Danish Haiku Today 2012: A Review

Hanne Hansen, Chairman of the Haiku Group of the Danish Authors’ Society, recently provided the Australian Haiku Society with a copy of Danish Haiku Today 2012. Below is a short review of the anthology, written by Greg Piko

In 2012, the Danish haiku group had the opportunity to meet with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, who is well known for his love of haiku and for publishing his own book of haiku in 2010.

The current publication is an extended version of an anthology produced for the Danish Group’s meeting with Van Rompuy in 2012. The haiku are produced in both Danish and English, thereby introducing 28 Danish haiku poets to the English speaking world.

Neatly set out, the anthology presents haiku by one poet on each page. While translating poetry is always difficult, the English translations allow the haiku spirit to shine through.

As Australian haiku poets, we often write of nature, the seasons, cherry blossoms and other subjects addressed by the Japanese haiku masters. It seems Danish and Australian haiku poets are alike in this regard with the anthology providing the following Danish examples.
snowflakes dancing
over the bare graves –
the sky is open

Niels Kjaer
the wind wraps itself
in her silk coat
– endlessly

Mona Larsen
white wooden houses
at the foot of the mountains
their snow covered tops

Hanne Hansen
withered leaves
rustle under my feet
the shadow moves silently

Jette Slaaen
Along the railroad
Tall slender goldenrods
In the sunshine rain

Kate Larsen
At the same time, it is evident from the anthology that Danish haiku poets also explore more modern topics and more modern forms as can be seen from the following examples.
My lips on your skin
Tasting yesterday’s dinner
My ginger girlfriend

Benny Pedersen

the white dove
flies over the battlefield
shitting on the war

Bo Lille
the seeds are spread
chance and change
nothing is finished

Helge Krarup
a word that takes time defoliation

Johannes S. H. Bjerg
a naked lunch in
the park the menu a sweet
but little french kiss

Leif Achton-Lynegaard
The storm is over
our shipwrecked hearts remain
next to each other

Ushi Tech
Overall, this collection provides a convenient introduction to the varied styles of haiku being written by Danish poets today. While members of the Danish Haiku Group are writing some lovely haiku in traditional form, which never seem to go out of fashion, they are also giving Danish haiku their own particular style.

http://www.haikudanmark.dk (in Danish only)