Tag Archives: 俳句

ECHOES: Painting & Poetry Exhibition at KICH – February 25 ~ March 2

ECHOES is an upcoming poetry and art exhibition organized by the Hailstone Haiku Circle, and featuring the conservation efforts of PTO (People Together for Mt. Ogura). Click on the flyer below for details!
H a i g a c o l l a b o r a t i o n
Hailstone Haiku Circle is an international group founded in 2000 by Stephen Gill and centred on Kyoto. Its main activity is to compose, share and publish English language haiku, but recently it did so based on paintings brought to the meetings. Each poet took home one of these paintings and wrote a haiku to accompany it. Many of these collaborations are displayed in this exhibition. Haiku seems like an entirely new art when written in English, and, fortunately, many of the poets are also fine artists!

M t. O g u r a c o r n e r
In summer 2003, Stephen Gill spent 16 hours walking about Mt. Ogura in Saga, Kyoto. His objective was to write poems celebrating the mountain, but inadvertently he discovered many environmental problems, including a huge amount of rubbish tipped there. The following year, he met Okiharu Maeda of the NPO ‘ACE’ (and more recently, PTO) and, ever since, together they have been clearing the rubbish and attracting to this beautiful mountain many volunteers, both Japanese and foreign. There will be a small section of the exhibition devoted to artworks and poetry made on or for Mt. Ogura.

4 min. from Keage Station on Subway Tozai Line. Here is a MAP.
Dates: February 25 (Tue.) ~ March 2 (Sun.) 11:00~19:00
First day opens 12:00, reception 18:00~ 20:00 last day closes at 18:00
Admission Free!
Enquiries (K.I.C.H.): 075-752-1187
HAILSTONE HAIKU CIRCLE (Stephen Gill): 075 865 2773
Hailstone Haiku Circle: http://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/
PTO: http://www.ptogura.org/ep.html
KICH: http://www.kcif.or.jp/HP/access/en/index.html


Meltdown – An Anthology of Haiku, Z – A

meltdownMELTDOWN メルトダウン (2013) An Anthology of Haiku, Z to A.
ISBN: 978-4-9900822-5-3
Edited by Stephen Henry Gill
Includes almost 500 haiku and a short 4-part seasonal renku cycle over 228 pages.
Cover by Richard Steiner.
Price:¥1,500; airmail $20, incl. p&p
Dimensions: 19 x 13 cm.  Covers feature a tactile matt paper finish.
How to order: details are at the Hailstone Haiku Circle’s Publications page: http://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/publications/

I thought I might examine some gems from the latest Hailstone haiku anthology for clues as to haiku possibilities. What makes a haiku a haiku? Wherein lies the haiku’s charm? Why indeed, write haiku at all?

Haiku, we know, should be brief, and Japanese haiku conventionally (though not always) follow a 5-7-5 Japanese syllabic count. There are some masters of the haiku craft who stick to the 5-7-5 syllable count in English – and work wonders within those confines:

Ainu songs are sad:
like this deep blue crater lake
with fog cascading

(Nobuyuki Yuasa, Meltdown, pg 119)

Many people also think a haiku should be written in three lines, and this is often the case. But not always. There are those who throw both syllable and line counts aside, with brilliantly bold experiments.

Unspoken history dark clouds shroud the hunter’s moon

(Duro Jaiye, Ibid, pg 71)

sun fingers
the forest snow
no-one is here

(David McCullough, Ibid, pg 65) Continue reading

English Haiku Poems Class

Hailstone Haiku Circle “Hibikiai Forum”


Click to look around the classroom.

One of the most enjoyable activities I regularly take part in, is the monthly haiku class at Friend Peace House. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about poetic forms like haiku, senryu, and tanka in English. The class is usually divided into two main parts. After sharing an introductory poem of his own, the facilitator leads us in an analysis of several haiku that have been submitted anonymously prior to the class by group members. Members freely offer feedback with an aim to polishing these poetic efforts. After some announcements and a break, the facilitator or a guest speaker will introduce a theme. This could be anything, but in the past we have had lessons on Irish Haiku, the American haikus of Jack Kerouac, food haiku, animal haiku… Last time we began to look at the roots of English haiku in Orientalism, and I am very much looking forward to the next session when we will be continuing this series with a lesson on the Imagists. Continue reading

Nov. 23 (Sat.) Autumn Recreation Hike & Maple Planting on Mt. Ogura, Kyoto

View from Ogura

Photo from Stephen Gill.

