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

 

Reminder of 5th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest : Deadline is June 30

 

Dear Haiku Friends,

We are looking forward to your haiku for 5th Japan-Russia Haiku Contest, whose deadline is June 30.

Please check out the guidelines again on the website below.

https://akitahaiku.com/2016/05/03/

 

Here in Akita, it is just June-like weather lasting these days, when I visited Kisakata(象潟) Basho visited on August 1, 1689, on his journey.

Basho and his party are said to have taken a boat out on the lagoon on Kisakata.  They put in first 能因島 (Nohin jima), Nohin Island, where they called at the remains of the hut in which 能因(Nohin)(988-?), a waka poet, lived in seclusion for three years.

After that, Basho and his party left for the opposite shore, where they landed from their boat, and they saw the cherry tree that stands as a memento of 西行法師(Saigyo hoshi)(1118-1190), Saigyo. Then they called at the temple standing nearby. In those days it was called the Ebb-and-Flow-Pearls Temple(干満珠寺)(Kanman ju ji), which is now called 蚶満寺 (Kanman ji), the Kanman-Temple.

 

Here are photos and haiku about the present-day Kisakata.

 

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

鬼怒鳴門(キーン・ドナルド), Donald Keene, translated the last part about Kisakata into English as follows:

 

  Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, I rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water. To the west, one can see as far as Muyamuya Barrier; to the east, the road over the embankment leads to Akita in the distance. The sea is to the north. The place where the waves of the sea break into the lagoon is called Tide-Crossing. Kisakata is about two miles in either direction.

Kisakata resembles Matsushima, but there is a difference. Matsushima seems to be smiling, but Kisakata wears a look of grief. There is a sadness mingled with the silent calm, a configuration to trouble the soul.

 

Basho’s last lines might say that there is something woeful about Kisakata.

I wonder if Basho predicted that such a natural disaster as earthquake might occur in Kisakata in the future.

In fact, 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. As a result, the lagoons were changed into dry land, most of which turns into paddy field.

Here are some excerpts of The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi 』, translated by鬼怒鳴門(キーン・ドナルド), Donald Keene.

 

キーン・ドナルド(1)

キーン・ドナルド(5)

キーン・ドナルド(2)キーン・ドナルド(3)キーン・ドナルド(4)

 

Here is a photo of 鬼怒鳴門(キーン・ドナルド), Donald Keene, my haiku friend and me, taken at Embassy of Sweden in Tokyo, Japan.

 

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Lastly, there are more information about Kisakata at the following website.

https://akitahaiku.com/2009/08/29/

https://akitahaiku.com/2009/09/12/

https://akitahaiku.com/2009/09/26/

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

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

 

By Hidenori Hiruta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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

 

 

 

The Akita International Haiku Network is now organizing Japan – Russia Haiku Contest(日露俳句コンテスト), sponsored by The JAL Foundation(日航財団).

The JAL Foundation has just contributed Haiku By World Children Vol.10 : Impressions of Wind (かぜのうた) for the contest.

 

Here is a photo of the haiku book.

 

 

 

You can get the haiku book through amazon.co.jp.

 

Here is Prologue “Sense of Life by Tota Kaneko.

It says in the first paragraph as follows.

 

When I heard that the 10th edition of Haiku by World Children was being published, it reminded me of one haiku that was in its first edition published about 20 years ago and has somehow stayed in my mind all these years:

It read:

 

     Hey, bamboo shoots

     They are going to take

     My cast off too!

                   Yohei Hatagami (Translated by Jack Stamm)

                                                             (Continued.)

 

生き物感覚 金子兜太(俳人)

『地球歳時記』の第十集が出ると聞いて、二十年ほど前の第一集で読んで妙に忘れられないでいる作品をすぐ思い出していた。それは、

           たけのこよぼくもギブスがとれるんだ(畑上 洋平)

                                                         (続く)

 

Here are some photos of the haiku and pictures by world children. And the other paragraphs of Prologue sometimes appear among them.

 

 

 

The author was a seven-year-old Japanese boy. In this haiku, two scenes blend quite naturally like a duet – bamboo shoots shedding their skin layer by layer and this boy having his plaster cast removed gradually as his recovery progresses. I was impressed by the high caliber of this haiku. To this boy, he and the bamboo shoot must have been one. He must have sensed that they were both living things sharing a common life force.                                                     ( Continued.)

