol.1 No.2 August 2013
the morning sun lost
Kernels, Spring Issue 2013
I pour excitement
into its loneliness
World Haiku Review, Summer Issue August 2013
the lone bird adds
Frogpond, 36-2 Spring/Summer Issue, 2013
A Vast Sky Anthology, 2015
One can reflect the surroundings through the art of haiku writings and create different platforms of exploration of socio-economic issues in subtle poetic style.
Shamrock, No 20, 2011
I feel closeness
to full moon
Award Winning Haiku, UNESCO International Year of Water Co-operation, Irish Haiku Magazine, 2013
One gets assimilated with the nature and shares feeling through crafty way with simple words that carry meaning beyond the boundary.
unfolding pages of
Simply Haiku, Vol. 8, No. 3, Winter 2011
the morning enters
without a knock
Frogpond, Winter Issue, 2012
her long memories
hinge on my door
3rd Qrtly European Kukai, September 2013
the fisherman’s grief
Cattails, Premier Issue, January 2014
tree to tree--
I walk along carrying
Issa’s Untidy Hut/Lilliput Review, Haiku #149, 2014
the sound creates
my own ocean
Chrysanthemum 14 , October 2013 .
The Blue Riband of the Atlantic, Per Diem Archive, The Haiku Foundation, March 2014
the bereaved girl hold
a palm-full of water
Acorn, Issue#33, Sample Poem, Fall 2014
a gap takes me
to the ocean
Modern Haiku, 46:2, 2014
the butterflies paint
the gentle wind
Haigaonline Vol. 15, Issue 1, Spring 2014 (Haiku featured in Barbara Ann Taylor illustration)
Buddha and I
hedgerow #15, 2015
Poetry creates a fabric of resonance to transmit the human essence in the living world of physics and geology and further into a greater space. It directly bridges the poet’s inner feeling and his relationship with the nature.
Bam Dev Sharma, President, Campus of International Languages, Tribhuvan University, Nepal recently comments:
“P K Padhy’s haiku create beautiful collage of internal human conditions and the beautiful and bountiful nature—the sun set, the sea, the twilight, the amorous sky. To put this broadly, we can say that he is expert in blending the body with ethereal delight, the flower with fluid, the birds with feathers, the physicality with the celestial beauty. As soon as I picked up some haiku, I was moved by their vibrant images, the sense of hybridization, and immaculate articulation of natural exposition. I was amazed the way he used his quizzical expression in profound aesthetic propensity. We can find some traces of his exquisite quality in the following haiku:
sunset-- / the vast sky filled with / drop of tears
Times of India, July 28, 2015
a dragonfly above
the old helipad
The Mainichi Daily News, July 2, 2015
the stagnant voice
hedgerow #41, August 7, 2015
I enjoyed reading his haiku. I find a rhapsody of beautiful cosmos which is singing for the poet and communicating with him. As a reader, I am sparkled by intriguing feelings and mood of pensive thought. There is deep layer of ironic exposition with enchanting imagery in the same way as William Wordsworth got enchanted to see everything in the clouds--the daffodils, the chariot, and throne, the beautiful child, and so on. I find poetic perpetuation with immaculate scenic description exposing not only beauty, but pouring imagination. …………So, in his haiku, to be precise, there is pastiche of human mood, the nature, the diverse natural panorama with image vibrancy which is peculiar quality of the poet. These reflect the beautiful combination of seen and unseen, the language that is felt and the language to unspoken yet”.
Nature is the mother of all living beings, matters and antimatters. When we honestly try to unveil the beauty and correlate with others, we do become philosophical. You start pouring respect to everything within the ambient of nature. The inner feeling slowly mingles with the soulful light through creative writings leading to possibly self realization and enlightenment. The tiniest object of nature has its genuine worth in this world and it is associated with us in different forms. I feel it is the realisation of this truth that has given rise to the genesis of Haiku poem.
search for the mightiest
in the tiniest
Haiku News, Vol.1, No.11, March 2012
A Hundred Gourds, 1:2 March 2012
The haiku discovers the meaning of each entity through aesthetic way. Haiku imparts life to every object of realization and its vivid image. Essentially the genre of expression acts as a diligent medium to have a wide spectrum of exploration within ourselves associating with the rest. Writing haiku unveils the poetic parlance and lively moments conjoined with all the entities within the ambit of nature and human behaviour. This leads you to start realising the value of the tiniest dust particle to diamond, rain drops to ranges of mountain, distance of the sun to closeness to your shadow, tender grass to the giant General Sherman and rhythms of sound to the voice of silence.
Discussion on syllable counts, whether to express in one, two, or three lines or four lines may remain as debatable point, specially in the neo-literary revolution. The image-moment around us, phrasing and its poetic association with human behaviour, love, emotion, humour, season, climate, observances, plants, animals, geography and elements of senses are to be poetically embedded to enliven the soulful feelings of haiku writings. The basic ingredients need to be respected with a fair degree of modernity. At the end it should reflect the wisdom of poetic credence in line with the aesthetic spirits and contemporary values. The original haiku in Japanese language is a class of its own. One can perceive the spark-moment of the unique style. The time and topography have been changed over the years. Haiku should reflect the surrounding and preserve the poetic history of the land at large. Rightly Basho said, “Learn of the pine from the pine; learn of the bamboo from the bamboo”.
One can try to evolve contemporary sketch of neo-haiku irrespective of whether he lives in village, urban area or elsewhere. That is the beauty of Japanese masters’ craftsmanship. Let us revere them and their classical contributions even we dream to shift to Moon or Mars!
It has always been to have trans-creation of tender expression of the nature through the art of words for the readers to derive emotion, goodness, quietude and divine pleasure of the haiku moment. The poem needs to carry the essence of Zoka (creativeness), Yugen (depth and mystery), koko (becomingness), wabi-sabi (austere simplicity and solitude : Japanese aesthetic virtues) and ma (opening, space).
Solemnly I still continue to march ahead with my tiny steps! An incredible journey so far!
Biography: Pravat Kumar Padhy, Scientist and Poet, hails from Odisha, India. He holds a Master in Science and a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad. His literary work referred in Interviews with Indian Writing in English, Indian Literature, Spectrum History of Indian Literature in English, Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Poetry, Cultural and Philosophical Reflections in Indian Poetry in English etc. His poems have been featured in anthologies and periodicals of repute. His haiku, tanka, haibun and haiga have appeared in Poetbay, Kritya, The World Haiku Review, Lynx, Four and Twenty, The Notes from the Gean, Chrysanthemum, Atlas Poetica, Simply Haiku, Red lights, Ribbons, Lilliput Review, hedgerow, Under the Basho, Haigaonline, Daily Haiga, Acorn, Frogpond, Skylark, Brass Bell, The Heron’s Nest, Shamrock, A Hundred Gourds, Magnapoets, Bottle Rockets, Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Daily News, Mu International, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Invitation 2013, Presence, HSA “Haiku Wall” in Bend, Oregon, USA, The Bamboo Hut, Haigaonline, World Haiku Association, tinywords, Modern Haiku, Creatrix etc.
Recently his tanka appeared in the anthology, “Fire Pearls 2”, Keibooks , USA. He is featured in “The Dance of the Peacock : An Anthology of English Poetry from India”, Hidden Brook Press, Canada, 2013, “Epitaphs”, Inner Child Press, USA in association with Shambhabi, West Bengal, 2014.
