Sri Lanka – stolen flowers, dancing & worms

Posted in Haibun, Travel with tags , on May 25, 2016 by David Stormer Chigusa

We went to Sri Lanka last week for four days for a friend’s wedding. Everyone received a gift from the bride and groom, then the DJ got going – and so did the most dance-addled wedding crowd I’d ever had the gleeful privilege to be a part of.

Slights like
this smaller gift –
then dancing

We were taken around some of the sights on the island for a couple of days after the wedding, one of which was Danbulla Temple. We were all given a flower at the entrance to take up to the temple. Mine didn’t even make it halfway.

A flower for Buddha
Devoured in bliss
By a monkey

dambulla-monkey

Leaving, there was a brief, ostensibly routine, yet all-the-same extraordinary, pat-down at the airport that left me glazy and strangely elated.

Touched like that
at security
woke warm worms

No other words for it. (But, for a little context, may I add that friends were there, one of whom – from Brazil – is into gardening, for which he breeds worms: minhoca [mee-nyo-ka] in Portuguese.)

Pink Showers

Posted in Event report, Spring with tags on May 7, 2016 by Branko

It seems this year’s cherry blossoms had held on a little longer than usual. Perhaps they did so for the benefit of the ten Hailstone poets who attended the flower ginko event at Kyoto Botanical Gardens and Kamo River on April 10th. Anyway, we’d like to think so.

Loosely organized by Ursula and Branko, the late morning and early afternoon were spent at Kyoto Shokubutsuen, the oldest and the most comprehensive public botanical gardens in Japan. A bit surprising then that most poets in our group had never visited it! Since B. is the proud owner of an annual pass to the Gardens, he was a logical choice to guide the poets around, suggesting routes and beauty spots.

KC4F0042We started off at the Tulip Garden near the North Gate. There, we encountered a newly-wed couple, their every step followed by a hired photographer. This sight is not uncommon at the Gardens. What was unusual, though, was that they were evidently not Japanese (probably Korean or Chinese), for their super-relaxed behaviour went hand-in-hand with non-conventional, brown attire!

…….. A fungus wedding dress:
…….. falling sakura
…….. confetti
…………………… Branko

We strolled on, occasionally pausing by this or that plant or tree for a haiku-inspiring moment. The highlights included:
a suikinkutsu (literally ‘water zither cave’), a place where one can listen through a bamboo stalk to water trickling inside a jug buried underground;KC4F0043
the Cherry Garden where, besides cherry blossoms, a Chinese redbud (Cercis chinensis) caught our attention;

…….. brimstone butterfly
…….. zigzags among
…….. weeping cherry blossoms
…………………… Eiko

…………………………………… Right through
…………………………………… The magenta redbud shrub …
…………………………………… Cherry petals streaming
…………………………………………………. Tito

the Lotus Pond, with its withered seed pods;

…….. brown and broken
…….. lotus stems –
…….. the muddy pond
…………………… UrsulaKC4F0031

a waterwheel that somehow rotated too fast for one propelled only by a tenuous stream of water from above;

…….. a maple seedling –
…….. how it trembles
…….. perched just above
…….. the waterwheel!
……………………. Hitomi 

and the Perennial Garden, where we all gathered by a lilac daphne (Daphne genkwa). Each of us took a sniff at its strikingly purple flowers, whose scent, Tito proposed, was that of an iced-sugar lump.

…………………………………… Daphnes bloom –
…………………………………… a yellow butterfly flits around
…………………………………… the spring garden
…………………………………………………. Akito

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter leaving the Shokubutsuen, we dropped into a nearby supermarket and, armed with bento-boxes,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA headed toward the Kamo River. There, we found a cosy spot on its east bank, where we ate, drank and discussed our haiku drafts. We were joined there by Richard D.

As we were preparing to leave, a sudden gust of wind brought about a hanafubuki, a pale-pink cherry blizzard.

…………………. Cherry petals
…………………. gently raining
…………………. on a poet’s palm
…………………………………… Branko

