Thursday, April 20, 2017

Carpe Diem Universal Jane #15 birdcage


!! Submission is open next Sunday April 22nd at 7.00 PM (CET) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new "weekend-meditation", the feature for this weekend is a new episode of Universal Jane, in honor of my mentor, friend and co-host of CDHK, she is still missed. This week I had vacation, so I had some time of and could finally relax and recover from the exhaustion I felt the last weeks. I am glad that I have found back my energy and that this week has done that for me.
Today, April 20th, is my birthday so I had a lot of people at my home, to celebrate this with me. I became 54 yrs.

This "weekend-meditation" I have taken the easy way, sometimes I love to bring back episode from our history and this weekend I love to inspire you through an article written by Jane that I used back in December 2014.

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Building an Excellent Birdcage by Jane Reichhold

All the haiku used in this article are by Matsuo Basho and were translated by Jane Reichhold.

clouds of fog
quickly doing their best to show
one hundred scenes

What is poetry?

The art of poetry is such a hard thing to describe. Everyone is looking for a way to put words to something that is larger than words, more alive than thought, and longer lasting than any one poem. Poetry is the art of piling up dissimilar images to create an idea that has no exact name.

Picture this. A woman is standing at an open window. Just staring into space, a bit unfocused, lost in a world of thoughts and ideas. Suddenly a small, brown bird alights on the window sill. She knows she should carry the bird out the door and let it go but before she does, she has to do one more thing.
She builds a cage out of words. A cage she can share with others. The work on the cage goes on for days, maybe it is even years until the cage comes under the eyes of another person. In that moment, when the cage of words enters another's mind, it begins to expand. It breaks up into thought - images created by the reader. Through the maze, and amazement of the reader, two cupped hands come forth.
The woman relaxes and lets the bird go. Now its dry feathery weight is in the man's palm. What does it look like? What is it like? Slowly he makes a tiny finger-crack window in his hand and he sees the same eye staring at him that stared at the woman a long time ago when it stood on her window sill. With a flurry of feathers, that shed a magic rarely found, the bird flies back into the sky. It is impossible not to say, "Ah ha!"
So that is what haiku is all about. How to build the cage of words to hold the miracle safe and full of sound until the images in a reader's mind open the door to the wonderment and delight the author found in one part of the world. It is the cage that will attract and intrigue the reader, but it must also be well-built enough to bring the experience intact across time and space. Part of what makes haiku so interesting is that in learning how to read it you have to learn how to build these images.

frogpond
old pond
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

You read "old pond" and you instantly imagine some old pond - and everyone's old pond in different.
"a frog jumps into" and your mind sees a frog, jumping left or right or straight ahead and every one of us imagines a different frog.
And then comes the kicker in the last line "the sound of water". What does he mean? It jumps into its own sound? But it does, and if you can imagine the frog jumping then you will be able to hear that sound.

So haiku, as you can see, make excellent cages. They are the perfect size for carrying our deepest experiences. Not big and clumsy with too many words. Not with thick bars of old ideas and abstract thinking. Haiku are alive. Like a cage made of living branches, they support and nourish the art of poetry until it arrives - safe and alive - in the mind of the reader. You're not going to teach anybody anything with your haiku - you're going to show them the experience.

I believe that every person has the ability to be a poet, whether you think you can or not. Some of you may suspect this about yourselves because of an undefined yearning - a place within you that you cannot scratch or reach. Perhaps some times this yen sublimates into a joy in words, a delight in the melodies of dialect, or in other forms of writing. Often it manifests in an interest in reading poetry by others. Or it can come in the simple desire of noticing a beautiful thing and wishing to hold on to the feeling it gives you.

You don't need talent, you just need to do it, and do it and do it, and enjoy it ... and to do it some more. If you go back to poetry that you have written and been unhappy with, go to the best and most interesting part of it and I can almost guarantee that there will be a haiku right there.
You can be a poet if you really want to be and to the degree you want to be, and I believe Basho can show you how. He can at least show you how to write haiku.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
Learning to write haiku has advantages for learning to write anything. This was his final poem ...

clear cascade
scattered on the waves
green pine needles

and its revision ...

clear cascade
no dust on the waves
the summer moon

Being a poet will make your life richer. 

