About AKITA INTERNATIONAL HST NETWORK
Akita International Haiku / Senryu / Tanka Network
4-38 Kotobukimachi, Araya, Akita-shi, Akita 010-1606, Japan
In recent times, Japanese culture has spread all over the world. Modern cultural phenomena such as animated cartoons, comics and karaoke have all found an international audience. At the same time, traditional arts such as haiku have spread and are now thought highly of throughout the world.
In the United States, some elementary and high schools teach haiku in class. Pupils write English haiku, and some of these are brought back to—and appreciated in—Japan. All over the world, people have discovered the charms of haiku, so that now there are haiku lovers in dozens of countries. They read and write haiku in their own native languages as well as in English.
In the West, haiku is popular in countries such as the United States, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Holland, Belgium, and Croatia. Haiku is also loved in Asia and Oceania; it is popular in China, Taiwan, Korea, India, Australia, and other countries besides.
As haiku spread, haikuists and lovers of Japanese culture gradually began to promote exchanges and friendship with each other. National haiku societies were established in each country, and the Internet has enabled them to promote further exchanges, communicate more with each other, and foster deeper friendships. The Internet has also made it easier for haikuists to share haiku written in their own languages as well as in English, and exchange information on haiku conferences, haiku contests, and so on. As a result, haiku culture has developed into a kind of internationally-shared cultural heritage.
Thanks to the internationalization of haiku and Japanese culture, the Haiku International Association in Japan started to publish HI, a magazine in which Japanese haiku selected from reader submissions are printed along with their English translations. They also accept haiku written in English. Thus, the time has come when haiku are written in English as well as in Japanese.
Like haiku, senryu and tanka have come to be written in English as well as Japanese in Japan; some haiku lovers overseas have discovered the charms of senryu and tanka, and begun to write senryu and tanka in their own languages.
In particular, they are popular in the United States, Canada and the UK. Haiku poets in these countries write senryu and tanka in addition to haiku. In recent years some poets who specialize in tanka have also begun to appear. As a result, some poets in Japan have begun writing senryu and tanka in English and sharing them with foreign poets. Through these exchanges, they have promoted friendship with each other. We live in an increasingly international age, when Japanese short literary forms of poetry are written in English as well as Japanese.
With this current situation in mind, we have established the Akita International HST Network, with the motto, “We all try our best / in our busy, busy lives / to write poetry.” We have opened this web site in the hope that children as well as adults will write and enjoy haiku, senryu and tanka, and that they will share it on our network.
Why don’t you try writing a haiku, senryu or tanka to share on the Akita International HST Network?
What are Haiku, Senryu and Tanka?
To help you get started, here is a short introduction to Japanese poetry styles.
What are Haiku?
Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 morae (or on), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7 and 5 morae respectively. Haiku typically contain a kigo, or seasonal reference, and a kireji, or verbal caesura (cutting word).
English-language haiku poets think of haiku as a Japanese form of poetry generally (but not always) consisting of 17 syllables, usually within three lines, with 5, 7 and 5 syllables.
In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku. The essential element of form in English-language haiku is that each haiku is a short one-breath poem that usually contains a juxtaposition of images.
Most haiku writers prefer poems that refer to nature and social events, but some of them don’t always place an exacting seasonal word in the poem. Furthermore, a few of them write haiku composed on one or two lines in less than 17 syllables. Currently the majority of haiku are written in 11 short syllables in a 3-5-3 format.
Senryu is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer morae (or on) in total. However, senryu tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryu are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Unlike haiku, senryu do not include a kireji or verbal caesura (cutting word), and do not generally include a kigo, or seasonal word.
It is often said that both haiku and senryu can be funny, but that if it’s funny, it’s probably senryu. Both haiku and senryu can be about nature, but if it’s about nature, it’s probably a haiku. In addition, both haiku and senryu can be about nature or human nature. Both haiku and senryu can be serious or humorous/satirical. A serious poem about nature is certainly a haiku. And a funny/satirical poem about human nature is certainly a senryu.
So what about Tanka?
Tanka consist of five units (often treated as separate lines when transliterated or translated), usually with the following mora pattern: 5-7-5-7-7.
The 5-7-5 is called the kami-no-ku (“upper phrase”), and the 7-7 is called the shimo-no-ku (“lower phrase”).
The Current Haiku Situation Inside and Outside Japan
With the remarkable rising popularity of haiku, more and more haiku contests are being held both in Japan and elsewhere.
In the United States, the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United States promotes a haiku contest for elementary school pupils and high school students. It is held by the society of Japanese language teachers in northeastern USA and the departments of English and Japanese in the international school of the United Nations. Haiku are accepted in both English and Japanese.
