John McAteer

Posted in News, Tribute with tags on April 2, 2020 by Tito

I am sad to have to tell you that our good friend and fellow poet, John McAteer, passed away of Alzheimer’s on March 28 in Portland, Oregon — precisely at cherry blossom time. He was 84. His wife, Peggy writes that “a little card I made was the last thing I was able to share with John … The photo was taken at the hanami party 3 years ago in Ohara. Though he was already suffering from the effects of developing Alzheimer’s, it was very important to him that we got to Japan in time for your hanami event … His relationship with the haiku group added great depth to his life in Japan and I thank you very much. I may work the text into a real haiku and use it for his grave marker.” ……… (click on the photo to enlarge)

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Kyoto sakura
The petals will surely fall
But never our love
……………. Peggy
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Endless the pathways
redolent of times gone by —
Ogura’s shadow
……………. John (from 100 Poets)

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…………………………………… Against the sea’s roar —
…………………………………….The frail old man stands
…………………………………….Sounding his shakuhachi
………………………………………………….. John (from Lost Heian)
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Sitting entranced …………………………………. How many climbers
in the upper room — ……………………………. have grasped this root for aid?
evening mountain shadows …………………. shining still like teak
……………………………………. John (both from Meltdown)
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John was born in Massachusetts and first came to Japan in 1972. Over the years, he worked as professor/lecturer for several universities here in Kansai, including Nara Nat. Univ. of Educ.. He was a gifted performer of Noh, a playwright (most memorably his Robert Frost Noh piece, The Death of a Hired Man), a father, husband and true friend to many. His smile was a real delight. He often used to recite Yeats in his rich baritone voice as he strolled along with us on our haiku hikes. His last performance was in the Portland State Univ. production of the kabuki, 47 Loyal Samurai, in 2016. Peggy tells me that he passed away on the very same day that his own teacher of Noh, Udaka Mitsuhige, did! John will be sorely missed by all. Our prayers are with his family now. Please remember him, as we do Saigyo, under the cherry moon.
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You can see more of John in reports of some events, such as these:
https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/mt-mikami-haike/
https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/hailstone-autumn-haike-2013-uminobe-no-michi-湖の辺の道/
https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/urban-ginko-2-a-stroll-to-busons-birthplace/

Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2020 Results

Posted in Haibun, News with tags , , on March 15, 2020 by Tito

Amazing! The judges have finished their pow-wow early this year (completed on a long conference call between Tokyo, Kyoto and Tipperary), and we have already notified the awardees, so here now are the results of the 2020 Genjuan Contest:

グランプリ作品 Grand Prix
Snow in Advent …. David Cobb (UK)

庵賞 An (Cottage) Prizes
Whispers …. David McCullough (Japan/UK)
Key West Cat …. Joan Prefontaine (USA)

入選作 Honourable Mentions
Jamshedpur …. Kanchan Chatterjee (India)
Visiting John …. Paul Bregazzi (Ireland)
Fifteen Minute Limit …. Naomi Beth Wakan (Canada)
The Penultimate Mile …. Geethanjali Rajan (India)
Nagaranishi …. Sydney Solis (Japan/USA)
The Easter of the Blajin …. Cezar-Florin Ciobica (Romania)
Sunday Stopping Train to Salzburg …. Dick Pettit (Denmark)

審査委員 Judges – Akiko Takazawa, Stephen Henry Gill, Sean O’Connor

I don’t think Grand Prix-winning author David Cobb will mind me telling you that he has just turned 94 years old. Apparently he wrote the haibun when he was still a mere 93! I just spoke with him on the phone to Britain and he was his usual cheerful self. A worthy winner if ever there was one. You can read Snow in Advent and the two An Prize-winning pieces here.

We received more than 100 entries in all, but 7 had to be disqualified as haiku or haiku sequences without titles. This is a haibun contest and we demand prose! Amongst the 18 countries they came from, it was pleasing to find half a dozen good works from South East Asia this year, although none received an award. It was also a good year for Hailstone Haiku Circle, whose website this is, with two of its members gaining awards (DMcC and SS). Well done, Kansai friends! We also find two pieces from India amongst the Hon. Mentions.

The judges and the contest officer wish to thank all who sent us their pieces. Our warm congratulations go to all ten of the awardees.

Snow Kukai

Posted in Event report, Kukai, Winter with tags on March 10, 2020 by Branko

The Snow Kukai event held on March 8th turned out to be a very pleasurable afternoon. 14 poets gathered in the gorgeous pond-side setting of Shusuitei villa in Kyoto Gyoen to share and discuss snow-themed haiku submitted by no less than 24 different people.

