No easy challenge was this! Approached by NHK World TV, Tito was asked to create some photographer-poet teams to participate in a special photo haiku event to take place on Nov. 18 at Doshisha University, Kyoto. He asked for volunteers. They were to have a fortnight or so to make a new work on the theme of ‘Kyoto kawaii’, which perhaps translates best into English as ‘fetching Kyoto’. The producer explained that she was not after ‘cute’. Relief at that! 6 Hailstone poets answered Tito’s urgent call and first sent around by email a few each of their shots of Kyoto, hoping to inspire haiku out of one of the others in the haipho unit.
The most popular photo was one by Mayumi of snow, receiving haiku by 5 poets. Albie’s poem – Returning / after New Year’s bustle / the song of snow – was voted the best for the photo, so they became the Hailstone ‘Snow’ Team. Albie & Mayumi then anguished over the size, colour, position, etc. of the words (as we all did later on). There was an unfortunate repetition of the snow of the picture and the ‘snow’ in the haiku, which the judges picked up on. The programme emphasized the idea of 不即不離 (fusoku-furi), ‘not too close, not too far’. This was a visually beautiful work, but everyone soon realized how difficult it was going to be to make a work that is satisfying to all.
There was a Doshisha student team, which showed a photo of a fallen maple leaf and matched it with a haiku about a blushing girl. One judge commented that the leaf was too red for a young girl and wanted more green to symbolize her youth. I think he called the leaf ‘an old lady’. It was a good attempt nonetheless. Hailstone’s second team was the ‘Buddha’ team of Branko (photo) and William (haiku). Their work received the Audience’s Prize as measured on the applause meter. There were perhaps around 80 people present by the end and they certainly seemed to like the fetching little group of buddha statues huddled together on a tree stump matched with a slightly ironic poem evoking their business of caring for all humans.
The third Hailstone team was dubbed the ‘Maiko-haan’ team, of Peter (photo) and Tito (haiku), with a shot of a maiko peeping from behind a half-closed door matched with a haiku evoking the street outside. Both of the latter teams chose to reference spring in their haiku. The Hailstone Maiko-han Team was awarded the Judges’ Prize, which was a box of confectionery and a lacquerware dish.
There was a seventh member of the unit – Sydney, who contributed photos, haiku and votes to the production process, just like everyone else, but she had to be in Tokyo on the day.
In the first half of the programme, Tito was invited to give a 10-min. presentation on cirku-haipho (photos with circular haiku), something which has been shown over the years on this site. Here are the works he presented at Doshisha: 1) Kyoto 2) New Zealand and 3) Shikoku
The three Hailstone teams’ haipho entries will be shown on the Icebox, one by one, in other postings this winter-into-spring. お楽しみに！For now, you can see them here at NHK World TV’s site.