This Saturday PTO (People Together for Mount Ogura) & the Hailstone Haiku Circle will have a joint hiking/recreational event on Mt Ogura. Here are the details from Stephen Gill: Continue reading

Hiking & Haiku on the Uminobe-no-Michi Trail

For the last 3 years or so I have been joining the Hailstone Haiku Circle on their annual autumn hike. Always good outings, in previous years we have gone further afield to Mount Daisen in Tottori, and Tateyama in Toyama, but this year’s hike was closer to home: along the Lakeside Way (湖ノ辺の道 Uminobe-no-michi), in Northern Shiga. These are haiku composition hikes, so we take notes as we walk and at the end of the day exchange our poems over dinner and drinks. Before that though, a 14 kilometer trek along Lake Yogo, up Mount Shizugatake and along the range before climbing up and down Mount Yamamoto. Many thanks to Richard Donovan who organized this year’s excursion, and who will be posting has posted an account with the group’s haiku on the Hailstone site soon. Here I shall post my own photos of the day including some Ricoh Theta spherical images. If you click on those spherical images you can view a fully immersive 360 degree photograph.

IMG_6668 (Medium)The tree pictured above is said to be 天女の衣掛柳 – the willow upon which a heavenly maiden hung her robe. According to the story a passing fisherman seeing the beautiful maiden swimming in Lake Yogo, hid the robe from her, thus preventing her return to heaven. He then took her home with him and kept her as his wife. Years later one of her children found the robe and returned it to her, whereupon she instantly flew back to heaven leaving her husband and children devastated without her… Continue reading

2nd Haiku Workshop with Ted Taylor @ Sakura Ryokan

Our Ted will host his second haiku workshop at Sakura Ryokan this Friday (January 25th). The lesson is free of charge and no reservation is necessary. Sakura Ryokan is located south of Gojo on the east side of Aburanokoji Street. Here is a map. The workshop begins at 7.30pm. More details here.

Cultural Winter Evening! Haiku - Japanese Short Poem Making Workshop

Haiku Workshop with Ted Taylor @ Sakura Ryokan

Just a quick post to say that our pal, Ted Taylor, will present a regular English haiku workshop at Sakura Ryokan from December 7th (tomorrow!). The lesson is free of charge and no reservation is necessary. Sakura Ryokan is located south of Gojo on the east side of Aburanokoji Street. Here is a map. The workshop begins at 8pm. More details here.

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2013

幻住庵 Genjuan Haibun Contest 2013

Genjuan is the name of the cottage near Lake Biwa where, in 1690, Basho lived for a while and wrote one of his most famous haibun. It was probably the happiest period of his life. This is the second year of the contest crowned by the name of Basho’s cottage, and its purpose remains to provide a common arena for haibun writers of the world. Fortunately, we had a warm response in 2012, receiving about 100 entries from 14 different countries. The award for Grand Prix will remain the same – a good replica of a Hokusai ukiyo-e print – and smaller gifts will be sent to authors winning an An (‘Cottage’) Prize. The writers of the decorated works will each receive a certificate of merit. We sincerely look forward to your participation. Some sample haibun can be read at the following link: Genjuan Winning Haibun 2012

 Guidelines for 2013

 1 Subject: Free, but discretion must be used to avoid slander and obscenity.

2 Style: No restrictions, but attention should be paid to honour the spirit of haikai.

3 Length: In total, between 20 and 40 lines (at 1 line = 80 spaces) on a single page.

4 Haiku/Title: At least one haiku should be included, and a title should be given.

5 Format: Print on a sheet of A4-size paper and write at the bottom your name (and your pen name, if you have one), together with your address, telephone number, and your email address. Your privacy will be strictly protected, and the judges will not see your names while selecting works for decoration.

6 Deadline: All entries should reach the following address by 31 January 2013. Entries received after this date will not be accepted. Please send your entries by airmail to: Ms. Motoko Yoshioka, Regalia 907, 7-32-44 Fujimi-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo 190-0013, Japan. You are requested not to use express airmail or extra-large envelopes, which can cause problems at delivery.

7 Entry Fee: None.

8 Restrictions: Entrants may send up to three pieces, each on a separate sheet of paper. They should be unpublished. As we cannot return your entries after screening, please don’t forget to retain your own copies.

9 Questions: All questions should be sent to the address above.

10 Winners: The authors of the decorated works will subsequently be requested to send us their pieces by email. This is important, and we expect your cooperation.

See also: The Kikakuza Haibun Contest Anthology

A Ginko, at Seishu Netsuke-kan

Here’s this month’s poetry post from our friend, poet and translator, Keiji Minato.