 

作者は日本人の七歳の男の子。筍(たけのこ)の皮が次々に剥がれて(はがれて)落ちてゆく様子と、少年自身のギブスが、回復にともなってとれてゆく様子が、ごく自然に重なって(重奏感があって)、スケールの大きい俳句だと感銘したのである。少年にとっては、自分も筍も同体だったのだろう。どっちも同じ生き物として感覚していたのだ。                              (続く)

 

 

I call such sense the “sense of life”. It can be wrapped up in the broader concept of animism, but I call it the sense of life in reference to the art of expression. This sense comes quite naturally with children, but I was wondering how that is with adults. For starters, I ask Matsuo Basho as he was the man who had established haiku as a form of poetry.                                                                                                  (Continued.)

 

 私はこの少年の感覚を「生き物感覚」と言っている。「アニミズム」という呼び方で包んでしまってよいわけだが、表現行為に直結させてそう言う。子どもだけでなく―

子どもにとっては極く(ごく)自然なのだが―おとなの場合はどうかと思って、まず松尾芭蕉(まつおばしょう)に問いかけてみた。芭蕉は俳句を詩として確立した人である。 (続く)             

 

 

Basho had an answer to my question as, in his later years, he used to say “make haiku as children play” or “let the 3-foot-tall child in you be the poet”. But he himself could not do so. Basho could not allow himself to become a child because he and his haiku became the subject of literary criticism, as exemplified by his works being summarized under the literary concept of “karumi (lightness).” Basho had regretted this until he breathed his last.                                  (Continued.)

 

芭蕉は承知していた。晩年になって、「俳諧(はいかい)を子どもの遊ぶごとくせよ」 とか、「三尺の童(わらべ)にさせよ」と言ったのである。しかし芭蕉にはできなかった。「かるみ」という文芸概念(ぶんげいがいねん)でくくられているように、文芸論として語られて、芭蕉自身は「子ども」にはなれなかったからである。だから死ぬまで悔しがっていた。                           (続く)

 

 

But there were some adults who had been blessed with the sense of life. I see such examples in haiku composed by Hirose Izen, one of Basho’s followers, while he was wandering through various provinces after Basho was gone. For example:

 

     Japanese plum flowers

     red, red

     red, indeed

 

     A water bird

     sliding to the other bank

     straight, swift and quiet

                                                               (Continued.)

 

しかし、おとなでも生きもの感覚に恵まれていた人もいた。私は芭蕉の弟子の広瀬惟然(ひろせいぜん)が師亡きあと、諸国を放浪しながらつくった句のなかにそれを見出すことがある。たとえば、

 

       うめのはな赤いは赤いはあかいはな

      水鳥やむかふの岸へつういつうい

                                                                          (続く)

 

 

 

Kobayashi Issa, whom I consider Basho’s true successor, made a good number of such haiku including:

 

    Front teeth loosening

    like poppies unstable

    in the breeze

 

Issa was seeing something in common between his front teeth starting to come loose and poppy petals swaying in the breeze – a commonality as living beings, a common life force.                                                              (Continued.)

 

また、私が芭蕉の正当な後継者と見ている小林一茶(こばやしいっさ)の句にも、けっこうある。たとえば、

 

       花げしのふはつくような前歯哉

 自分のぐらつきだした前歯と芥子(けし)の花びらも、まったく同じ生きものとして、そのいのちを感覚していたのである。                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (続く)

 

 

 

I am a firm believer that any adult can possess the sense of life. In my view, such an adult has something in common with an innocent child. My old friend Jack Stamm was such a man. He helped translate haiku composed by contestants from around the world in the series’ early editions and his excellent translations were well-known. I am sure up in the heaven he is pleased at the news of this 10th edition.

 

note:

Haiku of Hirose Izen and Kobayashi Issa presented above were translated by Akira Nakagiri.  (The End.)

 

.「生きもの感覚」はおとなにも可能、と確信しているのだが、そうしたおとなは、どこか無邪気で子どもに共通しているところがある。この歳時記のはじめのころ、英訳に協力していたジャック・スタムの名訳は有名だったが、かれは子どものような人だった。十集の発刊を天国で喜んでいることだろう。                                                                                                                                              (終わり)

 

Lastly, we sincerely hope that you will enjoy Haiku in your own ways or through Haiku contest.

 

The next posting ‘Haiku by World Children : Impressions of School’ appears on May 26.

 

― Hidenori Hiruta ( Member of HIA)

 

 

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 .

Here I take up the latter part of this section.

