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?
On Sunday March 19th, four RKHG members met at the Visitors’ Centre of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens for our autumn meeting and to welcome Takanori Hayakawa, our newest Red Kelpie Haiku Group member. We all made our way to a shady spot not far from Nymphaea Lily Lake, close to where we held our December meeting. Now that it’s autumn, the waterlilies had ceased blooming but we noted bright little yellow flowers of some kind of water plant as we passed the lake. Purple cosmos at their full height were swaying in a soft morning breeze. The sky was a clear bright blue, without even a trace of cloud, as is typical of Melbourne’s autumns, but the temperature this year was notably higher than usual, reaching the mid-thirties. Continue reading “Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting #11”
As predicted, Sunday, 4th of December was hot and humid, Melbourne’s first hot summer day. Five members of the Red Kelpie Group gathered at our ‘home’ base, at the Melbourne Botanic Tearooms, but we moved, as planned, to a lawn area under deep shade of old trees, near Nymphaea Lily Lake, to hold our meeting in peace and quiet.
the pond floats
—Lorin Ford, Failed Haiku #12, December 2016
Our topic, suggested by Jen Sutherland, was an enquiry into kigo , which had been confusing for some. We focused on what kigo means to Japanese haiku practice and how it differs from EL seasonal reference.