On June 21, 2014, Dr. Lars Värgo wrote FOREWORD for a haiku booklet “Radu Șerban AMBASSADORIAL HAIKU” as President of the Tokyo International Literary Society.

Dr. Värgo was very active and influential as in the following report.

 

Tokyo International Literary Society

25 April 2013
by Lars Vargö

 

Last night we organized the first lecture activity of the newly formed Tokyo International Literary Society (TILS) at the Alfred Nobel Auditorium of the Swedish Embassy. The lecturer was the renowned authority on Japanese literature, Dr. Donald Keene. It was truly an historic moment. Dr. Keene spoke about his encounters and friendship with writers like Tanizaki Jun’ichirô, Mishima Yukio, Abe Kôbô and Ôe Kenzaburô. He also spoke with sadness in his eyes about his old friend and former Minister of Education Nagai Michio.

Listening to Donald Keene is not only informative and fascinating. He came to Japan right after the war and walked into what he called “the golden age of Japanese literature”. Since then he has written about and introduced Japanese literature to the rest of the world, from early ages until modern times. To have Dr. Keene as the first speaker of TILS was a true privilege.

The purpose of TILS is to introduce Japanese literature to the foreign community in Japan and world literature to Japanese nationals. If there is a writer from, say, Europe, visiting Japan, the TILS will try to invite her/him to give a lecture. TILS will also invite Japanese writers to talk on a regular basis. If you wish to know more about TILS please contact the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo.

http://blog.swedenabroad.se/tokyo/2013/04/25/tokyo-international-literary-society/

Here are two photos on the first lecture activity by Dr. Donald Keene.

 

 

 

Here is FOREWORD by Dr. Värgo with the Japanese translations by Hidenori Hiruta.

 

FOREWORD (序文)

 

 In this collection of haiku by Ambassador Radu Serban the poet has chosen to classify the poems according to five themes: ‘Japan’, ‘Nature’, ‘Feelings’, ‘Time’, and ‘Home’.

 

ラドゥ・シェルバン大使によるこの句集において俳句詩人としての大使は「日本」、「自然」、「感情」、「時間」、そして「家庭」の五つのテーマによって俳句詩を分類することにした。

 

In the first category, the reader will find scenes and locations which reveal various experiences of the poet throughout the country.

 

第一部門では、読者は日本の国内での様々な体験を示す場面や場所を見出すであろう。

 

In Kumamoto and Matsuyama he follows in the footsteps of Natsume Sôseki and Masaoka Shiki.

 

熊本では夏目漱石と正岡子規の足跡を辿る。

 

Mount Fuji is described from various angles and the beauty of the mountains around Asahikawa have also found their ways into the haiku.

 

富士山は様々な角度から描写され、旭川の周囲の山々の美しさも俳句の中に見出される。

 

In Tokyo the moon becomes part of a giant Christmas tree decoration.

A butterfly on Mount Takao is accompanied by wandering clouds in Fukushima.

 

東京では月が巨大なクリスマスツリーの一部になる。

高尾山の蝶の句には福島に漂っている雲の句が添えられる。

 

In the second category, ‘Nature’, the poet goes through the various seasons of Japan. Flowers, snowflakes, a flying peacock as well as immaculate swans help paint a sensitive atmosphere of harmony against the background of a dramatic and powerful nature.

 

第二部門の「自然」では、日本の様々な時季を経験する。真っ白な白鳥だけでなく、花々、雪片、飛ぶ孔雀が劇的で力強い自然の背景とのきめのこまやかな調和の雰囲気を描写するのに役立っている。

 

Feelings are not commonly expressed in traditional haiku, but although a special category is dedicated to them, the poet does not exaggerate or exploit the emotions of humans. He keeps the feelings low key and often only hints at what one can find behind them.

 

感情は伝統俳句では通例表現されないが、特別な部門が感情に捧げられているにしても、人間の感情を誇張したり、または利用したりはしない。感情を控え目に保ち、感情の背後に見出すことの出来るものをしばしば暗示するだけである。

 

He sometime also alludes to earlier centuries of poets and their expressions. ‘Dew of tears’ in one of the poems immediately brings forward associations to the early Japanese collection Manyôshû.

 

時には何世紀も前の詩人とその表現を思わせることもある。

俳句詩の一つの中にある「涙の露」は日本の初期の歌集である万葉集へと連想を直ちに進める。

 

In ‘Time’ it is especially the passage of time that is alluded to through various poetic expressions. And in ‘Home’ the poet puts the light on the warm atmosphere created in homes where the holiday spirit is a time of philosophical reflection.

 

「時間」の部門では、時間は特に様々な詩的な表現を通して

思わされる時の経過である。そして「家庭」の部門では、休日の精神が哲学的な熟考の場である家庭内に創り出される暖かな雰囲気に光を当てる。

 

Many of Ambassador Serban’s haiku follow the traditional 5-7-5 syllabic pattern, while in others one can find both jiamari and jitarazu, ‘too many’ and ‘too few’ syllables respectively.

 

シェルバン大使の俳句の多くは5-7-5の音節の型に従っているが、一方では他の俳句において字余りや字足らず、つまり、「多すぎ」そして「少なすぎ」の両方をそれぞれ見て取れる。

 

This is in line with the best haiku written all over the world today. What is important is poetry itself, not the metrical uniform.