 

此寺の方丈に座して簾を捲ば、風景一眼の中に尽て、南に鳥海、天をさヽえ、其陰うつりて江にあり、西はむやむやの関、路をかぎり、東に堤を築て、秋田にかよふ道遥に、海北にかまえて、浪打入る所を汐こしと云。江の縦横一里ばかり、俤松島にかよひて、又異なり。松島は笑ふが如く、象潟はうらむがごとし。寂しさに悲しみをくはえて、地勢魂をなやますに似たり。

 

Here is a painting of Kisakata exhibited at the Kanmanji Temple.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy; as per original copyright at:

http://staff.aist.go.jp/nakano.shun/Jap/Chokai/news/recently.html

 

Donald Keene translated this part into English as follows:

 

  Seated within the priests’ quarters of the temple, I rolled up the bamboo blinds and took in all at once the whole spectacle of Kisakata. To the south loomed Mount Chokai, supporting the heavens; its image was reflected in the water. To the west, one can see as far as Muyamuya Barrier; to the east, the road over the embankment leads to Akita in the distance. The sea is to the north. The place where the waves of the sea break into the lagoon is called Tide-Crossing. Kisakata is about two miles in either direction.

Kisakata resembles Matsushima, but there is a difference. Matsushima seems to be smiling, but Kisakata wears a look of grief. There is a sadness mingled with the silent calm, a configuration to trouble the soul.

 

Basho’s last lines say that there is something woeful about Kisakata.

I wonder if Basho predicted that such a natural disaster as earthquake might occur in Kisakata in the future.

 

In fact, 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. As a result, the lagoons were changed into dry land.

 

Here is a photo of the backyard of the Kanmanji Temple in Kisakata, 321 years after Basho’s visit.

 

 

 

Koji Otomo, curator at Shoji Taro Memorial Museum in Akita-city, contributed his poems on the earth to our network.

 

春愁 無情         Spring Woe   No Mercy

東海林太郎音楽館館長 大友康二

 

大地 ゆらぐ日                 On the day when the earth quakes

海 怒りて                          the sea gets furious

慟哭                                   cries bitterly  

三陸の海を                         the Sanriku coast

引き裂く                              tears into pieces

 

花 待つことなく                  Flowers wait for no man

人 逝く                             those there pass away

波に 消える                     vanish into waves 

あわれ                               alas!

 

世界に ただひとつ            The only nation in the world

被爆の国 ニッポン             the atom-bombed nation, Japan 

その空に                             in the skies

白い光の 恐怖                   the terrors of white rays

 

六十有余年           A little more than 60 years             

問われる 政治                   what has politics done?

問われる いのち                what is life?

喪われた こころ                  lost hearts

 

なぜ                                     Why?

どうして                               for what reason?

繰り返すことばは                the repeated words  

がれきに 吸い込まれ          are absorbed into rubbles

沈黙(しじま) 空しく            silence is empty 

 

潰滅の地に                         In the annihilated areas

おののきばかり                   there remain nothing but shivers

人 ただ侘(た)つ                those there have only to mourn

 

ふるさとの こころに             In the heart of home

槌音 響くは                        hammering sounds will resound

いつの日か                          when is it?

  

Here is a photo of the ruined fortress (払田柵)in Akita Prefecture(秋田県), constructed in the Heian period(平安時代)(794-1185).

 

 

 

Haikuists in Akita contributed haiku to our network.

They are members of the haiku group: Ten’I (Providence)天為俳句会led by Dr. Akito Arima主宰 有馬朗人).

 

余震なほ朔太郎忌の星月夜         伊藤沐雨 (Mokuu Ito)

 

aftershocks come

on the starlit night

Sakutaro’s anniversary

 

燭台に朱のろうそくや余震来る         伊藤智子 (Satoko Ito)

                                                               

on the candlestick

vermeil candles burning

the aftershock comes

 

大津波退きオリオンの煌めける         伊藤慶子 (Keiko Ito)

                                                               

huge tsunami gone out

Orion’s Belt

sparkling

 

大地震の果てなる春の浅きかな      五十嵐義知 (Yoshitomo Igarashi)

                                                                         

great earthquake over

this spring

how transient!