His haiku won the Editor’s Choice Award at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, Canada, UNESCO International Year of Water Co-operation and The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Contest, Creatrix Haiku Commendation Award and others.
“Songs of Love: A Celebration” published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata is his latest collection.
Not Haiku Tips For The Budget Traveler, Just My Journey
by Ernesto P. Santiago
A few years back I was used to suck out my timid soul from my adventurous body, hoping I had verses poetically romantic enough to share with wifey before bedtime. My poetry journey was still somewhere within the unknown where the future silently resides, and the road I traveled was only diverted by awareness taken from somewhere else to a much shorter road with a passage to haiku consciousness that was so vaguely unconvincing until I out myself from my freeversecumrhymer old self. And as a complete novice in haiku poetry, so thrilled when one of my very first haiku won in the international haiku contest. Since then I was hooked.
never knowing 1
when it will end –
the turtle’s trip
My first ‘meet and greet’ with the haiku world was in 2011 when I was invited to be a part of the Quarterly National Haiku Society of America Meeting in Bend, Oregon as part of the downtown Bend, Oregon First Friday June Art Walk, where I recited my haiku to a delighted crowd. Many thanks to an’ya, haiku poet and UHTS cattails principal editor, for her warm support and for making me feel at ease in my very first haiku reading in front of strangers.
the sky is ready... 2
embracing unknown spirits
I smell my pillow
I asked myself, why haiku? Well, I am fascinated by the admirable brevity and structure of haiku, and even more by its universal appeal that charmed me to join in. To be honest, I prefer haiku because it is written in the present tense, the way I want to live and see my earthly life. Ah, life is too short to live in the past!
on the broken air condition
To define haiku, I tune into the rhythm of my five senses for I believe they are the essentials in unlocking the aha! to the now moment where haiku resides. If I go with my senses, most probably my haiku piece of art would have a sense of pride...
my haiku 4
not spectacular —
just this red sunset
and with the help and positive criticism of some willful haiku poets in the advancement of my haiku life I know I can offer my readers and silent admirers a cherry scented haiku too.
under the cherry tree 5
a lover asks
for an eraser
Haiku offers too many definitions, too many misunderstandings? In certainty, haiku offers unbidden flashes of joy to experience the small world big world of this Japanese ancient art form of writing. I think haiku is a beautiful destination, a natural wonder with aweinspiring views, where a budget traveler like me can go. A desk ku is nice too, especially when it is homemade. However, it would be great to go outside and observe nature where haiku will fill us in. Forced haiku is not my thing and I don’t force myself to haiku, so relax when you write haiku. Don’t haiku to grieve!
grieving mosquito dead too, dead too 6
When writing haiku, I tend to lose my thought when counting syllables. So, to enjoy this haiku travel, I trained myself to learn and break the rules, and I came up with haiku word count called dos por dos 2 / 4 / 2 word count scheme. Mostly if not all, I write my haiku in this form of haiku for I can easily spot the s/l/s or short/long/short characteristic of English haiku.
that elusive 7
"je ne sais quoi"~
Still, in whatever haiku form I decided to write I keep in mind... a haiku master always bleeds haiku. That being said, I am open to any definition of haiku to which I can be a part of and/or I can relate to, because I want to see the haiku world more often as possible without missing the socalled aha! moment that goes along with the travel. Up to this day, I treat haiku as a short walk to nature’s personality with my five senses absorbing it. On a more personal side, I take haiku as a leeway to success, to attaining serenity than I would have ever dreamed of, and I use it to break the undue stress of working life’s daily routine.
dawn breaks 8
the cheap hue
of desk light
Lastly, I write haiku because this is what I want. Haiku is life, and I am open to welcoming the abundance in all forms that it offers. And that’s the essence of haiku in my daytoday existence.
Haiku Publication Credits:
1 “never knowing” Ripples HSA Newsletter, Vol. 26, Number 2, 2011, USA; Living Haiku Anthology 2 “the sky is ready” Featured / Published on the HSA "Haiku Wall" exhibited in the historic Liberty Theatre Gallery at the Quarterly National Haiku Society of America Meeting in Bend, Oregon on June 35, 2011 as part of the downtown Bend, Oregon First Friday June Art Walk; A winning haiku, The International Library of Poetry (2006); Published in my poetry book The Walking Man (Outskirts Press, 2007), The Haiku Foundation; The Living Haiku Anthology
3 “briefing” FInancial Times Haiku Contest Winner, and FT poetry at work: best of 2015
4 “my haiku” Notes from the Gean, p. 50, Volume 3, Issue 4, 2012; Living Haiku Anthology
5 “under the cherry tree” 2015 Haiku Invitational Winner International Sakura Award, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
6 “grieving mosquito” Bones 5, Nov. 15, 2014; Haiku 2015, Edited by Scott Metz & Lee Gurga
7 “that elusive” The Germ, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Spring 2014
8 “dawn breaks” Winner, Financial Times Workplace Haiku Contest Nov. 11, 2015
Ernesto P. Santiago lives in Athens, Greece, where he continues exploring the poetic myth of his senses.
My Haiku: From Making to Being
by Terry Ann Carter
I realize now that when I first began exploring haiku almost twenty years ago, I was “making” poems. My senses informed and shaped the moment I was in. Some of the poems recorded moments in the natural world:
end of summer
the Great Blue Heron stretches
into its shadow
some from the human world:
of the kite master
and some from a hybrid of both:
for the moon
When I retired from a thirty-five year career in teaching (kindergarten to college) I began to travel. Because of my husband’s kidney transplant, most of the journeying was solo, which resulted in poems such as this:
alone in Tokyo
even the chopsticks
By the autumn of 2015, my husband was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. Our lives changed. Irrevocably. So did my haiku. The intensity of this knowledge has cracked me open to a heart-knowledge of the haiku moment.
For example, when I came home from the doctor’s visit that revealed the cancer news, I saw our Christmas cactus on the window sill, blooming. It had been dormant for months, and now the tiny tips of the green cactus were flowering like small pink parachutes. I remember taking the plant from the sill and sitting with it in my lap. I remember weeping.
the Christmas cactus
begins to bloom
Here’s the thing. A reader who doesn’t know the situation would read this poem and (correctly) assume that the diagnosis was not a good one, that some illness or disease was beginning to grow. And this would be true,
But for me, the writer of the haiku, the blossoming of the Christmas cactus was part of my experience of understanding death in a whole new way. I would say that I was part of the bloom. That the bloom was part of me. I was the poem.
Terry Ann Carter
Victoria, British Columbia
My career is one of Martial Arts -- Kung Fu. It has been a 54 year physical and philosophical journey as both student and teacher. Amidst the many philosophies I've pondered over the years, is the following (regarding the use of technique):
This has been the core of my self-defense and of my life. It also has been and remains today a defining force behind my writing haiku/hokku.
As time has passed I have become someone who redacts everything -- to the fewest actions or words possible. I'm one who could write a book of 75,000 words and then quickly reduce it to 50!
I've attempted other styles of poetry. But, it is brevity and the power within brevity that continues to attract me to haiku — not the kind of brevity where I would use one word, necessarily; rather, the kind that employs a few common words of which lead the reader into a stream of thoughts and associations:
in her belly, the sound
of unopened mail
HaikuNow 1st Place, 2013; Touchstone Award 2013
I imagine I could write a small book or a very long haibun utilizing this haiku, but then again, why not invite the reader do some work? I used nine words to describe one of the worst events in the history of inhumanity. That's haiku; and, that's what has attracted me to it for so many years.
