2012 Spring at the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa!

What a magic meeting yesterday!

This was the twelfth year we have held our Spring meeting at the Embassy! Mr. Toshi Yonehara and Ms. Chisa Takiguchi greeted us, and we began with a gift of haiku magazines from Japan for KaDo members from the Embassy, the introductions of guests, and regrets from Lana Holmes who was not feeling well.

We just had to take time to admire Heather MacDonald’s beautiful brush paintings, of gladiolus for the agenda, and ‘kindheartedness’ on the broadsheet, Stuffing the Feeder, which was read next. These broadsheets become, because of her paintings, works of art as well as collections of poetry. The broadsheet was edited this year by Grant D. Savage, and produced by Mike Montreuil. During the reading Grant inserted extra poems that he would have liked to have been able to include because they were such good haiku.

This is where Grant would have, if he could have, added these haiku: Following immediately after Heather MacDonald’s “scent of straw”, Terry’s

february blahs/i change the pillowcases/ to red

Following immediately after “long stemmed roses” by Terry Ann, a haiku by Lana Holmes:
i drift
         snow drifts
                       hot saki
and following immediately after Gill Foss’s haiku, “my world”
Marco’s: a photograph/of sand/sticking to her body
Thank you Grant and Mike.
Next on the agenda: books – Mike Montreuil’s press, Éditions des petits nuages, published l’estuaire entre nos doutes: tankas de chez nous, an anthology of tanka in French by Montreal poets, edited by Maxianne Berger; Tommy Knockers, the Mineral Point Retreat Anthology, edited by Mike Montreuil, and A Thousand Fireflies: Milles Lucioles, tanka by Luminita Suse, translated by Mike, beautifully presented by Luminita, with Mike reading a couple of the translated poems. He also talked about another publication he translated, comme une étoile filante: like a shooting star, by Micheline Beaudry, Bondi Studios. Anne Marie Labelle, who had come from Montreal with Angela Leuck, Steve Luxton and Pamela Cooper, talked about her book, Ma lumière est une ombre / My Sunshine is a Shadow, English translation by Blanca Baquero, about the adoption of her daughter, and illustrated with her daughter Lovita’s drawings. Anne Marie also works at times with Mike on translations; she is an actress, which made for a great presentation. Terry Ann talked about Day Moon Rising, Black Moss Press, focusing in her poems on her work in Cambodia with the Tabitha Foundation, and the children caught in child prostitution. These are lyric poems, with inclusions of haiku and tanka. She commented that it was such a great step to have haiku considered part of a Canadian mainstream poetry publication. She also mentioned her newest book, Allelulia!, haiku and tanka translated by Montreuil, Buschek Books, which will be launched on June 6th. (More news later on the launch.) Masud Taj, poet/architect, showed us his book, Nari Gandi, published by The Foundation for Architecture, Mumbai (with wooden covers!), a copy of which is in the Carleton University Library’s Special Collection. He gave us a few memorized poems, (all of his poetry is memorized) told the story of a connection with a well-known reclusive architect in India and how it led to the manuscript, and showed the book with the poems in his own calligraphy. His short poems seem very like haiku in breath and spirit. He said a few words also about his Alphabestiary: A Poetry Emblem Book by Taj and Bruce Meyer, Exile Editions, Toronto, a book for which Guy Simser expressed great admiration.
We began two rounds of sharing our own haiku, which continued later while we drank tea. Several poets had written special poems in Terry’s honour, and spoke of how they will miss her when she moves to the Victoria area. (Meanwhile Steve Luxton of DC Books, Montreal, sneaked in and sat on the steps behind us…)

Our special presenter was Shinobu Sakane who studied Japanese Literature & Culture and the Teaching of Calligraphy at Toyo University, focusing on the History of Japanese culture. She studied Wagashi cooking at several professional schools in Japan and has developed her own recipes. She now teaches cooking and history to the teachers of Sencha-do in Shizouka and Tokyo.
Shinobu arranged for Sawa to present the story of wagashi to us. Meanwhile Shinobu and Chiho offered, on special trays, a piece of wagashi to each of us. So delicate and colourful, they were presented on lacquered wooden squares; everyone who had a camera took close-up photos. Sawa told us how a certain small candy wagashi was made, the sugar continuously ‘stirred’ for about two weeks until it formed around a grain of rice; samples were passed around. (I don’t have a photo of these candies, but Pearl Pirie has a goood pic on her website. Sawa spoke too, of a time in Japan before sugar existed, when sweets cam from fruit. Today sugar is used. Sawa then linked each perfectly molded wagashi shape with either the waka of Heian times, which we have been calling tanka, or the haiku of later times. There was a story for each piece. Apart from their beauty and appropriateness to occasion and season, they were delicious! Green tea made from leaves, not powder, was served in delicate cups which matched the trays. Every part of the presentation was exceptionally beautiful, and inspired haiku that were read out while we drank our tea.