 

なにもかも攫はれし地に黄水仙         笹尾巳生子 (Mioko Sasao)

                                                                            

everything lost

in the waste land

jonquils bloom

 

鎮魂の瓦礫の町に春の雪            進藤八重子 (Yaeko Shindo)

                                                                            

consoling

the towns of devastation

spring snow

 

奥入瀬の激しき調べ春の霜            鈴木東亜子 (Toako Suzuki)

                                                                              

intense music

of the Oirase River

spring frost

 

浴槽の揺れの余震や春寒             寺田恵子 (Keiko Terata)

                                                                           

the aftershock

of bathtub shaking

spring cold

 

被災地につくしたんぽぽなずなかな     山内誠子 (Seiko Yamanouchi)

                                                                         

for the devastated areas

field horsetail’s shoots,

dandelions, and shepherd’s purses

 

囀に小さな森の膨らめり              和田仁 (Jin Wada)

                                                                           

birdsongs resounding

the small woods seem

bigger and bigger

 

 

Here is a photo of daffodils and local springwater (郷清水) in Akita Prefecture.

 

 

 

Hiroko Kawashiri (川尻弘子) in Akita contributed haiku too.

 

地震止みて運河に重き春の雪

 

the earthquake over

too heavy for the canal

spring snow

 

誰からか呼ばれたやうな朧月

 

the pale moon

i feel like…

someone is calling

 

 

Last of all, let me post my haiku.

 

草青む払田柵やよみがえる

 

grasses growing

over the ruined fortress

reconstructing

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (5)’ appears on May 28.

― 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 as follows:

 

江山水陸の風光数を尽くして、今象潟に方寸を責。酒田の湊より東北の方、山を越、磯を伝ひ、いさごをふみて其際十里、日影やゝかたぶく比、汐風真砂を吹上、雨朦朧として鳥海の山かくる。闇中に莫作して「雨も又奇也」 とせば、雨後の晴色又頼母敷と、あまの苫屋に膝をいれて、雨の晴を待。其朝天能霽れて、朝日花やかにさし出る程に、象潟に舟をうかぶ。

先能因島に舟をよせて、三年幽居の跡をとぶらひ、むかふの岸に舟をあがれば、「花の上こぐ」とよまれし桜の老木、西行法師の記念をのこす。

 

Here is a painting of Kisakata in those days.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy; as per original copyright at:

http://www.touhoku.com/0a-03-kisakata.htm

 

Donald Keene translated this section into English as follows:

 

  After having seen so many splendid views of both land and sea, I could think of nothing now but Kisakata. We journeyed to the northeast from the port of Sakata, climbing over hills, following along the shore, plodding through the sand, a distance of about twenty miles in all. As the sun was sinking in the sky a breeze from the sea stirred up the sand, and a misty rain started to fall, obscuring Chokai Mountain. We groped ahead in the darkness. I felt sure that if Kisakata was exquisite in the rain, it would prove no less wonderful when it cleared. We squeezed into a fisherman’s thatch-covered hut and waited for the rain to stop.

  The next morning the weather cleared beautifully. When the morning sun rose in all its splendor, we took a boat out on the lagoon of Kisakata. We put in first at Noin Island, where we visited the remains of the hut in which Noin lived in seclusion for three years. On the opposite shore, when we landed from our boat, we saw the old cherry tree that stands as a memento of Saigyo.

 

In fact, there were 99 small islands and 88 lagoons in Kisakata in those days and the people enjoyed beautiful sceneries or fishing by boat around the islands.

 

However, 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. As a result, the lagoons were changed into dry land.

Now most of those lagoons have turned into rice fields or residential areas, but there are the remains of those days left there.

You can see such remains as the Noin Island, the boat-tying stone, or small islands in the article Basho’s Stay in Kisakata (1) at the site : https://akitahaiku.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/

 

Here is a photo of present-day Kisakata, 200 years after the earthquake, which was exhibited at Kisakata Local Museum in Nikaho-city, in June , 2004.(にかほ市象潟郷土資料館企画展2004年6月).

 

 

 

As posted already above, Donald Keene, the ex- member of the President’s Advisory Board at Akita International University(AIU)(国際教養大学), kindly contributed part of his English translation for Matsuo Basho’s travel diary The Narrow Road to Oku, 『おくのほそ道 (Oku no Hosomichi to our network.

This is because AIU President Mineo Nakajima (中嶋嶺雄) asked Donald Keene for his permission for us to use part of his translation.  

 

Kirby Record, a professor at AIU, teaching as director of English for Academic Purposes, also contributed his haiku to us. 

Haiku by K. Record

On the Earthquake

 

Villages of rubble        瓦礫の村々

Everything washed away    何もかも流される 

But the still-blue sky        しかし静かで青い空

 

 

Clutched in the hand     手でしっかりとつかんでいる

Of a child, floating face down—

             子供の手に、顔を下にして浮かんでいる―

Her favorite doll        彼女の大好きな人形

Yukari Sakamoto (阪本縁), a graduate from AIU, wrote haiku on the earthquake.

