On May 23, 2014, Adjei Agyei-Baah, Kumasi, Ghana, submitted his haiku for the English section of the 3rd Japan-Russia Haiku Contest.

 

leafless tree―

lifting a cup of nest

to the sky

 

Adjei’s haiku was judged and selected for Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Award by Fay Aoyagi.

Fay Aoyagi: A naturalized US citizen living in San Francisco. She is President of HAIKU SOCIETY OF AMERICA (http://www.hsa-haiku.org), Webmaster at Haiku Poets of Northern California (http://www.hpnc.org) and a dojin of two Japanese haiku groups: Ten’I (Providence) led by Dr. Akito Arima and Aki (Autumn) led by Mr. Masami Sanuka. 

Her two haiku collections, “Chrysanthemum Love” (2003) and “In Borrowed Shoes” (2006) were published from Blue Willow Press.

Her English blog (http://fayaoyagi.wordpress.com) includes a daily haiku translation and she has a Japanese blog (http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/fayhaiku), as well.

 

On October 25, an award ceremony was held with the results announced at the Akita International University, part of the international haiku conference in celebration of the 29th National Cultural Festival in Akita 2014.

  Adjei Agyei-Baah delightedly spoke to attendees via Skype from Ghana when he received his award from the president of the Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He shared his great delight and honor with academics, such as Dr. Akito Arima, the president of the Haiku International Association, David McMurray, professor at The International University of Kagoshima, Alexander Dolin, professor at Akita International University, and haiku poets and students from Russia, UK, USA, Canada, Taiwan, and Japan.

 Saying,  “Congratulations!”,  we, attendees, wished if Adjei would invite his haiku friends to submit haiku for the contest the following year, with haiku spread further throughout Africa.

 

 

Adjei Agyei-Baah also presented his photo haiku to the Akita International Haiku Network.

 

 

On October 26, Adjei sent his e-mail to the Akita International Haiku Network as follows.

Dear Sir,

I am most grateful for the honor done me on the event. I hope all went well. I will still continue to read and delve deep into the haiku aesthetics and get back to you someday with good news to share.

I look forward to receiving the certificate and the cultural artifact.

Once again, thanks to members of the organizational team for making this grand event happen.

Sincerely,

Adjei

 

On November 18, Adjei sent his e-mail to the Akita International Haiku Network as follows.

Dear Mr. Hiruta san,

I have finally received the parcel and once again, i am grateful to you and all the organizers of the event.
This laurel has come to boost my moral in the haiku art and also to spread it in my country Ghana.
I am yet to frame the certificate for my wall.  Though I could not read the content, it’s still of a treasure to me.
I hope to come up one day with a haiku collection to share my African settings with the world:

getting my pen worth

of me

Thank you Akita
Adjei

 

Part of Interview with Ghanaian Poet, Adjei Agyei -Baah.

 
On December 5, Geosi Gyasi, a young Ghanaian book lover and also a poet, interviewed with Adjei as the brain behind Geosi Reads, a web space where he features reviews of books, literary news and author interviews.


 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Adjei Agyei -Baah

 

Biography:

 

Adjei Agyei-Baah is a founding partner of Poetry Foundation Ghana, a language examiner and a part-time lecturer for West African Examination Council and Institute of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, respectively. He is also the co-editor of Poetry Ink Journal, a yearly poetry anthology in Ghana. As part of his duties, he also serves as a supporting administrator for http://www.poetryfoundationghana.org. He is a widely anthologized both home and abroad and among his outstanding works includes the praise songs:“Ashanti” written and presented to the King of Ashanti, Otumfuo Osei Tutut II and “Ghost on Guard’ , for Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of the Republic of Ghana. At the international front, his poem, “For the Mountains”, was selected by the BBC to represent Ghana in a Poetry Postcard Project for the just ended Commonwealth Games 2014, held in Glasgow, Scotland.

He is a devotee of the Japanese poetry form haiku and has written and published in e-zines and international journals such as Frogpong, World Haiku Review, The Heron’s Nest, Shamrock and is one of the winners of 3rdJapan – Russia Haiku Contest 2014, organised by Akita International University, Japan, making him the recipient of the Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Award. Adjei is currently working on ‘’KROHINKO’’-an anthology of poems from Ghana Poetry Prize contest, 2013 and looks forward in coming out with his two poetry collections. Some of his poetry artefacts can be found in Manhyia Museum and Centre of National Culture, Kumasi. 

 

Geosi Gyasi: First, congratulations. You are the 2014 winner of Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Award for the 3rd Japan-Russia Haiku Contest. How excited are you to have won this award?

Adjei Agyei -Baah: It’s a great feeling and I have every reason to be happy for this promising news of our time. I thank God for these streak feats this particular year. This is global laurel and it puts my country (Ghana) and Africa as a whole on the world haiku map. Though some of my haikus had earlier on been given merit and honourable mentions in international haiku journals, this one comes in to crown the effort made so far. At least assuring me that my commitment to this Japanese art form has finally paid.

Geosi Gyasi: When did your love for haiku begin?

Adjei Agyei -Baah: It started about three years ago when I chanced upon the works of my fellow writers like Emmanuel-Abdalmasih Samson (Nigeria), Nana Fredua-Agyemang (Ghana), online and Prince K. Mensah (Ghana) who had come out with an experimental collection (Haiku For Awuku) on this poetry form. I must say I was moved by the brevity of this genre. To make it short, to say more in few words is something that really fascinated me to try it. But not ending there, I moved further on to learn from the originators of art: I mean the Japanese masters like Basho, Buscon, Shikki, Issa etc. who have been of great influence in my haiku career.

Geosi Gyasi: Tell us about the inspiration behind your winning haiku?

Adjei Agyei -Baah:

leafless tree—

lifting a cup of nest

to the sky

The above haiku is a scene captured in one of the harmattan season in Ghana as I was traveling in a bus from Kumasi to Accra. In the middle of our journey, our bus got stuck along the road, and upon getting down, saw this naked tree from afar with an outstretched branch with a nest as if requesting for help from above. Immediately an imagery came into mind of a desperate fellow (a waif perhaps) looking up to God to fill his cup with some kind of manna, just as He did provided the Israelites on the desert, on their way to the Promised Land.

Geosi Gyasi: How easy is it to write a haiku?

Adjei Agyei -Baah: It is not easy to write a haiku. First one has to learn the aesthetics of the art before he or she can write a ‘good’ haiku. It may look simple in appearance and yet difficult to write. Haiku has to capture the ‘aha’ moment (moment of delight) which come with keen observation. Besides, it packaged in lines of three or two or sometimes in one stretch of line in approximately 17 syllables with seasonal and cutting words. These are but few rules which one has to observe in writing an ‘acceptable’ haiku. This is all what I can say for now, as I am still humbly learning at the feet of the contemporary haiku enthusiasts like Hidenori Hiruta, Robert D. Wilson, John Tiong Chunghoo, Aubrie Cox, Anatoly Kudryavitsky and others.

Geosi Gyasi: Your poem was selected out of some 1,130 haikus from 46 nations. Now, could you imagine emerging as the ultimate winner?

Adjei Agyei -Baah: No! I had some doubts for sure, for we Africans are not noted for this art form. The Westerners have the upper hand since they started exploring this poetry genre decades of years ago. Aside this, haiku opens itself to a myriad of interpretations, and when your imagery is not familiar to the reader’s environment, its likely to be misunderstood or misrepresented. Ogiwara Seisensui puts it succinctly: “haiku is a circle, half of which is created by the poet and the other half completed by the reader”. So it takes the composer and the reader to dig out a winning haiku. Approximately, the judging team was able to see what I saw, felt what I felt upon this encounter and selected my haiku as one of the best. In fact no one can ever admit that his/her haiku will surely win upon submission, for the eyes that look are many but the ones that see are few.

Like Loading…

 

In January, 2015, Adjei sent a few e-mails to me, telling of his intention to publish a haiku collection and his wish that I would write a foreword to accompany his book.  