A haiku and tanka from Grant:

may afternoon/and this sweetest of/Wagashi chrysanthemums

spring at the embassy/the Wagashi/sweet yes/but oh from her mouth/a taste of the culture

We thanked Shinobu Sakane, Sawa and Chiho. On their way out, Terry gave them copies of Day Moon Rising. I want to thank Terry for her thoughtful gift of a silver elephant from Cambodia. She and I have a little ‘elephant’ history going on, which was extended later in the evening. Read on… We owe many thanks to The Embassy of Japan, to Mr. Toshi Yonehara and Ms. Chisa Takiguchi for extending the time for the meeting this time so we could fully enjoy this most unforgettable afternoon. Afterwards ten of us went to The Blue Cactus – great food, great conversations with Mike Luminita, Terry, Sandra, Brendan, Pamela and Anne Marie, Steve, and Angela. We celebrated the two weddings coming up, Angela and Steve, and Sandra and Brendan, both on the same day, June 30th!!! Afterwards Sandra and Brendan, Terry and I went back to the Embassy for a screening of a film about women survivors of the tsunami and how they are doing a year later. In 3.11– In the Moment, we saw footage of the wave hitting the reactors at Fukushima taken from the Fukushima television offices which were very close to where the wave hit. There was footage also of the studio itself shaking, computers and files sliding, and some of the panic in the newsroom as the tsunami hit. Director Kyoko Gasha from New York, talked about making the film in only two weeks, with the main focus on women’s experiences. This is another ‘elephant’ moment between Terry and me, as we watched the women making elephants out of towels, which have become a symbol of hope, and which are sold to raise relief funds.This is only the first in a series; the screenings are free, and open to the public, but seats must be reserved. The next will be shown on May 15th at 7 pm. The evening is called Can You See Our Lights, and comprises two films: The First Festival after the Tsunami, and Setting Sail From the Ruins.

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March 26, 2012

Shahai by Grant D. Savage: early heat/ water almost gone/ from the water’s sound

from Michael Dylan Welch’s NaHaiWriMo via facebook:
Did you know that, by definition, a haiga must contain a painting (not a photo), and calligraphy of a haiku done by hand (not words typed using a computer)? That’s what purists will say, but of course photo-haiga is a wonderful modern development of the haiga tradition. The Japanese term for photo-haiga is shahai. This term isn’t widely known in English, but it might be worth remembering if you enjoy making haiga or photo-haiga. For more information on haiga, and a selection of my own haiga (done with various artists) and photo-haiga, please visit http://sites.google.com/site/graceguts/haiga.

Grant already knew of the distinction.

An excerpt from a paper on John Wills, haiku poet, read by Grant D. Savage at the Tree Reading series, March 13, 2012. It gives some idea of the depth possible in a single haiku:

From the ‘The Fields’ section of ‘Reed Shadows’ by John Wills:

the rocky den
of the copperhead
hepatica

Sound devices, conscious, unconscious, and accidental, play a large role in the haiku form simply because of its brevity, and quickly either strengthen or weaken individual efforts. In this copperhead poem, the assonance of the short short ‘e’s and and to a lesser extent the short ‘o’s runs throughout the haiku, and along with the alliteration of k, p and d sounds, emphasizes the suddenness, hardness, and sharp nature of the rock, and potentially, of the copperhead.
The juxtaposition of the darkness, camouflage, and hidden danger, with the softness of the white, early spring flowers, their reaching for the sun, while both the flower and the possibly coiled or striking snake, are both close to the cool, damp, ground, yet dependent on spring sun and warmth.
This is the unstated subject matter of this haiku, all this, along with the somewhat cacophonous music of the sound devices.

My note: You can still get used copies of ‘Reed Shadows’, selected haiku of John Wills edited by Rod Willmot, (Montreal) and published both by Burnt Lake Press and Black Moss Press. Amazon, for example, listed two: one paperback for $189.00 and one with an ‘unknown binding’ for $19.67, though Alibris had one for around $20.

Angela Leuck, our guest for the winter 2012 KaDo meeting, is getting married in June and sends this haiku from China, where she teaches.

magpie flicks his tail–
I add a train
to my wedding gown

Posted in the above/ground press blog, an interview rob mclennan and Pearl Pirie, our own personal haiku poet and literary blogger.
Go to: networkblogs.com/vDaPS
Click on Some author activity: Pirie, Armantrout, Ladouceur, Earl and Kroetsch, as all authors are worth reading. Armantrout read at Versefest 2012, and Ben Ladouceur is an Ottawa/Carleton U poet.