なごり雪大地が動き沈黙す

Unseasonable snow 
In silence
While the earth quakes
 

水仙が顔を差し出すがれきの山

Blooming daffodils

Alongside
A heap of debris
 

 

Susan Smela, who studied at AIU in 2010, is now a student at Beloit College in Wisconsin, USA.

On March 25, 2011, Susan sent me an e-mail , saying that they all heard about the huge earthquake in America, and many of them are raising money to help Japan.

Susan also said that she introduced haiga in America, and that she was able to hold a haiga meeting with students from her university (Beloit College in Wisconsin) and teach some basics of haiga and haiku.

It was a great time and the copies she made from my book really helped illustrate what she was talking about. They did some practices, then went in a circle, with 3 people writing one line of a haiku and the 4th person drawing a haiga-style picture.

Here are some photos Susan’s friend took from the meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yasushi Sato (佐藤康), a member of Akita International Haiku Network, contributed his haiku to us.

 

大地震に無慈悲の限り春の雪

spring snow
mercilessly falling on
earthquake-devastated towns

 


大津波言葉空しく春寒し

so devastating tsunami
any words powerless
spring
 relentlessly cold

 

 

Junko Masuda (桝田純子), a member of Akita International Haiku Network, contributed her haiku to us too.

 

復興の未来信じて花ひらく

 

sakura  sakura  bloom

believing in the future

Tohoku region

 

 

Last of all, let me post my haiku.

 

舟止めは夢のまた夢ねぶの花

 

tying a boat

i cannot even dream

mimosa blossoms

 

The next posting ‘Haiku about the Great East Japan Earthquake (4)’ appears on May 21.

― Hidenori Hiruta

 

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 July 24, 2010, Brian Birdsell(McSherry) sent me an e-mail, contributing  a collection of haiku about summer.  

Hidenori

Thanks for the email. I agree some thoughts of the cool spring weather is rather refreshing right now. I think Akita is getting the same weather as morioka – hot and humid! I plan to go back to the states for a vacation with my daughter next week. But hope to finish a collection of summer haiku before I go and will send them to you. Enjoy the hot summer days and thanks again!

Brian

 

According to his self-introduction,

Brian McSherry has lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Prague, Italy and currently lives in northern Japan. He has lived there for over 6 years and enjoys spending time with his daughter, hiking in the mountains of Tohoku, writing, and traveling. He has a background in linguistics and teaches English at a private high school in Iwate. 

Now it is early in September, but the hot and humid days have unusually lasted.

Nice summer haiku by Brian make you cool and refreshed, I believe.

 

a butterfly

then two –

how far

I’ve wandered

 

蝶一羽さまよう果てや今は二羽

 

 

watching the rivers

flood the rice paddies –

her ice cream melts

 

川の水稲田にあふるアイスとく

 

 

a slumped woman

with hands in the earth

makes dinner

 

落ち込みや夕飯作る女の手

 

coughing coughing –

a scattering of flowers

in the wind

 

咳続く風に花々まき散れり

 

Kitakami river –

cool water rushes past

a collapsed house

 

家崩れ北上川の水走る

 

along the road

falling azaleas smear

the asphalt

 

ツツジ花散りて舗道を塗りつける

 

staring at a tree

a woman in kimono –

Tenmagu Shrine

 

木を見つむ和服の婦人天満宮

 

藤原養蜂 (Fujihara Apiary)

the smoke

from the beekeeper

drips of sunlight

 

養蜂家の煙日光のしずく

 

 

the body welcomes

summer clothes –

letting the breeze in

 

そよ風や受けて夏服うれしけり

 

a clod of earth

under the travelers foot –

distant mountains

 

旅人の足下の土や遠き山

 

the raspberry pot

still without leaves –

still get watered

 

葉の出ないラズベリーの鉢水かかる

 

dusk –

the picked dandelions

close up in her hands

 

たそがれやタンポポ閉まる彼女の手

 

 

the castle wall fades

under wild vines –

fleeting heroes

 

英雄や城壁のツタに消え行けり

 

a path made

as my daughter chases

wild flowers

 

我が娘野花を追って道をなす

 

an engine hums

in the apple grove –

first smell of cut grass

 

りんご園エンジン放つ草の香や

 

 

the rainy season

wears away at the page –

erasing my tracks

 

梅雨入りやページすり減り跡消える

 

traveling east

a shrine on the bluff –

repeating waves

 

東方の崖の社に寄せる波

 

I fall asleep

under clouds of green

leaves

blowing overhead

 

眠り込む青葉の雲が吹き流る

 

 

in the bent grass –

a moth with a lost wing

loses balance

 

草曲がり蛾の羽無くしふらめけり

 

 

along the roadside

pausing near rice seedlings –

10 years pass

 

10年や路傍に止まり早苗見る

 

Last of all, I present a photo of Kisakata (象潟), Akita for the last haiku by Brian.

