Slow Afternoon

At our last monthly session, the group wrote haiku prompted by this picture taken by Brijesh Raj.

Here are the haiku. You are welcome to add your own.

slow afternoon
what does he carry
in his dreams?

 

~ Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
**

 

Mumbai traffic
the big burden becomes
a pillow

 

Mumbai traffic
the strain on his face
even in sleep

 

~ Rohini Gupta
**

 

sultry noon
the handcart man clothed
in blue sky

 

dog tired —
only those twinkling stars
behind shut eyes

 

handcart man —
wrapped up in his nap
and a dhoti

 

~ Gautam Nadkarni
**

 

passing by…
the world
in a rush of dreams

 

~ Brijesh Raj
**

 

swacch Bharat –
the rag-picker relaxes
 on his haul

 

~ Sandra Martyres

 

 

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Haiku by Paresh Tiwari

The members of INhaiku Mumbai chose their favorite haiku by Paresh Tiwari for his birthday. Here they are.

 

early morning…
a tree’s foliage bursts
into parakeets

Chosen by Sandra Martyres

**

longest night…
the taste of sea breeze
and her absence

 

stillness…
the sound of dusk
washing ashore

 

Choosing a single ku (albeit from Paresh’s truncated list of favorites) is like letting loose the inner child in a candy shop, filled with the vibrant hues and delicious hurt of one who continues to experience and capture life in 4D (poetry, painting, prose and photography). And telling it to just look around.

So I broke the rules and chose two. The first has lent its second line as title to our little anthology and is therefore that much more familiar and close to the heart. The second I loved because it lends itself to so many subtle shades. Is it the sailor in him ? The fact that he must endure long absences from his loved ones or something more enigmatic, perhaps foreboding, left to the reader’s imagination?

Happy birthday Paresh. Keep writing as well as you do and this teetotaler will keep getting high.

Chosen by Brijesh Raj

**

 

alley puddle –
a paper boat glides
over the stars

Chosen by Raamesh Gowri Raghavan
**

 

stillness
the sound of dusk
washing ashore

 

Chosen by Kasturi Jadhav

 

**

 

gran’s hand
how frail, how cold
this autumn dusk

 

chardonnay…
the scent of summer
in a bluethroat’s song

 

mustard fields-
a thimbleful of sun
on each blossom

 

It was hard to chose just one. So, here are three.

 

Chosen by Rohini Gupta

Tribute to Jane Reichold

The INhaiku group Mumbai was saddened to hear of the passing of Jane Reichold. This is a small tribute to her from all of us.

paresh tribute to jane                                                                 Paresh Tiwari

winter morning
the sunlight skips
my window

-Kasturi Jadhav

 ***

 

fading light –
the cormorant dips
into the blue

-Yesha Shah
***

 

the clouds take it
away too :: the dark side
of the moon

-Raamesh
***

murmuring waves-
the voice of the poet
is stilled

-Sandra Martyres
***

end of prayers…
the lighthouse
shines on

-Mahrukh Balsara
***

The Passing of a Butterfly

It is my belief that if you really want to know the heart of a haijin, read their ku. Every poet leaves a part of their soul behind on paper. Having missed the privilege of meeting Jane Reichold, I thought of making her acquaintance on the common ground of published Ku. What better way to resonate? And what purer or more honest space could possibly exist?

I have selected a few of her ku from her book translated into Chinese, and scanned and put up by Jane herself for the perusal of those like us, who would never have had access to it.

 

morning light
the sound of waves
on your sleeping face

 

cliff side
the edge of fog
bright green

 

sea fog
the far meadow dusted
with daisies

 

afternoon wind
all the words
blown out to sea

 

downed kite
the child whispers
Sh  it’s sleeping

 

asleep in a boat
to dream the dreams
of water lilies

 

raising his foot
a crane scatters stars
sunk in the pond

 

sunny sea wind
shoulders ache
for the want of wings

 

his grave
covered
with my sky

 

the shape of wind
writing in dunes
solitude

 

tear-wet
the tiny waterfall
no one photographs

 

falling
the amount of rain
in a haiku

evening sun
in that place tomorrow
I won’t be

sunset
all the shadows
going home

black winds
the moonless earth
deeply ploughed

a white wave breaks
in the death of tumult
a rainbow

cliffs
sloping into the sea
gull wings

vacation ends
one last splash of a wave
I too am gone

Half a century after her journey as Haijin started, I begin my own. The fact that I can identify and resonate with a voice from so far back, makes that voice special and timeless.
Your writing to me will always be like the wink of butterfly wings. A flash of color on life’s greyscale. Stay well Jane Reichold for you have flown to where the rainbow is within reach.
R.I.P.