A note from Janick Belleau in Montreal: …(I) just came back from 11 days in Paris, participating to the Salon du Livre where Japanese litereature was the guest, to launch a Haiku book (3 voices of women amongst them, mine), gave lectures in La Rochelle and a communication on tanka in Puteaux (near Paris). What a great 11 days Janick!

Go to haikuchronicles.com for some exciting crossover adventures. Destination HAIGA. Donna, Al and Anita Virgil (all excetional haiku/senryu poets) have packed classical and contemporary haiku, senryu and tanka with striking visual accompaniments — many with a twist.  Haiku Chronicles is a non-profit, free educational poetry podcast. Just click on each episode. Get on board for an exciting trip!

From Ron Silliman, Silliman’s blog, May 14, 2012:
So it’s not a surprise particularly to discover that there is a lot of excellent writing to be found in an anthology like Haiku 21: An Anthology of Contemporary English-Language Haiku, edited by Lee Gurga & Scott Metz, published by Modern Haiku Press of Lincoln, IL.
Some of the poems here, such as Marlene Mountain’s
out of nowhere isn’t
are as good as anything I’ve read this century, regardless of genre.

One last quote Quote from Jorge Luis Borges
A poet never rests. He’s always working, even when he dreams. Besides, the life of a writer, is a lonely one.

new format/quote

As you see I’m trying out a new format. It’s brighter than the original, but readers should know that to make a comment, you click on the little ‘cloud’ at the top of the post. (There’s a name for that little cloud, but for now, little cloud will have to do.)  There’s a link to reply to the blog after the post too. Not sure yet what the difference is. 

Here’s a quote from Ron Silliman’s blog about haiku…

“Why would a poet who writes 1,000-page poems read haiku? Or pay heed to any manner of minimalism, for that matter? That’s a legitimate question, and one that I asked myself for at least a year before I felt that I fully understood my own personal answer. It’s because the questions of attention are so very similar. There is, in the minimalist poem generally, nowhere to hide…”

The image at the top of our blog homepage

The image is part of the KaDo banner painted by Heather A. MacDonald, a brush artist who teaches at the Ottawa School of Art. Heather has been a haiku poet with Kado for several years. She’s always been generous with her artwork for haiku purposes. She has donated her work for the past three Haiku Canada Anthologies to use on the anthology covers, and has allowed work to be used for some of our annual KaDo broadsheets. We like to hang the banner wherever we hold our KaDo meetings. Thank you Terry for starting this tradition!

The colourful cranes threaded beside the banner are from a haiku event at the Ottawa Folk Festival the year in which the festival’s focus was on Japan, its music, art, and literary culture.

Summer Meeting 2011

Sheila Ross invited us to use her wonderful garden/back yard for our potluck/summer meeting. There was so much going on in that meeting, the afternoon flew by without us sharing our own haiku. Guy gave us verses written on strips of paper, asked us whether each was a haiku or not. Lots of learning going on there. Terry Ann launched her Global Lanterns book, and I introduced a board game called Genji, which was about early tanka of the Heian period. Our special guests were Rich and ZoAnn Schnell, who live in Plattsburgh, and who organized the Haiku International conference there in 2008. Guy then presented Terry Ann with a bolt of special silk from which Sumo wrestlers have special kimonos made. He also gave her a beautiful wrap-around ‘belt’ for it; Terry wore it at HNA a few months later when she gave her presentation on the history of haiku in Canada. It was a full day in more ways than one. We’ll have to talk, as a group, about where to hold our next summer meeting.

haiku taken seriously!

Yes, it’s true! It’s been publicly stated that haiku is a true poetry form. Ron Silliman was in Ottawa and in the middle of his workshop, began to talk about haiku as if it was, well, you know. If you go to his blog, (just google Silliman’s blog) there is a discussion of haiku in which he cites Jim Kacian, John Martone (specifically John’s wonderbook, Kasana) and others, and talks about haiku in a terrifically accessible manner. Go there for a treat!

Winter meeting 2012

We congregated at the Royal Oak Pub on Laurier Avenue, and had Angela Leuck as Special Guest; we also welcomed John Blaikie and Bryan Cook. We talked about the Haiku Canada Weekend, and Mike Montreuil gave us a rundown on the conference he went to in the States. Mike also talked about his new press, Editions des petits nuages. Terry Ann read from Nick Avis’s love haiku, which segued into Angela Leuck’s wonderful presentation about writing love haiku. It was so beautifully laid out, step by step, and we all, even poets who had never written a haiku before, were able to read the haiku we’d newly written. Next we shared several rounds of our own haiku. The White Elephant sales were terrific, and many free materials also went to good homes. Thank you so much to all presenters, and especially to Angela who sent us all home with a copy of her tanka chapbook, Suddenly a Desire: Rose Tanka. Thanks to everyone who came and who made it a special day by their presence!