Thursday, April 12, 2018


Dimitar Anakiev
(Short note on)

From American scholars and editors we are used to see unilateral approach towards haiku that do not respect International P.E.N. standards of cultural share, before all the most basic “all the forms are universal, all cultures are equal”. They usually treat haiku as a kind of war booty and consequently haiku poetry is presented as a colonial literature. In desperation I once wrote a haiku:

Haiku and Palestine
two precious things with
the same destiny.

What are the characteristics of haiku as a colonial literature? Those are well known in the form of omnipresent (new) “definition of haiku”:

1. Negation of the historical development of haiku in Japan and development of various haiku genres.
2. Rising of the cult of Matsuo Basho and Zen Buddhism as the only haiku ideology.
3. Use of Japanese cultural labels as the means of censorship (senryu, zappai, kigo...)
4. Negating the universality of the form and consequently the destruction of the form (Form is a tool, not limitation, for one who wants to use it)
5. Denying of multiculturalism in haiku and concealed return to Takahama Kyoshi's authoritative principles (The term “international haiku” is usually replaced with “global haiku” or “English-language haiku”; denying existing of syllables in Japanese language; replacing “poetry license” with the ruling politics of liberalism...).

But not all American scholars are step-mothers of haiku. The work of Professor Dr. Richard Gilbert from Kumamoto university is in the real sense multicultural, democratic and responsible towards haiku and literature in general. He and his group of collaborators translated and presented collected works of founder of Gendai Haiku (“Contemporary Haiku”), famous poet Tohta Kaneko (1919-2018) while his associate Dr. Ito Yuki, in his today famous work “New Rising Haiku” (Monograph: Red Moon Press, 2007) presented through Japanese totalitarian experience during the WW2 what happens when “poetry license” is denied to poets (the practice, in different way, we face today too). The last book of Richard Gilbert and his associate David Ostman, “Earth in Sunrise, International Haiku in Global Perspective, A course for English-Language Study” (Red Moon Press, 2017) is real festival of multiculturalism in haiku. Dr. Gilbert who came to Japan from Boulder Naropa University where he studied under influence of Beat Generation, and before moving to Japan he was earning for life in coffee roasting business as total outsider, succeeded in rising different attitude than we had in traditional-mainstream American haiku concepts until today. Earth in Sunrise is light, bright and powerful poetic reading that opens numerous views to one who is really interested in haiku. Gilbert used his research of Japanese Gendai haiku to present various Japanese concepts of haiku that opens numerous doors to haiku. Multiculturalism and gender-pluralism of haiku are really big achievements of this book along with very interesting and proportionate high poetic level of poems used for illustration. Nearly two hundreds of haiku poems from different sides of the worlds are an excellent illustration for presented concepts. In this charming book I was for the first time reading haiku poetry from Nigeria and Ghana:

harvest home
an ant carries the last
--- Barnabas Ikeoluwa Adeleke (Nigeria)

a crocodile waits
in a monkey shadow
--- Adjel Agyei-Baah (Ghana)

Of course I disagree presenting all haiku of all authors with “small capitals” (1), as usually American editors do, it is also a kind of violation of poetry license but for the present moment of international haiku that is a small problem. I warmly recommend Earth in Sunrise as a tool for opening the doors of Mind and Heart of all lovers of haiku.

(1) Morning Chirp on Formal Pluralism:

1 comment:

stenote said...

Good haiku... keep-up the good work... May I share a Haiku about Maria Callas in