* Click on any photo to enlarge *

Hiroshima-Matsuyama Tour

Posted in Spring, Travel with tags , , on April 24, 2016 by Nori

Five Hailstone poets (UM, BM, SMc, AS and T) received an invitation from Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture to take a pilot tour (with Japan Tourist Bureau) to Hiroshima and Matsuyama on 19-21 March, escorted by another Hailstone (NK), who is its coordinator and a resident of the latter city. One of the fixers (KT), also added a haiku. The following report was compiled by T with a little help from me.
Flower-inducing rain 催花雨 saika-u, was letting up as we arrived at our first destination, Miyajima. The great red sacred gate was backed by hills of swirling mist. Composition began in earnest, but …
…………… The Miyajima deer—
…………… it ate my haiku!
…………… …………… (Ursula)
After ourselves swallowing a few grilled oysters, a launch took us back across the Inland Sea and up a river in Hiroshima to a pier near our hotel.
…………… …………… A-bomb dome
…………… …………… Bending iron rod
…………… …………… Bending spring willow
…………… ………………………… (Nori)
Hiroshima is situated on a river delta and is famous for its Peace Museum and its lemons. The next day, after eating lemon-flavoured French toast with our morning coffee, once again we headed off to the Inland Sea, this time under a clear blue sky.
…………… Early spring morning—
…………… Hiroshima’s broad fan
…………… Chills the bay
…………… …………… (Albie)
…………… …………… …………… From the Lemon Coast
…………… …………… …………… To the Orange Shore—
…………… …………… …………… A launch’s wake
…………… …………… …………… …………… (Tito)
Matsuyama is famous for its mikan oranges, for its castle and its contribution to the evolution of haiku poetry. It was the birthplace of Shiki Masaoka, and the pilot tour is designed to bring foreigners with an interest in literature to visit the distant town. On disembarking, we made our way up to the donjon through cherry buds beginning to burst.
…………… …………… Feet dangling
…………… …………… on a chair lift: small boy
…………… …………… once again
…………… …………… …………… (Branko)

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That afternoon, for one blissful hour, most poets soaked in a bath at nearby Dogo Hot-spring, a real treat. In the evening, we were joined by some local haiku poets in a specially created ‘haiku bar’. We had a merry time of airing verse already composed and receiving high-spirited feedback!
…………… …………… …………… Dogo Hot-spring –
……………. …………… ………….. from the taiko* rhythm
…………… …………… …………… vivid colors spark
…………… …………… …………… …………… (Kiki)
On our third and final day, we were greeted by another blue sky. Our first engagement, a tea ceremony introduction, was followed by a visit to The Shiki Museum. Shiki was seen to be a poetic prodigy, whose life ended far too early.
We were then asked to attend a meeting with officials from the city tourist board and the national tourist agency and give them detailed feedback on our experience up to that point. This was accomplished in a constructive but not uncritical way, which we all hope might help improve the envisaged product for JTB.
Finally, we attended the prize-giving of the Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Contest in the hall at The Shiki Museum. Copious inquetes were dutifully filled in, but some of us still managed to enjoy the judge’s comments made by Itsuki Natsui.
…………… …………… Low energy, late afternoon
…………… …………… Shiki’s sad life—
…………… …………… A waft of jinchoge**
…………… …………… …………… (Sally)
* large Japanese drum
** daphne

Genjuan Haibun Contest 2016 Results

Posted in Haibun, News with tags , , on April 14, 2016 by Tito

Grand Prix:
A Small Act – Diana Webb (UK)

An (Cottage) Prizes:
What’s in a Name? – Ignatius Fay (Canada)
The Great South Gate – Matthew Caretti (USA)
Arm in Arm with Iza – Maria Tirenescu (Romania)

Honourable Mentions:
Love Story  – Anita Curran Guenin (USA)
Majesty – Geethanjali Rajan (India)
A Spectacle – Branko Manojlovic (Japan)
One Grain of Sand – Mel Goldberg (Mexico)
Geronimo – Terri L. French (USA)

Judges:
Nenten Tsubouchi, Stephen Henry Gill (Tito), Hisashi Miyazaki

.  This year we had 127 entries from 16 different countries, our best ever response. The judges wish to thank all those who took the trouble to send something in to the Contest Office and they offer their hearty congratulations to the authors of the above decorated works.
. From a short-list of 14 works, it proved extremely difficult this year to decide on the winners. In the end, Diana Webb’s A Small Act appeared to be closest to exemplary. It is a very fine, open-ended work with good haikai taste.
.  We were bold with our AP selection, for one contained such beautiful haiku imagery, we overlooked the English errors, telling ourselves that they lent charm (a sort of ‘special encouragement prize’, if you like); and another had the ‘haiku’ dovetailed into the prose as isolated phrases, resulting in a captivating rhythmical momentum, although in isolation perhaps many of them would not be construed as bona fide haiku! We felt that we should choose pieces that had some charm and flair. All of the HMs were considered for prizes, but fell because of some unfortunate transgression in the eyes of at least two judges. It was a long session this year!
.  Now that we have been told the identities and countries of residence of the awardees, it is clear that the results well represent the geographical spread of entries, and we are pleasantly surprised by this. The last five short-listed (but un-awarded) works also included, it turns out, entries from Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, though none from South Africa: the Southern Hemisphere did not fare so well this year.
.  A Japanese language haibun contest is to be held this autumn by Nenten’s ‘Sendan’ group and the three judges have been invited to turn their minds to those pieces, too! The winning piece in that contest last year was translated and posted to this site in November https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/when-tuna-die/.  It is interesting to see how it compares to the entries in our own international competition. Certainly it has humour. We hope to translate and publish here this year’s Sendan winning piece, too. The top four Genjuan 2016 works will be posted later this month as a special page on the Icebox for all to enjoy.
.  Guidelines and deadline for the 2017 Genjuan Contest have now been posted on a separate page (find the page link at top right). Next year we will welcome one further judge, American haiku poet, novelist, contributor to Icebox and member of the Hailstone Haiku Circle, Ellis Avery, now based in New York. She teaches fiction writing at Columbia University, and her writer’s acumen and consciousness of haiku as a vehicle for story-telling will no doubt help us to sort the sheep from the goats next year as well as augmenting the comments we will be offering each of the awardees.