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much for accepting to write the foreword to my haiku collection. This is really great news and a dream comes true.
 I will forward the manuscript made up of my 60 best haikus to enable you to start right away.
Besides, your suggested time frame (February 2015) for completion will be okay for me. Please kindly look forward to the book by the close to tomorrow.

I am once again grateful for your time and assistance.
Sincerely,
Adjei Agyei-Baah

 
Foreword by Hidenori Hiruta

 

FOREWORD

 

Adjei Agyei-Baah is the winner of the Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Award in the English section of the 3rd Japan-Russia Haiku Contest. The award-giving ceremony was held as part of the international haiku conference at the Akita International University in Japan, October 25, 2014.  Adjei delightedly spoke with attendees via Skype to share a word or two with the audience and other participants when he received his award from the president of the Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Akito Arima, the president of the Haiku International Association in Tokyo, Japan, was very delighted to hear that Adjei would spread haiku further because of its brevity and its coexistence with nature, and that he would continue to read and to delve deep into haiku aesthetics and get back to us someday with good news to share.

A few months after the president heard these good intentions, to my great delight, I excitedly received the news from Adjei that he was going to publish a haiku collection, strongly believing haiku is a beautiful genre which can be used to tell their African story and wonderful settings. He intuitively and creatively describes his natural surroundings in haiku, the shortest form of poetry. For example, he takes up in his haiku “harmattan, egret, kapok, mango, Afadjato, cocoa, eagle, and cocoyam ” as the objects in nature that are particularly interesting and influential to him in his surroundings.

He wrote this haiku about harmattan (A dry dusty wind that blows along the northwest coast of Africa) in his haiku collection “Afriku ” :

 

harmattan peak

not only does trees’ bark crack

the heels too!

 

He also describes what he sees in his daily life in his own way of writing haiku or senryu from his own viewpoint:

 

pavement beggar—

on his lips

the footprints of harmattan

 

Here is an excerpt from ASAHI HAIKUIST SPECIAL by David McMurray, professor at The International University of Kagoshima in Japan, November 17, 2014.

Akito Arima, an avid haikuist and former education minister, addressed academics at the Akita International University in an effort to convince them that haiku should be added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. He reassured students in the audience that haiku can be composed by everyone, from the man in the street to the likes of Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, the Nobel laureate of literature in 2011 who penned at age 23: disappearing deep in his inner greenness/ artful and hopeful. Later in his career he penned in Swedish:

My happiness swelled

and the frogs sang in the bogs

of Pomerania

By stressing that haiku can deepen mutual understanding and enjoyment of different cultures between those people who read or compose the poem, Arima garnered support for his idea that “haiku can help make the world peaceful.”

Adjei Agyei-Baah has great interest of pioneering this art, haiku, in his country and further takes it up as his Phd thesis (Haiku in Africa). Haiku tells their African stories and wonderful settings in nature, and also connects people in the most wonderful way we can think of.  Adei’s haiku is in truth beneficial for us, mankind:

morning dew―

perhaps heaven weeps

for mankind

-Hidnenori Hiruta  

                                                      February 2015

 

AFRIKU FINALLY PUBLISHED

 

On October 12, Adjei sent his e-mail to me as follows.

Dear Hidernori Hiruta san.

It’s been a while Sir but the good news is that Jim Kacian’s Red Moon Press is done with the publication of my maiden haiku collection “Afriku” and I would like to send you a signed personal copy. 

So please kindly provide me with you postal address that I can forward to you anytime I have the opportunity to do so.

Once again, i am grateful to you and Dr. Akito Arima for your support and inspiration. I really appreciate every role that you have played in my haiku career.

Sincerely,

Adjei Agyei-Baah

 

Here is part of AFRIKU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjei’s comment on the AFRIKU cover page concept.

 

Here it is. To the curious mind who wants to unravel the AFRIKU cover page code (concept). It’s simply made up of an inverted greening baobab tree with egrets flying on top. The upturned root of the tree symbolizes Europe/Asia from where haiku is spreading down to Africa. The beautiful orange background also brings to mind the serene sunset setting on the savannah plains where wild animals graze and roam freely.
#AFRIKU
#AFRICANHAIKU
#BAOBAB
#AFRIKUCOVERCONCEPT

 

Book Review

 

“Here is a review of AFRIKU by a fellow haijin from home, Nana Fredua-Agyeman. Please enjoy his analysis and share comments with us”, says Adjei in his facebook page on February 16, 2017.

Art is dynamic. Art is adaptive. And regardless of where it originates, and with what rules, it is bound to transform and adapt to different cultures. The debate has always been to stick within the rules, be novel with the rules, or to break the rules entirely. But it is these debates, and how they are treated by active-passive artists and the critics alike, that makes art simply ART. It is what has kept it valuable and relevant in an age where the computer is determined to take over our lives and transform everything into a virtual non-reality.

Haiku is just one poetry form. It is perhaps the shortest poetry form, albeit with the longest set of rules. One Haijin (a Haiku poet), Jane Reichhold wrote in her book that one must learn all the rules, practice them, and break them. This is such a difficult thing to do, breaking them. Nevertheless, it is what one must do to remain relevant or to adapt the art form to a given culture. And Haiku is one poetry form that requires a lot of adaptation. 

And this is exactly what Adjei Agyei-Baah did in his book Afriku – Haiku & Senryu from Ghana (2016). As its name suggests, it is a collection of haiku and senryu poems, but with a ‘difference’. Adjei has translated each poem into his native Twi language. The Twi language has short syllables and so these translations did not take much away from the original. The question here is: Are the Twi versions the originals or the translations? This is a question Adjei will answer some day.

The collection opens with an adaptation of one of the most popular Haikus of all time, Basho’s Frog by Matsuo Basho. There has been numerous adaptations of this Haiku, yet Adjei found a way to bring it home. He writes

old pond – 

the living splash

of Basho’s frog

And even for this, he managed to write a Twi version. At this stage, I am assuming the Twi versions to be translations.

sutae dadaa – 

nkaedum a Basho

apotrɔ gyaeε

However, the importance of the collection does not lie in just one simple adaptation of a great work. There are several others that do exactly what Haiku should do: to live someone’s captured moment. For instance who does not feel the hot breath, the tiredness, the sweat droplets, and the pain of this farmer?

drought – 

the farmer digs

into his breath

Or the sole egret playing catch-up with the swarm in

 

season of migration

the lightning dash

of a late egret

Haikus are meant to show and not tell. They are like art pieces. The reader-viewer must make his own explanations, must live the artist’s moment in his own personal way, must bring to the art his own interpretation. However, Haiku – the classical Haiku  – do more. For instance, they must indicate the date or period within which the event occurred using seasonal markers (Kigo). In the ‘drought’ piece above, one can easily feel the harmattan and can geopin it to the northern part of Ghana where the harmattan is severe and the drudgery of farmers become palpable in their breaths. In fact, if one has a broader and deeper knowledge of the landscape of the country, one can easily say that this farmer is in the Bongo District of the Upper East where the land is rocky and the soil is laterite and extremely difficult to cultivate. 

However, for Haiku writers in the tropics, the use of kigo has become the dry season of our arts. It makes writing difficult since the changes in the season is not dramatic. Adjei faced some of these problems and manoeuvered around it. For instance, 

gust of wind…

the crow takes off

in a zigzag line

shows that we are in the rainy season but not in July, when it only drizzles. This could be the period just after the dry season, early March to April, where the rainfall is preceded by heavy winds and squalls. 

