The Meeting


PROGRAMM of the meeting

Report by Kala Ramesh
Chrysanthemum Magazine

The proceedings of the meeting are
published here:

WORLD HAIKU REVIEW - Volume 6, March 2008


Report on World Haiku Festival 2008

A festival is about interaction— about similarities and differences, new ideas, contrasting views. Imparting, absorbing, forming opinions and breaking prejudices! It’s about agreement and also argument but most importantly it’s about people who have cared to come together in full spirit and enthusiasm … with each individual making it a richer and a more varied experience for all of us!

The 9th World Haiku Festival was the first of its kind in India, and the first for most of us haiku poets to meet and exchange and collaborate in such a grand manner. This festival would certainly have a great significance and impact on the Indian haiku scene, as this is a new form of expression that India is waking up to.

Read the full text here
 © muse india / Kala Ramesh

Keynote Address at WHF 2008

This year, 2008, marks the 314th anniversary of the death of Basho. Since his birth, indeed, as many as 364 years have passed. If we take Arakida Moritake (1473-1549), the renowned haikai-no-renga master, it is 535 years since his birth. Compared with this long history of haikai, the world haiku as I understand it is only about 20 or 30 years old in a loose sense, and only 10 years old in the strict sense. Haiku was first introduced outside Japan earlier, about 100 years ago, but then it could hardly be called world haiku. What can be called as American haiku has a history of mere 50 years or so.

So, what is the world haiku scene today?
Until about 1900 haiku was a complete preserve of Japan, quite unheard of in the rest of the world. It is well-known that around that time the genre started to trickle out at the hands of pioneering introducers of Japanese culture, mainly to the West. However, it was only after the WWII, especially in the 1960s, that haiku began to be flowing out of Japan like streams, largely through North America.

Read more HERE
 © muse india / Susumu Takiguchi


The Ninth World Haiku Festival

Some Notes by .. Aju Mukhopadhyay
Sketchbook, February 2008



Anonymous said...

Aju Mukhopadhyay
Bangalore, India

The Ninth World Haiku Festival, 23-25 February 2008

Partial QUOTE

The three days and evenings were jam-packed with programmes from 8 in the mornings to 8 in the evenings. Besides talks and paper presentations, it consisted of Ginko Walk, recitations of Mirza Ghalib’s poems by some experts, dance and bird calls. As the subject Haiku is already very debatable, there is no one rule to compose such poems, either in contents or forms. Most of the poets gathered being practising poets the talks did not help much, more so as the speakers were mostly ones among them, with almost the same resources to help with.

Certain things like writing haiku instantly in chits of papers and circulating them among the gathering to get their views were in a sense unique and warming, as instantly innovated by Dr. Susumu Takiguchi, the President of the World Haiku Club. His drawing of Calligraphy, sitting at the centre of a gathering was interesting though; no talk was made to introduce it, to describe its significance.

Among the papers submitted some were of general nature describing the nature and quality of haiku but some stressed the development of haiku as a literary genre in some regions of India. Though only four languages could be covered among the large number of linguistic regions of India they obviously drew our attention.

The speaker for the haiku in Hindi though presented a paper in English (written in third person), as it was done throughout the programmes in all subjects, his speech was entirely in Hindi. I hope that many of the Indians understood what he said, though not others. One thing emerged from the papers was that poet Rabindranath Tagore introduced it to Indians after his visit to Japan in 1916. Though he did not write any haiku as such, he wrote many haiku like poems and translated some Japanese haiku like the famous one by Basho about the jumping of a frog in the well and its consequence.

In Hindi the haiku and tanka began their journeys in 1977 through translation by Satya Bhusan Verma. In Tamil the journey began with the writing of an essay on Japanese haiku by poet Subrania Bharati in 1916. In both the languages there are some 100 poets now and they have published a number of anthologies and books in haiku. The Tamil paper was a scholarly presentation beginning with the history of Tamil language and presenting a large number of poems. The paper was bigger than the time frame allotted. In Kannada language the haiku proper began its journey, it seems, by the end of the twentieth century. Though she named quite some Kannada poets later, at the beginning the speaker dealt with her own works and her daughter and granddaughter’s achievements, edifying as if a family line, though we enjoyed the tales of her seven year old grand daughter writing her from England.

The presentation on Marathi haiku too contained the history and present the position of it, the origin not being very old as is the case with other language groups in India. The adaptation of haiku and its Indianisation has been an ongoing process. In spite of all liberty, we feel that to be called a haiku, it must retain its basic characteristics. It is otiose to go into the details here.