If you allow yourself to write haiku your life will change. I guarantee you that. Haiku writing is different to any other kind of writing because it demands that you change the way you act, the way you look at the world and think.
It begins where you are - in the present. Kierkegaard said that the unhappy man has no present, and I think much of our unhappiness lies with old memories that are painful and fears of the future, but if you come to this moment, this place where you are and think about your uncomfortable chair or the temperature of the room, and accept them, that helps everything.
Haiku are brief and that makes them easy to write because you don't have the chance to make that many errors. You always write them in the present tense, keeping them simple, keeping them brief and using common words, not fancy ones.
The other good thing about haiku is that it will connect you to the world outside - one of the ways of learning to write haiku is to take a walk. You will see things, things will call out to you and you will suddenly see something different that you've never seen before or you'll see a relationship between the rolling surf and a cloud above; or you'll see something odd and you'll watch and your whole focus will leave your body and go to what you're watching.
And that is the most freeing thing you can do. I think you live longer if you can do that. We'll see.

first blossoms
seeing them extends my life
seventy-five more years 

First Cherry Blossom ©photo Chèvrefeuille (2014)

The question of syllables

Many people think haiku are not real haiku unless they have 17 syllables - but this does not have to be. In Japan if you're counting the sound units there should be 17, but English syllables and Japanese sound units are different. The sound units are much shorter, and so if you would write a 17-syllable haiku it would come out about one-third too long. For instance, if you say "Tokyo" it has 3 syllables, but in Japanese it has 4 sound units.
When the Japanese tried to translate English haiku into Japanese they ended up with big, clunky poems and way too many words. So we've taken the idea of using short-long-short lines and this conforms to the haiku form, but it allows us a little more freedom in how many words we use. Also, in Japanese instead of having a full stop or a comma or a dash they have a word for the break the punctuation creates, and those words take up a couple of sound units so that's another way of shortening it.

Modern haiku writers think you should not count English syllables when writing haiku and this allows a lot of freedom - you can forget about those particular bars of the cage.

Should haiku be written in English?

There's an old idea that haiku cannot be written in English. In the 1960s RH Blyth wrote: "Women cannot write haiku." So, here I am. Earl Miner wrote a book about Basho's renga and said it's an interesting form and a beautiful thing to study ... but we shouldn't try it in English. And this is still the attitude in a lot of universities where they start with the idea you're taught haiku in the 2nd grade (aged 8), therefore it's something for elementary school.
Well, you learn addition and subtraction in the 2nd grade too, but that doesn't stop you from studying calculus and algebra. And the same is true for haiku. The more you know about the form the more there is to learn.
I would like to see haiku, or Japanese genres, taught in universities because I feel there is so much more to be learned. In the 1920s when poets first began to be exposed to translations, like Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell, they got this idea of how important it is to work with images instead of abstract ideas, and so they began to use these methods with their own poetry.
But they didn't take it far enough. They didn't study the form so they could write really well. But it is possible, I believe, to write very good English haiku. I suppose I'll be struck dead for saying it, but I take a Japanese magazine of haiku in which they translate Japanese into English, and I would say that what is being written in English is better.
The Japanese are working with the ideas of how to build a haiku, but we've had to study it so much and we've had to figure it out. A lot of Japanese have heard the Japanese poems from their childhood and therefore think they can do it. And they can. They bring a spirit to haiku that I don't think English-speaking people will ever have - their sensitivity, their grace, their elegance. We can't do that. But we can bring what we are to that form.

