David Cobb (1926~2020)

It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that a friend of many decades, co-founder of the British Haiku Society, close colleague in its early years, haibun pioneer, and 2020 Genjuan Haibun Contest Grand Prix winner, David Cobb, passed away quite naturally in his sleep surrounded by family in Essex, England on 6 November. He was 94. His son, Thomas, kindly wrote to me to bring this news, confiding that his father had been “thrilled with winning the Genjuan award this year and told all his friends and family about his achievement” and that “although ever the perfectionist, he had continued to “improve” Snow in Advent with each telling. I think he felt that winning the prize showed he still had the touch.” We judges were overjoyed when we found out it was his piece! He had both a wonderful sense of humour and a great sensibility to the seasons, as borne out by the concluding haiku in his Grand Prix work:

snowballs / even the rose bushes / starting to throw them

David had visited Hailstone in autumn 2004 to deliver his Sasakawa Prize Lecture here in Kyoto on the subject of his fledgling Almanac of Season Words Pertinent to England. We had hired a room at Hachidai Jinja for the purpose and guided him on a visit to the Basho-do and Buson’s grave in nearby Konpukuji Temple. On another day, I had joined him for an international haiku event in Basho’s birthtown, Iga-Ueno, where we were on the same renku table. I have never forgotten the verse he offered us for a winter stanza. It depicted “snow settling on a sensitive part” of Michelangelo’s David statue in Florence! That contribution certainly raised a few eyebrows in Iga.

 

His contribution to English haiku was immense and he will be sorely missed by family and friends, and in haiku journals and websites worldwide. My dear Old Turnip (Ko-bu), rest in peace.

Hailstone will attempt, if coronavirus allows, to do a renga in his honour in the near future and, if worthy, to send it to Thomas and sister Alison as a memento next year.

children panicking — / out of the tiger cage / a wasp!

pear leaves fall: / a landscape starts to form / between the branches

A much fuller tribute to David Cobb has just appeared on the Contemporary Haibun Online site. It includes short essays by Colin Blundell, Jim Kacian, Kim Richardson, Sean O’Connor and Stephen Henry Gill.

 

 

 

5 responses to “David Cobb (1926~2020)

  1. Sad news, David Cobb was my first contact on discovering haiku, and responded to my query with s beautiful and gracious card complete with haiku. I still have it today, as a treasure.
    A gentleman.
    Regards to his family
    Nicole Hague-Andrews

  2. How marvellous that David won the Genjuan Grand Prix before leaving us: a fitting testimony to his service and artistry. A rich life, well lived, and a gentle death.

    I remember David’s talk on seasonal words, and his entertaining outrage at a woman’s classification of ‘pregnancy’ as a summer word, ‘just because she was pregnant in summer!’

    His ‘British Museum HAIKU’, classified into the seasons, featuring Japanese haiku and paintings, with a brief, lucid introduction and some translation by himself, is a pleasure and joy. A real treasure. Haiku lovers are blessed by David’s generous contributions and passion to the form.

    a seasoned poet
    passes in his sleep …
    Diwali
    Festival of Lights

  3. Please note that, at the bottom of this post, a new link has been added to a series of essays on David posted at Contemporary Haibun Online.

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