Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cool Announcement: Chinese Valentine's Day Gift, Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion, and Remembrance

Because haiku traditionally tended to shun  strong passion and romantic love, to explore those areas was to go counter to established tradition, yet some  women poets consciously or subconsciously did so, thereby helping to expand the world of haiku.
-- Makoto Ueda, "Preface," Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women, p. ix

[Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion, and Remembrance] is a collection for people who love the simplicity of haiku and love that poetic feeling of love.
-- San Francisco Book Review


My Dear Readers:

In celebration of Chinese Valentine's Day (also known as Double-Seventh Day, 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar), I am pleased to introduce you to  Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion, and Remembrance edited by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi.

Book Description: Haiku is celebrated as a concise form of poetry able to convey a singular moment with great clarity. While haiku most often depicts the natural world, when focused on the elements of love and sensuality, haiku can be a powerful vehicle for evoking the universal experience of love. In this elegant anthology, love is explored through beautiful images that evoke a range of feelings -- from the longing of a lover to the passion of a romantic relationship... these poems share not only the haiku poets’ vision for love, but their vision of the poignant moments that express it.


Traditionally and  thematically speaking, the verse form of haiku and the theme of (exploring the many faces of ) love have been kept apart for several hundred years. Most haiku poets have thought that it might be better to leave the theme of love to tanka poets to explore. I remember the first time I workshopped the following haiku about love,

this spring night
her hair is tangled
thoughts of him

The comments I got can be categorized into either one or the other of the following  two types:

1) It feels like a tanka theme to me.
2) It may work better in a tanka where there is more room to explore the theme of love, longing, passion,... etc.

In his thematic study of the history of Japanese haiku, Makoto Ueda emphasizes that:

... the finest work done by a female haiku poet exemplifies her era just as well as that of a male poet, even though her status in her time’s haiku circles may not have been very high. Compared with haiku written by men, the world of women’s haiku is just as rich and colorful, and slightly more lyrical and erotic. Because haiku traditionally tended to shun strong passion and romantic love, to explore those areas was to go counter to established tradition, yet some women poets consciously or subconsciously did so, thereby helping to expand the world of haiku.... ("Preface," Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women, p. ix)

I agree with Japanese scholar Makoto Ueda completely,  and I am happy to see haiku and love come together in this elegant anthology, Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion, and Remembrance, a collection of romantic haiku by diverse Japanese poets. The anthology is mainly divided into three sections (with an introduction) that represent three distinct components of love (yearning, passion, and remembrance) and the editors place one haiku per page giving each one room to breathe and resonate.


Selected Haiku:

only one person
is noted in the hotel book --
the cold night.

Issa Kobayashi

dusky autumn --
for someone yet to come
a single chair

Akito Arima

the one I curse
is the one I love --
red cotton roses

Kanajo Hasegawa

Half of the mountain
dyed by red maples:
a one-sided love.

Chiyo-ni

autumn night --
the sound of two white plates
touching.

Yoshiko Yohino

nights of rain --
lonely, I fall asleep
holding my breasts

Yoshiko Yoshino

in the waves
no trace, where I swam
with a woman

Seisha Yumaguchi

perfume --
that night, that time
that place

Hanjo Takehara


Note: Below are my award-winning haiku about love, longing, and passion .... for your reading pleasure:

first glimpse
of her mastectomy bra
winter rose

Runner-Up, 2015 Fifth Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award

the shape
of her absence
new moon

Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Mainichi Haiku Contest (2014)

the hills aglow
with spring sunlight
her scent lingers

Commendation, 2014 Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Competition

the cold moon...
I want to touch her
into words

Italian Translation

luna invernale...
cercando di toccarla
con le parole

French Translation by Eric Schulthess

Lune d'hiver
Je cherche à la toucher
Avec des mots

Selected Haiku, 2013 International Matsuo Basho Award Contest

long way home ...
windshield wipers clear
the silence between us

Japanese Translation by 万里小路

ワイパーが
   沈黙払う
長い帰路   

Distinguished Work Prize, 5th Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum Haiku Contest

bullfrog chorus...
I practice saying
I love you

Third Prize, 2011 Senryu Contest

I love you...
that hazy moon
in Rashomon

Honorable Mention, 14th Mainichi Haiku Contest (2010)

cherry petals
falling on cherry petals ...
I dust her photo

Sakura Award, 2010 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

her face
in my whisky
the moon floats

Croatian translation by Marinko Spanovic

njeno lice
u mom viskiju
plovi mjesec

Grand Prix, 2010 Klostar Ivanic Haiku Contest

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