Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cool Announcement: Kamesan’s World Haiku Anthology

The long-awaited book, Kamesan’s World Haiku Anthology on War, Violence and Human Rights Violation, is out. For more information, please visit Below is an excerpt from my unpublished review:

This is our reply to violence: to make haiku more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. Changing the world one haiku at a time.
-- Chen-ou Liu paraphrasing Leonard Bernstein

Kamesan’s World Haiku Anthology on War, Violence and Human Rights Violation, edited by the renowned film director and haiku poet Dimitar Anakiev, is a unique haiku anthology: 903 haiku written in 35 languages by 435 poets from 48 countries across the globe and non-English language haiku accompanied by their English translations. The original idea of publishing this kind of world haiku anthology with its sharp focus on war stemmed from Anakiev’s late 1990s experience in the war-torn Balkans. During that tumultuous period of time, he served as the co-editor of Knots: The Anthology of Southeastern European Haiku Poetry, receiving many haiku on the topic of confrontation and violence. Then, in 2009, he invited the poets from the Balkan region to submit their haiku on the topic of war. To his great surprise, he received many haiku by poets from all corners of the world. He recognized the universality of the theme of war and decided to publish a world haiku anthology on war, violence, and human rights violation (p. 5).


In the following two-axis haiku, we can see how the poets engage readers with our collective past in order to reshape/enrich our understanding of the present.

two light beams shining
where there were once twin towers --
my son, my daughter

Jack Galmitz

This heartfelt haiku is beautifully crafted in the traditional style -- three lines, 5-7-5 syllables, with a cut after the second line emphasized by a dash. The first two lines delineate the most significant memoryscape in the first decade of the 21st century, where the present encounters the past and both reflect upon each other. In L3, the thematic focus is shifted from the socio-cultural/public to the personal-relational/private. It indicates that redeeming hope of the future begins with the generational basis of remembrance of things past. And the psycho-sociopolitical significance of number two stirs the reader to further ponder past trauma, present reflection, and future hope.

all that remains --
dreams of jungle,
sand, sky

Marilyn Hazelton

The opening allusive line successfully evokes in the reader the image of ephemerality of human ambitions described in Basho’s “summer grass” haiku; however, Hazelton makes a perceptual shift in Ls 2&3, revealing the psychological impacts of these ambitions.

Normandy beach ...
this small white rock
washed clean

Anne LB Davidson

The plain language used in the L1, which is arguably the most important WWII battle field, combined with a visual focus on a small washed-clean rock makes what’s left unsaid thematically and emotionally more significant than what’s stated. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Canadian forces alone suffered 18,444 casualties during the Normandy fighting 9.There is no doubt in my mind that any reader who has minimal knowledge about WWII can feel the historical weight in this tiny poem.

Stop counting syllables,
start counting the dead.

Don Wentworth

The imperative L1 refers to the big fights among many haiku poets in the early years of the English language haiku movement. The combined use of syntactic parallelism and a perspectival shift makes this poem sociopolitically powerful and emotionally effective. It reminds me of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s vision of poetry: poetry as insurgent art. And its thematic focus and emotional appeal form a dialectical relationship with the following two haiku:

war dead
exit out of a blue mathematics

Sumimura Seirinshi

only american deaths count the stars

Scott Metz

1 comment:

  1. The full review will be published later in my new blog section, A Poet's Roving Thoughts.