Have you tried a ginko (吟行)? A ginko is a group excursion to make haiku or senryu: you visit a landmark, a museum exhibition, or any place of interest and write poems based on the experience. Usually, a kukai (句会; a haiku or senryu meeting) takes place afterwards, and you can share your works with others in a relaxed mood.

I was lucky to participate in one of such events on November 12th. We took a visit to Seishu Netsuke-kan (清宗根付館) in Mibu (壬生), a 5-minite walk from Omiya Station of Hankyu Kyoto Line. It is the one and only museum in Japan entirely devoted to works of netsuke (根付).

Drawing of a ''netsuke'' holding a medicine box at the belt.

A netsuke is a small traditional sculpture used to hold an inro (印籠; a container for medicines) at your obi or sash for a waist belt. You tie an inro at one end of a string and a netsuke at the other, and pass the netsuke under the obi from below (As always, Wikipedia has a great page, so check out pictures at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netsuke.). A netsuke is at most the size of a small chicken egg, but the art of Japanese artisans enables one to show animals playing with each other, a scene from famous stories, or a burlesque with comical human figures.

Continue reading

The Kikakuza Haibun Contest Anthology

Kikakuza Haibun Contest ~ Decorated Works 2009~2011 
Compiled by Nobuyuki Yuasa & Stephen Henry Gill

Lovely little collection this. I purchased a copy last week at the Hibikiai Forum English Haiku Poems seminar, and as it rained solidly all the next day, I spent a very nice, lazy afternoon reading through it with the rainfall as perfect background music.

Haibun (俳文) are, simply put, a combination of prose and haiku poetry. Something about this collaboration between literary styles has always appealed to me. Maybe because I find I enjoy poetry more when I read it within a context, or as part of a story. Anyway, I picked up this volume because I wanted to learn more about how haibun works. It may seem simple enough to place poetry within a narrative, but to get the very best performance out of these dancing partners requires balance, lightness of touch, and an imaginative focus that mutually enhances both forms. The most famous haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, was also a writer of haibun, and his most celebrated haibun is おくのほそ道 (The Narrow Road to Oku), a diary of his epic journey through northern Edo Era Japan. This account of Basho’s poetic and meditative questing through the landscapes of the deep north is considered the best of his works and a masterpiece of Japanese literature. Basho set a high standard, but his works continue to inspire haiku and haibun writers in both Japanese and increasingly also in English. It is fitting that one of the Kikakuza judges, Nobuyuki Yuasa has included at the end of this anthology several of his own translations of short haibun pieces by the classical masters Basho, Yosa Buson and Kobayashi Issa as examples for would-be future haibun writers.

The Kikakuza Haibun Contest was created both to promote interest in haibun and to encourage its writing both within Japan and overseas. Within this volume of decorated works you will find a fine range of styles and subject matter from many different countries. The entries are short: no more than 30 lines per piece, but this brevity helps both the writer and the reader to focus on the essence of each experience. Reading these haibun I was transported to a remote Romanian farmhouse, a funeral ceremony in Bhutan, mysterious neolithic sites in rural Ireland and the abundantly biodiverse Australian countryside. There are haiku that describe an immense moon hanging over the Parisian landscape, resounding echoes in a Japanese temple, dawn light in an English wood, and dusk on the detritus of disaster in India. Strange Bedfellows by Margaret Chula is a carefully crafted tale of the uncanny. Coal Dust by Patricia Prime is a vivid memoir of home life in steam age New Zealand. Ellis Avery’s Winter Subway takes us into mindful meanderings on the New York subway. And in Memories of the Sun Melissa Spurr gives an explicit account of the environmental damage wrought by a housing boom in the Mojave desert.

“These trees remember where the sun comes up,” a tree mover says, “You have to be sure and plant them in the ground just the same way they grew, or they get confused and die.”

By far my favorite piece, however, is the one that opens the collection and the outright winner of the 2009 contest. For Rose by John Parsons is a fine tribute to a deceased friend, mingling reminiscence with scenes from her funeral. The narrative is deeply moving without being sentimental. The images of sunlit bees in the woods, ash on a spider web, people meeting “as two heads bobbing at sea”, are perfect, brilliant, beautiful.

In addition to these wonderful contemporary haibun and the classical translations mentioned above, these 78 pages contain a very instructive commentary from the judges, the judges’ own haibun and a solo shisan (linked verse) by Nobuyuki Yuasa in response to this year’s disaster in the north. It’s a slim volume but it contains worlds! You can order a copy via the Hailstone Haiku Circle’s publications page for 1000 yen + postage.

The contest will continue next year with the same rules and judges but under a new name. Entry is free and the deadline is January 31st, 2012. To find out more about the new Genjuan International Haibun Contest please click here.