There is nuance and mystery,
chilled bones then the moon and not
Ink Zero, 2015; Don Baird
there is heart,
the waterfall gives birth
to a hummingbird
Ink Zero, 2015; Don Baird
something of a scar
of ocean left
Ink Zero, 2015; Richard Gilbert
I enjoy twists and turns -- the surprises that haiku often bring. I explore imagination and wonder what haiku would be without it. Is haiku a statement of facts? Is it a story? Is it limited to the words within the poem? Or is it something that lunges toward the deepest woods of the reader's mind?
between pages memories pressed
Haiku - the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
hanging mirror the shape of my thoughts
Ink Zero, 2015; Don Baird
The body has limitations and boundaries. The Spirit is infinitely free.
the butterfly's unusual
Haiku - the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
Imagination and connection to the Creator,
the distance between stars
As the Crow Flies, 2013; Don Baird
Pain and tragedy,
in the field of death
Haiku - the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
the carefree attitude
Haiku - the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
a drowning man
pulled into violet worlds
Ink Zero, 2015; Richard Gilbert
Occasionally, I wonder where haiku come from? "Where in the heck in my brain did that one come from?" I'm often surprised by words -- when they show up out of nowhere -- uniquely transforming what I am feeling into something concrete such as a haiku. And, I leave myself in the dark as a result:
the thought of stars
that never were
Haiku, the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
However, deep hurt from war, from conflict, and from strife connect with me the most:
but not held together
her tiny hands
in the sand
of her eyes . . .
rocket blast —
souls ascend, in clouds
of it all
white wrapped —
the damascus steel
the brown eyes
Haiku, the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
Haiku depicting moments such as these dig so deep in my heart that I must often take time to breathe after writing one. The pain is deep by the thought of humanity at such a low ebb; the feeling of hate in the air mixed with blood and red fog scares me. When innocence is killed, terror inflicted, and the continuum of rejection of people with differing tastes, ideals and beliefs, and where the word understanding no longer dwells, it darkens my soul.
lost in dreams
I've never grown up
to play war
Haiku, the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
In the balance, there is joy and the beauty of nature and its wildness all around. I love the little things such as butterflies and ants; I admire and am astonished by the power of nature, its force, its unwavering desire to fold and unfold in its own way without my regard, without my control. It's exciting to recognize this about nature and to react to it through words -- through haiku:
each rose the wind leaves behind
minuet . . .
the things I see
Haiku - the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
at the end
of a bamboo shoot
Ink Zero, 2015; Don Baird
without thought a bird anyway
Ink Zero, 2015; Don Baird
the elegant pause
of a birdsong
Haiku - the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
As life goes on there will be more things to ponder. I suppose that once my pondering is over the following haiku may become relevant; and, I'm ok with that:
— an old bear
slowly through the marsh
into the stars —
Haiku - the Interior and Exterior of Being, 2014; Don Baird
When did you become interested in haiku?
I discovered the form while working on an undergraduate Zen thesis at Drew University, an old Methodist school which focused on Western thinkers. When I presented my oral paper to the chairman of the philosophy department, his response was Zen monks must have diseased minds. The Zen practice of burning books was a concept that he found most uncomfortable.
Although I received an A- for the paper, along with a bruised ego, I learned something really important – know my audience! An important lesson in the School of Hard Professor Knox.
In 1978 while visiting the New York Cloisters, I came across two books that would change my life forever–Harold Stewart’s A Net of Fireflies and A Chime of Windbells. The illustrations were captivating and even though the haiku rhymed, I loved reading them.
When did you first start to publish?
My first publication was a longer poem called Purple, first published in East West Journal. Through life I went for 29 years thinking I wasn’t creative – that art and poetry were out of my reach. Then one afternoon Purple wrote itself. The Muse tapped me on the head with a feather to say, Wake up.
Click here to read Purple
It’s a poem that has been like a chain letter finding its way into many venues including writing and architectural texts.
When did you start to publish haiku?
Having been smitten by the haiku form, I began sending my meager attempts to Randy Brooks’ High Coo journal. Each week my little poems would come back to me in SASEs with sorry scrawled on the top. I kept it up until finally the day came when
Husband home from work
haiku for dinner
was accepted. I guess one could say it’s a senryu about a haiku. And while lying in bed one morning, a haiku seemed to drop into my frontal lobe:
sounding a butterfly
out of the bell
While there have been haiku written about butterflies asleep on bells, this one was a new slant. I felt like my heart was the bell and I was being awoken by Destiny herself for after that time haiku began pouring from my fingertips and in all these decades, no matter what I’ve gone through in my life, the flow has continued. You might say the Muse paid me a visit and never left. I didn’t have to get down on my knees and pray for her help, I didn’t have to listen to pep talks on how to get through writer’s block.
You were one of the early presidents of the Haiku Society of America. When was that and what was the experience like?
In 1984 HSA President and translator Hiroaki Sato asked if I’d serve as president of the Haiku Society of America (Japan House, NYC) after Gerrie Clinton Little’s reign. Long story short, Frogpond, its house organ, was on its way to extinction. Members were threatening to demand back their dues. Gerrie and Vice President, the late Prof. Herman Ward, encouraged me to take that job on too. I asked many poets if they’d be willing to assume the responsibility of getting Frogpond back on its feet but there were no takers.
Editing Frogpond was a great experience especially since I was the only decision maker. It was a pleasure to publish many writers such as Raymond Roseliep, Bob Boldman and David LeCount. Sometimes I’d devote pages to one poet which irked a number of readers.
I also published my own one-word haiku simply because I thought another journal would never do it. Jim Kacian refers to it as the second most famous one-line haiku ever written.
Everyone knows Cor’s
is number one.
What was it like back in those earlier days?
Long before I came on the scene, Hiroaki Sato, Alan Pizzarelli, Anita Virgil, Bill Higginson, Nick Virgilio, Cor van den Heuvel and others were meeting at Japan House regularly and ironing out 'dos and don’ts' of how haiku ought to be written in English. They were a serious bunch and rather intimidating to a newbie.
Long before email, poets corresponded by snail mail or phone. It was Cor van den Heuvel and Rod Willmot who really were open to my work and from there, I started getting calls from Al Pizzarelli, Nick Virgilio and Virginia Brady Young. We’d chat on the phone about haiku, commented on each other’s work, and just got to know one another.
The haiku community was relatively small and consisted mainly of poets from North America. While I was still a newcomer in the early 80's, I traveled to Santa Fe where I met Elizabeth Searle Lamb (Roseliep’s First Lady of Haiku). Her husband, Bruce, had just had surgery so we didn’t linger at their adobe-style home, just long enough to have tea and cookies and get a tour of their rooms where we saw her famous harp with the broken string.
I also traveled to Maine to see Arizona Zipper where he let me use his kitchen and some of his precious vanilla to concoct a kudzu apple pudding. He smoked his pipe the entire time, didn’t indulge in the dessert and didn’t share any haiku. He and his charming mother lived in a rambling Colonial that took up the whole block.
The high diver
takes off her cape
in the stars.
(Haiku Anthology, Norton)
is an Arizona Zipper classic.
We entertained a number of haiku writers in our Mountain Lakes, New Jersey home including Hiroaki, Cor, Bob Boldman, Hal Roth (editor of Wind Chimes Journal), Gerrie , Rod Willmot and Adele Kenny. I had a garden party in honor of the publication of Cor’s Haiku Anthology (Norton) where afterwards we all walked around our community’s beautiful namesake lake. I remember Cor stopping to lovingly place an arm around his wife, Leigh, to take it all in.
