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Cindy Huyser interviews poets Jan Benson and Agnes Eva Savage about their haiku journey and the poets who have influenced them – very honoured to have received a nod from Jan for my photo haiku!
Last year, poets from 96 countries and territories submitted 5,303 photo haiku to the
NHK World TV web-based programme Haiku Masters.
The photo haiku is a relatively new form of visual literature. Each month the Haiku Masters production team calls for entries from around the globe via social media to which renowned Japanese haiku poet, Michio Nakahara, applies his perspicacity and artistic sensitivity to interpret the entries. At the end of each episode he singles out one contributor to receive the title Haiku Master of the Month.
Episode 12 of the award-winning show is a special edition in which guest Koshio Kumura, haiku poet and Professor of English Literature at Nihon University, joins sensei Michio Nakahara and his co-host Kit Pancoast Nagamurato.
The three poets take a look back on some of their favourite pieces over the past year to define what makes a great photo haiku. I’m extremely honoured to have three of mine featured in this beautifully shot, informative programme.
Ep.12 Special Edition (if you plan to watch the programme, wait until the play button appears below the ‘video on demand’ title)
I was so proud of Class 9 Donard, Abbey Grammar School, Newry when they were recently presented with the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement 2017 for their poetry. The work resulted from a series of workshops delivered through Community Arts Partnership (CAP) ‘Poetry in Motion – Schools’ project.
In her report of their journey to the stage at the Ulster Hall for CAP’s The Weekly newsletter, English teacher, Roisin Kelly, said, “…the boys produced plenty of tanka, they were also encouraged to bring in meaningful objects and to use images, photos and paintings as inspiration. They were even wielding pastels to illustrate their work on one occasion to help draw out imagery within the poems…what the boys really responded to was the creative freedom. They weren’t confined to any particular subject or poetic form, the way they might have been in an English assessment task…it has been a joy to see the delight and enthusiasm that this scheme has generated.”
The pupils’ award winning words and images have been published in the project’s latest schools’ anthology, A Word in the Hand.
The dandelion seed head, or ‘clock flower’ in the photo below inspired the accompanying haiku. I combined the image and words in Photoshop and submitted it to the photo haiku competition organised each month by Japanese TV NHK World’s HAIKU MASTERS. Episode 11 aired earlier this week and I was delighted to discover my photo haiku had reached the final. Thanks are due to my daughter Taryn (15) who took the photo for an art project and her cousin Jules (11) who was the model. 🙂
I found it really interesting to hear how each of the judges interpreted the piece. The combination of image and words evoked three very different responses and I’d be interested to hear how you interpreted it before hearing the discussion. It starts about 07:28 minutes in for just over three minutes and will be available for viewing until March 27. The programme beings with an introduction to photo haiku and there are some great examples of the form. I particularly enjoyed the winner – a sensual but subtle photo haiku.
To view, click the link HAIKU MASTERS, wait for the video to load and press the play button.
For the last couple of weeks I have been researching science topics and counting on my fingers for a science haiku competition. The brief for this event the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel, Matrix, was to Tweet science-inspired haiku in three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.
I write a lot of short form poetry, so you’d think this would be fairly straightforward. However, since Japanese syllables are shorter than their English counterparts, contemporary haiku no longer adheres to this count, so the 5-7-5 stipulation took a bit more effort. As I said to one of the organisers afterwards, I felt I had to ‘pad out’ some haiku in order to reach seventeen syllables. However, as I enjoy a challenge I merrily Tweeted sci-ku on all sorts of topics from black holes and de-extinction, to the dwindling population of bees.
Well, I’m sorry to say I didn’t win, although four of my entries made the shortlist and were displayed at the awards ceremony in Belfast’s Black Box. I also managed to miss this event by being in the wrong place – though at the right time! There were two events organised by Matrix NI that evening in adjacent rooms in the same venue, both starting at 18:30. When I entered the main theatre, I read the words, ‘Tako Tsubo’ (a Japanese term) on a large screen along with the question ‘Can you die from a broken heart?’ Not for a moment did I think I was in the wrong place for a poetry event, so I ordered a drink and sat down for the evening.
Anyway, it turned out that I was attending a presentation by the University of Aberdeen on results of research into a debilitating heart condition. I had been aware from the Matrix Twitter feed that there was to be a further prize for the best science haiku written during the evening and naively thought that the presentation was to provide inspiration. I felt so silly on discovering my error, especially since the haiku event had finished by the time I realised. However, my daughter who had accompanied me said that she had learned more about the heart in two hours than she had over the last two years in biology class. Ah well, as they say, you live and learn. 🙂
So, here are my ‘heart haiku’ and I am itching to remove a few words, but will resist. They are all based on the paper presented by Dr Dana Dawson on the heart condition Tako-Tsubo Cardiomyopathy (also know as Broken Heart Syndrome) which mimicks a heart attack. It can be brought on by emotional stress, such as news of the death of a loved one, due to a sudden increase in adrenaline.
the devastating effect
on survivors too
adrenaline storm …
too much of a good thing
can be a bad thing too
matters of the heart…
wondering if we can die
from a broken one
And here are the shortlisted general haiku with images kindly supplied by Matrix NI. I took the stills from the video of all shortlisted entries.