But Adjei did not tie himself with the entire range of Haiku rules. There are times that he preferred the moment to the classic rules.

traffic holdup

the absurdity of politics

served fresh on the airwaves

or this

school memories – 

all the farts concealed

by shifting chairs

could be argued to be non-Haiku. In fact, I am tempted to believe that these ones are the Senryu the title is referencing. But can one not relate to the issue in the piece? Adjei attempted to make his Haiku tell a story, the story of Africa. He managed to introduce old narratives into new formats. Take this piece

stone meal…

mother fakes supper

to put the kids to sleep

Anyone who knows the story told behind this will easily relate to this piece. Recently, I was explaining how we used to light up cooking fire to a late nineties colleague and it was as if I was an ancient being, but Adjei captures and packages it in a way that makes my story verbose

childhood memories

the wood shavings that light up

mother’s charcoal

There are some really beautiful gems in this collection including the one-liner 

a dragonfly pausing the wind

or 

smiling pond…

a dragonfly dips

its tail

I like the fact that Adjei broke the rules, sometimes. There are many who consider Haiku to be just 5-7-5 syllable poem or Short-Long-Short. If Haiku were just these then it is not an art form. It is this and more. Just as you cannot write a 15-line poem and call it a sonnet but can write a sonnet of straight 14 lines or of a sestet and octet, so too can you play within the rules, break them entirely, and still keep the Haiku identity. In several of the pieces, Adjei did this. In the ones he did not, where he sought to carry a story through, or lighten up things, the Senryu in the title is there for cover.

Adjei’s collection is important for several reasons. One, it brings home an art form that is very difficult to tame. It encourages several individuals to consider alternative forms of poetry. The bold attempt at translating into Twi is important for reasons beyond just Haiku. Like many other things, the African is comfortable writing in English or French than his native language. Yet, he thinks first in his native language even when speaking these languages. Writing in the native language then has the capability to free the writer. And the more writers we have doing this, the better it will be for our writing.

For those interested in writing and reading Haiku, please do include this in your material.

 

Newspapers Report

 

On January 8, 2017, Ayaka Kitashima, a reporter at The Akita Sakigake Shimpo in Akita, Japan, asked questions about The Japan-Russia Haiku Contests and “Afriku”, reporting her article in Akita Sakigake newspaper on June 10.

You can see the article in a copy below.

 

 

Kitashima referred to “Afriku” and Adjei’s haiku below.

 

 

Adjei’s comment on this haiku

 

Dear Hiruta san,

Matsuo Basho is the one you speak of and one of the originators of the haiku art along other masters like Issa, Shiki, Buson just to name few.

My haiku was inspired by Basho most popular haiku “old pond” and decided to dedicate my version to him for being one of the fathers who worked hard and grounded the art for we young bards of today to continue from where he and the others left. 

 

Find his original translated version here:

The old pond;

A frog jumps in —
The sound of the water

In short, Basho has been a great inspiration and I find it most appropriate for him to get a dedication in my book. So the haiku in my book is dedicated to him as he is “perceived” to be the father of the art (I stand to be corrected). Maybe it was my way of putting smile on his lips while rest peacefully in his grave.

Sincerely,

 

Adjei

 

Exciting News

 

Adjei’s facebook page says as follows on January 31.

 

 

Last week, KGCL, a school in Accra after getting a copy of my book, AFRIKU invited me to their Visiting Writers Series to come and teach haiku to their students and as well share some of the inspiration behind poems. Huh, today happens to be the event day as I leave for Accra this morning to honor this lovely opportunity, and hope to share some of the works that students will pen right here with you on my return. And would also take this opportunity to thank Mr. Geosi Gyasi for this wonderful connection with his students.

 

Lastly, we sincerely hope that Adjei Agyei-Baah will have more opportunities to teach haiku to students at school.

And we also hope that children, students, and teachers will get interested in haiku because of its brevity and its coexistence with nature.

Hidnori Hiruta

Advertisements

 

Let haiku be on the UNESCO list!

 

On August 2, 1689, Matsuo Basho visited Kisakata, Akita, where he composed his haiku.

象潟や雨に西施がねぶの花

Here is the English translation by Keene Donald (鬼怒鳴門).

Kisakata―

Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.

 

Now in Kisakata, adonises and red camellias are in full bloom.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

More than 300 years have passed since 松尾芭蕉 ( Matsuo Basho )(1644-1694) wrote奥の細道』(Oku no Hosomichi), ‘The Narrow Road to Oku’ , a major work of haibun by the Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō .

Basho could not have dreamed of how far and wide in the world haiku is loved.

 

According to THE Haiku FOUNDATION, there are contests held in 2014, or 2015 as follows.

http://thehaikufoundation.org/calendar/calendar_contests.htm

January :  Haiku Poets of Northern California – Rengay

                   The British Haiku Awards

                   Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015

                   The Haiku Canada Betty Drevniok Award

February:  The With Words Summer Competition: Haiku Section

                  Haiku Society of America Lionel Einbond Renku Competition

                 Sharpening of the Green Pencil Haiku Contest 2015

                 ITO EN Oi Ocha Haiku Contest

March:    The Snapshot Press eChapbook Awards

                The Vladimir Devide Haiku Award

                Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

               European Quarterly Spring Kukai

               Robert Spiess Memorial Haiku Award Competition

               The 17th Apokalipsa Haiku Contest

               Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition

               Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards

               Annual Hortensia Anderson Memorial Awards

               Romanian Haiku Contest 2014

April:      Kaji Aso Studio Annual Haiku Contest

                The UHTS “aha” (Annual Hortensia Anderson Memorial Awards)

                for haiku/senryu

May:      The New Zealand Poetry Society’s Annual International Poetry Competition

                Klostar Ivanić Haiku Contest, Croatia [for details: dvrozic (at)optinet (dot) hr]

                Annual Yuki Teikei Haiku Society Kiyoshi & Kiyoko Tokutomi Memorial

                 Haiku Contest

June:      The Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award

                Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

      European Quarterly Summer Kukai

    Pumpkin Festival Haiku Competition, Ivanić Grad, Croatia 2015

    The Third Japan-Russia Haiku Contest

                 Tanka Society of America International Tanka Contest

July:      The Snapshot Press Book Awards

               The Snapshot Press eChapbook Awards

               Haiku Society of America Haibun Awards

               Harold G. Henderson Awards for Haiku

               Gerald Brady Memorial Awards for Senyru

August:    The Francine Porad Award for Haiku 2015

               UHTS “Fleeting Words” Tanka Contest

               Penumbra Haiku Contest

September: Annual Mainichi Daily News Haiku Contest

               European Quarterly Autumn Kukai

              Janice M Bostok Haiku Prize

              Haiku International Association (HIA) Annual Haiku Competition

October:   Haiku Poets of Northern California – Haiku, Senryu, Tanka

              Polish International Haiku Competition

              Haiku Presence Award

November: The Heron’s Nest Illustration Contest

              The Snapshot Press Book Awards

              Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2014

December:  Annual Jerry Kilbridge Memorial English-Language Haibun Contest

             European Quarterly Winter Kukai

             Golden Triangle Haiku Contest

             Fujisan Haiku 2014 (Haiku on Mt. Fuji)

             Iris Little Haiku Contest 2015

             The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems

             The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Book Awards

 

On September 23, 2014, the Akita International Haiku Network published the yearly pamphlet “Akita-The Land of Poetry”,詩の国秋田-2014.9 vol.6in the hope that haiku should be added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Hidenori Hiruta, the Secretary General of the Akita International Haiku Network wrote the article “Let haiku be on the UNESCO list!”

Hiruta hopes that haiku will spread further worldwide if it is included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

In the article, Hiruta refers to the latest trend that senryu and tanka have been paid more attention to among haikuists or haiku lovers in the world.

Through the website of the Akita International Haiku Network, Hiruta has found that the fixed page “What are haiku, senryu and tanka?” has had more and more visitors recently, to 4,427 ones.

In addition, the article “What are haiku, senryu and tanka?” has appeared in the English version of “Senryu (川柳) Wikipedia, which you can see on the website below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senry%C5%AB

Hiruta sincerely hopes that senryu and tanka will become more familiar worldwide when haiku is added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

  詩の国あきた1-4_ページ_1

 

Lastly, let me show you an e-mail sent to Hiruta from Djurdja Vukelic Rozic, Principal editor of haiku magazine IRIS, Croatia, who is a haiku friend of mine.
On June 28, 2014, Djurdja wrote to Hiruta, wishing for “Haiku in the UNESCO list!”