I remember when Rod was visiting from Canada, Cor spent the night at our house and decided to get up at the crack of dawn. Unbeknownst to each other, I also got up before the house began to stir, slipped on my black kimono and painted my face with cold cream. I wanted to catch my breath before another day of haiku talk commenced but it wasn’t long before Cor set the security alarm off. I dashed down the stairs to find Cor pale as a ghost. "You scared me ! I thought you were a kabuki dancer," he gasped.
Any other stories you’d like to share?
Nick Virgilio would often call to run a haiku by me. He used to tell me he was standing on his head as we spoke and I chortled when he said, "Alexis, you and I could make beautiful music together."
My response, "Nick, you’ve been drinking too much carrot juice."
Allen Ginsberg via Al Pizzarelli sent me a few haiku to be considered. Looking back, I wish I had published them, not because they were great, but to show how big-name poets wrote haiku. In fact, just recently Haiku Chronicles featured a Poem in the Pocket --one of the haiku that appeared there was one of Ginsberg’s. It may have been one that I rejected!
Poem in the Pocket on Vimeo
Poem in the Pocket on YouTube
Another poem featured in the latest Haiku Chronicles was one I wrote years ago that appeared in my meaty out-of-print collection of tanka, Lip Prints (Modern English Tanka Press):
My first haiku book
long out of print–
I find it
in a shop
for a dime.
It was actually a true story that took place in Pacific Grove, California. I wandered into a used bookstore where I noticed a box containing some of my books and a number of Frogponds which I edited. I introduced myself to the proprietor who was wearing a black sweater and brown scissor-pleated skirt. I complimented her on her color combination which I found unusual. When I looked down at her desk, there were a dozen or so of my haiku cut out and glued to cards! She said she was going to send them to her friends.
Is all of your work based on true experience?
to figure me out–
everything I write
all of it true.
is another tanka from Lip Prints. I write from direct experience, dreams, imagination. On a White Bud and Affair an Affair which put my work on the radar screen were really based on a challenge I gave myself after reading Chekov’s Lady with the Dog.
in his arms
was inspired by a scene in Chekov which stimulated my own imagination.
from last night’s dream
waiting on the mailbox
was based on real life.
Who do you think is the most interesting haiku writer you’ve ever met?
Alan Pizzarelli is a colorful figure who is famous for his droll sense of humor. He married his soul mate, Donna Beaver, back in 2008--it has been an amazing
ride for both of them. When two good heads came together Haiku Chronicles came into the world for our viewing and listening pleasure.
Every Halloween I simply must watch on YouTube their incredible You Put a Spell on Me musical number.
You lived in New Jersey for a long time. Where did you head next?
In 1993, my husband was transferred to the San Francisco Bay Area where we lived in Los Gatos for five years. When I first moved there, I thought I would be more involved in the haiku community, but it turned out not to be so.
One afternoon I drove to San Francisco to meet another haiku poet. His first words were, No one deserves to have so many poems in an anthology. He was referring to van den Heuvel’s Haiku Anthology where several pages were devoted to my work. He actually counted the number of Alexis’ haiku which I myself had never bothered to do.
That was quite a welcome, wasn’t it? I hope you didn’t have many more experiences like that.
Well, there was another time when a fellow writer called to inform that a certain member of the Northern California haiku group seemed to be on a mission to prove that not everything Rotella wrote was great stuff. Years later I confronted that same person about his routine dismissal of my work, but there was no acknowledgment or apology.
One of my closet friends from my California days was the late Pat Shelly, best known for tanka. She was a widow in her 80's and we had many interesting outings together. I recall the afternoon she and I were headed toward Los Altos to a restaurant but became so engrossed in our conversation that we drove miles away from our destination until the spell wore off and we realized we didn’t know where we were.
I attended her memorial service and every time I passed the cemetery where she was laid to rest I waved. People have always been more important to me than poetry even though poetry may have been the catalyst that brought us together.
There was a time when you didn’t publish much. Why was that?
I began acupuncture school in Santa Cruz where I didn’t stay long. I wasn’t keen on the traditional Chinese Medicine approach, but more attracted to the Five Elements System which is a more holisitic methodology so I transferred to a school in Miami to which I commuted every few months for training and in between did clinicals in California. Learning Oriental Medicine required a lot of memorizing and in order to become licensed, I had to put my nose to the grindstone. I rarely submitted to journals but in my spare time I began corresponding with ai li, editor of Still journal. She and I created many renga offshoots such as colorenga, catenga and surrenga. They’re still online.
Ai li and I also shared recipes and life experiences and for a year or two we were project soul mates. She’s a great poet and gifted photographer; I hope she makes a comeback.
Carlos Colon and I rengaed back and forth for years via snail mail. We finally met in Winston-Salem at a Haiku North America meeting in 2007 where we read one of our renga. I also read of my tanka which would soon afterwards be included in Elvis in Black Leather
After my father’s funeral
I lift the shroud
from the TV set
and let Elvis in black leather
break my heart
I don’t know if that tanka was an incentive for Carlos to become Haikuland’s own Elvis, but I like to think it may have planted a seed.
Carlos published Sassy, a collection of our linked poems.
As you can see, quite a bit took place during my haitus away from publishing in journals. I was frankly relieved for the respite away from the usual poetry politics. I also realized early on that California is a state of mind and I am, at heart, an East Coast girl.
(Ouch, Senryu that Bite, MET Press)
Then where did you land?
When my husband was hired by a Washington, D.C. law firm, we moved to the Annapolis, Maryland area. I was soon licensed and opened an acupuncture practice. Within a few months I had the mercury removed from my teeth, got really sick and somewhere along the way I was also diagnosed with Lyme disease. But I’m not going to get into the miseries of having an illness that doctors said was all in my head. Instead I managed to take baby steps, study, and incorporate what I learned into my own healing practice. Life throws at some people an incredible maze and it’s up to us to try to find our way out.
As I started to make progress and was able to think more clearly, I dug into that big box in the closet that contained thousands of haiku, tanka and other poems that were written over a period of thirty years. Coincidentally I heard about Modern English Tanka Press and its founder, Dennis Garrison. He said he’d be interested in publishing a collection of my work. Poems on scraps of paper morphed into Lip Prints. On a lark, I asked Michael McClintock, tanka scholar and exceptional poet, if he’d take a look and tell me what he thought. I was shocked at the response – he loved the manuscript and wrote a long thoughtful foreword.
Dennis published Ouch (Senryu that Bite) which is another large collection, as well as Eavesdropping (a reprint of Clouds in My Teacup, Wind Chimes Press, 1981), and Elvis in Black Leather, my love affair with the King, and Black Jack Judy (Growing Up Italian in the Bronx), my husband’s autobiography written mostly in tanka form.
Regrettably my MET books are all out of print although I still have a few on my shelf if anyone is interested. When I see them for sale on Amazon, I grab them if they’re not selling for $100.
I gradually began submitting poems to journals, my favorite being an’ya’s moonset newspaper. An’ya and I did a long epic renga together about our growing up Slavic which won a Tanka Splendor award. On another lark, I sent a haiku to the 2007 Kusamakura Annual International Haiku Contest and won a trip to Kumamoto, Japan where my husband and I were given the red-carpet treatment. In 2006, I met Roberta Beary at a haiku gathering in 2006 where she piqued my interest about that contest. Her haiku won the 2005 grand prize for:
the roses shift
My winning entry was:
sound of the last
When did you become interested in haiga?