 

この事は、今日世界中で創作されている最高の俳句と一致している。大事なことは俳句自体であり、韻律の一様性ではないということである。

 

Lars Vargö

President of the Tokyo International

Literary Society

June 21, 2014  

 

ラーシュ・ヴァリエ

東京国際文学会会長

2014年6月21日

 

Here is a photo of Dr. Lars Värgo and Hidenori Hiruta, who translated FOREWORD into Japanese.

 

 

By Hidenori Hiruta

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According to

https://akitahaiku.com/2009/08/01/bashos-mimosa-blossoms/

So as a memory of his visit and his ku, the statue of beautiful Seishi was built at the road station, Kisakata-Nemunokoa.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                         蛭田秀法 編集

                                                                                                                                              Edited by Hidenori Hiruta

 

On October 13, 2015, Ben Grafström received Akita International University President’s Award in the English section of the 4th Japan – Russia Haiku Contest for the following haiku :

 

Full moon in summer—

ripples in the lake reach the shore

kissing our toes

 

夏の満月-

湖のさざ波が岸に寄せる

私たちのつま先にキスをする

 

Here is a photo taken at the award-giving ceremony.

 

 

Here is a brief bio of Ben Grafström.

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Grafström

Akita University

Lecturer 講師

 

I studied Japanese literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU) where I earned my Master’s Degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. My thesis research was based on the genre kōwakamai, which was a popular performance art form from the Muromachi period to the beginning of the Edo period.

コロラド大学(米)で日本文学を学んで、東アジア文化文明の修士を終了しました。修士論文の課題は室町時代の中期から江戸時代の初期まで流行した幸若舞の文芸です。

 

In 2009 after I graduated from CU, my graduate school advisor, a classmate, and I accompanied 12 American teachers through Japan following Matsuo Bashō’s Oku no hosomichi trail. The purpose of this research project was to study Bashō in-depth, while at the same time learning about Japan’s many traditions, culture, and history. It was during this trip that I first began to consider composing haiku in English seriously.

 

2009年にコロラド大学を出ました。その後、私と大学院の担当先生や同級生と共に、松尾芭蕉の『奥の細道』に中心するプログラムを作成しました。12名の参加者はアメリカ人の小・中・高の先生方です。東京に出発して、芭蕉の奥の細道を実際に巡りました。そうしながら、俳句や江戸時代の歴史や文化を教えてもらいました。その時から、私は英語で句作を本格的にすることを始めました。

 

I am now entering my sixth year at Akita University. Aside from my regular courses, I also teach a seminar called “Journey to the Interior” and another course called “Introduction to Japanese Culture II.” “Journey to the Interior” is an intensive study class focused on Bashō, but students also learn a lot about composing haiku in English. There are three haiku competitions held in the class that allow students to share their best haiku with each other. In the Japanese culture class, we also talk a lot about haiku as well as Japan’s literary tradition leading up to haiku.

 

秋田大学で教えるのは、今年6年目になります。英語科目以外にも「Journey to the Interior」と「日本文化入門II」を担当します。「Journey to the Interior」は『奥の細道』の集中的な授業です。学生は芭蕉を学ぶと共に、英語で句作の方法を習います。学期中、句会三つを開催します。留学生向きの「日本文化入門II」の科目内容は、俳句だけではなくて、奈良時代から江戸時代の日本の文学や和歌も教えます。

 

This spring (2017) I taught a course for Hōsō Daigaku on English haiku. I hope that the students who took this course were able to improve their English language ability through creative writing. Also, I hope that Japanese people who have an interest in haiku will perhaps consider haiku in English more seriously.

 

2017年の春に放送大学で英語の俳句について授業を行いました。参加者の英語能力の向上と共に、クリエーティブ・ライティングが出来るようにするという目標がありました。私は英語を学ぶことが好きな人々が英語で句作をするのにもっと興味を持ってもらいたいと思っています。

 

I write haiku in English regularly and hope to one day publish a collection of my poems.

 

私は日常的に英語で句作しております。将来に私の俳句を発行することをしたいです。

 

Ben Grafström

Lecturer

Center for Promotion of Educational Research and Affairs

Akita University

 

1-1 Tegata Gakuen-machi, Akita City, Akita 010-0852

018-889-2463 (office phone & fax)

 

講師 グラフストロム・ベン

国立大学法人秋田大学

教育推進総合センター

010-0852 秋田県秋田市

手形学園町1-1

tel・fax: 018-889-2463

 

卯の花や箸の浮きたる洗桶  小川 軽舟

 

Blogs: 

https://trumpsjapan.com/

https://tohokubento.wordpress.com/

 

Twitter:

@TrumpsJapan

 

Photography:

http://500px.com/bgrafstrom

 

Tōhoku Bentō, Ben’s bog, is full of exciting and inspiring articles on Life, Literature, Eating, and Drinking in Japan’s North East.

https://tohokubento.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/the-attributive-form-of-verbs-explained-by-the-bunpo-bushi/

 

Lastly, we sincerely hope that everyone enjoys Ben’s blogs and photograpy.  

 

                                                                                                                                                                                    By Hidenori Hiruta