Photo by Branko Manojlović, haiku by William Russell
Ten more days till the deadline for entries into this year’s Genjuan International Haibun Contest. Details here. The office is usually lenient with entries arriving a few days late. The four judges will read your works without knowing authors’ identities. They will be looking for haikai style, best understood by reading examples. Check out our haibun pages through the page links at top right. Click the hailstones ‘Icebox’ header photo to return to this top page anytime. Good luck!
Season of Snow and Milk – Doris Lynch (USA)
An (Cottage) Prizes:
Trespass – David McCullough (Japan)
Feathers – John Parsons (UK)
Soldier’s Woundwort – Dimitar Anakiev (Slovenia)
What’s in a Name – Jim Norton (Ireland)
Getaways – Dru Philippou (USA)
Fathomless Ocean – Gabriel Rosenstock (Ireland)
M PATHY – Dorothy Mahoney (Canada)
The Baker’s Insomnia – Phillippa Yaa de Villiers (South Africa)
Nesting Bowls – Beth Skala (Canada)
Nenten Tsubo’uchi, Stephen Henry Gill (Tito), Hisashi Miyazaki, Ellis Avery
What a wonderful genre is haibun, haiku-style prose! The four judges wish to thank all those who took the trouble to send something in to the Contest Office. We apologize for the slight delay in releasing the results this year and also offer our hearty congratulations to the authors of the above decorated works. This year we had 89 entries from 15 different countries on every imaginable topic! It was quite a difficult task for the judges to bring the field down to a short-list of 15 works. However, this year it proved fairly easy to decide on the prize-winners, in spite of the fact that one judge was not in Japan, but out in Australia! The Hailstone Haiku Circle here in Kansai can feel proud, as at last one of its members has won a prize (although Honourable Mentions had previously been attained) – David McCullough, for his very fine Trespass. The judges chose a work of supreme lightness by Doris Lynch as the Grand Prix winner. Now that we know the names of the writers, we can see that her piece has glided past the challenge from four considerable men! The top five Genjuan works HAVE NOW BEEN POSTED as a special page on the Icebox for all to enjoy. I wonder if you will agree with the judges that they are all excellent works? We are also planning to publish another Genjuan haibun anthology soon.
Guidelines and deadline for the 2018 Genjuan Contest will be posted here in due course.
This year, our sixth as Genjuan (and ninth if we include its predecessor, the Kikakuza Contest), we welcome one new judge, Ellis Avery. The addition of an American female poet/writer to the existing panel of two Japanese and one British resident of Japan is sure to give our judging new impetus. Judge Emeritus is Nenten Tsubo’uchi, one of Japan’s most prominent and well-respected haijin. If you haven’t already done so, we urge you to send something off soon to our officer, Eiko Mori, as the deadline is January 31st. Usually she waits for a few extra days in case there are stragglers. The Contest is free, but there are real prizes and signed certificates. In due course, we aim to compile a book of the best works from 2015-2017. There are still some copies of our 2012-14 anthology available (see the ‘Publications’ page link at top right). Non-native writers, please note: perfect English is not a prerequisite for a piece to be considered for a prize or subsequently published. Full Contest details are given under the ‘Genjuan Guidelines‘ page link. We look forward to reading your work next month. Good luck!
We chanced on one sunny morning in the rainy season for our Ginko (June 11), a haiku stroll in the Mino Valley, N. Osaka. Ten poets turned up at the Station, and in less than five minutes we were in a green forest with fresh leaves and a clean stream. We enjoyed the murmuring water, birdsong, cool air, and tree-filtered sunlight. We glimpsed a wedding ceremony at one of the old Japanese-style inns on the way, and gazed up at the huge rock, Toujin-modori-iwa, which, as the legend goes, because of its formidable aspect made a group of Chinese visitors in the Qing Dynasty give up their attempt to reach 33m-high Mino Falls. Eventually, a silver waterfall came into sight. There, a monkey was hiding in the trees, attracting even more visitors than the cascade itself. After enjoying the Falls, we walked back to the town of Mino, some of us taking a short dip in a hot-spring foot-bath on the way.
That afternoon, we were to hold a Kukai on the pre-selected theme of ‘Green Leaves and Water’ in the newly-opened Ii-ichi-nichi Café, the owner of which, Mr. Kinoshita, was a friend of one of our members. At lunchtime, poets wrote down some of their haiku from the morning’s Ginko, and the scribe and event organizer (yours truly, Akira) chose a few of them to add to the Kukai sheet (part-prepared from submissions already received, including a couple from a poet currently abroad). This sheet soon had 25 haiku inscribed on it (a maximum of two for each participant) and copies were made in a nearby store. Everyone had to choose their favourite (2 pts.) and three other haiku they liked (1 pt. each). The votes were then tallied by the scribe, and over coffee the session chairman, Branko Manojlovic, then read out the winning haiku and asked those who voted for it to say why they had liked it. Soon, we moved onto the runner-up, and so on down the scale of popularity, managing to cover most of the poems that had attracted at least two votes. Tito presented the author of the winning haiku, Hisashi Miyazaki, with a dyed cloth iwana fish. It seemed an appropriate prize for the clear waters of Mino.
we watch the fall–
it watches us,
a lone monkey ………… (Hisashi Miyazaki, 5 pts.)
the last drop poured,
. of fresh picked tea ………… (*Mizuho Shibuya, 4 pts.)
The Mino Fall/ behind the maple leaves/ a shy monkey
(Teruko Yamamoto, 3 pts.)