Dennis asked me to put together a team of editors for a new on-line journal, Modern Haiga. Linda Papanicolau agreed, as did Dennis and Raffael deGruttola. I was a fledgling at haiga, having just started to play with PhotoShop. It was a safe environment in which to experiment. There was a dearth of haiga outlets and I like to think we were a springboard for other editors to start their own online journals as well as others to experiment with haiga. I never dreamed so many poets would jump into the haiga pond.
Before I became involved with Modern Haiga, Linda Papanicolau published a number of my works on Haiga-on-Line. She’s an excellent teacher from whom I’ve learned a lot.
Where do you publish most of your poetry?
For the past several years, I’ve been posting my poetry and haiga on Twitter and Facebook. I recently joined Michael Rehling’s Virtual Haiku for members. It’s a safe place to share one’s newest creations. Michael, also a prolific poet, shares his words on social media regularly. He’s a good friend to poets and writes reviews of books he likes on Good Reads.
Just a couple of months ago I began submitting again to journals and am finding it takes a lot of time and energy. I haven’t entered a lot of contests lately–I’m not driven to do so.
Were you interested in writing as a school girl?
When I was just a young girl, I was enamored with the blank page, especially the smooth end pages of the few books we had on the shelf. I remember running my fingers over the silky white sheets and thinking, One day I want to fill up these pages with something that means something to me, something that comes from myself, not other people.
So the metaphors were there long ago even though it took me years to understand them.
Who would you say influenced you the most?
The editor of Alembic Press who published Raymond Roseliep’s Listen to Light and Rabbit in the Moon saw my potential even though I didn’t. With just a few suggestions, I was able to hone my nature haiku into more personal moments.
Convertible top stuck
my flower-print dress.
In the pool hall
the young stud
(Eavesdropping, MET Press)
Raymond and I corresponded at least weekly. I published much of his work, both in Frogpond and Brussels Sprout. Raymond was eager to share his experiences and he was a new voice who wrote about his childhood which in turn got me to look at my own growing-up memories which I published in Middle City and Musical Chairs.
Here is a sampling of Raymond’s haiku from The Haiku Anthology:
brushing my sins
the muscatel breath
of the priest
lowers his ears
to the master’s fart
buttoning his fly
the boy with honeysuckle
clenched in his mouth
Sadly, Raymond wasn’t with us long–he had a heart attack in the dentist’s chair.
Bob Boldman was a short-lived star but while he wrote, he shone and showed us all how to minimize. He was also a master of concrete poetry. I didn’t believe Bob when he told me his writing career would soon be over; I thought he was exaggerating. I was happy to see that Red Moon finally put out Boldman’s everything i touch, which was awarded a 2012 Touchstone Distinguished Books Award First Prize for Best Individual Collection by The Haiku Foundation, and a Second Prize in the 2012 Kanterman Awards from the Haiku Society of America.
Boldman is a Zen practitioner and probably the most spiritual man I’ve ever met. Here are three of my favorite Boldman haiku (The Haiku Anthology, Norton).
mirror my face where I left it
face wrapping a champagne glass
in the temple
Scott Montgomery, another minimalist, was also a big influence. I met him at a Haiku Society of America meeting before I became president. We hit it off immediately. He too disappeared from the haiku scene before he could show us what he was all about. But we’re all lucky Cor noticed his work:
a shadow hangs
from the pointing finger
she moves deeper
into the mirror
I published an illustrated chapbook, Drizzle of Stars, where I included two renga with Boldman and one with Montgomery. It didn’t get much notoriety, but is probably my favorite book of everything I’ve done to date, except perhaps for Lip Prints.
Before I met Hiroaki Sato in the flesh, I read his tome, Country of Eight Islands and again fell in love with his one-line translations. They stirred something in me as did his renga with Marlene Mountain.
Their collaborations can be read on Marlene Mountain's website.
Have you judged contests?
I’ve judged a number over the years including the Hawaii Educational Association Contest in the early 80's with Kenneth Yasuda and Hiroaki Sato. A Japanese television station was on the scene to interview the male judges but they didn’t bother to look my way.
For two years in a row now, I’ve been a Touchstone Awards judge and feel honored to have read so many books by so many haiku writers. This year John Stevenson’s (d)ark won first place. Even though they weren’t award winners, I was touched by Elizabeth Crockett’s not like Fred and Ginger, a small chapbook with a big subject.
Mike Rehling says of this haibun collection:
"I am glad that Liz has both survived cancer, and shared the journey in this way for the rest of us."
Another fine read is Robert Epstein’s What My Niece Said in My Head, haiku written for his niece thousands of miles away.
It’s been a while since you published books. What are your plans?
In April of this year Red Moon published my haiku collection, Between Waves for which Michael McClintock and Grace Cavalieri wrote favorable blurbs. Here are a few haiku:
Telling its story
of the creek
I sit inside
I was also honored that I was Grace Cavalieri’s April’s featured poet/artist at danmurano.com which showcased a number of my haiga.
You’re posting a lot of art on social media. What’s with that?
When I post haiga, photographs, or iPad art, I’m really sharing my daily journals. There aren’t enough outlets for my work – the poetry and the art just keeps coming forth. My best work will probably never be seen in journals. Life moves on. What better way to feel alive than to live with the Muse on a daily basis? Friends and family members come and go. Poetry and art are forever.
I’ve had a number of haibun accepted in the last few months–that’s an art form that has really taken off. It’s exciting to see how many haiku poets are writing it, and writing it well.
Who are your favorite modern-day writers?
W.S. Merwin, Thomas Transtromer and Ted Kooser are my favorite longer poets. I’m impressed with Jane Hirschfield’s essays on poetry. As far as those writing Japanese forms in English, there are so many and I’m sure I’ll hurt a lot of people by not mentioning them, but off the top of my head there’s Margaret Chula, Penny Harter, Roberta Beary, George Swede, Carole MacRury, Bob Lucky, Ron Moss, John Stevenson, Debbie Strange, Jim Kacian, David Terelinck, Beverly George and Tom Clausen.
Do you want to add anything?
I could go on for days but all things must come to an end. Thanks for letting me share.
Since the initial purpose of this section is to share my journey toward haiku I will offer a few observations. What is more important, in my own mind, is how someone stays on the journey, since that is the hard part.
My first contact with the haiku form came in high school. A wonderful English teacher gave us an overview of poetry that stuck with me the rest of my life. She covered every form, not just haiku, but encouraged us to write poetry in our own voice. I wrote continuously from that point forward, and I still think of her kindness in reviewing my first efforts and sharing her comments.
When I arrived at Michigan State University, as a Theatre Major in 1964, I went to the Student Bookstore, and at the checkout there was a copy of “Haiku Harvest”, published by Peter Pauper Press. I bought it, and although by today’s standards the translations are less than stunning, they were the best you could get for a buck. It should also be said that some of the haiku included in the book were not haiku at all, but zen koans. Oh well, it got me thinking about and writing haiku.