David McCullough won first prize for his snow haiku. With 8 votes, it proved the most popular of those entered:

snow falls softly
onto the river —
last train passing by

Runners-up, both with 6 votes, were:

endless snow… …………………………………… Excavated remains —
I break the froth ……………………………….. into the postholes,
in a cup of cappuccino ………………………. snowflakes
….. (Yaeno Azuchi) …………………………………… (Keiko Yurugi)

Next, two poems that received 5 votes:

daybreak… …………………………………………. In the freezing rain
the muffled sound ……………………………… an old man living alone
of a raging snowstorm ………………………. picking peach blossoms
….. (Duro Jaiye) …………………………………………. (Yoshiharu Kondo)

And 3-pointers:

silky snow ………………………………………….. Lunchtime strollers
left on old tree — ………………………………. squint into the sun’s glare —
the clouds begin to break …………………. first snow flurries
….. (Akihiko Hayashi) ………………………………. (Jun Tsutsumi)

a morning of the cottage
everything with snow —
a straight track by a tiny hare
….. (Teruko Yamamoto)

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Poems that got 2 votes were:

oh no ……………………………………………………. snow vanishes…
snow in the deck-chair again ………………. as though an hour ago
insisting it’s winter ………………………………. never existed …..
….. (Ann Mari Urwald) ……………………………….. (Branko Manojlovic)

Twilight Venus
over the mowed garden —
the first snow
….. (Kiyoko Ogawa)

Poems with 1 vote were by: William Sorlien, Tito, Hisashi Miyazaki, Hiroko Nakakubo, Ursula Maierl, Kyoko Nozaki, and Eiko Mori. Alas, we didn’t have enough time to talk about these.

The event was well organized by Yaeno Azuchi and Tomiko Nakayama. Tito introduced the kukai, using snow haiku by Shiki, Meisetsu and Issa, and later gave the prize, a handmade Indian book for writing haiku. Branko Manojlovic debuted as discussion coordinator. He came up with the following haiku written during a tea break:

Still pond
touched by sunlight —
sharing snow haiku

Solitude

Posted in Haipho, Winter, Workshopping with tags , on February 27, 2020 by Tito

 

Hirosawa Pond, Kyoto, 26.2.20

– click on the photo to enlarge –

The Last of My Wandering Journeys – Part IX Ashikaga Girls

Posted in Autumn, Haibun with tags on February 18, 2020 by sosui

.. On my way home, I took another deluxe train, this time to Tochigi. There, I found I had to change to an ordinary commuter train to get to Takasaki, where I live. The latter was practically empty, so I occupied two whole seats reserved for elderly people, and fell asleep.

.. Somewhere near Ashikaga, however, I was awakened by the noise of high school girls getting on the train. They all sat down and pulled out their smartphones. I had no way of knowing what they were doing with their phones, but they were so intent on their operations that no one talked or laughed. The whole train was as silent as a prison, and I was rather perturbed by this. When I was young, trains were full of noise.

.. Before long, the girls began to leave the train, in threes or fours, disembarking without even saying goodbye. Some girls, though, stayed on board for a long time. After more than an hour, when the train reached Takasaki, I still had a few of them around me. I wondered why they had to travel so far every day and what they would expect to learn at school. But both of these questions were beyond my own capacity to answer.

A fine autumn day—
My highland river journey
Full circle, achieved.

The tour is over,
Yet my heart, still a-dancing
With the autumn leaves.

The job of the thrush

Posted in Haipho, Winter with tags on February 9, 2020 by Tito

Yamaguni Jinja, Keihokucho, 9.2.20

The Last of My Wandering Journeys – Part VIII Kinu River Descent

Posted in Autumn, Haibun with tags on February 6, 2020 by sosui

.. Next morning, I rose early and went to the station, for I wished to descend the Kinu River in a boat. I had taken boat trips down rivers at many places and had always enjoyed myself immensely. Basho, too, had gone down the Mogami River in a boat.

.. There was a boat leaving at nine, so I thought I’d best go to the boathouse by taxi to catch it. But the woman taxi driver said to me, in heavily accented Japanese, “The boathouse is only five minutes’ walk from here. Look, you can see it around the corner! Why don’t you walk and save your money?” I was not sure if she was saying this out of kindness or if she preferred not to do short distances, but she was so firm in her attitude that I decided to follow her advice! Although I had to go down an awkward flight of steps, I did reach the boathouse in time, and walked down the final steep slope to the river. Some passengers were already in the boat, but there was plenty of space, so I stretched out my legs and leaned back comfortably against the side of the boat.

.. Soon we started to move, passing a couple of shallow rapids where the boat scraped the sands and stones of the river bed. A little later, we had showers of spray coming down on us! This was indeed an exciting way of starting a boat trip.

The foaming rapids —
A young boatman braced himself
Before going down.

.. We soon reached a pool, where the boat slowed. The older boatman told us to look ahead. Our eyes lighted upon a soaring pillar of white granite, sharply pointed at the top. This is known as Shield Rock. At this point, though, it looked more like a rocket waiting for lift-off. When the boat moved farther downstream and came alongside the Rock, its middle part did indeed look very much like a square shield. As we passed it by, the older boatman muttered jokingly that our journey had now come to an end! At the time, I did not really understand what he had meant. But later I realized that he was implying that the whole journey had no other scenery as fine as that of the awesome Rock.

.. At one point, the boat passed beneath a suspension bridge. We noticed some people on this bridge, but it was so high up that they appeared only as dots. The older boatman said, “Wave back”. And so we all did.

.. The last part of the voyage was moving through a reservoir behind a dam. Here, the boat had to be towed by another one equipped with an engine. At the end of our journey, everyone got up and left the boat. I too tried to stand up, but found my legs were numb! A young tourist saw me struggling and offered me his hand. He pulled me up with some difficulty. Another tourist helped me onto the pier. I gave both men my heart-felt thanks.

A great granite cliff —
I gaze up at it, laid back
In a river boat.

A bridge, high above —
Though the tourists looked like dots,
They were all waving.

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To be continued …