 

Thank you, dear Hidenori-san,

I entirely forgot to send a note and did not even recognize your e-mail address.

Always hurrying, so please accept my apology.

 

Thank you for everything you’ve done for Croatian authors,

many of them being my old and even some new brothers and sisters in haiku.

Thank God for haiku for it enriched my life in a way I could not dream of long time ago,

once when we all were young…

 

I sincerely hope haiku will soon be on the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,

for it connects people in the most wonderful way I can think of.

 

With best regards from sunny Croatia,

sincerely

Djurdja

 

詩の国あきた1-4_ページ_4

 

By Hidenori Hiruta

 

 

 

Japan-Russia Haiku Contest
(Guidelines for Submission)

April 17, 2012

Akita International Haiku Network

INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

This is a photo of a haiku workshop for the group of Professor Tatiana Breslavets, Japanese literature and Philology Group at Far Eastern Federal University.

 

**********************************************************************

 

From September 25 till October 2, 2011, Hidenori Hiruta, a member of the Haiku International Association (HIA), whose president is Dr. Akito Arima, had an opportunity to introduce and share haiku in Vladivostok, Russia.

During his stay in Vladivostok, Hiruta visited Eastern School, Far Eastern Federal University, and Japan Center there.

His visit there was supported by Akita Prefecture and Akita International University as well as by the Haiku International Association and the JAL Foundation.

On September 26, Hiruta paid a courtesy visit to Japan Center and Far Eastern Federal University, School of Regional and International Studies, Chair of Japanese Philology, Chair of Asia Pacific Region Countries’ Languages.

Hiruta told Director, Sohei Oishi and Head of the Chair, Alexander Shnyrko about the aims of his visit, and asked them for their cooperation, hoping for a further spread of haiku in Vladivostok.

  In his visits to Eastern School, Hiruta told about haiku to kindergarten children and elementary pupils who study Japanese. The children enjoyed reading haiku in chorus in Japanese as well as in Russian. They also enjoyed drawing pictures  about haiku.

In Japan Center in Vladivostok, Hiruta gave a talk on “Haiku and Tea Ceremony” to the members of the tea club “Ichigo Ichie no Kai” formed for the cultural course.

The articles on Hiruta’s activities for cultural exchanges through haiku in Vladivostok have appeared in the following homepages of the Japan club at Japan Center in Vladivostok and the Haiku International Association in Tokyo.

* The Russian version : http://www.jp-club.ru/?p=2341

* The Japanese version :http://www.haiku-hia.com/report/jp1.html

* The English versionhttp://www.haiku-hia.com/about_haiku/world_info_en/russian/

 

**********************************************************************

 

Hiruta gave four-day workshops of 90 minutes on writing haiku, short poems, at the FEFU School of Regional and International Studies. Students learned to write haiku through these workshops.

The article on the workshops at Far Eastern Federal University has appeared in the homepage of Far Eastern Federal Universisty.

http://dvfu.ru/publications/news/2011-10-14-fefu-students-learn-to.htm

It says as follows.

The workshops were conducted by “Haydzin” Hiruta Hidenori — a poet who writes haiku specially arrived to Vladivostok. Students, studying the Japanese language, listened with interest to the explanations of how to write haiku in various languages — Japanese, English and Russian, and then created their own poems.

Mr. Hiruta arrived from Akita Prefecture, which has friendly relations with Primorsky Region. Next year there will be the 20-th Anniversary of sister-relationships between Akita and Vladivostok. Universities in these cities have students and teachers exchange agreements, so Far Eastern Federal University students may participate in the Haiku contest in Russian, as well as in Japanese and English. Winners of the competition have a real opportunity to go to Japan.

 

 

  

 

Such cultural exchanges as this caused a great sensation there in Vladivostok, making them more interested in haiku and inspiring them to write haiku.

This is why the Akita International Haiku Network is pleased to launch the Japan-Russia Haiku Contest, as an opportunity to share haiku related to the theme of “the sea”.  

The organizer hopes that this contest will serve as an opportunity to deepen mutual understanding among people, to promote the interaction of people’s views on Japan and Russia, as well as to convey the enjoyment of writing and reading haiku.

The organizer also hopes that it will serve as an opportunity to strengthen and develop the sister city relationship between Akita and Vladiovostok, as well as to promote and increase comprehensive exchanges such as cultural, economical, medical, agricultural ones between Akita Prefecture and Primorsky Region.  

As mentioned in the homepage of Far Eastern Federal University, Akita Prefecture has friendly relations with Primorsky Region. In March, 2010, Akita Prefecture and Primorsky Region concluded the treaty that there should be more exchanges promoted and increased between them. This treaty reminds Hiruta of those fruitful exchanges the ancient people had by way of the northern sea route from the 8th century till the 10th century. Japan is said to have started trading with Balhae渤海 by ship in those days.

 

**********************************************************************

Organizer: Akita International Haiku Network

Sponsor: JAL Foundation

Supporters: 

Akita Prefecture, Akita International University, Akita Prefectural Board of Education, Akita Prefectural Artistic and Cultural Association, Akita International Association, Akita City, Akita City Board of Education, The Akita Sakigake Shimpo, Akita Branch of Ten’i (Providence) Haiku Group, Akita Khorosho Club, Akita Vladivo Club, Haiku International Association, Japan Center in Vladivostok, Far Eastern Federal University, Yosano Akiko Memorial Literary Association, KYODO NEWS Vladivostoku Bureau

Theme: Umi ( the sea : 海 )

One of the most popular haiku related to the sea was written by Matsuo Basho in 1689 . Basho’s haiku is found in his travel diary Oku no Hosomichi ( The Narrow Road to Oku).

荒海や佐渡によこたふ天河        芭蕉

Araumi ya  sado ni yokotau  amanogawa

 

Turbulent the sea –

Across to Sado stretches

The Milky Way                         Basho

               

Translated by Donald Keene(ドナルド・キーン:鬼怒鳴門)

Regulations:

Original, previously unpublished haiku referring to some aspect of the sea should be submitted according to the entry form.

Japanese haiku poets should write haiku following traditonal styles in the Japanese language, having season words. And they have to add its Russian and English traslations.  Otherwise, they could leave a message in each translation blank : I would like the organizer to translate haiku into Russian or English.

Russian haiku poets should keep in mind that haiku is considered to be the shortest poem in the world, and submit haiku with a length of three lines in the Russian language. Season words are not essential. And they have to add its Japanese and English translations.  Otherwise, they could leave a message in each translation blank : I would like the organizer to translate haiku into Japanese or English.

Limited number of entries: Only one haiku may be submitted per haikuist.

Eligibility:

The contest is open to the public of nationals of Japan or Russia who are currently residing in Japan or Russia.

Submission:

Please download the entry form below and submit it by email to: shhiruta@nifty.com

Entry form:  Japanese entry form   Russian entry form

Submission period:  Saturday May 5, 2012  –  Friday May 25, 2012

Deadline: Friday May 25, 2012

Judges:

Hidenori Hiruta, Secretary-General of Akita International Haiku Network, and also a member of Haiku International Association

Alexander Dolin, Professor at Akita International University

Kunio Teshima, Professor at Akita National College of Technology

Kazuhiro Kudo, Teacher at Akita National College of Technology

Okiaki Ishida, Chief Editor of Haisei (Haiku Stars)

Yoshitomo Igarashi, a dojin of a haiku group : Ten’I (Providence) led by Dr. Akito Arima

Kyoko Uchimura, a dojin of a haiku group : Ten’I (Providence) by Dr. Akito Arima, and also a member of Haiku International Association

Reina Yano, a dojin of two haiku groups : Tamamo led by Ms. Tsubaki Hoshino and Ten’I (Providence) by Dr. Akito Arima

Awards:

A winner will be notified by email and announced on the website of Akita International Haiku Network, on Friday, June 29, 2012.  The winner will be offered a round-trip to Akita City, Akita, which is called “The Land of Poetry” in Akita Prefectural song, in Northern Honshu, Japan from Vladivostok Airport and a stay in a hot spring hotel there if he or she lives in Russia. The winner is supposed to attend Japan-Russia haiku meeting held in Akita City, on Saturday, Sepetember 22, 2012.  And if the winner resides in Japan, a round -trip ticket to Vladivostok City of Russia from Narita Airport and a stay in a hotel there will be offered. The winner is supposed to attend Japan-Russia haiku meeting held in Vladivostok City, the site of APEC Summit 2012 in Russia, on Saturday, September 29, 2012.  Further information will be notified directly from the organizer to the winner.