 

Brijesh Raj
***

 

blue skies
and morning sunlight –
that hollow feeling

 

I did not know Jane personally,  but I found her books very early in my haiku journey – which is now just about ten years old. Her book Writing and Enjoying Haiku, which revealed the techniques used by the masters was a revelation when I was struggling with my early attempts.

 

Right now I am reading another book of hers, The Heart of Haiku and,of course, I have browsed and studied her website often, downloaded the free books and pondered over them. I think its not possible to be deep in the haiku field and not come across Jane’s work in some form or the other.

 

She will be missed.

 

Rohini Gupta
***

 

the sky
on a morning lake . . .
that perfect lotus

 

That is how I think of Jane. Perfect as a friend – perfect as a poet.
Always there, always helpful to anyone who wanted to know about Japanese short forms of poetry, which was her deep passion.

She is one person who will stay forever in my heart.
with gratitude,

 

Kala Ramesh

 

Angelee Deodhar – A life in haiku

This interview was published in the online blogzine GLO-TALK on Monday, June 30, 2014.

Haiku by Angelee Deodhar originally published in Mann Library’s Daily Haiku, March 2013, reproduced by permission of the author.


Haiku has been as misunderstood around the world as it has been famous. To most, it is a 5-7-5 verse in 3 lines. In a series of interviews with haiku poets from India, I’d love to break the myth, and bring to you the depth and beauty of this form, expressed in just three lines.

I begin with Dr. Angelee Deodhar. An ophthalmologist by profession, her first passion has always been writing. A chance reading of Potpourri, the American poetry journal, brought her to haiku in 1989. Like a poet who finally found her calling, she took to it immediately. Besides haiku, she is also an exponent of the haibun – a form that brings together the experiential essay and the haiku into a symphony of emotions.

She has led from the front in translating the works of Japanese poets into Indian languages, and has promoted the development of the form in the Hindi language. Interspersed with the questions are Angelee’s haiku (reproduced with her kind permission).

*

RGR: What made you think haiku was your calling? How were your initial years writing haiku? You state in your interview with contemporary haiku master Robert D Wilson (Simply Haiku, Winter 2006, vol 4 no 4) that you struggled with the perception among Indian writers that it was no more than a 3-line poem, ignoring its unique semantic construct, objectivity, and sense of the moment?

AD: I had never heard of haiku till I was in a hospital bed in 1989-1990. So if it was a ‘calling’ I certainly didn’t know it existed. I was familiar with English language poetry and had written longer poems and short stories, but then I discovered haiku – It was love at first read and that affair has continued.

I wrote to the Japanese Embassy in Delhi to get an idea of what haiku was. They Xerox-ed a couple of pages in which I found Mr. William J. Higginsons’ address and wrote to him. He very kindly sent me a signed copy of his Haiku Handbook. Then I got a copy of Lucien Stryks book ‘A cage of fireflies’ as a gift from my husband. Many months later I was fortunate to come across Ms. Liz Fenn who ran an international haiku library (at the Haiku Conservatory, USA) from which one could borrow a book, read it, and send it back by post. She was very kind to me and sent me several books free of cost. I studied from them, noting down passages and haiku and then sent the book back.

Meanwhile, I tentatively started sending out my three liners to various journals. Those days one had to correspond by snail mail and send a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) and wait for several weeks for a reply. Here I would like to mention several editors who published my work: Patrick Frank of Point Judith Light, David Priebe of Haiku Headlines, Ken C. Liebman of Frogpond, Robert Spiess of Modern Haiku and several others. There was no one in India whom I could turn to, write to or discuss anything as ELH was unheard of.

Then in 2000, came the World Haiku Festival organized by Mr. Susumu Takiguchi in London and Oxford which is where I met a number of wonderful haijin from several countries. My haiku world blossomed and I heard of R.H. Blyth for the first time from Ms. Ikuyo Yoshimura. I met Jim Kacian, Max Verhart, Ion Codrescu,Visjna McMaster, Phillip D. Noble,the late Martin Lucas and several others. Still there weren’t many books to consult. I bought one book here, one book there and added to my haiku library as best I could. Some haijin were kind enough to give me their books.

On my return from England, I met Prof. Satyabhushan Verma the exponent of haiku in Hindi, who had published several haiku in an inland format from 1979. Many Hindi haiku groups sprang up,subsequently, but the credit for the first haiku club in India goes to the Late Prof. Satyabhushan Verma and to think I knew nothing about Hindi haiku either! Such ignorance!