Sometime in 1965 Alan Watts came to speak at one of the many Kivas at MSU that served as lecture halls by day, and in the evening were the site of other speakers invited by various groups at the university. He was asked by someone about haiku, and he correctly answered that they were not a part of the practice of zen, but that the writing of haiku could be a valid means of expression for students of zen. I should note that Alan Watts wore a black suit, black tie, and write shirt. He also smoked a pipe, and afterwards had a few drinks with some of us. He was about as unconventional a zen buddhist I have ever seen, but his sincere and passionate love for the teachings impressed me. I followed his writings and tapes for the rest of his life. And, besides all admonitions to the contrary, believed that haiku and zen were somehow connected for many years. They are most certainly not connected, I know that now, but when you are eighteen, what the hell, I wasn’t listening to anyone anyway, so Alan Watts be damned.
My haiku were almost universally unpublished nonsense, and I drifted to free verse, but limited myself to nothing more than 22 lines. I have no idea where I came up with that number, but it stuck. As my poems grew shorter and shorter they got published more often. That whole ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ thing seemed to be paying off for me. I kept writing, but marriage, two sons, and the usual ‘stuff’ of life kept me busy and unfocused on haiku again for a couple of decades, and zen was a peripheral philosophical sideline.
Fate then dealt a determining card in the late eighties when I went to work for a Japanese medical firm, and then for a large Japanese Bank. I was suddenly able to talk to real Japanese about their culture and their poetry. As you might guess, they were more than happy to see a blonde haired, blue eyed american who had a real interest in their culture. Two executives at the bank also wrote haiku in Japanese, and were interested in finding out about English haiku. It gave me a chance to hear from them how they viewed both zen and haiku in Japan, and it was an eye opener that both of them wrote haiku, but not well, and studied zen although they did not practice it. They laughed at my initial ideas of Japanese culture, and kindly corrected me along the way. Not to leave out that we drank a lot, that is also a Japanese cultural ‘thing’. I still was not writing very good haiku, but I now had Japanese friends who did not write good haiku either. Strangely it gave me hope.
As my career path took me upwards, I still wanted to write poetry, and somewhere in the 1990’s I decided to just focus on haiku. So, since I now traveled all over the USA and a good chunk of the world, although not to Japan, I looked for books on haiku in english everywhere I went. Bookstores in London seemed filled with them, and strange as it may seem I bought my first copy of “The Haiku Handbook”, by William Higginson and Penny Harter, in a bookstore in London near the British Museum. Quickly, I latched on to Bill Higginson’s books, snapping them up as quickly as I could and reading them over and over, I often tell others that if you don’t have a copy of “Haiku World”, you are missing the best of Bill’s teaching. A copy is never out of my reach even as I type these words.
Once I got going, and developed a sense for what a ‘real’ haiku was, the one thing that kept me going was reading the work of other poets. Today if anyone wants to know about haiku, I tell them to read good haiku, and point them to the places where they can see well written haiku in a variety of styles. It is so important not to get stuck in one corner or the other of the ‘haiku world’, especially on the Internet, and to find both a style and a poetic voice that is uniquely your own. Don’t listen to self styled ‘experts’, even if they are well intentioned poets in their own right. Every great haiku poet in Japan or America has taken a path of their own. Don’t let anyone sell you their path, blaze your own. That said, let me share some of the resources that I have found most useful.
Print Journal Influences
There are only two print journals that are must have, in my opinion, and they are Acorn Journal and Mayfly. Why, you ask? Because they both have just haiku. No opinions, nothing to confuse you, just wonderfully presented haiku. They both are small, so you can carry them in your pocket, and both come out twice a year. These two are the crown jewels of print journals in haiku. Save your money and just focus on these two.
Internet Resource Influences
I would not be writing haiku today without the Internet. The ability to read good haiku in quantity is something only the Internet can give you. Some of my favorite spots include the Haiku Society of America site, and for starters their definitions. Hundreds of books have been written discussing the definition of haiku in English, but before you spend your money start by reading these, and don’t read too much into them. They also have a large collection of haiku, senryu, and haibun from their contests that run every year, and you can find them easily. Check the contest results out and read some of the best haiku written in English in the last few decades. You will see after spending time here that there are more ways to express yourself in this form then you can see anywhere else. I go back once a year and just read, and it is the best learning and inspirational tool you can give yourself, and it is free. Listen to everyone who has anything to say about haiku, BUT find your own voice, and develop your own patterns and ‘rules’ to govern your writing of haiku. No one person, group, or organization owns the definition of haiku, either in English or Japanese, period. Never forget that fact.
Internet Journal Influences
The Internet, Facebook groups, and Twitter are all filled with the work of excellent haiku/senryu poets. You can easily search for them by name. If you see a poet in one of the online journals simply search for them on any of the social media sites and you will find many more examples of their work. Pick your own favorites to read. Learning from example is one of the great teachers for all of us.
Below are some of my favorite online journals:
All the above are open to be read by all, and have extensive archives of past issues. You can find many of the best haiku poets on these sites.
A few of my favorite haiku poets, and this is a very short list since I have many good friends who write fine haiku, are included here: Ron C. Moss, Terri Hale French, Roberta Beary, Alexis Rotella, Sheila Windsor, Marlene Mountain, Paul David Mena, Sondra Byrnes, and Johannes S. H. Bjerg. There are dozens more, but if you google any of those listed above on Twitter or Facebook you will find many other poets interacting with them on other Internet platforms as well who are equally talented. Many of these folks have been, or currently are, editors of respected journals in Japanese based forms of art and poetry. The range here will show you poets who are also artists in other forms as well, and who clearly stand out above the fray in whatever they attempt. That said, I have hundreds of others who influence me every single day. Some are beginners, some are ‘old hands’ at the form, but all of them excite and teach me daily, and for free on the Internet. I am most influenced by poets who brave the web and share their work openly.They are the ones, in my opinion, who will keep the haiku form alive into the future.
What about me?
Well in the last twenty years I have had over 1000 haiku/senryu/haiga/haibun published. Most all have been in online journals, and my work is in dozens of anthologies published in many different languages as well, and that has been humbling. It has also been a lot of fun. I don’t submit much to print journals, and I don’t publish paper books. I just hate the thought of trees being felled for my little words. That said, you will find a lot of my work on the Internet with simple name searches. I have been an editor of several fine online journals, and done what I could to promote the form on the Internet. I truly believe that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are where the genre is heading, and even though I recently began my 70th year on this planet I plan to be in the ‘cloud’ with my poems and fellow poets for some time to come.
Some links to my work, and readings by me can be found at The Living Haiku Anthology. There are many other fine poets also there, and you will be amazed at the wide variety of styles, topics, and forms of haiku embraced by some of the best poets writing haiku in english.
One of my favorite poets is Lew Welch, and when people ask me to explain haiku to them I point to some of the resources I have listed above, and give them this quote from Lew: “Somebody showed it to me and I found it by myself.” Good advice. All the so-called experts in haiku can confuse you, but if you read good haiku, as found in good journals, and as written by good poets, you will find the joy of it for yourself. If anyone says you are just ‘making it up as you go along’, smile and say: YES, yes I am! No sense being a liar. Peace to you...
Silences as seen in Indian Aesthetics
by Kala Ramesh
The Indian theory of anaahata baani (the un-struck sound) and rasa (the aesthetic essence) – still practised and kept alive in all Indian art forms – has aesthetic correlation to the interval in time and space or, in plain words, the silence used in haiku poetics. I call this dialogue the run of the umbilical cord because I strongly feel that all art forms are integrated into the same principles that seamlessly hold them together, and that one feeds into the other.
For long, I’ve also held the view that techniques are the banks that allow the spirit of creativity to flow. Without these banks, there would be devastation and the saddest thing is that the river would be lost. There are two sides to every coin. So if we consider this creative spirit as a river, then we need to keep it flowing – which demands the need to enquire, expand the banks and dig deeper – for we all know that stagnant waters stink.