Grand prize a winner gets is called “Rogetsu Sanjin International Award”.  Rogetsu Sanjin is another pen name of Ishii Rogetsu石井露月, one of the great haiku poets in Japan Akita ever produced. Rogetsu is a pen name, whose real name is Ishii Yuji (1873 – 1928). This haiku contest is held partly because of celebrating the 140th anniverasay of Ishii Rogetsu’s birth.

JAL Foundation Award is presented to two winners by the JAL Foundation. Honorable mentions are also presented to six winners by Akita Prefecture governor, Akita City mayor, superintendent of Akita City board of education.

Each winner is presented with Haiku By World Children edited by the JAL Foundation as an award.

*The contest winner will be notified by email from the organizer and be given further details of the round-trip prize. Please note that the winner may have to cover some of the travelling costs.

 

***********************************************************************

Here is a photo of Rogetsu’s haiku related to the sea.

 

 

 

海の如く野ハ緑也五月晴                 露月山人

Umi no gotoku  no wa midori nari  satsukibare

 

Like the sea

the field is green –

fine May weather                                                            Rogetsu Sanjin

 

Translated by Hidenori Hiruta

 

****************************************************************

Lastly, here are two photos of the sunset, which will surely inspire you to write haiku related to the sea.

The first one was taken from a hotel facing Amur Bay, Vladivostok City.

The second one was taken from Katsuhira Hill facing the mouth of the Omono River, Akita City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next posting ‘Haiku by World Children : Impressions of Water’ appears on April 28.

― Hidenori Hiruta ( Member of HIA)

 

On October 9 and 10, 2011, AIU Festival was held at Akita International University(国際教養大学)in Akita prefecture(秋田県), Northern Honshu, Japan.

The festival, whose theme is HOOP ~世界とハチあわせ!~, had 3 Philosophies : Academic(学問), Culture(文化), and Entertainment(楽しさ).

 

The AIU students enjoyed the festival in their own ways.

They were excited at a variety of meetings, HOOP ~世界とハチあわせ!in the festival.

Here are some photos of those meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the students from overseas started preparing for the AIU festival in July for the purpose of making the Haiga postcard charity sale.

They visited the Kanmanji Temple 蚶満寺)in Kisakata, where they found mimosa blossoms in full bloom, about which Basho wrote in his haiku in 1689, and they got very inspired to write haiku in Japanese and paint haiga pictures.

 

象潟や雨に西施がねぶの花           芭蕉

Kisakata ya  ame ni Seishi ga  nebu no hana

 

Kisakata―

Seishi sleeping in the rain,

Wet mimosa blossoms.     Basho

 

Translated by Donald Keene

 

Here is a photo of the mimosa blossoms.

 

 

They donated money to those who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Some Romanian haiku poets also donated their haiga or haiku to the AIU festival in order to show their condolences, prayers, or hopes through the exhibition to the Japanese people.

Mrs. Maria Tirenescu inRomania kindly sent her haiku through Ms. Patricia Lidia’s e-mail on August 30.

 

Let me post the former part of her hiaku.

 

Under the blossomed lime
tasting from the cup of tea –
alone in the night

(Honorable Mention Mainichi 2007)

 

花咲くライムの木の下で

お茶を一杯味わう ―

夜ひとり

 

Child’s cradle
hanging from a branch of lime –
the scent of flowers

(Honorable Mention Mainichi 2009)

子供の揺りかご

ライムの木の枝から下がっている ―

花の香り

 

Two petals

falling together—

evening wind

(Honorable Mention Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2010)

 

花びらが二つ

一緒に散っている ―

夕方の風

 

Rainy day –
in the spider’s cobweb
only a petal

 

雨の日 ―

クモの巣に

たった一つの花びら

 

Sunrise —
the dandelions flowering
 
among the ruins

 

日の出 ―

タンポポの花が咲いている

廃墟の中で

 

The old cemetery –
amidst ruined crosses
growing violas

 

古い共同墓地 ―

荒廃した十字架の間に

生えているスミレ

 

Snow on the mountains –
the white lilac blooming
in the valley

 

山には雪 ―

白いライラックの花が咲いている

谷間に

 

I sip the lime tea
listening for the crickets –
moonshine

 

ライムのお茶をちびちび飲む

コオロギの鳴き声の方へ耳を澄ましながら ―

月光

 

a butterfly
hovers about the tea cup –
serene day
(menţiune la concursul de haiku pe tema ceaiului organizat în parteneriat cu Cajin – Casa japoneză de ceai verde din Paris)

蝶が一匹

茶碗のまわりで飛び回っている ―

澄んだ日

evening wind –
like a small golden coin
a lime leaf

夕方の風 ―

小さい金貨のように

ライムの一葉

Autumn dusk –
the full moon watching
in the maple

“Poems for Mother Earth” din 14 octombrie 2007 la International Village Center din Kita-premia Mother Earth, Seinan Jo Gakuin University. (Asahi Shimbun)

 

秋の黄昏 ―

満月が見ている

カエデを

 

Translated into Japanese by Hidenori Hiruta

The next posting ‘Haiku from Romanian poets for AIU Festival 2011 (6)’ appears on December 24.

 

Hidenori Hiruta

 

 

 

On August 1, 1689, Basho visited Kisakata (象潟), Akita Prefecture (秋田県),  Northern Honshu, on his journey.

Basho wrote about Kisakata in his travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi .

You can read what Basho wrote in his diary in the two articles of this website:

https://akitahaiku.wordpress.com/2011/05/14

https://akitahaiku.wordpress.com/2011/05/21

 

On July 23, 2011, we visited the Kanmanji Temple (蚶満寺)in Kisakata, where  we found Basho’s statue in the temple garden.

Here is a photo of the statue.

 

 

 

ねぶの木や芭蕉の像に花供ふ 

nebu no ki ya  Basho no zou ni  hana sonau

 

mimosa tree

dedicates blossoms

Basho’s statue

 

As you know from the article above, on July 10, 1804, a big earthquake occurred in Kisakata about 105 years after Basho’s visit there. The earthquake caused upheaval of ground by 2.4 meters.

When we visited there on July 23, we found the Roku Jizō 六地蔵 (lit. = Six Jizō)
Six Jizō and Six States of Existence built by the road to the temple.

The statues are said to have been built and dedicated to the souls of the victims of the Kisakata earthquake 100 years after.

Here is a photo taken at the Kanmanji Temple (蚶満寺)in Kisakata.

 

 

 

Jizō vowed to assist beings in each of the Six Realms of Desire and Karmic Rebirth, in particular those in the hell realm, and is thus often shown in groupings of six.

 

Today, on August 20, I post the third part of RO KU Magazine – Japan, between suffering and hope dedicated to the disaster from Fukushima.

Courtesy of Mr. Corneliu Traian Atanasiu, editor of ROMANIAN KUKAI, here is a pdf file of the magazine.

