On Sunday 10th March a pall of dense smoke haze hung over Melbourne for the second day. As I walked past the Cenotaph, on my way to our rendezvous in the Botanic Gardens, the Eternal Flame rose high in the seemingly breezeless air, bringing to mind the recent bushfires in Gippsland. Not only our bushfires came to mind, though: that wavering film of heated air surrounding the Flame triggered the instantaneous return of a particular translation of a haiku by Bashō I’d been thinking about a few weeks ago:
Almost as high
As the crumbled statue,
The heated air shimmering
From the stone foundation.
Having woken the cat and I with a huge sonic boom, the thunderstorm climaxed and passed in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, 2nd December, the date of the RKHG’s summer meeting. Although it was a cool morning with a forecast of “possible showers”, we were in luck: no rain. Five members of the RKHG met at the Botanic Gardens and apologies were received from Robyn Cairns, Robbie Coburn and Marisa Fazio. Many plants were in flower, including the small yard of Flanders Poppies near the Shrine of Remembrance, the Southern Magnolia with its huge blossoms and the lovely, old-fashioned hydrangeas. The air was fresh after the night’s rain and we saw, unusually, a single shearwater (mutton bird) dozing in the sun. It had probably sought refuge there from the night’s storm.
Our topic for the day, led by Takanori Hayakawa (Taka) was both challenging and interesting: ‘Kigo in Kyoto and Melbourne’. We were privileged to be guided through kigo culture “from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak. Continue reading “Red Kelpie Haiku Group #18”
We’d been excitedly looking forward to our meeting with Canadian haiku poet Terry Ann Carter but we’d also been anxiously watching the weather in the week leading up to our meeting: the possibility of thunderstorms and hail were on the menu. As it turned out, we were lucky. Melbourne gave us a milder version of its traditional “four seasons in one day”, cold winds and scattered showers, with the sun breaking through now and then. Everyone was in bright spirits. As a bonus, guests Ron Moss from Tasmania and Melbourne poet Robbie Coburn joined us for the day. Delightfully, Robbie Coburn will be joining us next time as our newest group member.
Sunday, June 3rd was cold but sunny and bright. One could feel the frost in the air, although in Melbourne city and inner suburbs visible frost isn’t likely. We held our meeting on the upper level of Beer DeLuxe at Federation Square, where we had the luxury of the whole warm room to ourselves, except for one sparrow. As planned, Robyn Cairns led the group on the topic of ‘Urban Haiku’, having previously requested photos taken in our various neighbourhoods and sent us a relevant extract from Haruo Shirane’s ground-breaking essay of 2000, ‘Beyond the Haiku Moment’. Robbie brought along the photographs, beautifully presented on laminated A4 sheets as inspiration for writing ‘Urban Haiku’. An example:
There’ve been two RKHG meetings over the last several weeks, a very enjoyable, informal meeting with Santa Fe haiku poet, Sondra Byrne, and our scheduled autumn meeting.
On Sunday 25th February Robyn Cairns, Marisa Fazio, Lorin Ford, Jayashree Maniyil, Janet Howie and Madhuri Pillai were privileged to meet with Sondra in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens. Here we are in the Rose Pavilion:
On Sunday December 3rd the weather . . . specifically the threat of possible heavy rainfall . . . caused us to change our venue from the Botanic Gardens to the more easily accessible Federation Square. Four RKHG group members, Madhuri Pillai, Robyn Cairns, Janet Howie and I, met in the Atrium but held our meeting in a quiet hallway between the bookshop and a gallery: an ideal spot, thanks to Robbie’s explorations. Apologies received from Earl, Marisa and Taka.
Our discussion topic, prepared and led by Madhu, was ‘Senryu’. What is it? What might distinguish EL senryu from EL haiku? Is EL senryu just an inferior sort of haiku? Should we feel insulted if someone refers to our ku as senryu?
sketches from life –
leaves smudge marks
Haruo Shirane’s ‘vertical axis’ continues to prompt members of the RKHG to find and query examples. Those who’ve read Bashō’s Oku no Hosomichi (奥の細道, originally おくのほそ道) (translated variously as Journey to the Interior, Narrow Road to the Interior and Narrow Road to the Deep North) will be familiar with at least one version of the opening passage, itself an homage to the work of the Chinese poet, Du Fu:
“The months and days are the travellers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers. Those who float away their lives on ships or who grow old leading horses are forever journeying and their homes are wherever their travels take them.” (Trans. Donald Keene)
For those of us who might be experiencing a slump or fallow period in our haiku writing: we might take heart from a winter haiku by the all-time master:
菊の後大根の外更になし kiku no ato daikon no hoka sara ni nashi
After the chrysanthemums,
Apart from radishes,
There is nothing.
Bashō, trans. Linda Inoki, The Japan Times, December 7, 2005
R.H. Blyth also has a translation of this haiku in his Haiku Vol. IV, Autumn – Winter (He substitutes ‘turnip’ for radish since his EL readers were unlikely to be familiar with the daikon. These days, we can find the long white Japanese radish in any supermarket.) Blyth comments:
“(Winter) is a kind of off-season for poetry by the calendar of haiku. (This haiku expresses) simply and spontaneously the poetical emptiness that Bashō feels”.
Perhaps Bashō’s haiku might inspire us to write haiku on not being inspired to write haiku?