winter confinement
again I'll lean on
this post


Stop telling stories

One of the early mistakes people make when writing haiku is that they want to tell a story because we come from a literary tradition of storytelling and it's hard to stop that. It's very easy to say "the door opened, the dog came and spilled his water on the cat".
That's not haiku. Haiku focuses in, it goes right to the very heart. In this story you would focus on the water hitting the cat and that's all you would talk about because that's all that's important in that story.
This is something that it takes a while for people to understand. One of the best ways of finding out what haiku are is to read them.

storm-torn banana tree
all night I listen to rain
in a basin

Banana-tree (Basho)

Reading and writing

But reading haiku is not easy. I handed a friend of mine a haiku book and she called me up weeks later and said, "Jane, you know I love you, but I cannot figure out what these are". And she simply didn't know how to read them - it's true that you have to learn how to read a haiku.
When they were first introduced in English people thought they were epigrams or aphorisms and that implies that they are one sentence long. Haiku are not sentences. A haiku is built of two parts: The phrase and the fragment. The fragment is usually in the third or first lines, and the phrase combines two lines, usually the second and third, or first and second.
I think Basho is the one who can show us most clearly that haiku is poetry. When he started writing they were like a game or a pastime, and unfortunately this aura still hangs around haiku and you see with this the online jokey haiku.
Basho took the idea that if you're a serious, deep person then your haiku will be serious and deep. Even though haiku are very small, they're extremely elastic (but remember that brevity doesn't leave room for mistakes). You can put in everything that you can feel, and it's only your lack of writing skills that would make that not possible.
Haiku can be, and sound extremely, simple but they hold vast reservoirs of meaning in their layers, like the Basho poem about the crow:

autumn evening
a crow settles down
on a bare branch

It's also interesting that haiku being so small have the most rules. Everybody who has learned it in the 2nd grade has learned 17 syllables and something about nature and you think you've got it covered, but you haven't - I'm still learning new rules, many from working with Basho's poems.I wish you many delights on your own journey to being a poet and may haiku be your starting point and companion.

Jane Reichhold

Jane Reichhold (1937-2016)

This article was published earlier at http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz and published here with her kind permission.


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A wonderful article I would say, an article that (I hope) can inspire you to create haiku, tanka or another Japanese poetry form.

Back in 2014 this was my response on this article in which I tried to catch the essence of this article:

with my bare feet
in the cool grass of dawn
Ah! what a feeling

© Chèvrefeuille

Heath
I love to share here another nice creative form of haikui-ing, the Troiku, it's a creative form I invented myself. More on Troiku you can find above in the menu. I not often write Troiku, but sometimes I feel the urge to create one. However that urge I didn't had today, so I ran through my archive and found the following Troiku.

walking on the heath
in the light of the full moon
the scent of autumn

walking on the heath
feeling one with a Shepherd
in contact with God (*)

in the light of the full moon
laying down in the meadow
the River of Heaven (**)

the scent of autumn
feelings of departure and loneliness
tears in the puddle

© Chèvrefeuille

(*) Inspired on the Shepherd boy in The Alchemist of Paulo Coelho
(**) the Milky Way

Well .... I hope I have inspired you to create your poems. This "weekend-meditation" is open for your submissions next Sunday April 22nd at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 27th at noon (CET). At that same time I hope to publish our new episode, the first of this month's Theme Week, Andromeda-flowers. For now .... have fun! And have a great weekend.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Carpe Diem #1194 Cherry Blossom (Sakura)


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy ... today I may share a post about one of my favorite themes in haiku (and recently tanka), Cherry Blossom (Sakura).
As you maybe know I have an old Sakura in the backyard and I am proud of it. Every late winter and early spring I am observing it and every time again as I see the first cherry blossoms I am happy. That day is a day to celebrate and I love it every year again.

In our CDHK library you can find an e-book titled "fragile beauty" in which I have gathered a lot of my cherry blossom haiku and (I think) it is a wonderful e-book to read and to inspire you.