Though not properly introduced, we enjoyed the felicitation of honouring some eight poets, veterans and others. At the end the President chose some poets on the basis of instant production of haiku on the themes suggested by him, as awardees of the World Haiku Club. Most of the poets chosen were new to the field and very young. It is a way of cheering them to their path. One of them began writing haiku after joining the festival.

Besides the bird call by the experienced Kiran Purandare with his explanation, aptly aided by knowledge and interest in Nature, what we enjoyed most was the Kathak and Odissi dance programmes by Ms. Yogini Gandhi and her troupe. Yogini was superb in her movement and grace, rhythm and music in it. Next to her in all such qualities was the Odissi dancer. We enjoyed the side works of such accomplished artist as the poet Dr. Angelee Deodhar. She pleased everyone present with drawings of one of their poems in the Indian Haiku edited by her in the colourful natural set up and presenting one to each.

At the end we must felicitate Mrs. Kala Ramesh, the present Director of the Festival, who almost single handedly arranged the whole programme assisted by some as she found suitable on her way. It must be stated that the participants enjoyed the programmes including the outing for three days in such a unique place.

anonymous said...

The Haiku Scene in Tamil

- A.Thiagarajan

(Adapted from a paper presented at the 9th World Haiku Festival 2008, Bangalore.)

In an essay at www.modernhaiku.org, Charles Turnbull writes: “Exploring verse forms in world literature during the early years of the twentieth century, Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore translated some Haiku into Bengali in the 1920s (Dasgupta). There is an active haiku scene in India today, writing in Hindi and Tamil and other vernacular languages as well as in English”

Here are a few initial facts about the Haiku scene in Tamil before we move on to look at some Haiku.

In 1916, the great Subramanya Bharathi brought Haiku to the attention of the Tamil public through an article he wrote in Swadesamitran in its 16th October 1916 issue.

K S Venkatramani in his book Paper Boats (first published in 1921) in its second edition in 1925 wrote as quoted below- perhaps the first ever Haiku written in Tamil, though Venkatramani himself does not claim so.

the corners cut
paper boat
I float again

* Over 220 Haiku collections
* Over 100 poets
* A haiku collection called “ Sky at the finger tip” sold 500 copies in a month says its author-poet Mu Murugesan
* Haiku festivals and carnivals were being held in many towns and semi urban places
* A television channel had a weekly programme introducing seven poets every week and presented over 100 poets writing Haiku.
* A documentary on the Haiku of Murugesan, Udayakannan and Vaanavan filmed by Manimegalai Nagalingam.
* Haiku stickers and a diary with a haiku on each date were also some initiatives.
* Murugesan brought out a small magazine (bimonthly) called Iniya Haiku in Tamil. One notices with interest the number of poets; the fact that these are from the depth and breadth of TamilNadu is note worthy.
* In June 2006, one of the telecom service providers in Pondicherry in South India announced a phone in a poem contest for anyone to call and read a poem within 3 minutes which were all recorded- included were Conventional Poetry, New Poetry and Haiku. The prizes were a trip to Singapore and some television sets.

Going back to history, C Mani and Chandralekha translated some Haiku and published them in Naday and Kanaiyazhi- this is sixty years after the essay of Bharathi.

According to Tamilnaadan, it is the college professors who introduced Haiku in Tamil: he refers to a 1973 conference held at Chennai where Haiku was discussed- (an interview published by Mu Murugesh in the magazine Iniya haiku (Sweet Haiku)). Poets such as Abdul Rahman, Sujatha, Tamilnadan and Leelavathi are credited to have further introduced Haiku to the Tamil readers. In 1974 by his publication “Paalveedhi”, Abdul Rahman brought out his Sindhar written in the 1970s. In 1984, Amudhabharathi brought his Haiku collection called Pullippookkal claiming it to be the first Haiku book in Tamil. I have some Haiku from him elsewhere in this article. One can not ignore the contribution of essays of Sujatah, Nellai Su Muthu, Abdul Rahman, Tamilanban, besides the early collections of Mithra and Arivumathi.

The Tamil wikipedia haiku presents the following Haiku-

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There are a few sites in Tamil which talk about the history of Haiku and associated forms, the structure and proceed to explain as to how one can write. One of the popular books referred to in the Tamil Haiku world seems to be The Haiku Handbook by William J.Higginson. Writing without rules is like playing tennis without a net – Tamil writers mention this statement of Frost; they also believe that that like Basho that one must learn rules and forget them; it is better to follow your favorite poet –but if you find on reading what you have written, that they all look the same, you should lift your bat higher.