In this essay I want to look deeper into what we mean by silence and how is it employed in haiku.
Observe the built-in silences in this poem:
on a bare branch
a crow has alighted . . .
(Basho Tr. by Makoto Ueda)
Buddha says in the Heart Sutra: Here, Sariputra, form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness.
(From The Buddha’s Heart Sutra Tr. by Edward Conze)
Since silence is frequently seen as a kind of space, I will now explore more extensively into what I mean by space.
Space is divided here into four categories:
1. Utilizing space
2. Creating space
3. Space that expands
4. Held breath, knowing those spaces within our body
1. Utilizing Space
I was seven years old. My sisters were giving their arangetram (debut performance) in Bharatanatyam, one of the eight classical dance forms of India. Their dance guru, my mother and my aunt were having a serious discussion. The auditorium chosen had a huge dais. How could these young girls be taught to ‘cover’ the stage? Reminiscing about it after so many years, I am amazed that the basic principal techniques in art have not changed at all. But then, why would they?
Let me come to this from a different angle, through word play. Let’s break up the word space:
An ace service in tennis is the ultimate dream of any tennis player. So an ace service means something that cannot be reached or returned: par excellence! Now, speed and placing is inbuilt in that ace. Let’s call it ‘the time factor’. So also, an excellent movement in music is captured in rhythm and taal (Indian beat cycles). In short, art is embedded in time and to go beyond time is what true art is all about. I would call this “utilizing space.”
Let us study this mantra of the Prajna Paramita in relation to what I have said above:
gate gate pāragate pārasamgate bodhi svāhā
It is interesting to observe that this mighty Buddhist mantra from the Heart Sutra, recited all over the world, has a count of seventeen sounds.
Please also note: Indian classical music employs extensive use of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 rhythmic beat cycles. A student of Indian music spends years in training to master these rhythmic cycles.
In Sanskrit this mantra means: “gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, awake, ah!” (There are various translations for this mantra.)
The silences embedded in the repetition of the words in this mantra, hits a deeper truth each time.
gate – gone
gate – gone
pāragate – gone beyond
pārasamgate – gone completely beyond
bodhi svāhā – enlightened, so be it.
As a student of Hindustani vocal classical music, I have spent a lot of time pondering how to effectively use ‘space’ in music, which is very different from the way it is done in dance. In music, one way is to go up and down the octave showing both space and time. But it is equally important to accentuate the space between each note. These full, half or quarter pauses or silences between notes give a fillip to the emotional quotient when a melodic piece is performed. In truth, all art forms demand this fundamental requirement of utilizing space within a specific, given time.
This space mentioned above exists naturally between notes, dance movements, brush strokes or words. An artist only attempts to perfect this technique, to give the dramatic and aesthetic touch needed, to make it visible not only to a connoisseur, but also to a lay person.
almost autumn so many holes to another universe
2. Creating Space
There are effective ways to make space visibly present. I would like to call this “creating space.” This is so subtle that people do not pay much attention to it. So, I would like to give a visual example that makes it clear.
During a visit to London, I entered the art gallery in Trafalgar Square to see a group of visitors guided by a curator who was explaining a few selected paintings. We reached Caravaggio’s painting of Jesus Christ. The curator spoke about Christ’s smooth-shaven face. The special treatment of the fruit bowl that was slightly jutting out of the dining table and the non-believer’s arm extended towards us, were particularly striking. She spoke of the lateral space that Caravaggio has depicted so effectively in this painting. She said it tempts the viewer to quickly step forward and push the fruit bowl back before it falls off the table!
I was taken aback by her pointers. I’ve known paintings that show space by not cluttering the canvas, the stark use of white, negative spaces or by the different treatments in brush strokes, but I had not seen anyone talk of lateral space. This technique has remained deeply etched in my mind, ever since.
between the sky
and the spin of the earth
this falling leaf
3. Creating space to expand it
What I find most fascinating in all art forms is the contrapuntal use of ‘solid’ and ‘vacant’ spaces to create wholeness, the sense of balance and thereby a unity. Contrapuntal means having two or more independent but harmoniously related melodic parts sounding together.
This haiku is an example of using contrapuntal spaces:
in a dragonfly’s glide
Lines 1 and 2 state an image – but line 3 shows the dragonfly’s action as a shadow. So I look down and see the dragonfly’s dance and its pause. The solid spaces are in lines 1 and 2. The vacant spaces are all in line 3.
4. Held Breath: knowing those spaces within our body
Another very subtle but important aspect of silence is the held breath while singing or reciting a poem:
Words there be that cut the very heart-strings,
And words may lead to profound renunciation,
Words may work as soothing balm or may strike misery,
Some of them inspire hope and others engender helplessness.
If an uttered word could hold so much power and magic, can you imagine the power of an unspoken word or sound on the human psyche?
The difference in quality of a silence coming from a spent breath and one coming from a lung that is almost full is remarkably “felt” by the listener. One might wonder what the difference is. A silence coming from a spent breath is devoid of emotion because there is no vital life left in that breath. It is almost dead. Whereas silence, even if it is only a half pause, when it comes from a full lung, it is pregnant with emotions.
an autumn note . . .
my breath holds even
the song’s silences
What is a pacemaker? The online dictionary says:
1. A person or animal who sets the pace at the beginning of a race, sometimes in order to help a runner break a record.
2. A device for stimulating the heart muscle and regulating its contractions
We’re more aware of the second meaning isn’t it? It is a combination of both the meanings I’ve tried to bring into focus here. In this mad rush we call life, let us set a pace which is comfortable for us each day. Knowing the importance of silence, these essential pauses and breaks in our day-to-day living can never be over emphasised. It is an art as subtle as it can get to internalise the silences embedded in nature into our being – to observe and to understand these quiet moments and how to use this as an important tool in all our pursuits. The beauty of what it is to stand and stare and to help weave in a pause, a breather into our hectic lives!
Little drops of water make a mighty ocean... so also each step taken to understand how the mind receives and handles emotions, is a step taken towards understanding how the creative force of nature interweaves vigour, and vitality with silences.
And, we all create only in silence.
four hundred years
Kala Ramesh is an award-winning poet who has been instrumental in bringing school kids and college youth onto the haiku path. Neck deep in these Japanese poetry forms, her latest obsession is to paint city walls with haiku.
Indian thought has travelled far. . . For we know for sure that Dhyana (Dhyana yoga or meditative absorption) from which the Chinese "Cha'an" was derived, which when transported to Japan became "Zen". Dhyana yoga was taken by Bodhidharma from Kancheepuram, South India to China from where it penetrated into Japan.
Six hundred years ago Sant Kabir was born in India (in 1398 AD). He lived for 120 years and is said to have relinquished his body in 1518. The hallmark of Kabir's poetry is that he conveys in his couplets (Doha), what others may not be able to do in many pages.
—Boloji.com, Rajender Krishan.
almost autumn – Karen Cesar, Modern Haiku: 41.1, 2010
between the sky –Laryalee Fraser, Mainichi Daily News, 2006
the pause– Kala Ramesh, tinywords: May 2008
an autumn note– Kala Ramesh, Acorn: # 23, 2009
Basho's frog – Al Fogel, Paper Wasp:17:3, 2011
The Dance of Shiva – Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy
The Transformation of Nature in Art – Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy
The concept of Rasa – Jaideva Singh
Raga and Rasa – Govinda S. Tambe
The Bijak of Kabir – Translated by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh
Poems of Kabir – Translated by Rabindranath Tagore
Transformation by haiku
by Alegria Imperial
ALL THAT ASIDE
Richard Gilbert partially answers the three profound and mystifying questions posed (in reverse order).
