Karumi – Bob Jones on lightness in haiku

The following thoughts first appeared on the HaikuOz website in 2001, originally posted by John Bird.

It comes as no surprise that when Janice Bostok visited Bob Jones, they spent a morning talking about haiku. Bob raised the subject of “karumi” and explained that karumi is the mood of lightness which informs much of Basho’s late-life poetry and that few western poets seem to have engaged it in their haiku. Bob gave this example of Basho’s karumi:

so cool
 the wall against my feet
 a noonday nap~

When editing submissions to FAHA (First Australian Haiku Anthology), Janice Bostok and I noted a leaning towards profundity, and we thought Bob’s comments might provide counterpoise. With the permission of all concerned, I quote from a letter Bob subsequently sent to Janice, and in which Bob returns to his theme. ……….. John Bird.

“A couple of important issues were raised that we didn’t have enough time to explore. One of them concerned the mood of karumi, which has been a chief interest of mine over the years, particularly in relation to my own haiku. You asked for my understanding of it and I couldn’t easily come up with an explanation. I think most serious students of haiku have a hard time coming to terms with Basho’s later works. In many respects the poems seem bland and a little bit thin. Basho himself likens karumi to shallow water over a sandy bed, which certainly seems to go against any sense of mystery or depth. However I think the main thing to get from this likeness is the idea of transparency. Nothing’s hidden, or even hideable, in the mood of karumi. Everything’s out there, plainly shown. Everything’s part of the open secret. Continue reading “Karumi – Bob Jones on lightness in haiku”

Haiku and the Seasons – an essay by Beverley George

Beverley George, former President of the Australian Haiku Society, offers her essay – entitled “Haiku and the Seasons”, also translated into Serbian by Sasa Vazic – for readers of “HaikuOz”.

Beverley’s piece was first published in the New South Wales Poets Union journal “Five Bells” 15 (1) in 2007-2008.

With both language versions posted in “Haiku Reality” vol. 11 no. 19 Winter 2014, Beverley George’s essay about seasonal elements in haiku can be accessed at the following pair of links:
http://haikureality.theartofhaiku.com/esejeng127.htm
http://haikureality.theartofhaiku.com/eseji156.htm

Haiku and the Seasons: an exploration

Beverley George

Beverley George is president of the Australian Haiku Society


The entire Japanese poetic tradition is grounded in the observance of the passing of the seasons, and it is quite simply second nature for Japanese to view human emotions through seasonal metaphors. Liza Dalby

The link between seasonal awareness and the writing of Japanese haiku is apparent. What is not so clear and causes much debate is whether this essential aspect of Japanese haiku can be successfully adopted into other cultural sensibilities and linguistic frameworks, including the English language.

In this article I would like to discuss the situation in Japan as I have observed it directly, rather than relying on readily accessible texts such as those by William J Higginson and Donald Keene and the pioneering work of RH Blyth, Harold G Henderson and James W Hackett, with which readers interested in haiku will already be familiar. I would then like to offer some thoughts about the importation of haiku into Australian writing and how it might be more widely understood and better incorporated. Three visits to Japan in the past two years and ten years of studying haiku do not an expert make, and I hope the tone of this paper is discursive and exploratory rather than in any way prescriptive. Writing haiku is a journey, not a destination, and it has many pilgrims.

Read the entire article by Beverley George as a PDF file

seasons

Haiku, Zen and the Eternal Now

Understanding or embracing Zen is not a prerequisite for writing wonderful haiku but even a little contact can expand horizons and help writers take haiku beyond simple commentaries on nature. Sometimes it is useful in any art form to look back to what came before and to look at beginnings for fresh inspiration. That was the workshop’s objective. Not to provide a guided tour of Zen Buddhism. Rather, the objective was to take participants on a journey to extend and stretch minds and our approaches to writing haiku.

To read the complete article by Jacqui Murray click on the following link to download it in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Zen and haiku jacqui murray

 

An Australian Voice?

Recent discussions with some of HaikuOz’s ‘greats’ – notably patron Janice M Bostok and co-founder John Bird – have revealed a common thread of concern. Namely, that some writing of haiku in Australia has, unfortunately, slipped away into the phenomenon of the pretty postcard. In other words, that the spirit and subtlety, that once placed Australian haiku apart from that so frequently written elsewhere, has been submerged to a more mundane, more prosaic form of writing which, in one of my darker moods, I see as:

three ducks
in perfect formation
across a cloud wall

(or to be more strictly ‘correct’: three autumnal ducks/in quite perfect formation/ across a cloud wall)

This opinion is bound to be greeted by indignation, offence and, perhaps, horror. That I accept. I also apologize. I beg, however, that my discussion be accepted in that spirit. As a starting point for further discussion. What I am advocating, is a rethink, a re-examination, of how we are writing haiku in Australia. A move away from the formulae that accept phrasing such as ‘autumn evening’, ‘winter day’, ‘summer afternoon’. In other words, that we look again at the craft of our writing and the spirit of haiku – particularly as it applies to Australia.

Continue reading “An Australian Voice?”

3rd Pacific Rim Haiku Conference, Matsuyama, Japan, April 2007

Report: Beverley George

President
Australian Haiku Society (HaikuOz)

Through haiku composing, you can exchange your way of thinking and deepen your understanding about the people beyond the borders, isms and religions. Kanda Sosuke.

It is impossible to imagine a more idyllic and appropriate setting for a haiku conference than in cherry blossom season at Matsuyama, the birthplace of the poet, Masaoka Shiki where this year marked the 140th anniversary of his birth.

Matsuyama is a castle city on the island of Shikoku and it is also famous for its ancient onsen (hot springs). It was in this city that the Matsuyama Declaration was signed in 1999 to establish the Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Research Center. The Declaration signifies the generous intent of Japanese people to share haiku internationally.

Continue reading “3rd Pacific Rim Haiku Conference, Matsuyama, Japan, April 2007”

Masaoka Tsunenori — the Haiku Master Shiki

by Janice M Bostok

A pure black
butterfly frisks keri
Cloud Mountains

Shiki was born on 14th October 1867, in Matsuyama, Japan. His gô, or pen name Shiki, which means a small cuckoo-like bird, came about after he spat blood for a week in May 1889. It is said the bird, in order to attain the fine tone in its voice must keep singing until it spits blood. For most of his adult life Shiki suffered from tuberculosis. He died on the 19th September 1902. His father was a Samurai and his maternal grandfather a Confucian scholar. He began writing Chinese verse at the age of eleven. His earliest existing tanka was written at the age of fifteen. He began studying at university but left without graduating. For a time he was a war correspondent in China. Shiki is considered to be the last of the traditional haiku masters and the first of the modern ones. Although he advocated reform most of his poems are written in the traditional form. It is his method and content for which he is remembered.

Into the ashes

it fell and got smudged;
new calendar kana

He formed a group and had a number of disciples who followed him in his desire for reform. Some of those who came after him were the free metre poets, Kyoshi, Hekigodo, Ippikiro and Meisetsu. The free metre poets tended to lengthen haiku and dismiss the seventeen Japanese syllable count. Makoto Ueda says if we are to think of the three lined haiku as a triangle shape, the free metre form of the New Trend Haiku could be considered as a rectangle.

Continue reading “Masaoka Tsunenori — the Haiku Master Shiki”