Matsuo Basho (松尾芭蕉)stayed here in 1689 , visiting the Nohin Island (能因島)and writing haiku about mimosa blossoms(ねぶの花).

The next posting ‘Haiku by P K Padhy in India (3)’ appears on September 11.

Hidenori Hiruta

Now in Japan we are in a cheerful mood, sharing the beauties and wonders of spring with each other.

With the coming of spring, Amur adonis appeared in the fields and camellias opened their flowers, from white to pink and red ones.

 

Plum and cherry blossoms are in full bloom here and there in Tokyo these days.

 Both of them have been loved and taken up in haiku or tanka since the ancient days in Japan.

At the end of March, I wrote the following haiku:

 

Fresh cherry blossoms

reflected in the pond

water mirror

 

初桜姿をうつす鏡池

Hatsuzakura  sugata o utsusu  kagami ike

 

 

First of all, let me tell you about my writing career of international haiku.

In May, 1998, I studied about international haiku and started writing haiku in English.

Professor David McMurray at the International University of Kagoshima(鹿児島国際大学) came to Akita and gave us a workshop on international haiku at the meeting of JALT (The Japan Association for Language Teaching)(全国語学教育学会). He told us about international haiku and showed us how to write haiku in English.

Since then I have been studying about haiku in English through Asahi Culture Center(朝日カルチャーセンター), where we can enjoy International Haiku Correspondence with Professor David McMurray.

As our mentor he gives us instructions and suggestions on how to burnish and improve haiku in English.

As a haiku poet he received NAGOYA TV AWARD at International Haiku Poetry Festival held as part of THE 2005 AICHI WORLD EXPO (愛知万博)in July, 2005.

 

White lilies

the feeding tube

removed

David McMurray

 

Professor David McMurray is also the haiku selector and editor of the Asahi Haikuist Network column found in Friday edition of the International Herald Tribune Asahi Shimbun (ヘラルド朝日)and on the Internet at

http://www.asahi.com/english/haiku/040405.html.

In March, 2004, I wrote the following haiku, which appeared in the above -mentioned page of Asahi Haikuist Network by David McMurray:

 

Bush warbler

music in the eaves

rice cake dries

 

鶯の歌声軒に餅乾く

Uguisuno   utagoe  nokini    mochi kawaku

 

My haiku appeared in the Asahi Haikuist Network and also appeared together with Basho’s haiku in the blog by Angelika Wienert, a German poet, in 2005.

 

鶯や餅に糞する縁の先

                   Uguisu ya  mochi ni fun suru  en no saki     

Bush warbler ―

shits on the rice cakes

on the porch rail

 Translated by Robert Hass

  

In July, 2004, I visited Kisakata(象潟), Akita, and wrote the following haiku in celebration of the 360th anniversary of Matsuo Basho’s birth:

 

Basho’s wind

circling stone tablet

midsummer

 

蕉風の句碑に立ちたる真夏かな

Shou fuu no  kuhi ni tachi taru  manatsu kana

 

  

 

In October, 2004, I wrote the following haiku while reading “The Narrow Road to Oku” (Oku no Hosomichi) by Matsuo Basho(1664-1694) as translated by Donald Keene.

I composed it to keep cozy, when the nights were getting longer and chillier.

 

 Autumn winds

leaves flutter upon

the narrow road

 

秋風や奥の細道木の葉舞ふ

Akikaze ya  Okuno Hosomichi  konoha mau

 

 

In November, 2006, I wrote haiku about first snow:

 

 Basho’s statue

dressed in white snow

narrow road

 

初雪や芭蕉の衣清まれり

Hatsu yuki ya  Basho no koromo  kiyomare ri

 

My haiku appeared in the Asahi Haikuist Network, where Professor David McMurray  noted as follows:

The first snowfall in Akita was light, just enough to dust Matsuo Basho’s monument, writes Hidenori Hiruta. Or as the poet observed in 1686, enough snow fell to bend narcissus leaves: Hatsu yuki ya suisen no ha no tawamu made.  Hiruta alludes to Basho’s travel journal, “Oku no Hosomichi” (The Narrow Road to the Deep North).