- There are haiku existing which are “beyond the range” of the definition of haiku being given. What kind of definition is that? Wouldn’t this really be a definition of “certain varieties of haiku” rather than “haiku”?
- What does “deep metaphor” mean? It’s not a known literary term, so
- what is it doing in a definition, without explanation?
- What exactly is the “simple sense” of a metaphor or simile in poetry or literature? Since this is not illustrated,
- why is it assumed that we would all agree with whatever that would be for haiku (imagine how the reader unfamiliar with haiku might be confused by the use of these terms)?
- The idea that symbolism “is beyond the range of this definition” as much implies that haiku are mainly non-symbolic—though it’s known that a number of exemplary haiku, classical and modern, utilize varieties of symbolism—is quantity to be valued over quality? In any case,
- haiku utilizing symbolism (whatever that might be—it remains unclear) are “outside the range” (reach) of a definition. How hard is it, really,
- to include symbolism in haiku within the range of a definition? The upshot is that,
- haiku which utilize any ‘out of range’ techniques are marginalized; by definition.
- It seems that the HSA definition isn’t defining haiku at all, it’s defining a restricted variety of haiku and leaving ‘out of range,’ and hence out of visibility, varieties, features and qualities of exemplary haiku which it hints at, or dismisses (with the term “beyond”).
Go Tell It on the Mountain - The Personal in Haiku by Roberta Beary
In September 1990 I became a 'trailing spouse' and followed my then-husband to his new job in Tokyo. Living and working in Japan in the 1990s, I experienced, for the first time, life as an outsider, an outsider who was ‘invited' to learn about Japanese culture.
One invitation included joining a haiku group that accepted 'gaigin'. The group met in a drab government building in Tokyo's Minato-ku ward. In my weekly sessions, I learned that haiku must be impersonal and must include a season element. I was also strongly advised to write in the 5-7-5 three-line haiku form. For a long time I tried to write haiku that followed those three requirements and I was not successful. I remember one of the first haiku I wrote in Japan used an image of a cement truck.
Past the cement trucks
row upon row of roses
In my Japanese haiku group, I gradually learned not to use 'initial caps' or punctuation. The 5-7-5 form continued to be encouraged.
on a bed of leaves
cicada with broken wing -
children running by2
After a few years of living in Japan I decided to go out on a limb and write something personal, while still adhering to the traditional form:
grandma's rolled up sleeves reveal
pale tattooed numbers3
This image is based on my friend M's mother, a Holocaust survivor. After school at the playground, I would often see M's mother with her sleeves rolled up, welcoming her son with a hug. I noticed pale numbers with a faint blue tinge on her inner forearm. Just before leaving Japan I entered 'picking strawberries' in a haiku contest. When I returned to the States, I was stunned to learn that my haiku had received a Commended award.
Back in the US in 1996, I was anxious to meet other haiku poets. I joined a local haiku group, towpath poets, which had got together for the first time just a year earlier. There I learned that not everyone writes in a 5-7-5 three-line form of haiku and that season elements are not an absolute.
In December 1997 towpath poets hosted the annual Haiku Society of America (HSA) meeting in Washington DC. At one of the sessions, led by Ken Leibman, then the HSA journal's Frogpond editor, members of the audience were asked to submit an anonymous haiku for discussion. I gamely put my haiku hat in the ring with this entry which I wrote on the spot:
in the room above me
my father shouting4
I had no idea Ken Leibman would chose my haiku to illustrate the question, ‘Is this haiku?' Some members of the audience voiced their opinion that this was not haiku as the author was 'too present' in the poem. Others said it was a perfectly good haiku and proceeded to explain it in such a way that I wondered if they were talking about my haiku or someone else's work. I don't recall much else of the discussion except that Ken Leibman asked the poet to identify him/herself. No one had told me that the anonymous haiku session would not remain anonymous.
Ken asked me if this haiku had its roots in a memory from my childhood. As with most of my haiku, there is an element of the present tense which denotes a childhood memory. In my 'piano practice' haiku, the image of my father shouting in the upstairs bedroom as I practiced piano in the downstairs living room is obvious. Less obvious is the resonance of the present tense. Even today, when I play the piano in my own living room, I sometimes lift my head to listen for the sound of my father shouting. Perhaps this is one reason William Faulkner's quip ‘The past isn't dead. It isn't even past'5 remains a favourite of mine.
After the meeting, Ken and I and some other poets found a local watering hole and continued our discussion of the personal in haiku. Ken told me he liked my haiku because it was different and said something new. He suggested that I submit it for publication and encouraged me to write haiku that 'speaks to me' and not worry about the opinions of others. Since then, I've tried to follow his advice.
At the time, my life was in a period of transition. The husband I had followed to Japan had left me and my two young children almost as soon as we all returned to the States. I was picking up the pieces of my life and writing the process.
a child braids her doll's hair
over and over6
No subject was taboo. While there was no actual custody battle in a courtroom, there were endless meetings with child psychologists chosen by my then-husband.
seeing his arms cross
i uncross mine7
Was I writing haiku? Plenty of people thought I wasn't. And they wrote to tell me about it. Sometimes I would try my hand at something different and use a kigo, a season word. But even then something personal would find its way into my haiku.
my son and i
When I won the 1999 Penumbra Haiku Contest with this haiku, I was happy to read judge Elizabeth St Jacques' comment that my haiku 'expresses a strong sense of love and sharing between son and parent with a touch of humour'. From that point on there was no stopping me. I had been given the go-ahead and that was enough.
I wrote about my childhood longing for my mother's red hat juxtaposed to my adult inheritance of that same hat.
mother's red hat
short years of wanting it
long years of having it9
I continued to enter contests because I wanted to spread the word that it was okay to write haiku about one's own life. Each contest win brought wider acceptance.
again this year my son waits
alone by the door10
The period of transition in my personal life was ending, I was getting remarried, my children were growing up, my parents needed my help more, and it was all grist for the mill. I kept writing. Eventually I had enough poems for a collection, The Unworn Necklace, which I entered in the Snapshot Press Haiku Contest. The Unworn Necklace won first place and was published in paperback in 2007 by Snapshot Press. Later the book went on to win a Kanterman Award from the Haiku Society of America and was a finalist for an award from the Poetry Society of America, a first for a haiku collection.
all day long
i feel its weight
the unworn necklace11
1 Mainichi Daily News, June 22, 1991.
2 Mainichi Daily News, Haiku in English, No. 517.
3 picking strawberries: Commended, International Haiku Contest (1994) in Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of Matsuo Basho Contest, Haiku International Special Issue, Haiku International Association (1996).
4 Woodnotes 31.
5 Requiem for a Nun by William Faulkner.
6 Woodnotes 29.
7 Pocket Change (towpath poets anthology, Red Moon Press 2000).
8 First Prize, Penumbra Haiku Contest, 1999.
9 The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 1st hardcover ed. 2011).
10 First Prize, Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest.
11 The Unworn Necklace.
Editor's note: Roberta Beary is an award-winning American poet who lives near Washington DC. She has written this article especially for Haiku NewZ and is reprinted in the Living Haiku Anthology with the author's express permission. To read more of Roberta's haiku please visit her website.