Haiku in the Garden

Haiku in Gosford/Edogawa Commemorative Garden, 5 July 2008

report by M L Grace

These lovely Japanese style gardens provided a perfect setting for the reading of haiku,
with last autumn leaves clinging to maples and a backdrop of silver birches overlooking a koi pond and pagoda.

Beverley George ─ President of The Australian Haiku Society (HaikuOz) and well known, widely published poet, organised the readings which were preceded by dynamic Taiko drummers who awoke the audience and provided the contrasting silence for the haiku readers.

 The first segment commenced with five poems from the 16th century Japanese haiku master, Bashō, my favourite being:

the stillness –
soaking into stones
cicada cry

Amelia Fielden, a professional Japanese translator and renowned writer and translator of Japanese poetry, followed with a reading of poet Chiyo-ni’s work Chiyo-ni, , who later became a nun, is a female counterpart of Bashō. Amelia read four poems to represent each season, the spring poem being:

to tangle or untangle
the willow –
it’s up to the wind

Beverley and Amelia read together a haiku sequence entitled ‘White Pebbles’ ─ Shiroki jari, written by Beverley George, in these same gardens, and translated by Tokyo tanka poet, Mariko Kitakubo. A poignant reading, alternatively, Beverley in English ─ Amelia in Japanese.

A short break was followed by a reading of nineteen contemporary haiku by Australian haiku poets, clear notes of a bell separating each one.
widowhood:
his wedding ring
in the jewel box

Dawn Bruce

unable to see
my neighbours’ house
I sense her light

Janice Bostok

after
a winter haircut ─
winter ears

Michael Thorley

These three examples illustrate a range of emotions, sadness . . .loneliness . . . humour . . . left to be interpreted by the listener.

A sequence, entitled, Village Hall April 25, 2006 which paid tribute to similar Anzac Day observances around Australia, completed the readings. It was very moving to hear this read in the resounding timbre of a man’s voice.[Written by Beverley George, read by David George.]

Beverley concluded by suggesting people might like to wander the gardens and compose their own haiku . . . some indeed did.

The event was hosted by the Sister Cities Association. Haiku readers were Meredith Collins, Margaret Grace, David George, Beverley George and Amelia Fielden