Roving Ambassador Roberta Beary

It’s not often I have an ambassador to stay at Chez Haiku (in fact, never) but a visit this week from Roberta Beary (and her husband Frank Stella) was exactly that. Roberta is the inaugural Haiku Foundation Roving Ambassador – and even has diplomatic credentials (well, okay, a visiting card, but still …)!

Roberta and Frank arrived in Auckland from the US by cruise ship on January 27 and will spend about 3 weeks in Aotearoa doing all the usual sight-seeing with Roberta making contact with haiku poets and editors wherever she can. The couple are travelling for most of this year and have plans to base themselves in Ireland for a bit rather than being constantly on the move. From New Zealand they go to Australia and then, probably, Singapore. It seems a bit ‘fly by wire’ but I think they’re looking forward to some spontaneity after a busy time before they left the US.

We spent Friday in Katikati touring the 45 poems on the Haiku Pathway with a small group, all then toddling off to an extremely nice lunch together.

Roberta took the opportunity to make a photo record of every poem on the Katikati Haiku Pathway. Photo: Sandra Simpson

She was delighted to see this haiku by her good friend Jim Kacian. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Out to lunch (clockwise from front left) are Jenny Fraser (Mt Maunganui), Roberta Beary, Frank Stella, Bob Edwards (Katikati), Catherine Mair (Katikati), Catherine Bullock (Waihi), Margaret Beverland (Katikati) and Sandra Simpson (Tauranga). Photo: A really helpful waitress at Café Nineteen (Fairview Golf Course).

If you’d like to contact Roberta to see if a visit is possible, please use the email address on her visiting card. As well as being an award-winning haiku poet, Roberta is also haibun editor for Modern Haiku and will continue in this role during her zig-zagging across the planet, thanks to the magic of email.

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Random bookshelf haiku

I was so impressed by one set of haiku bookshelves I saw on my recent US journey that I decided to pull mine apart and start again … unfortunately, the pulling apart has happened and not much else!

So, just to spur me over into the books, I have decided to post some haiku chosen at random from random books in random piles.

my husband gone –
from the bluest of skies
spring snow falls

– Takeshita Shizunojo, 1887-1951
from Haiku Love, editor (and translator of this haiku) Alan Cummings (The British Museum, 2013)

The poet was born in a rural community in Kyushu and worked as a schoolteacher and, following her husband’s early death, a librarian. Her poetry, the book says, often drew upon images of life in impoverished rural Kyushu.

winter moon the church bell an octave below

– Lorin Ford
Presence haiku journal, number 55 (UK)

Lorin Ford lives in Melbourne, Australia, and was the haiku editor for the recently closed online journal, A Hundred Gourds.

separating itself
from a tangerine
the cabby’s voice

– Michael Fessler
Modern Haiku 45.2, but I met it in the Haiku 2015 anthology, edited by Lee Gurga & Scott Metz (Modern Haiku Press, 2015)

Spend yourself now!
Spring winds blowing
before cherries bloom.

– Noa, 1397-1471
from Haiku Before Haiku
translated by Steven D Carter (Columbia University Press, 2011)

Noa, the book says, was a Buddhist monk, painter, renga master and renga steward at Kitano shrine, curator for the Ashikaga shogunate, and of Sogi’s Seven Sages of Linked Verse.

frost moon
pairing his wool socks
from the dryer

– Carolyn Hall
from her collection Water Lines (Snapshot Press, 2006)

wild boars too
are blown along:
autumn windstorm

– Basho, 1644-1694
from Haiku Animals, editor Mavis Pilbream (The British Museum, 2010)
translated by DL Barnhill

Sharp blades drumming

Yesterday turned into a wet day (much, much worse further south on the island so not complaining) so I dived into the video store and hired some DVDs.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) is a delightful documentary looking at the work (which it turns out is also the life) of Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master who has three Michelin stars for his nine-seater restaurant in a Tokyo railway station. A food writer says dining there may take 15 minutes – which probably makes it the most expensive restaurant in the world. Although no mention was made of whale meat, there was plenty of discussion about tuna. Anyway, it seemed serendipitous to discover this haiku, new to me.    

                     whale-meat market 
sharp blades
 
drumming

– Yosa Buson (1716-1784)

The translation is by Stephen Addiss and appears in his book The Art of Haiku (Shambhala Publications, 2012). There are amazingly sharp blades featured throughout the film.