My Sakura 2013 (photo © Chèvrefeuille)
Maybe you have heard from the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF). The VCBF organises every year again during their festival a haiku invitational  and I have submitted haiku almost every year since 2010. I even had the honor that in 2010 and in 2013 one of my haiku received a honorable mention. Maybe this year my haiku will be again honored .... we will see. I submitted two haiku and upcoming September the VCBF will announce the winners. I am looking forward to it.

Here are a few haiku crafted by Basho (1644-1694) about Cherry Blossoms. Maybe you know them, for sure that last one you know I think, because that haiku is an example of Basho's karumi-style his live's goal challenge.

from among the peach trees
blooming everywhere,
the first cherry blossoms.

a lovely spring night 
suddenly vanished while we 
viewed cherry blossoms

from every direction 
cherry blossom petals blow 
into Lake Biwa 

from all these trees – 
in salads, soups, everywhere – 
cherry blossoms fall

© Basho

Cherry Blossoms (photo found on Pinterest)
Cherry Blossoms so fragile but so beautiful. A rich source for haiku (and tanka) I think this episode can give you enough inspiration and joy. So have fun!

I have created an all new haiku for this episode and I have tried to create it the classical way:

on a gust of wind
the cherry blossoms dance through the streets
in praise of the Creator

© Chèvrefeuille

Is this a classical haiku? Let me take a closer look:

5-7-5 syllables  check
a short moment  check
a kigo  check (cherry blossom)
a kireji  check (after the first line)
interchangeable first and third line  check

in praise of the Creator
the cherry blossoms dance through the streets
on a gust of wind

And last, but not least, a deeper meaning  check (Creator, but also wind, the wind is the messenger of the gods)

Well ... I hope you did like this new episode and I hope I have inspired you to create haiku or tanka with this classical kigo, cherry blossom.

!! I am behind with commenting, but I will visit you all a.s.a.p. !!!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 24th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new "weekend-meditation", a new episode of Universal Jane, later on. For now ... enjoy!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Carpe Diem #1193 parasol (haru higasa)


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Kai. This month it's all about kigo, seasonwords, and today I love to challenge you to create haiku or tanka inspired on the following video:


This dance is called "parasol dance" and parasol (haru higasa) is our prompt for today. So have fun!

A few haiku by Issa about "parasol":

sora iro no kasa no tsuzuku ya hana sakari

sky-blue parasols
one by one...
blossoms at their peak

hana chiru ya higasa no kage no no sakamori

blossoms scatter--
in the shade of parasols
drunken revelry

geta haite hoso nawa wataru higasa kana

in wooden clogs
crossing a narrow rope...
with parasol

© Issa

And here is mine inspired on this theme for today:

waving parasols
while the music is playing
cherry blossoms fall

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, cherry blossom, later on. For now ... just enjoy and be part of it ...


Monday, April 17, 2017

Carpe Diem #1192 white sake (ziro zake)


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our Haiku Kai this month we are into the classical kigo for spring and today we have a nice classical kigo, but first this.

As you all maybe remember ... several days ago I asked you to submit haiku or tanka for our new exclusive CDHK E-book "furu ike ya" (old pond) themed frogs using that famous haiku by Basho "frogpond" for your inspiration. I am happy to see how many haiku and tanka I have been send by a lot of you. I even got haiku from participants from the past and from new participants ... so I am really glad that this new CDHK E-book is showing progress. If you love to have your "frog-haiku" or "frog-tanka" published in this new and exclusive CDHK E-book than you can still submit your haiku or tanka until April 23rd at 10 PM (CET). Please send your haiku or tanka to our e-mail-address carpediemhaikukai@gmail.com write "frog-haiku" in the subject line. I am looking forward to all of your beautiful submissions. Maybe you know someone around you who is new at haiku or tanka and maybe they want to participate too ... feel free to ask others to participate in this exclusive CDHK E-book.

Cover "furu ike ya" (Old Pond) (image ©)
 Okay ... back to our episode of today. Today I have a nice classical kigo for you. This kigo can be used in winter and spring, because "white sake" is made in winter and drunk in spirng. Sake is Japan's most famous alcoholic drink I think, because its often served all over the world at Japanes restaurants and bars.