Going deep into the greenland/ at its goal/ waterfall’s white spray ………… (Eiko Mori, 3)
clear water…/ the fish under the bridge/ cooling in the shade ………… (*Duro Jaiye, 3)
new leaves above and below:/ a cart of three-year-olds/ crossing the mirror paddy ………… (Richard Donovan, 3)
Strolling the valley…/ a faint light on the stream,/ clear still water ………… (Akito Mori, 3)
* authors with asterisks were not present on the day; click on any photo to enlarge
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)
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)
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.
Nenten Tsubo’uchi’s haiku group, Sendan, held a Japanese language haibun contest to run parallel with the Genjuan one earlier this year (Judges were NT, SHG, HM and two others). The winning piece, by Haruaki Kato, has now been translated into English by the author himself with help from SHG. We hope you will find reading this recent Japanese haibun both interesting and enjoyable.
…. “People say that tuna have to keep on swimming because they’d die if they stopped. I wonder what exactly happens, though, when a tuna dies of old age?” If my wife had not said this to me one day in a low, tired voice, I suppose I wouldn’t have thought about this issue so seriously.
…. We had just heard the news about the ‘mass death’ of tuna in a gigantic tank, the main feature of a famous aquarium. They were saying that the cause of death was still under investigation, and that a wide variety of hypotheses— including virus, stress, and even radioactivity— were flying about. For me, to be honest, the cause of the death didn’t really matter: I was shocked by the event itself. It was the simple realization that tuna die, just as we do, that had made me upset. I suppose the word ‘tuna’ had always conjured up to me either the image of a great shoal of them swimming freely across the ocean, or the vision of something being taken out of the freezer ready to be served as delicious sashimi. I had really never thought seriously about how fish passed away. And it was not only fish, but with any kind of wild animal, I’d always supposed they must die in a dramatic incident—being preyed on, perhaps, by a ferocious natural enemy or caught by a brave hunter or fisherman—just like I’d seen in art-house films.
…. Yet it is not like that at all. They might actually die, say, of liver disease, or of unfortunate food poisoning, or perhaps by bumping into a rock in an accident. It is simply the ego of humans, who desperately desire a peaceful ending of their own lives, to imagine other animals die in dramatic fashion. And it’s also true that most of us aren’t particularly concerned about the deaths of ordinary, inconspicuous creatures, for whom a dramatic end might seem rather out of place.
…. Death is all around us, and countless are the lives being lost at this very moment. The only way for us to survive in this world is to ignore such deaths, just as we do not consider the air as we breathe it in. Only occasionally might we bring to mind a highly dramatic or a deeply peaceful death and be moved thereby. This is rather like whales, still surfacing for air time and again, although their ancestors chose to give up the land for the ocean long ago. We need to think of death sometimes so as not to drown in life’s breathless waters.
…. Anyway, that is what I thought to myself as I stood there in a supermarket at the corner of the seafood counter, holding packed shelled oysters which were floating inside their sealed bag filled with water. The oysters appeared to me as if they might be enjoying zero gravity while refusing to ‘belong’ to either life or death. They seemed so calm in the airless tension.
…. When I looked up from my reverie, my wife was already in front of the meat counter far ahead. I put the packed spacewalking oysters back onto the counter, and weaved my way over to her through the crowds.
The oysters, too—
their spirits prepared
for whatever may come
Guidelines and deadline for the 2016 Genjuan Contest have now been posted on a separate page (click the page link at top right).
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.
This is Japan’s only international haibun contest. Entry is free and there are prizes and certificates. With the retirement of Nobuyuki Yuasa after serving for six years as judge of (first) the Kikakuza and (subsequently) the Genjuan Contests, this year we have one new judge, Nenten Tsubouchi, who is welcomed as one of Japan’s most respected haiku poets with an unusual interest in haibun. He is a modernist with a very strong classical foundation. You can see a photo and learn a little more about him here http://www.gendaihaiku.com/tsubouchi/index.html
Ideally, there will be one Grand Prix, a number of An Prizes (‘Cottage’ Prizes, highly commended), and some Honourable Mentions, too. The authors of entries chosen for the first two of these categories will receive prizes, and all decorated works will warrant a certificate from the organizers. In the spring, the results will be displayed here on the Hailstone Icebox and elsewhere. You can read last year’s winning pieces on a separate page (‘Genjuan Winning Haibun’).
Entries to : Ms. Eiko Mori, 2-11-23-206 Jokoji, Amagasaki-shi, Hyogo-ken 660-0811, Japan (to arrive between 1 Oct. 2014 and 31 Jan. 2015)
We have lowered the minimum length stipulation to make it easier for writers using English as their second language. Each entry should total 10 to 40 lines (at 1 line = 80 spaces), with title and at least one haiku (no formal restrictions). Print on one side of A4, if possible, with your name and address, tel. no., and email address typed along the bottom. The judges will not get to know your identity until judging is over and the Genjuan Contest office already knows the results.
Judges: Nenten Tsubouchi, Stephen Henry Gill, Hisashi Miyazaki.
Full details via the page link (top right) ‘幻住庵 Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2015 Guidelines’. Please do take part!
One point came up several times during judging: it is better not to describe too fully in haibun. Many pieces were written captivatingly, even brilliantly, but perhaps rather too fully. We were looking for gaps or leaps in the narrative in which the reader’s imagination can go to work.
Nobuyuki Yuasa is due to retire from judging the Contest next year and Nenten Tsubouchi to replace him. This will be confirmed when we publish the guidelines for the 2015 Genjuan sometime this summer or autumn.
The results are as follows:
Uncle Walter — John Parsons, Norfolk, UK
The Meeting — Geethanjali Rajan, Tamil Nadu, India
Prime Meridian — John Kinory, Oxfordshire, UK
Independent Dog — Daniela Kuzmanova, Sofia, Bulgaria
New Beginnings — Barbara A. Taylor, NSW, Australia
Renunciation — Matthew Caretti, Pennsylvania, USA