 

初雪や水仙の葉のたわむまで

Hatsu yuki ya  suisen no ha no  tawamu made

 

The first snow ―

just enough to bend

narcissus leaves

 

Translated by David McMurray

 

These two haiku above are quoted in the category, Literature of the Literature.net.

In January, 2009, I wrote haiku about New Year. This was selected and printed in the haiku magazine, HI , which is published by HIA (Haiku International Association)(国際俳句交流協会).

 

Sending out steam

dedicating Bonden

New Year’s Festival

 

湯気立てて梵天納む寒祭り

Yuge tate te  bonden osamu  kan matsuri

 

 

 On January 23, 2010, the word ‘Bonden(梵天)’  was taken up as Kigo for the New Year in SPECIAL GALLERIES…..DARUMA MUSEUM (03) by Dr. Gabi Greve, a German poet, in Okayama, Japan.

In February, 2010, I wrote the following haiku:

 

 Frozen beard

thawing

valentine mails

 

鬚なごむバレンタインのメールかな

Hige nagomu  barentain no  meeru kana

 

On March 5, 2010, this haiku appeared in the Asahi Haikuist Network.

That night I received the following e-mail for my haiku:

Dear Hidenori Hiruta:

I have enjoyed reading your haiku in today’s edition of the Asahi Haikuist Network

in the International Herald Tribune.  Congratulations!

Have a wonderful weekend–

With best regards,

Lenard D. Moore

Former President (2008 and 2009), Haiku Society of America(アメリカ俳句協会前会長)

Executive Chairman, North Carolina Haiku Society.

I knew Mr. Moore at the HIA 20th Anniversary Symposium held in Tokyo on November 28, 2009, which he attended as one of the panelists.

On March 8, 2010, Mr. Moore contributed his haiku to me and referred to his essay on writing haiku in his e-mail.

Dear Hidenori Hiruta,

Thank you very much for your kind words about my haiku.  I am very pleased to learn

that you attended last year’s HIA 20th Anniversary Symposium and posted haiku.

I am delighted to hear that you have heard my talk on the haiku panel.  However,

here is the website address for my essay on writing haiku with several of my haiku:

http://www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2008-issue31-2/revelationsunedited.html

I am honored that you have read my following haiku:

 

 autumn sunset

helicopter rises

from the heliport

 –Lenard D. Moore

I am also honored to learn that you have appreciated my following haiku in the Asahi Haikuist Network:

 

 Cloudless sky

all over my face

this thick beard

 –Lenard D. Moore

 

 Closing year…

I open the jar

of pickles

 –Lenard D. Moore

 

Year-end rain

just the closed houses

up the street

 –Lenard D. Moore

 

Congratulations on all of the work you are doing for haiku on the Akita International Haiku Network!

I am grateful to you for inviting me to submit haiku to you for the Akita International Haiku Network.

Once again, thank you very much.  Have a wonderful week–

With best regards,

Lenard D. Moore

www.wordtechweb.com/moore.html

Last of all, let me tell you about what HIA President Akito Arima (国際俳句交流協会会長有馬朗人)concluded in the symposium on November 28, 2009.

Dr. Arima predicted as follows.

Haiku will spread out to the world more because of its brevity and its coexistence with nature.

More and more young people will get interested in haiku for its brevity, and enjoy writing and reading haiku.

More poets will share haiku with each other in their blogs on the Internet.

Global haiku contest or festival will increase on the Internet too.

 

 

The next posting ‘ International Haiku Spring Festival 2010 (Akita, Northern Honshu, Japan)’  appears on April 18.

 

― Hidenori  Hiruta

On January 25, 2010, I received the first mail from Mr. Holmes through Facebook:

Hi,
Did we perhaps meet at the World Haiku International Conference, 2002, held in Yuma Town, near Akita? I attended as part of the World Haiku Club.
I enjoyed the area very much. It was August; but, the fall colors were not yet full. There were many red dragonflies, (akatonbo), as I recall.
Sincerely,
Dennis M. Holmes (my haigou, “chibi”)

 Our friendship renewed then.

He really loves Japan and Haiku.

 

This is a photo which shows that he enjoyed the cherry blossoms in Japan.

