We were all getting ready in our own way for Triveni: the World Haiku Utsav 2016 to be held in Pune. I was anchoring Ms.Mariko Kitakubo, a celebrated tanka poet from Japan for the inaugural function and later again at a reading of favourite poems / poet. So my first reaction to Madhuri Maitra’s mail asking for a favourite poet or poems was that Mariko did not want a .ppt; she wanted the audience to hear and feel the rhythm in her poems. It took a day to sink that she was asking for MY favourite poems / poet (did you see the stress on ‘my’!??) and a day more for me to compile a few and send them to her. These verses sketch my beginnings in haiku and IN Haiku.
I joined the IN Haiku page of Facebook sometime towards the end of 2013; a big thank you to Raamesh Gowri Raghavan who, after seeing my three line posted as haiku in another forum sent me a message that said: if you want to know more about haiku please join the IN Haiku Facebook group. I did so and posted the verse too. In response I got a pat on my back for a good attempt and comments of ‘needs to be tweaked’ and ‘keep writing and reading’ amidst a host of welcome notes from Kala Ramesh, Jayashree Maniyil (she called me Renuka Shahane!), Kashinath Kamarkar, Tushar Gandhi and many more whom I would get to know as haijins writing good haiku and wonderful people to befriend. I was overwhelmed despite the clear message (of silence) on those three lines of crap.
IN Haiku has certain rules and regulations for participation to be followed to read, write and interact keeping it active and open for discussions. While I was trying to understand them, struggling (till day) to keep up in my irregularly regular visits buttoned with ‘Like’, the cover page of the group displayed this verse. The winner of the recently concluded Indi Kukai, a bimonthly haiku contest:
a thimbleful of sun
on each blossom
* Paresh Tiwari
The verse was placed on a picture that showed the image clear and beautiful.
By the time I gathered the dos and donts of haiku, the cover page was replaced by another one, the winner of Shiki Kukai.
the words that
* Vinay Ravindranath
This verse got etched in my head. It opened a new dimension of thought to the ‘show and not tell’ of haiku. Much later, I told Vinay that this was my favourite and I knew it by – heart! He was, thankfully, not annoyed with me when I jumbled up the words in this beautiful verse. So much for my claim!
In January, 2014 I got an opportunity to attend a workshop on haiku during the Hyderabad Lit Fest organized by the elderly, gracious Angelee Deodhar and the handsome, suave Paresh Tiwari. Their warmth and the interactive workshop coloured this genre of poetry for me and thus, from my list of work – in – process, rejects and futile came a runner up in the Indi Kukai. This was enough to book my tickets for our meet in Mumbai – Distilled Images: the Haiku Utsav, 2014 organised in SIES college, Mumbai.
By this time, I was intrigued by the form Haibun, the prose poetry form of haiku and Paresh Tiwari was more than willing to mentor me. There are enough number of girls smitten by the dashing smile of this sailor but I am one of those hit by his haibun (too!).
In Mumbai I got hold of the book Journeys: an international anthology of haibun and I wasted no time in getting it signed by the stars therein: Angelee Deodhar, Kala Ramesh, Johannes Manjrekar, Sonal Chokki and Paresh Tiwari. This book enveloped me into the magic of prose poetry, so much so that I feel my haiku reads better in a haibun (even in the few that I have attempted to write!).
One verse from the book that caught me was:
the silence shredded
by a lone cicada
* Angelee Deodhar
If the book Journeys was a bouquet for haibun, another book called Soap bubbles, a collection of haiku by K.Ramesh elucidated the concept of simple and beautiful of haiku. Yes! I got that book too when I met the humble poet in Mumbai.
The Mumbai meet sealed the faces to the verses and it was like a long lost reunion of words, verse, laughter and selfies. Who said poets are grim, unkempt, disheveled moving around with a tattered jhola on their shoulders!?
Notwithstanding my poor compliance with the rules of participation in the IN Haiku group, I continued reading the haiku posted by others. There were two that stood out with the use of Indian words like diyas and dupatta in the verse:
a stray breeze teases
* Anitha Varma
nimbus clouds –
the sway of her dupatta
as she rushes home
* Arvinder Kaur
Inspired, I experimented with ghungroo and dandiya.
While trying to grasp the power of the link and shift between images, the poetry in prose and haiku, this verse stood out from a haibun:
colostrum moon –
the head count ritual
of stolen children
* Rochelle Potkar
I continued to drift in the verses shared in the IN Haiku group and this one floated by:
dripping my toes
in winter clouds
* Sanjuktaa Asopa
Shall I watch the clouds or shall I feel the water? This verse was a perfect picture of synaesthasia for me!
Time flew and the group began to talk about Tanka, another genre of Japanese poetry written in five lines. Kala Ramesh had begun to solicit verse for Atlas Poetica and I jumped from one list of work-in-progress to another.
a sudden spurt
of warm feeling
from a womb
I knew nothing about
* Kala Ramesh
a single cicada
ushers in the summer
in the verandah
grandma’s rocking char
now lies vacant
* Arvinder Kaur (in her book Dandelion Seeds)
This is a snapshot from my favourite verses – my journey in IN Haiku that continues. Now if you are wondering why have I hurried through the second half of this banter, it is because Madhuri had already signaled me a time-up! So let me end with a verse that I came across while getting ready for the Utsav. How could I not have this in the list?!
sushi rice decorated
by autumn leaves
grandma is still smiling
in my Japanese kitchen
* Mariko Kitakubo