Basically they all talk of the following 13 or some of them-

* Seventeen words in a single line or three lines, or 5-7-5 in three lines.
* Without the count of 17, simply in three lines with the second line being longer
* structured one below the other
* capable of being read in one breath
* all the three lines, when read together not making a single complete sentence
* a pause at the end of the first or second line but not at both
* always in the present tense
* not using metaphors or similies
* using clear pictures
* understanding Zen and showing pictures without explaining
* showing realistic worldly pictures as they are
* only nature, not men ( though not followed by many)
* neither rhyming nor alliteration


Tamil writers say that since it is sometimes difficult to follow some of these conventions, non-Japanese writers are not particular about following the 5-7-5 rule on account of the language peculiarities.

Here are some from AmudhaBharathi-

A huge naked figure
The sky

Class room
A child in rapt attention
A cloud through the window

The poems have not been
Completely done
Some remain in creepers

A long talk

Prabhakara Babu published a book “Sara Vilakkugal 560” containing 560 Haiku and he says that to date no one has broken that record.

Thisaigal an ezine sponsored a Tamil Haiku blog; some haiku from there..

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There are some features which are common amongst most of the poets writing in Tamil today -

* attributing the poet’s own feelings to the animals or the inanimate objects,
* stating a feeling with cause- the kiss you gave kindles sleeping desires
* attributing a mood and giving his own reason (the flowers are happy since nobody plucks them),
* stating a desire or an objective ( let us make dress out of the flags of the parties (political)- let us banish the poverty of nakedness)
* express anger – the gods with begging bowls at the gates, in the temple a special worship .. the stone idols of gods are bathed in ghee and butter and honey while a hungry child is at the temple gate..
* clever twist of words or mere wordplay

Even now, most of the popular large selling magazines magazines use Haiku as they would use a filler. There are many poets who wrote three line poetry who transformed into Haiku writers after exposure to the Japanese masters and literature on Haiku.

There could be debates and more as to whether these features are acceptable in Haiku - examples may perhaps be found from the Japanese masters for their use and non-use. The sacred rule of 5-7-5 being given a go by could be sited as another example. The trend of the haiku outside Japan breaking slowly out of hitherto accepted conventions is evidenced further by the absence of a season word by many

One of the writers while countering the criticism that there is no worthwhile Haiku in Tamil challenges the critics to read at least two books before passing any judgment – the two books cited are Mithra’s “ The conversation heard in the Umbrella “ and Arivumathi’s Last Raindrop”. As said by Mu Murugesan, as one who has been writing and compiling Haiku for over two decades- there are over one hundred poets writing Haiku; if we are to put together those which have been written with poetic and subtle insight, they would be over one thousand.

The two mind sets i.e. of Tamil/Indian and the Eastern are grounded in the fundamental belief system- both believe in “wholeness” “allness” and not in “nothingness”. The Tamils believed in “Muzhumai” (integral totality). Verumai (i.e. nothingness or emptiness) is not being. The logic of the mind is considered to be an imperfect tool to realize the essence of things and life. Swami Vivekananda asked – What is in the intellect or reason? It goes a few steps and there it stops”. The basic approach to life is “intuition”. It is no wonder that we took to Haiku so naturally and spontaneously. The only difference is in the symbols- which acquire meaning by those who use them; though, however, they are such powerful media of communication even to ourselves many times, to see oneself at our deepest and best.

Water and its myriad avatars – thunder, lightning, clouds, ponds, rivers, sea, thirst, and drop- these are the basic terms of reference for seeing, experiencing and living, for the haiku poets traditionally because of the origins. But for Indians, it is fire – agni. Our literature, life, culture, mythologies… in short we, have fire which is our reference.

After reading the Japanese masters and embarking upon writing Haiku, it looks normal that the influence of such strong a reference as water finds its place in our writers too ; in time, while we sit and pause and settle in the deepest, more of fire may perhaps be seen in our haiku.`

Indianising and harmonizing with Tamil culture and ethos can Tamil haiku stand the test of time on its own. Typical examples would be the difference in the seasonal-cycles, flora and the fauna, myths, festivals and customs.


anonymous said...

Indian Harvest
A collection of haiku poems from India
Contact : worldhaikureview@gmail.com
Compiled by Kala Ramesh and Susumu Takiguchi
Translation into Hindi : Angelee Deodhar
(Selected by authors themselves.
Presented in the alphabetical order of first names or Initials.)

hot afternoon
a carter wipes his hand
on the donkey's back
- A. Thiagarajan

water splashing inside
swishing the edge of the boat-
dark green lotus leaves, close
- Aju Mukhopadhyay

New Year's Day
I write a check
with the wrong year
- Amitava Dasgupta


भारतीय उपज
भारतीय हाइकु कविताओं का एक संकलन
संकलन कर्ता- कला रमेश और सुसुमु ताकिगुची
हिन्दी में अनुवाद : अंजलि देवधर
(लेखकों ने स्वयं यह कविताएँ चुनी हैं)