*

meeting new friends
a flight of pigeons
rain-wet pavement

*

RGR: We all evolve in our writing, as we do in life. From 1989 to 2014, do you notice any changes in your writing style? Looking back at your early work, would you think of revising it now?

AD: In two and a half decades of learning about haiku I have understood one thing, that all writing is a lonely calling – to write a passable haiku one must be alone much – observe and respond from a felt depth. My earliest efforts were just pretty three liners and although the editors were kind enough to publish them, I feel they lack a lot.

I have never looked back to ‘revise’ an old haiku. I write spontaneously about what I see or feel, and work/rework that haiku till I find it works for me and catches the moment. I learn every day.

*

bonfire festival –
all the songs of my youth
sung by grandchildren

*

RGR: What is your haiku secret? What keeps you going, through the hundreds of haiku you’ve written. It’s hard to choose one’s ‘best’ haiku, but were I to force you to choose, which would it be?

AD: I don’t know if there is a secret formula, but I try to live in the now of every waking moment. I listen, observe, interact and then respond with a haiku/haibun. I do not have any favourite haiku but I will share my jisei (death poem) with you

water worn boulder
so smooth now
against callused feet

*

RGR: The environment has changed too – there are many more journals today, and haiku publishing (like all else) has moved from print to web. Has the resultant abundance of journals made it easier for people to write and publish haiku – or do you think it has led to compromises, as editors scramble to fill volumes within the deadlines?

AD: Yes, in the last couple of decades things have changed drastically, some for the better some for the worse.

Firstly, the web presence of haiku-related material has mushroomed, to say nothing of Facebook groups, personal blogs, etc. While this plethora of haiku-like material is available at a click to everyone, it has led to just about any short thing – one word, one line, two lines, or three lines – being passed off as a haiku. This is distressing.

Secondly, neophyte haijin are not responding to genuine experiences, but are writing desk-ku. Their absolute desperation to get on to any blog or site is obviously detrimental to the quality of the genre, which deserves deeper study and contemplation.

Thirdly, however, there are some fine, erudite free resources (too numerous to mention here) from which one can learn a lot. Online haiku, haibun and tanka journals are excellent places to learn from and the editors are trying their best to give a fair representation of the work they receive, most of which is very good. In that way present day haijin are very fortunate indeed. Still a book is a book…now Amazon, Flipkart etc are carrying haiku books which one can get easily.

*

in sudden squall
the gently swaying
abandoned swing

*

RGR: Not content with being merely a masterful poet, you have made translation a mission of your literary career to translate ELH and Japanese haiku into Hindi. When did you conceive of this idea? Did you have any qualms and insecurities as you started on your journey?

AD: I wanted haijin writing in Hindi to understand the basic concepts of ELH, going beyond the 5-7-5 form, and hence the translations, the bilingual site of Haiku Sansaar and the English pages of Haiku Darpan.

*

As regards my jump into the bilingual haiku pond of translations, with my first book about Masaoka Shiki I was filled with trepidation. But it was favourably received specially by Hindi haijin even though the translations were not in the 5-7-5 pattern. I conceived of this idea in Ogaki, Japan when I met Ms. Minako Noma who had translated Shiki’s haiku from Japanese to English.She very kindly arranged to get me the permission to translate Shiki’s work into Hindi.

The funds for this book came from my aunt, a saadhvi and the credit for assistance in translations goes to my late husband Dr. Shridhar D. Deodhar who had excellent Hindi.

*

-in the monastery
rising above the plainchant
a warbler’s half note

*

RGR: You have made publishing an act of selflessness – giving away precious works such as Ogura Hyakunin Isshu and The Distant Mountain to students who seek them. Why have you chosen not to profit from your work, even as many haijin in the West and Japan have opened successful haiku publishing houses?

AD: Since I had had a rough time trying to get books on haiku, I decided to make my six bilingual books available to everyone in India and abroad. Here again the generosity of finances and time given to my efforts in translation go to my husband and the secretarial work/editing to my son. I was given emotional support by a lot of haiku friends worldwide. I must mention the generosity of Jim Kacian who sent me a sack full of books which I shared with friends.

*

sharing an umbrella
your wet left shoulder
my right one

*

RGR: Looking back at your quarter century, what are the mistakes you made? What did you do that you would advise a beginner (like this interviewer) to not do?

AD: I would have liked to learn Japanese and also come to know about haiku in my school days. To this end I have tried my best to get haiku into the Indian school syllabus.

My advice for what its worth, would be to write every day, everywhere, about everything – a phrase, a fragment, a word and not worryabout its publication. Read, read, read every day.

*

an I.V. line
anchors me to the monitor
thoughts still wander

*

And lastly, we wish you a long career still ahead of you.