Surrealism at Stillhollow Pond

As luck would have it, this month’s Senri Bunka Centre (Osaka) Eigo de Haiku class fell on the sensei’s birthday, July 23. It had been decided to meet a little early at the secretive jewel that is Nagatani-ike for some LIVE composition. KC4F0026As is the sensei’s wont, he first launched a single birthday  balloon, which fell back quietly to the surface of the pond, coming to rest beneath some bankside trees (click on photo: centre left).
A handout listing a sample of previous birthday balloon launches (from mountain-tops, cliffs, shores, boats, bridges, or as offerings to rocks or trees) was given to each participant. Today’s was no. 46 in the global series, which, incidentally, did not begin when Tito was 1 year old! Poets were then requested to wander around the pond and through the bamboo groves and attempt to capture the wayward object and its slightly surreal interaction with something else. As a pointer to the type of poem required, a 1937 haiku by Yamaguchi Seishi was read out (although his one is absolutely real).

夏の河赤き鉄鎖(てっさ)のはし浸(した)る  (誓子)

….. The summer river –
….. a red iron chain,
….. one end immersed

…………… (Yamaguchi Seishi, trans. JW Carpenter)

When we entered the classroom back at the Centre, some redrafting took place …  and soon we had a nice selection of slightly surreal haiku to write on the whiteboard.  KC4F0014 How much more resonant is a slightly surreal haiku than a totally surreal one! The reader is free to imagine his own story. Here are four of about a dozen haiku composed that evening. Which one do you like best? Please leave a comment to tell us!


….. after summer rain
….. amidst the green, left behind
….. one blue thing

…………… (Takashi)

….. the ripples here
….. from a grebe
….. and there
….. from a curious blue balloon

…………… (Hisashi)

….. commemorative balloon
….. drifting on the pond …
….. golden carp look up

…………… (Senji) 

….. blue sky
….. through breaks in the cloud –
….. a fallen blue balloon

…………… (Mizuho)

6 responses to “Surrealism at Stillhollow Pond

  1. Interesting that the colourful balloon has evoked colour references in all the haiku. Blue is a fairly uncommon colour in nature, apart from flowers, the sky, the odd butterfly, etc., and it stands out in green environs. Takashi’s haiku turns on difference, while Hisashi’s and Mizuho’s find commonality. Senji’s is particularly explicit in its auspicious references: golden carp on a special day.

    I think I like Hisashi’s the most in the way that the artificial and the natural are linked by the same phenomenon, the ripples.

    I couldn’t be there for the sensei’s birthday, but I will be at Kiyotaki on Sunday 2 August!

    • Thanks so much for expending some words on this, Richard. Will talk about Basho’s death-verse theories for a few mins. at Ochiai tomorrow. See you at the Station!

    • David, Bon voyage. I have Mt. Ogura tomorrow, so may not ring. Will email a day or two before I show up in Belfast in my balloon. You have the balloon flight time already. All the best for your family’s safe passage to the Emerald Isle.