Sake ... let me tell you a little bit more about sake:

The earliest reference to the use of alcohol in Japan is recorded in the Book of Wei in the Records of the Three Kingdoms. This 3rd-century Chinese text speaks of the Japanese drinking and dancing. Alcoholic beverages are mentioned several times in the Kojiki, Japan's first written history, which was compiled in 712. The probable origin of true sake (which is made from rice, water, and kōji mold (Aspergillus oryzae)is placed in the Nara period (710–794). In the Heian period, sake was used for religious ceremonies, court festivals, and drinking games. Sake production was a government monopoly for a long time, but in the 10th century, temples and shrines began to brew sake, and they became the main centers of production for the next 500 years. The Tamon-in Diary, written by abbots of Tamon-in (temple) from 1478 to 1618, records many details of brewing in the temple. The diary shows that pasteurization and the process of adding ingredients to the main fermentation mash in three stages were established practices by that time..

Sake (traditional brew)
Sake is traditionally drunk from small cups called choko or o-choko and poured into the choko from ceramic flasks called tokkuri. This is very common for hot sake, where the flask is heated in hot water and the small cups ensure that the sake does not get cold in the cup, but may also be used for chilled sake. Traditionally one does not pour one’s own drink, which is known as tejaku, but instead members of a party pour for each other, which is known as shaku. 

Traditionally sake was brewed only in the winter. While it can now be brewed year-round, there is still seasonality associated with sake, particularly artisanal ones. The most visible symbol of this is the sugitama, a globe of cedar leaves traditionally hung outside a brewery when the new sake is brewed. The leaves start green, but turn brown over time, reflecting the maturation of the sake. These are now hung outside many restaurants serving sake. The new year's sake is called shinshu ("new sake"), and when initially released in late winter or early spring, many brewers have a celebration, known as kurabiraki (warehouse opening). Traditionally sake was best transported in the cool spring, to avoid spoilage in the summer heat.

I found a nice haiku written by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694):

sake nomeba itodo nerarenu yoru no yuki

the more I drink 
the more I can't sleep
night snow

© Basho

And here are a few other haiku in which "sake" is used:

moonlight steeped in spring rain; 
blossoms of wisdom–
all from one little cup

© Joro

it is cold, but 
we have sake 
and the hot spring

© Shiki

If I sell my rags
and buy some sake
will there still be loneliness?

© Santoka

Traditional Sake set
I ran into several haiku written on sake by Issa and I love to share them here too. All these (Issa) haiku are translated by David G. Lanoue.

plum in full bloom--
a house without sake
can't be found

plum blossom scent--
the edict board furnished
with sacred sake

rainstorm--
a poor sake bottle
rolls along

in my sake cup
down the hatch!
the Milky Way

© Kobayashi Issa

All wonderful haiku I would say, so must be easy to create a classical haiku (or tanka) with this kigo. So here is my attempt:

in the light of the full moon
drinking sake with my haiku friends
under cherry blossoms

© Chèvrefeuille

is this a classical haiku? I think so ... look for yourself, even the first and third line can be interchanged. And that spiritual meaning? Well I think that's very clear in this one.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 22nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, parasol, later on. Have fun!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

carpe Diem #1191 (spring) shawl or haru shoru


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of CDHK. This month we are exploring classical kigo (seasonwords) for spring.
In spring it can be cold, but mostly not as cold as in winter, but when it's "spring"-cold you sometimes need a shawl not one of wool, but of cotton or linen, warm but not that warm just to prevent you from the spring cold. I wonder if such a shawl (haru shoru) was mentioned in haiku. Let us take a look in the past ...

It took a lot of time to research this, but I didn't found haiku with this seasonword, so what to do next? Maybe we can create the first haiku with "haru shoru" or spring shawl. Or maybe I have to dive into another shawl which is very important in Zen Buddhism.