 RO KU JAPONIA

 

DEMNITATE

DIGNITY

IGEN

威厳

 

şcoală-n ruină –

cursul despre tsunami

în aer liber

 

school in ruins –

tsunami lesson

outdoor

 

破壊された学校 ―

津波の授業

屋外で

 

după cutremur –

acelaşi munte Fuji

în inima mea

 

after the earthquake –

the same mount Fuji

in my heart

 

地震の後 ―

同じ富士の山

私の心の中に

 

furia mării

întrerupând destine –

Fuji neclintit

 

the fury of the sea

breaking destinies –

still Fuji

 

海の狂暴

運命をばらばらに ―

静かな富士

 

străinii pleacă –

abia acum aş merge

la Fuji-yama

 

the foreigners leave –

only now I’d like to go

to Fuji-yama

 

外国人が去る ―

今この時に思う行ってみたい

富士山へ

 

salvatorii –

atât de greu de găsit

fiecare cuvânt

 

rescue team –

this spring so hard to find

every single word

 

救助隊 ―

この春はとっても見つけにくい

あらゆる一つの語

 

Fukushima –

pentru toți dispăruții

câte un haiku

 

Fukushima

for every missing man

a haiku

 

福島 ―

あらゆる行方不明者に

俳句を一句

 

singurătate –

alături de Cei Cinzeci

întreaga lume

 

loneliness –

the whole world by the side

of The Fifty Men

 

孤独 ―

かたわらに全世界

50人の男のそばに

 

SPERANŢĂ

HOPE

KIBŌ

希望

 

printre ruine –

nestingherit cireşul

înmugureşte

 

among ruins –

the cherry tree buds

without obstacles

 

廃墟の中 ―

桜の木につぼみ

障害はなし

 

după potop –

în bărcile de hârtie

flori de cireș

 

after the flood –

in the paper boats

sakura blossom

 

洪水の後 ―

紙製の船に

桜の花

 

suflete în mâl –

noi rădăcini înalţă

lujeri de lotus

 

souls in mud –

the new born roots arising

lotus shoots

 

泥の中の魂 ―

新生の根が生ずる

蓮の芽

 

după cutremur –

dînd colţ printre rădăcini

un coif de samurai

 

after earthquake –

springing among roots

a samurai helm

 

地震の後 ―

根の間にはずんでいる

侍の兜

 

în fostul oraş

un copac cu o creangă –

primul ou în cuib

 

in the vanished town

a tree with a branch –

first egg in the nest

 

消え去った町に

枝一本の木が一本 ―

巣の中に最初の卵

 

soare răsare –

un strigăt de nou-născut

printre ruine

 

sun rising –

a newborn’s cry

among the ruins

 

太陽が昇る ―

新生児の泣き声

廃墟の中で

 

cutremur în zori –

printre ruine

o păpădie

 

earthquake at dawn –

among the ruins

a dandelion

 

夜明けの地震 ―

廃墟の中で

タンポポが一本

 

mână întinsă

din noapte spre lumină –

muguri de cireş

 

out-stretched hand

from dusk to dawn –

cherry buds

 

いっぱいに広げられた手 ―

夕暮れから夜明けへ ―

桜のつぼみ

 

sake şi sakura

printre lacrimi şi ruine –

un nou început

 

sake and sakura

through tears and ruins –

a new beginning

 

酒と桜

涙と廃墟を通って ―

新しい始まり

 

în zorii zilei –

deasupra ruinelor

cei dintâi cocori

 

at dawn –

over the ruins

the first cranes

 

夜明け ―

廃墟の中に

最初の鶴たち

 

printre ruine

mireasma unui cireş

abia înflorit

 

among ruins

the scent of a cherry tree

just bloomed

 

廃墟の中に

桜の木の匂い

花が咲いたばかり

 

Lastly , let me post my haiku and photo I took at the backyard of the Kanmanji Temple (蚶満寺)in Kisakata 

 

 

 

蚶満寺芭蕉の花の咲きにけり

Kanmanji  basho no hana no  sakini keri

 

Kanmanji Temple

Basho’s flower

in full bloom

 

The next posting ‘3.11 Haiku from the Romanian Haiku Group (4)’ appears on August 27.

 

Hidenori Hiruta (member of HIA)

 

 

 

 

 

In the first posting, I took up Basho’s haiku from his travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi .

In his diary, Basho seems to have left Hope for us Japanese.

Here is another translation by Donald Keene (ドナルド・キーン).

 

夏草や兵どもが夢の跡          

 

natsukusa ya           The summer grasses –

tsuwamono domo ga     Of brave soldiers’ dreams

yume no ato             The aftermath.               

 

Here is a photo of the tablet of Basho’s haiku.

 

 

 

Basho also wrote haiku about the Chusonji Temple (中尊寺) in Hiraizumi (平泉), Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) in his diary :

 

兼て耳驚したる二堂開張す。経堂は三将の像をのこし、光堂は三代の棺を納め、三尊の仏を安置す。七宝散りうせて、珠の扉風にやぶれ、金の柱霜雪に朽て、既頽廃空虚の叢と成べきを、四面新に囲て、甍を覆て風雨を凌。暫時千歳の記念とはなれり。

 

五月雨の降のこしてや光堂

 

Donald Keene translated this passage and haiku into English as follows:

 

  The two halls of the Chuson Temple, whose wonders I had heard of and marvelled at, were both open. The Sutra Hall contains statues of the three generals of Hiraizumi; the Golden Hall has their coffins and an enshrined Buddhist trinity. The “seven precious things” were scattered and lost, the gem-inlaid doors broken by the wind, and the pillars fretted with gold flaked by the frost and snow. The temple would surely have crumbled and turned into an empty expanse of grass had it not been recently strengthened on all sides and the roof tiled to withstand the wind and rain. A monument of a thousand years has been preserved a while longer.

 

samidare no          Have the rains of spring

furinokoshite ya      Spared you from their onslaught,

hikari-do             Shining hall of Gold?                    

 

Here is a photo of the Golden Hall in the Chusonji Temple.

 

 

「ドナルド・キーンさん国籍取得し日本永住、希望の象徴」

 Donald Keene, who is well-known as a translator of 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi 』, is said to have often visited the Tohoku region while translating Basho’s diary into English and to love the Chusonji Temple in particular.     

 After the earthquake on March 11, Donald Keene decided to take Japanese citizenship and establish permanent residence in Japan.  This is one of the most encouraging and pleasing news to us Japanese.      Donald Keene, who is renowned expert in Japanese literature and culture and a professor emeritus at Columbia University, seems to be a symbol of Hope

 Here is a photo of Donald Keene taken at the final lecture at Columbia University on April 26, 2011 by Atsuko Teramoto (寺本敦子撮影).         

 

                                                                                                                                       

 

Donald Keene said in an interview with Michinobu Yanagisawa, Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent in New York, USA: 

 I want to be with the Japanese people. This is because the Great Japan Earthquake inspired the decision. Japan will surely resurrect itself from the disaster to become an even more splendid country than before, I believe. So I’ll be moving to Japan in a positive frame of mind.  

Michinobu Yanagisawa also reported in the article as follows:  

Born in New York in 1922, Keene attended Columbia University, where he became  fascinated with Japanese culture after reading an English translation of “The Tale of Genji (源氏物語).”   He later served as an interpreter during the Battle of Okinawa in the closing daysof the Pacific War.   Keene has traveled through the Tohoku region many times, including some research trips for “The Narrow Road to Oku,” his English translation of the classic workof literature “Oku no Hosomichi,” by haiku master Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).   While studying in Japan, “I was surrounded by many people who warmly extended a helping hand to me,” Keene said. By obtaining Japanese citizenship, “I’d like to convey my sense of gratitude to the Japanese people, which I’ve so far been unable to do,” he said.                  Referring to reactions in the United States to the earthquake, tsunami and aftermath, including the nuclear crisis, Keene said, “Not a few people in the United States have been moved to learn Japanese people are doing their utmost to rebuild.” Even Americans who had no particular interest in Japan before March 11 have been impressed by Japanese people’s composure in the wake of the disaster, he said. “Americans have never felt such a strong affinity with Japan before,” Keene pointed out.  “I’ve made up my mind to become a Japanese citizen to be together with the Japanese people. I believe although words are important, of course, action is even more important,” Keene said.    “My decision to become a Japanese citizen is the manifestation of my expectations and convictions,” he said, explaining that he had a positive outlook for Japan. “When I returned to Tokyo eight years after World War II, Japan had revived to become a far different country from what I’d seen just after the war’s end. I’m convinced Japan will become an even more wonderful nation by weathering the hardships of this disaster,” he said.

