Paperbark Haiku Ginko

By Samar Ghose

Paperbark Haiku (formerly Mari Warabiny) had its Spring Haiku Gathering and Ginko on Wednesday the 14th of November 2018. The selected location was The Ruth Faulkner Public Library and its surrounding gardens in The City of Belmont in Perth, Western Australia which enjoys a 34 year long sister city relationship with Adachi-ku, a special ward of Tokyo, Japan where there stands a statue of Haiku Master Matsuo Basho.

It was the perfect spring day with just a hint of the dry heat of an oncoming typical West Australian summer. Bees, butterflies, dragonflies filled the sweet smelling air. Soft sunlight dappled the undulating gardens. Colours burst all over the flowerbeds. Ants, bugs and kids vied for space on warm meandering pathways while gentle notes from a waterfall wafted in and out on the spring breeze. The happy campers at the event were Rose van Son, Barry Sanbrook, Mimma Tornatora, Lindsay Baoxi, Samar Ghose and the organiser, Maureen Sexton.

waterfall samar ghose
photo by Samar Ghose

Maureen introduced the thinking behind the new name Paperbark (as in the tree, a common presence in the Australian naturescape) for the group; the inspiration being the conjunction of ‘paper’ with ‘bark’ in the connection to nature as well as its fragility as a substrate for expression in the written word about nature which is the classical haiku.

There was a brief discussion for beginners as well as established practitioners as to

  • what haiku is: the observation or experience of a singular moment which often “evokes a personal insight into how people are connected to their environment”- Janice M Bostok.
  • and why does one write haiku: the exploration of our senses, raising awareness of the interconnectedness in nature between humans and nature, making us an intrinsic part of it; for meditation, relaxation and mindfulness, among others.

This was followed by the construct of a haiku verse of the fragment and phrase kind as well as the more modern, even experimental ELS form. There was some debate as to whether it was enough for a verse to be a haiku if it’s author said it was but everyone agreed that whatever the form, the essential element would need to honour the ‘essence’ of haiku for it to be recognised as one. Members chose from a list of verses by prominent poets that Maureen had put together, to demonstrate this. Barry posed an important question if it was perhaps the case that sometimes a lot more than intended is read into a verse when it might simply have been a mere description by the poet of an incident. Maureen reminded us that that maybe so but therein lay one of the essences of haiku in the two juxtaposed images evoking the ‘aha’ in the reader and second (Samar) that it allowed the reader to complete the verse in their own mind ie., the moment of enlightenment by drawing on their own interpretation of the verse. Rose cited Basho’s Raven haiku to illustrate the point.

The group then dispersed on the ginko walk into the sprawling gardens around the library building searching for inspiration leading to complete verses or to note down observations to bring back to the group to workshop together.

Of the many verses written, here’s a taste of them:

mouth of the tunnel
a spider shudders
in the spring breeze

~ Samar Ghose

lilium’s reflection
two photographs
instead of one

~ Rose van Son

construction site
the mottled bark
of the gum tree

~ Maureen Sexton

Beatles
on a bookshelf
love me do

~ Barry Sanbrook