During his stay in Akita,  he wrote the following haiku:

Golden Rice
Open the lunch Box
From AKITA

 

駅弁を解いて秋田の稲穂波   チビ

Ekiben o  toite Akita no  inaho nami     by Chibi

 

Her eyes
Light up the AKITA
Moon

女の目きらと秋田の良夜かな   同

Onna no me  kira to Akita no  ryouya kana  by Chibi 

 

Please-please
Red dragon fly stay
On the fox shrine

赤とんぼ来い来い狐の神の上   同

Aka tonbo  koi koi kitsune no  kami no ue   by Chibi

 

Following
The slope of hills
Fields of flowers
 

 

どこまでも野菊の道を歩きけり  同

Dokomademo  nogiku no michi o  aruki keri  by Chibi

 

Wild chrysanthemums
I will roll on
Its path

山稜に沿ひたる坂の草の花   同

Sanryou ni  soitaru saka no  kusa no hana  by Chibi

 

The front door opens
A glimpse of
Autumn 

 

関の戸より小さき秋は来ぬ   同

Seki no to yori  chiisaki  aki wa kinu  by Chibi

 

This is a photo taken with Matsuo Basho (松尾芭蕉).

 

As the homepage ‘HAIKU俳句’ by Yanagibori  Etsuko (柳堀悦子) says , Mr. Holmes won first prize, Ninth Mainichi Haiku Grand Prix, English Haiku of International Section 2004.

He is a member of ‘Haiku 俳句’.

 ○在アメリカ会員のデニス・ホームズさんが第九回毎日俳句大賞国際部門の英語俳句で最優秀賞に選ばれました。七月の授賞式にご子息と出席の為、来日されます。その際、皆様との再会を楽しみにしていますとのことです。柳堀悦子

On July, 2004, Mr. Holmes contributed the following haiku to ‘HAIKU 俳句’.

 

seventeen year
cicada
―songs sink
into everything

 

十七年いちじつの蝉鳴きにけり

Juu shichinen  ichijitsu no semi   nakinikeri

 

the swing chain clank
on the screened front porch

hunmming bird

 

ふらここにをれば蜂鳥宙に浮く
 

Fura kokoni  oreba hachidori  chuu ni uku

 

the rainy season
lettuce wilts at
the open-aer bistro

 

五月雨やサラダをカフェ・テラスにて

Samidare ya  sarada o  kafe terasu ni te

 

 

this summer day ―         
I thought it was
2003!

 

昨年のけふを思へる夏日かな
 

Kyonen no kyou o omoeru  natsubi kana

 

the rainy season
starts again

moonless dawn

 

月失せて梅雨の夜明けは闇あるのみ
 

Tsuki usete  tsuyu no yoake wa  yami aru nomi

 

The members of ‘HAIKU俳句’ congratulated on his winning first prize in Tokyo.

Recently Mr. Holmes sent his self-introduction to me as follows:

 Dear Hidenori san,

Thank you for your kind reply. As to my introduction, I am but a student of haiku, always. We live in Georgia, USA. Currently, we have temporary assignment on the Atlantic coast of Georgia, Saint Simons Island, USA. I write poems daily inspired by the ocean and the southeastern, USA. Renku is part of my current interests, and I am happy to say that Professor Shokan Tadashi Kondo, Seikei University, is a friend and my renku teacher. A Japanese friend and I compose juunichiou renku over the internet on the weekends. Some of the juunichiou have been aired on NHK Radio Japan’s program, World Interactive. I hope to be able to return to Japan to meet Dr. Gabi Greve, Okayama; Professor Kondo at Seikei University; Tokyo friends, and of course my Akita friends, again.

Mr. Holmes reads and writes Japanese, Hiragana(ひらがな:平仮名)and Kanji characters(漢字).

He writes and posts haiku on his Facebook page every day.

His latest haiku is this:

Mystery shrouds

The relics of Easter

Rosemary

 

イースター遺せし帳やロ-ズマリー

 Iisuta  nokoseshi tobari ya  rouzumarii

 

 Among haiku poets in USA, not only Mr. Holmes but also Cor van den Heuvel, Roberta Beary, Michael Dylan Welch, Curtis Dunlap, Charlotte Digregorio, Charles Bane Jr, Diane Dehler, Morgan Harlow, Roberta Burnett, Stevie Strang,  J. Andrew Lockhart, George O Hawkins, are Facebook haiku friends of mine.

 I sincerely hope that you will be a Facebook friend, and that you will share and exchange poetic works with each other.

The next posting ‘Haiku by Hidenori Hiruta in Japan’  appears on April 10.

Hidenori  Hiruta