Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2009, vol 7 no 2


Tomegaki for Eulalia Waves Us


“Through these eerie spirits (in stories), the vastness and depth of the human society, the intricacies of relationships, issues regarding individuals and family, and those encounters that enchant us—are all felt realistically in Japanese Classics.”                              

—Shinobu Origuchi


Doesn’t each verse of a shisan work as a eerie spirit in a long Japanese classic story?  Compared to a narrative in chronological order that tends to reveal shallowness of author’s understanding of the world, each space between verses could sink into reader’s mind to make that  his/her own space. The goal of a sabaki is to create and present another world with realistic depth and height in which renju (participants) and readers can feel serenity breathing a music and the very freshness.

Oh, my goodness. I have to follow my daughter’s advice and stop talking big !  I always wanted to visit this pottery museum to see one Japanese painting ever since the story of the woman painter was featured in a local paper. (She drew not just on canvas , but on pottery and on cedar plank ). My proposal of having the November AIR (Association for International Renku) session in the museum was agreed upon and we had a great day in Kita-Kamakura.

AIR has been meeting more than ten years and we have composed more than 250 renku, most of which are shisan.  Shisan works best because we compose renku in two languages back and forth and it takes time. In every summer we have an overnight session so that we can do a kasen, the basic of all renku forms practiced today.

Let me introduce our members.  Tateshi san, the president, has never left Japan but is adamant in our writing in English. His big speech: “Since renku aspires to recreate our world, we do need poets from many different backgrounds and English is a great tool.” He learned renku from a reputable renkujin called Ugai-sensei and was a very close friend to Kubota Kaoru who invented shisan form.  Before retirement he was a popular insurance consultant and his business skill helps AIR stay as a sound organization!  He plays flute and draws well too. 

Kris Kondo is one of the founders of AIR. Being an artist, her poems are fresh, charming and creative and she never runs out of her link offers.  We have learned so many lively English phrases from her!

Uchiyama san is an amazing hostess when she offers her house for the session. Her two daughters got married with non-Japanese and live in the U.S. and in Monaco. She needs English and French to converse with her grand-children!

Sugiura san remembers her mother in kimono attending a renku session before WWII. Recently she published a book of free form poems which I admire and envy.

And Professor Yuasa.  I think readers know his fame. He is the translator of the most read version of Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi.. A few years ago we were so happy to know that he moved to Tokyo and invited him to join us. His judgement in English grammar, in poetic presentation, and in the way we make ourselves known to the world keeps encouraging us.  He is so gentle and generous and even offered his place to our summer session! 

Eiko myself is the luckiest who has this family all these years.

I especially like the spring folio of this shisan.  I believe we write poetry because we need to see the reality from a different angle and because we desire to do something about the reality. The enigma of renku rules prevented me from becoming too pessimistic though.  Tateshi san nicely reminded me of the jolly side of our life.


Eiko Yachimoto 2009

Related items in this issue of Simply Haiku: "Eulalia Waves Us," a Shisan by the members of AIR, Kris Kondo, Eiko Yachimoto, (sabaki), Yoshiko Uchiyama, Sousui Yuasa (or Nobuyuki Yuasa), Kikuyo Sugiura, Tateshi Tsukamoto.


Copyright 2009: Simply Haiku