Keene recalled a tour of the Tohoku region in 1955 to research “Oku no Hosomichi.” The view of a cluster of islets from the second floor of an inn in Matsushima (松島) [in Miyagi Prefecture(宮城県)] was unforgettably beautiful,” he said.   “I think there may be no structure in the world as beautiful as the Chusonji Temple [in Iwate Prefecture(岩手県)], so I wonder why UNESCO has repeatedly failed to designate the temple as a World Heritage site,” Keene said.     “I think how terrible it is that the Tohoku region, full of such beautiful places and temples, has been hit so hard by the earthquake and tsunami,” he lamented.

  Here is a photo of the pond of Oizumi, the Motsuuji Temple in Hiraizumi.  (平泉・毛越寺 「大泉が池」)

Looking back on his interaction with Japanese poets and writers, Keene referenced the poet and author Jun Takami(高見順). Near the end of the Pacific War, Takami wrote in his diary of being deeply moved by the sight of people waiting patiently at Tokyo’s Ueno Station, trying to get to the safety of the countryside.   “I want to live together with these people and share death with them, as I love Japan and believe in Japan,” Keene said, quoting Takami.

 “I now feel better able to understand Mr. Takami’s feelings,” he said.  Keene said his lawyer has already begun procedures for obtaining Japanese nationality.   He stressed that living in Japan would bring the most meaning to the rest of his life. He plans to spend time writing biographies of Hiraga Gennai (平賀源内) (1728-1780), a scholar of Western studies in the Edo period (1603-1868), and Takuboku Ishikawa (石川啄木)(1886-1912), a poet in the Meiji era (1868-1912).  In the 1950s, Keene studied at the postgraduate school of Kyoto University.     He forged friendships with such literary giants as Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫), Junichiro Tanizaki (谷崎潤一郎)and Kobe Abe (安部公房).

 In 2008, Keene was given the Order of Culture by the Japanese government in recognition of his contributions to promoting Japanese literature and culture in Europe and theUnited States. 

  (Apr. 24, 2011)

Last of all, let me post my haiku.                                  

 

平泉青葉しげれる光堂     秀法    

 Hiraizumi  aoba shigereru  hikarido

Hiraizumi –                                                                                                                                                                                                        green leaves thrive  

Shining hall of Gold           Hidenori

                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (3)’ appears on May 14.

 ― Hidenori Hiruta

 

On March 11, 2011, we had the most powerful earthquake since records began, which struck the Pacific coast of Northeastern Honshu, Japan, triggering a massive tsunami.

 Since then I have received e-mails and messages from haiku friends worldwide, in which they have sent their condolences and prayers through haiku, haiga, tanka, short poems, or pictures.

Some of my haiku friends took up the earthquake in their blogs or journals, and others started the movements to uplift their brothers and sisters in Japan on the Internet.

 Thanks to my haiku friends, I have been greatly encouraged and uplifted without losing hope.

I have clearly realized how my friends’ contributions are helpful in feeling encouraged, and consoled, and giving relief.

They eventually lead us to hope.

 In addition, to my great surprise, I find Basho’s haiku very encouraging and consoling too.

So, let me take up Basho’s haiku in the first posting.

This is because his haiku makes me imagine what might become of devastation in 500 years.

Here is a photo of the monument of Basho’s haiku.

 

 

 

June 29, 1689

Basho arrived in Hiraizumi(平泉), Iwate Prefecture(岩手県), where he wrote the following haiku.

 

夏草やつはものどもが夢のあと         芭蕉

Natsukusa ya  tsuwamonodomo ga  yume no ato

 

Ah!  Summer grasses!

All that remains

Of the warriors’ dreams.                  Basho

 

 

 

 

R. H. Blyth translated Basho’s haiku into English in HAIKU VOLUME 3  SUMMER – AUTUMN published in1951 and gave his commentary as follows:

 

 In Tennyson’s lines,

 

Nothing in nature’s aspect indicated

That a great man was dead,

 

man and Nature are taken as two separate things. Basho takes them, quite unconsciously and instinctively, as one and the same thing. The above verse comes at the end of the following passage in Oku no Hosomichi: 

 

國破れて山河あり城春にして草青みたりと

笠打しきて時のうつるまで涙を落とし侍りぬ。

                “The state ruined, mountains and rivers remain.

               In the citadel it is spring : grass is green.”  I laid

               my kasa down and shed tears, forgetting the passage

               of time.

 

Basho was at this time, 1689, in Takadachi where Yoshitsune was attacked by Yasuhira under the orders of Yoritomo. He fought bravely but was outnumbered, and committed suicide after killing his own wife and children, exactly 500 years before. He was thirty-one years old.

Basho’s verse expresses the same grief as Toho’s for things of long ago, but does not leave us in this state of passivity and dejection. The summer grasses remind him of

 

That secret spirit of humanity

Which, mid the calm oblivious tendencies

Of nature, mid her plants, and weeds, and flowers,

And silent overgrowings, still survived.

 

Basho’s short verse contains the whole of Sohrab and Rustum, but especially the last twenty lines, beginning,

 

But the majestic River floated on,

Out of the mist and hum of that low land.

 

  The second half of a gatha by Seccho in the Hekiganroku, Case 61, is similar in spirit:

                     

                                      謀臣猛将今何在、

                 萬里清風只自知。 

 

Scheming ministers and fierce generals, where are they now?

    The cool breeze of a thousand leagues alone knows.

 

Here is a photo of the Kitakami River(北上川) and summer grasses taken at Takatachi (高館), Hiraizumi(平泉), by Hiroya Sato(佐藤弘弥) on July 4, 2004.

This is present-day Hiraizumi, 315 years after Basho visited there.

 

 

 

Lastly, let me post my haiku.

      

曙に春の産声聞こえけり          秀法

Akebono ni  haru no ubugoe  kikoe keri

 

at daybreak –

spring cries rise 

in the birth room                    Hidenori

                                                     

 

Here is a Japanese translation of R. H. Blyth’s commentary on Basho’s haiku mentioned above. Please read it as you like.

 

参考資料芭蕉の上記の句に対するR・H・ブライスの解説の和訳

 

R・H・ブライスは『俳句 大三巻 夏― 秋』を1951年に発刊。

その中でこの場面を次のように解説している。

テニソンの詩の次の二行には、「自然の側面には偉人の死を示唆するものは何もなく、人間と自然は切り離された二つのものとしてとらえられている。

芭蕉は人間と自然を全く無意識的にしかも本能的に同一のものとしてとらえている。」

上記の芭蕉の詩(俳句)は『奥の細道』の次の節の後に出ている。

國破れて山河あり城春にして草青みたりと

笠打しきて時のうつるまで涙を落とし侍りぬ。

              

芭蕉がその詩(俳句)を書いたのは1689年に義経が頼朝の命令で泰衡に攻撃された高館を訪ねていた時である。義経は勇敢に戦ったが相手は多勢、妻子を道連れに自害、ちょうど500年前のことであった。義経31歳のことである。

芭蕉の詩(俳句)は杜甫が昔の事に対して感じたものと同じ悲しみを表現しているが、私たちをそのような無抵抗と意気消沈の状態にはしない。

夏草は芭蕉に次の詩を思い起こさせるのである。

「人間性のあの隠されている精神

自然の冷静で気にとめない性向の中で、

植物、雑草、そして花の中で、

そして沈黙の蔓延の中で、依然として生き残っていた精神」

 

芭蕉の短詩(俳句)は『ソーラブとラスタム』 の全てを含んでいるが、特に次の2行で始まる最後の20行を含んでいる。

「しかしその雄大な川は漂い続けた、

その低地から立ちこめる霧とざわめきから外に」

 

碧巌録公案61則の選の後半の二句はその精神が類似している。

                  謀臣猛将今何在、

                 萬里清風只自知。 

 

「陰謀をたくらんだ大臣や猛将たち、今どこにいるだろうか。

1,000リーグ(昔の距離の単位)も離れた所の涼風だけが知っている」。

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (2) appears on May 7.

