from the Icebox inbox – 34

Posted in Haiku, Submissions, Tanka, Winter on February 19, 2015 by Tito

gleaming coals burn to ash –
the day begins
as a new slate

Brinda Buljore, France

early morning
uneven feet zig-zag
along the icefield

Payal Aggarwal, India

grey clouds
cover the tiny village …
trickling snowflakes

Keith A Simmonds, France

long-tailed tits
gathering in the hawthorn
first flurries of snow

John Hawkhead, U.K.

true “sky blue”
beyond bare branches …
the scrape, scrape, scrape
of a shovel
clearing away snow

Jane Wieman, Iowa

lingering cold –
through the shōji
the cry of a crow

Lawrence Jiko Barrow, Japan

Mongoose

Posted in Haipho, Travel with tags on January 18, 2015 by Tito

KC4F0373

sentinel of

a soft forest shower –

mongoose on the wall

.

(for K. Ramesh, Vasanta Vihar, Chennai, 28.12.14)

Genjuan 15 deadline, 12-14 booklet, Nenten’s hippos

Posted in Book, Japanese Modern with tags , on December 25, 2014 by Tito

Happy Christmas: to all our readers! May 2015 be a year full of haikai spirit.

Reminder: just over one month to go until the submissions deadline for the Genjuan Haibun Contest (31 January). The Contest officer usually waits 2-3 extra days before sending the judges all the entries.  Entry is free and there are prizes and certificates. See the page link to the right (Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015 Guidelines).

Apology: Genjuan was hoping to have the booklet presenting the past three years’ awarded haibun ready before the New Year, but the editors have been too busy. It is now hoped the booklet will be ready in the spring. It will be announced here. It should also contain some haibun by Buson, Issa, Kyorai, etc.

New judge’s haibun: with Nobuyuki Yuasa’s retirement, the remaining two judges have been joined by Nenten Tsubouchi. An English translation of an excerpt of one of his haibun on the subject of hippos has just been posted on the Longer Haibun page. See the page link to the right.

The First Hailstone, Michio Sano, 1927-2014

Posted in Haiku, Tribute with tags , on December 17, 2014 by Tito

Early this year, Michio Sano of Yao, Osaka passed away and he is already greatly missed. He was one of my first haiku students (from 1996) and one of the strongest supporters at the inception of the Hailstone Haiku Circle in 2000. He co-edited the YBC haiku anthology, To Gigeiten. His grave is at Saishoji Temple in Ono, Fukui.

Firstly, then, let me share a few comments by his friends and admirers.

“I mourn for Sano-san. I was impressed with his tender-heartedness and his knowledge of ancient Japanese history.” (Keiko Yurugi)  “I imagine the excitement he must have felt composing haiku with and for an international group, not to mention giving his sensei from abroad insights that at those moments only he could do.” (John McAteer)  “宇宙をつかむかのような世界を表現するすてきなhaikuが多い … in many of his wonderful haiku he expressed a world in which it seems he has managed somehow to grasp space itself.” (Yoshiharu Kondo)  “Michio Sano’s news was very sad for me, too. I haven’t seen him for many years, but I still remember that he, Midori Inoue, Kei Goto and I sometimes used to go to a coffee shop after Gill-sensei’s lesson (at YBC in Namba). Michio 1It was great to make friends with a much older person.” (Mayumi Shigeta)  “He was a fine gentleman with wide knowledge. I pray for the peaceful repose of his soul.” (Hisashi Miyazaki)

And now, let us enjoy some of his English language haiku, the characteristics of which include humour, taking compositional risks, and an ability to juxtapose beautifully the present moment with a sense of history. Michio’s joy at working along the so-called ‘vertical axis’ is evident throughout.

Michio, for all you have taught me and given other poets along the way we walked together, thank you!

by a window ………………………….. Emperor Nintoku –
putting pampas grass ……………. at Mozuno, hunting pheasant
into a flask – …………………………. for his amusement
the agricultural lab

the great bare tree - ……………… the short night –
as if a net had been cast ……….. on and on and on I read
onto air …………………………………. ‘The Life of Kukai’

willow fluff snowing ……………….. long, long ago
to the beat of hooves …………….. an equestrian corps
……………………………………………….. had crossed these plains –
hailstorm … ……………………………. starlit night
to mountain village
decorated with frescoes …………  wind-pollinated
……………………………………………….. rice flowers –
gazing at the mountain …………. since Yayoi times
with its hidden story –
dusk cherry blossoms …………….. loquats ripening
………………………………………………… suggestively –
moonlit Lake Biwa ………………….. the statue of Artemis
has entered the rule …
of the White Emperor …………….. escaping
……………………………………………….. while describing a sine curve –
Xavier’s coffin …………………………. the earthworm
at rest on the hill:
Malacca Strait ………………………… wishing to add
in the haze …………………………….. to this painting by Munch
……………………………………………….. a red spider-lily