Bean-throwing at Setsubun

Posted in Haibun, Winter with tags on March 3, 2016 by sosui

.. There was a Setsubun bean-throwing ceremony today at the home where I am living. I believe that this world has no room for devils, so I was rather reluctant to attend this ceremony, in which we would be expected to chase away devils by throwing beans at them. Someone told me, though, I had no choice this year as all born in the Year of the Monkey were expected to take part. So, with some hesitation, I joined. Before the ceremony, we were served bean tea, which was pleasant enough, although its taste was something I had almost forgotten. Soon, roasted beans were distributed in lacquered wooden boxes, but for a while we sat around with them on the table, talking about different things. I could not refrain myself from putting some beans in my mouth, for I was eager to taste them. Immediately, a fond memory came back. During the Wartime evacuation, for the first time in my life, I was sent to a boarding house as the middle school where I studied was too far away from home, and my mother had often given me roasted beans to use for my snacks. I shared them with my friends at times, but more often I ate them hiding under my coverlet just to fill my empty stomach. I discovered that the taste of roasted beans had not changed at all, although so many things had changed since the end of the War.
……….. I find roasted beans
……….. Very refreshing indeed —
……….. Their modest sweetness.
.. We soon started out on our devil-hunting with the boxes of roasted beans. We were told that we should scatter beans at the entrances to our residence halls, always throwing them from indoors to outdoors, even when we were calling good luck to come in. I thought this strange instruction might be due to the fact that the sweeping up of beans indoors would not be so easy. Those thrown outdoors would surely be cleaned up by the little birds. When we reached the entrance of one of the residence halls, I was surprised to see a devil standing in front of it. The figure was garbed in coarse black cloth and held a bamboo branch against its shoulder with little devil masks hanging from it, some red and others blue. The figure itself wore on its head the angry mask of a devil. Naturally, we all threw beans at this figure, shouting ‘Devils out!’, and gradually, it retreated, then turned to run away. Once again, I was surprised, for the mask had been reversed to show the benign face of a woman.
……….. Merely turned around,
……….. The devil’s mask can gently smile
……….. As Lady Fortune.

At the Kakimori Library

Posted in Event report, Haibun, Haiku with tags , , on February 26, 2016 by Tito

click on any pictures to enlarge

On 11 Feb., 2016, Stephen Henry Gill (aka Tito) gave a talk in Japanese at the Kakimori Library (in Itami, Hyogo) entitled  はいくとはいぶん (Haiku & Haibun, deliberately left in hiragana). There was an audience of 80 people, including many Hailstone poets. 「はいくとはいぶん」② IMG_8554-In order to set the context, he first briefly related the story of haiku’s transmission to the West – from Hendrik Doeff around 1800, through Noguchi, Couchard, Flint and Pound in the early 1900s, right up to the haiku society-based, website-based scene of today. The audience had a sheet of haiku examples in two languages to savour. Along the way, Gill talked about certain haibun (haiku-style prose) introducers and pioneers, including Yuasa, Ueda, Cain and Spiess. The work of poets like Ross, Kacian, Higginson, Cobb and Jones was also alluded to, and two English haibun excerpts (in both languages) were also read.

lt. Tsubo’uchi, rt. Gill

There was a talk session afterwards lead by Gill’s fellow Genjuan Haibun Contest judge, Nenten Tsubo’uchi, which attempted to ascertain how truly ‘haiku-style’ the examples of Western haibun provided on the handout really were.  The audience seemed to have been genuinely moved by the way the narrative line and haiku poems were used as mutual counterpoint in the late Ken Jones’ piece, The Spirit Level.

The Kakimori Library holds one of Japan’s gyougamanroku-foremost collections of haiku documents and paintings, including many works by Basho, Onitsura, Buson, Issa, etc.  The current exhibition included the famous sketchbook-diary from Shiki’s last days, Gyouga Manroku.

After viewing the beautiful works in the galleries, some Hailstones called in at the nearest sakagura (sake warehouse) for a drink and meal.

lt. H. Miyazaki, rt. E. Mori

That July

Posted in Haipho, Submissions, Summer with tags on February 19, 2016 by Tito

 

P5041243 (5)

A haipho from the summer by Akira Kibi.

Click on the work to enlarge. Comments solicited!

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