 

― Hidenori Hiruta

 

 

 

On June 1, 2010, we received an e-mail from Richard Stevenson in Canada,  whose subject is Haikai Submission to Akita International Haiku Network site.

He says in his e-mail:

Greetings from Southern Alberta!

Thought I’d send along a few things.  ( A bio note is included at the end):

 Bio Note

Richard Stevenson lives in southern Alberta, Canada, and teaches English and Creative Writing at Lethbridge College.  The most recent of his 24 published books are Wiser Pills (Frontenac House, 2008), Tidings of Magpies (Spotted Cow Press, 2008), and The Emerald Hour (Ekstasis Editions, 2008) and a first collection of tanka and kyoka, Windfall Apples (Athabasca University Press, 2010).

 I have been interested in The Emerald Hour among his published books.

 

  Part of Its introduction is as follows:

In The Emerald Hour, poet Richard Stevenson returns to the Japanese forms of haiku and tanka, seemingly the simplest yet most precise of poetic forms. This is his third book of Japanese forms published by Ekstasis Editions. In the first of the series, Hot Flashes, explored Stevenson’s experience of living and teaching in Africa, using haiku to capture the essence of that colourful world. In A Charm of Finches the poet returned home to Alberta, a land more familiar but no less exotic when viewed through the lens of haiku. Now in The Emerald Hour Richard Stevenson focuses clearly on nature, the traditional subject of Japanese forms. From settings such as idyllic Henderson Lake, shown in evocative photographs by Ellen McArthur, to interior British Columbia and hometown of Lethbridge, Stevenson, offers monuments to moments, even Basho would enjoy.

 

young robin chortles —
the kitten’s gray flanks ripple
in waves in response

幼いコマドリがクスクス笑う ―

子ネコの灰色のわき腹がぴくぴく動く

応えて波立てて

 

 

dog days of summer —

do I water the plants

or write a haiku?

夏の土用 ―

植物に水をかけようか

または、俳句を詠もうか?

 

 

harvest moon —

my wife’s keister competes

between the sheets

中秋の名月 ―

私の妻のお尻が張り合っている

二つのシートの間で

 

 

Got a metal Christ

on a sculpted cross

in the new restaurant.

Gotta fire pole

centre stage!

金属製のキリストを得た

彫刻された十字架に

新しいレストランで。

火柱を持っていた

中央の舞台!

 roadie puts a

tambourine on the

skeletal sculpture

of Christ on a cross

in a fire hall restaurant!

ローディーが置く

タンバリンを

骸骨の彫像の上に

十字架のキリストの彫像

消防署のレストランで!

 

 

most blossoms bolted —

the day lilies’ megaphones

announce themselves

たいていの花が早咲きの花を咲かせた ―

キスゲのメガホンが

表明している

 

 

apples red-cheeked —

a cabbage white rummages

among the leaves

赤色のほおをしたリンゴ ―

白いキャベツがくまなく捜している

葉の間を

 

 

firepole centre stage —

what was once a fire hall

is now a restaurant!

火柱の中央の舞台 ―

かって消防署であったところ

今はレストラン

On June 22, I received another e-mail from Richard Stevenson as follows:

Dear Hidenori,

It would be an honour to appear on your web site in Japanese translation.  Thank you so much!  Of course I’m happy with your suggestions.  Indeed, if you’re interested, I might even be able to get my photographer friend, who did the beautiful black and white photos for The Emerald Hour, to send along some photos of our lovely Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens — a gift of the Japanese to the citizens of my fair city of Lethbridge ( See http://www.nikkayuko.com/ ).

You might want to go online and have a look at the place.  It’s one of the most beautiful sites in the city, a place I like to go often in the summer months when I’m not teaching.  I’ll be launching my new book, a collection of Tanka and Kyoka, Autumn Windfalls (Athabasca University Press, 2010) there in a few weeks. 🙂

Thanks for all your support. 🙂

Richard

Here I would like to refer to the Nika Yuko Japanese Garden a little and present some photos of the garden to you.

The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden offers you an unforgettable experience, combining the beauty of nature in a serene setting. From the first spring blossom to the final autumn leaf, the Garden is an oasis of tranquility. Step through the entrance gate, leave the bustle of everyday city life behind, and refresh your senses. A host or hostess in traditional Japanese clothing will greet you and highlight the Garden’s many features, or give you a guided tour.

Established during Canada’s Centennial in 1967, Nikka Yuko was built to recognize contributions made by citizens of Japanese ancestry to the multi-cultural community of Lethbridge, Alberta, and as a symbol of international friendship. Its name was created from the Japanese words Ni (from Nihon meaning Japan), ka from Kanada or Canada, and Yuko, which translates as “friendship” to mean “Japan-Canada friendship”.

Last of all, I show you some Japanese translations of parts of the introduction of  The Emerald Hour.

  『エメラルドの時間』 の紹介の一部の和訳は次の通りです。  

The Emerald Hour(エメラルドの時間)』 の中で, 詩人リチャード・スティブンソンは俳句と短歌の日本の詩型に帰っている、見た目では、詩型の中で最も単純ではあるが、最も明確なものである。 これは、エクシスタス版で出版された日本の詩型の第3番目の本である。そのシリーズの最初では『Hot Flashes,(暑いきらめき』は、アフリカでスティブンソンが生活し、教えた体験をくまなく調べ、その色彩に富んだ世界の本質をとらえるために俳句を使用した。 『A Charm of Finches (フィンチの魅力)』では、詩人は故郷のアルバータに戻ってきたが、俳句のレンズを通して眺めるともっと親しみを持てて以前に劣らず魅惑的な所となっている。この度、『The Emerald Hour(エメラルドの時間)』 の中でリチャード・スティブンソンは明らかなことに日本の詩型の伝統的な主題である自然に焦点を当てている。エレン・マッカーサーによる自然の牧歌性を呼び起こさせられるような写真に示されているが、田園詩的なヘンダーソン湖のような背景から、ブリティッシュ・コロンビアの内地や故郷であるレスブリッジにいたるまで、芭蕉でさえ楽しむだろうと思われるように、素晴らしい様々な感動の瞬間に記念碑をささげている。

日加友好庭園(The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden)について 

― その一部の和訳 ― 

日加友好庭園(The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden)はあなたがたに忘れがたい経験を提供し、落ち着いた背景の中で自然の美を組み合わせています。 最初の春の花に始まり、最終の秋の紅葉にいたるまで、庭園は静寂のオアシスである。

入口の門から歩み始め、日常の都市生活の喧噪を後に残し、あなたの感覚をさわやかに一新させてください。伝統的な日本の着物姿の男性、あるいは女性の案内係があなた方にご挨拶し、庭園の多くの呼び物に脚光を当てながら説明し、また、ガイド付きのツアーも行っています。

1967年カナダの百周年祭の期間に日加友好が確立され、庭園は日本人を先祖とする市民たちによるアルバータのレスブリッジの多文化共同体社会への貢献を認識するために、そして国際友好の象徴として造園されました。 庭園の名前は(Japan を意味する日本から取った)日本語の‘日(Ni’とKanada or Canada から取った加 (ka) を合わせて命名されました、そして Yukoは日本とカナダの友好という意味の”friendship”(友好)として翻訳されます。  

I sincerely hope that you will visit the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, and that you will write haiku or tanka there.

I also hope that you will enjoy reading the works of poetry by Richard Stevenson. 

The next posting ‘Haiku by Vishnu P Kapoor in India’ appears on July 3.

― Hidenori  Hiruta