Sumiya Visit and Haibun Reading

Posted in Autumn, Event report, Haibun with tags , on December 9, 2014 by Tito

Sumiya_Street_Front

Morning, Nov. 15, 2014. Some Hailstone poets, with special guest, Maggie Chula, on a visit from Oregon, were given a lengthy tour of Kyoto’s largest and finest ageya, Sumiya, in Shimabara district. Our enthusiastic guide was Mr. Kiyo Nakagawa, whose family has owned the huge wooden banqueting establishment since 1641, a few years before Basho was born. The 7th proprietor, Tokuya, was a member of Buson’s haikai circle. With his poet friends, Buson used to come here quite often to eat and relax in the company of geishas and taiyu (geisha queens). He thought of it as his ‘Peach Blossom Spring’. As a result, the house owns several Buson paintings and documents, a few of which we were shown.

g l e a m
of black polished pillars —
the entertainment house
(Kyoko Nozaki)

The exquisite aesthetics of the era were to be enjoyed in every room, including the enormous kitchen. One can now only imagine the taste of the dishes prepared there and then served on beautiful lacquer trays to the merry guests. Sumiya_FacadeSumiya_KitchenWhen we finally emerged for a view of the garden, we could not believe that a full two hours had passed.  Sumiya_Warm_Those_ToesOnce our frozen toes had revived, we walked off briskly to a lunch in the autumnal Umenokouji Park nearby.

Of the initial 16 participants, 4 now disappeared and, at Ryukoku University’s beautiful Meiji period Omiya campus, we were joined by Icebox assistant editor, Gerald (aka Duro Jaiye) from Singapore and the Stamm sisters from Seattle. John Dougill welcomed us there in the seminar room. KC4F0007Some Buson haiku were shared before settling into a haibun session. Pieces read included A Visit to Uji by Buson and the 2014 Genjuan Haibun Grand Prix-winning, Well of Beauty, by Margaret Chula. MC -Others who read their haibun included Ursula Maierl, Hisashi Miyazaki, Richard Steiner, Duro Jaiye and Tito.Duro and Tito -

There was some inter-esting discuss-ion of the quite separate developments of Japanese and English haibun traditions, but somehow we all came to feel that Buson would not have felt out-of-place in our company that day.

KC4F0071

山くれて紅葉の朱(あけ)をうばひけり

The mountain darkens —
scarlet is leached
from its autumn leaves
(Buson)

At Juniper Rock

Posted in Autumn, Poem on December 6, 2014 by Tito

A holy place 1

A Falcon’s Feather

Posted in Haiku, Haiqua, News with tags on November 29, 2014 by Tito
Dear Hisashi,
The more I think about it, the more amazing it was that I found a raptor’s feather in the shopping precinct at Senri Chuo just after delivering to you my tribute to the late lamented Michio Sano (‘The First Hailstone’) at the Yomiuri Bunka Center English Haiku class on Thursday. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but now I feel like it was some kind of final salute from him!
I had written the following haiku, based on something that had caught my eye on the way to the classroom in Oct. ’96 in Namba, Osaka, just before teaching Michio and the others my first real class for YBC …
…… For the haiku class:
…… Dropped and never picked up again,
…… One velvet button.
As you know, Michio had been both the cement and the oil of that class. In late November, eighteen years later, just after class no. 291, I picked up that dropped feather outside the new Center.
KC4F0063I believe it to be the foremost pinion of a falcon, as its underside matches nicely with the lead wing feather in this picture of a  ハヤブサ peregrine falcon, the fastest creature in the world.
hayabusa1I also carefully checked the internet for goshawk オオタカ, sparrow hawk ハイタカ and kite トビ feathers, but they did not match. Talking with you, and later doing a rigorous Japanese language web-search, shows that these birds are not uncommon in the area in winter.
What is uncommon is for a pinion feather to land in the shopping plaza and for a haiku poet from Britain to pick it up!
So I later wrote …
…… For our Michio prayers:
…… Dropped but then picked up again,
…… A falcon’s feather.
……………………………………………………………… Tito
.
P.S. Another version (written on the night, unrelated to the Namba haiku):
…… After the memorial,
…… It dropped from the sky
…… To a shopping precinct —
…… A falcon’s feather.
The first version requires a haibun for its comprehension, whereas the second stands up on its own?
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