In Canada, the Canadian Society for Asian Arts holds a haiku contest at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. They say, “Bloom with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. In the spirit of international friendship, submit a haiku on the cherry blossoms to the Haiku Invitational 2009.” In 2009, 1450 haiku were submitted by haiku lovers of all ages from 29 different countries.
In Japan, one of the haiku contests is “Youth Haiku Grand Prix” by Ryukoku University, to which pupils and students as well as haiku lovers can send English haiku. Japanese haiku can also be submitted to the contest.
In the HIA haiku contest held by the Haiku International Association, senders can also write haiku in English and Japanese. This contest is well-known to haiku lovers overseas.
Haiku contests can inspire and motivate us, but it is also rewarding just to write and enjoy haiku, and share them with each other.
Each individual haiku is based on its writer’s inner feelings and observations of life. Haiku are a significant expression to readers and can convey images which will linger in their minds for a long time afterwards.
Would you like to try writing haiku in English to share on our Network? Help spread haiku all around the world today!
The Current Senryu and Tanka Situations Inside and Outside Japan
In 1986, Cor van den Heuvel, who was once the president of the Haiku Society of America, edited The Haiku Anthology, and he reported in its supplement that senryu had been as popular as haiku in the early 1980s. In 1993, a British haikuist, Michael Dylan Welch, edited and published Fig Newtons: Senryu to Go, in which he wrote about the differences between haiku and senryu with precision. He won a Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America. Since about 1990, the Haiku Poets of Northern California have been running a senryu contest, as part of their San Francisco International Haiku and Senryu Contest.
Unlike Japanese poets who often write primarily or only in one poetry form, many English-language tanka poets also write other forms of short poetry including haiku and senryu. These days, however, some of them have published tanka journals or established tanka societies in the United States, Canada, and the UK.
In 2000, the Tanka Society of America was established, and the Anglo-Japanese Tanka Society (UK) hosts a web site with tanka and articles. Upwards of 20 literary journals for tanka (both in print and on the web) are regularly published in these countries. Since 1989, AHA Books in the United States has sponsored the international tanka contest, ‘The Tanka Splendor Awards.’
In Japan, Toyo University started a tanka contest for students as one of the events to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1987. Since then, the contest has been held twenty two times. Senior high school students and college or university students are expected to send tanka which they have written about how they see things and how they feel about their lives.
Why don’t you try writing senryu or tanka in English, too?
Last of all, we would like to tell you about two local contests held by the Akita Municipal Government and its Board of Education. They hold both the Akita City Short Verse Contest (divided into haiku, senryu, tanka, and free-form poems) and the National Haiku Contest, which is held in honour of haikuist Ishii Rogetsu, who is one of the most popular haiku poets in Japan. He was taught by Masaoka Shiki, one of the greatest haiku masters in Japan. Ishii Rogetsu was born and brought up in the area of Yuwa, Akita City, in which Akita International University is now situated. We hope that a contest given by our network will be given at the same time and in cooperation with these two Akita City contests.
The Akita International Haiku / Senryu / Tanka Network is composed of lovers and experts of all short poetry forms, such as haiku, senryu, and tanka. We have opened this web site in order to share these short poems with each other.
Readers are invited to send haiku, senryu, or tanka in English or Japanese by postcard to Hidenori Hiruta , 4-38, Kotobukimachi, Araya, Akita-shi, Akita, 010-1606, Japan or e-mail to shhiruta at nifty dot com. Haiku, senryu, and tanka sent by readers will be posted on our web site.
Our Network’s principle projects include the following:
(1). Presentation of verses sent by readers.
(a). Haiku, senryu, or tanka written in English.
(b). Haiku, senryu, or tanka written in Japanese.
They appear in Japanese (both kanji and transliterated into the Roman alphabet) with their English translation.
(2). Instructional articles written by experts on verse.
(3). Spreading of information related to verse contests, verse conferences, etc.
(4). Exchanges with verse lovers in other nations.
(5). Verse contests (haiku, senryu and tanka), including photo haiku and photo senryu (planned for July).
The contest is expected to be given in cooperation with the Haiku contest in honour of Ishii Rogetsu and Akita City Short Verse Contest held in the same period
(6). Verse-writing quizzes and the announcement of the results of the verse contest and the exhibition of selected verses.
(a). At the Akita International University Festival (in October).
(b). At the Akita International Festival (in November).
(c). The verses sent to the contest are printed in the anthology by the Ishii Rogetsu and Akita City Short Verse Contests
(7). The publication of a yearly journal (in June).
(8). The opening of our web site, the Akita International Haiku Network.