.貰ふたよ只一切のはつ松魚
morauta yo tada hito kire no hatsu-gatsuo

my portion
just a tiny slice …
summer’s first bonito

– Issa, written in 1824

Translated by David Lanoue and from his Haiku of Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828). This note also appears: Shinji Ogawa explains, “Bonito swim along the Black Current (or Japan Current), from the Philippine Sea to the northern sea around Hokkaido. They pass near Tokyo (Edo) in spring [old calendar = summer] on their way north. They return to pass Tokyo in the fall on their way back to the south.” In haiku, bonito is a summer season word.

Horse Mackerel and Prawns, a woodblock print by Hiroshige. Image: Wikipedia.

Towards the end of the film Jiro, who was abandoned by his family when he was seven years old, and his older son Yoshikazu bemoan the small numbers of fish available, and that the quality is more variable than in the past. They believe part of the problem is the proliferation of sushi bars throughout the world (I had the impression they didn’t much care for the conveyor belt outfits).

桜えびすしに散らして今日ありぬ
sakura ebi sushi ni shirashite kyoo arinu

cherryblossom shrimps
sprinkled on my sushi —
what a fine day!

Hosomi Ayako (1907-1997)

Translated by Gabi Greve and taken from her World Kigo Database page for Raw Fish, which includes this note: The shrimps are a speciality of Suruga Bay, Sagami Bay and a few others, where they are caught and dried on the shore, with Mt. Fuji in the background … Eating them brings the pleasant feeling of spring, even in winter.

Bowl of Sushi, a woodblock print by Hiroshige. Image: Wikipedia.

Mid-winter evening,
alone at the sushi bar —
just me and this eel

– Billy Collins, from Modern Haiku 35.3 (2004)

ひとみ元消化器なりし冬青空
Hitomi moto / shôkaki narishi / fuyu-aozora

eyes used to be
digestive organs —
winter blue sky

– Yukihiko Settsu (1947-1996)

Translated by Keiji Minato and taken from his essay Notes on Modern Haiku, section 3.

Gochisōsama deshita! (Said after a meal by those who have enjoyed eating it – I hope you like / enjoy these haiku as much as I have.)

Ruminations

Changing calendars is a good time to think about the year gone and the one to come – when I look back over 2014 I feel like I didn’t achieve much with my haiku so it has been good to look through my record of poems that got published.

January: Frogpond (1); Haiku and Humour, a collection by Rangitawa Press (3). March:  A Hundred Gourds (3); The Heron’s Nest (2). April: Kokako (3, no website); Frogpond (1). June: A Hundred Gourds (2); Presence (2); The Heron’s Nest (1). September: A Hundred Gourds (2); The Heron’s Nest (2); Kokako (4). November: New Zealand Poetry Society’s anthology, Take Back Our Sky (2). December: A Hundred Gourds (1); Presence (4, still coming, due date was December) = 33.

January 2015: Speedbump Journal (1) and cattails (2).

Coming up: Modern Haiku (1); A Hundred Gourds (2); Wild Plum (1) with a couple of submissions still out there …

An Honourable Mention in the Betty Drevniok Award (Haiku Canada) was my only contest result, although I was named Poet of the Year and had the Poem of the Year at The Heron’s Nest! (A pretty big honour but I have to note that this was for work published in 2013.) This year I also had a photo selected in The Heron’s Nest illustration contest for the annual anthology.

water rising
to my thighs and beyond –
gamelan music

– Sandra Simpson, from Speedbump Journal

See and hear a Balinese gamelan performance here.

Meanwhile, the final selections have been made for big data, the Red Moon anthology for 2014 (I’m the South Pacific editor). The work of three New Zealanders is included and six Australians from a total of 148 poets.

I intend to try and write more this year and to work my way back through my unpublished folder and do some editing, which will be good for the soul, if nothing else!