So I think we have to make a jump into Buddhism and the meaning of a holy scarf or khata, maybe you have heard from it and maybe you have once seen how it was given to someone else. Let me give you a white khata virtualy as a token from my gratefulness of being your host.

Giving You a Khata, a token of my love
What is the meaning of a khata?

The khata symbolizes purity and compassion and are worn or presented with incense at many ceremonial occasions, including births, weddings, funerals, graduations and the arrival or departure of guests. It is usually made of silk. Tibetan khatas are usually white, symbolising the pure heart of the giver, though it is quite common to find yellow-gold khata as well. Tibetan, Nepali, and Bhutanese khatas feature the ashtamangala. There are also special multi-colored khatas. Mongolian khatas are usually blue, symbolizing the blue sky. Mongolia, khatas are also often tied to ovoos, stupas, or special trees and rocks.

a token of love
I bow my head and present to you
a khata ...


© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... not a classical haiku, but it is for sure a haiku that comes right from my heart.

Namasté

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until April 21st at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, white sake, later on.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Carpe Diem Summer Retreat 2017 (unconditional) love Introduction


Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new edition of Carpe Diem's Summer Retreat. This year,2017, I have chosen for the theme "(unconditonal) love". Today this new Summer Retreat starts and 30 days later we will look back at a wonderful Summer Retreat I hope.

Carpe Diem's Summer Retreat is a period of 30 days in which the goal is to create haiku or tanka themed "(unconditional) love" every day. What is (unconditional) love? Let me tell you what I think it is.

I think love is a strong sense, but each of us will respond on love in a different way. Love is not only something you have for a person, but it can also be for art, literature, nature and as I speak for myself ... haiku, maybe my love for haiku is even more stronger than the love for my wife, children and grandchildren. For sure my love for haiku is very strong, but my love for my wife (and I have a lot of love to give) is everlasting and unconditional.

Love, Unconditional Love

[...] “All men and all women are connected by an energy which many people call love, but which is, in fact, the raw material from which the universe was built. This energy cannot be manipulated, it leads us gently forward, it contains all we have to learn in this life. If we try to make it go in the direction we want, we end up desperate, frustrated, disillusioned, because that energy is free and wild.We could spend the rest of our life saying that we love such a person or thing, when the truth is that we are merely suffering because, instead of accepting love’s strength, we are trying to diminish it so that it fits the world in which we imagine we live”. [...] (Source: The Zahir by Paulo Coelho).
lotus flowers
rising from the depths of the pond
everlasting love
like a river flows onwards
uncertain of its goal
© Chèvrefeuille

Maybe you know "Manuscript found in Accra" another wonderful novel by Paulo Coelho. In that novel he says the following:

[...] "Love changes, love heals. Love is just a word until we decide that she can take possession of us Love is just a word until someone gives meaning to it". [...] (Source: Manuscript found in Accra - Paulo Coelho)

Haiku is love, a love that grabs you by the throat and takes you into an adventure to discover the beauty of our world in all her beautiful details and bring that into the tine form of haiku that shows us a scene, a moment that lasts only one heartbeat.
The main character in one of my novels (Never To Return) says the following on (unconditional) love:

[...] "Unconditional love is never-ending. Unconditional love is bound together with the Collective Consciousness which binds together every living creature with the Universe. Unconditional love makes us one." [...] (source: Never to Return)

"Real (unconditional) Love" is in my opinion the only base for haiku. Without real love, for all and everything, creating haiku is not possible.
As I discovered haiku I fell in love ... in love with that universal beauty that binds all artists (poets, musicians, painters, sculptors and more) together.
a little verse
lighted a fire in my heart
addicted to love
© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I wish you all a wonderful Carpe Diem Summer Retreat 2017 and I hope to read wonderful haiku or tanka. The Summer Retreat 2017 is open for your submissions tonight at 10.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until May 15th 10.00 PM (CET).

PS. Try to give your submitted poems for this Summer Retreat a number, because then it will be easier to link up to the linking widget.