One for St Valentine’s Day! 🙂
I found this arachnid intriguing, it is also known as the ‘signature spider’ because it writes a zig-zag line in its web.
My husband gave me the bones of this haiku inspired by Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ and I worked through several versions before arriving at this one.
Angela Topping’s highly enjoyable hygge series focusses on the many aspects of this Danish word that loosely describes how simple pleasures in life can make us feel good.
The writer explained in one post that the associated noun hyggekrog defines a place that embodies cosiness. She said it was like “a small nook where one can feel safe. Maybe a window seat or a cosy reading corner, an inglenook fireplace or a small room. It’s a burrow for humans, and may go back as an instinct to our cave-dwelling days where ancient humans were safe from wild beasts.“
My haiga is featured today in Angela’s series with poetry from Johanna Boal and Brian Johnstone. The haiga, or more specifically photo haiku, was inspired by such a place , having been composed while curled up in an armchair contemplating a crackling fire. To use the adjective associated with hygge – it could be described as a hyggelig haiga!
Now, why don’t you pull up a chair and join me by the fire. 🙂
How to intensify that ‘hygge’ feeling – go outside and come back in again. 🙂
A haiga featured with poems by Bethany Rivers and Rona Fitzgerald on Angela Topping’s blog.
Being outdoors in the cold and coming home makes hygge more intense. A bowl of soup, a warm fire and the tingle of warmth returning to frozen hands and feet – it’s almost worth going outside for! Marion Clarke, from Northern Ireland, sent me this beautiful poem/photo, which inspired today’s post.
the silence of me looking out
at the world from the doorway
and you looking at me looking out
letting in the cold and not minding for once
the icing sugar coating over so many
houses, sheds and cars, quilting
the fields, the snow still falling
softly now, lazily, every flake
taking its time, enjoying the last
freshets of air whilst deciding
where and how to kiss the ground
or the fence post or the branch or
another snowflake – the silence beckons –
but slowly, I balance on the threshold
unsure whether to go walk in…
View original post 126 more words
This is a monostich (one line haiku) that is very close to my heart. It refers to my youngest sister Niamh’s two-year battle with cancer, which she lost in September.
Even though it is just seven words long, the word ‘prognosis’ caused some debate.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2017.
Detail from my painting of Carlingford Lough from Seaview, Warrenpoint (oil and acrylic)
FURTHER UPDATE: I was excited to learn over the Christmas holidays that my entry in the January episode of the award-winning Japanese TV programme HAIKU MASTERS won Haiku Master of the Month.
Haiku master and judge Michio Nakahara said, “The three line haiku does not mention the bee or the flower. In terms of fusoku-furi it has a perfect distance from the photograph. This photo haiku would be inanimate if it were just the flower but the bee adds movement and the earnestness of the bee is something that we can all relate to.”
Needless to say, I was over the proverbial moon. 🙂
The TV programme in which my photohaiku is discussed at the Memorial Museum of Fine Art, Tokyo, will be on air during the month of January 2017.
UPDATE: Episode 7 of HAIKU MASTERS in which my photo haiku was featured was aired on Japan’s
“All works of art are more beautiful when they suggest something beyond themselves than when they end up being merely what they are.”- Soetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman
One of the objectives of a photo haiku or haiga (haiku combined with traditional Japanese brushwork, a piece of art or a photograph) is to achieve fusoku-furi, which roughly translates as ‘unattached and undetached’ or ‘not too far, not too close.’
Fusoku-furi helps ensure that the haiku is not simply a description of the photo or artwork, and vice versa. The poet should strive to add something that is not already included the image, for example a reference to use of one of the senses, or an emotion that is stirred by looking at the photo. In this way, another layer of meaning is achieved by adding to the visual element.
Haiku Master, Michio Nakahara explains, “A photo always lacks something, for example sounds – a photo cannot express sound … or smell. By adding an element that you don’t see in the photo, you add a different dimension.”
I discovered very recently that my photo haiku below has been selected to feature in Episode 7 of the Japanese TV programme HAIKU MASTERS. This episode is filmed in Rikujien Gardens, Tokyo, and will go live on 31st October. My photo haiku is currently on view in the HAIKU MASTERS photo gallery.
I submitted this photograph I took of a derelict house, focusing on the front door with its boarded up letterbox. I combined it with a haiku describing an elderly person sifting through bundles of junk mail. I hoped the combination of image and words would add an atmosphere of sadness and abandonment – perhaps this person regularly goes through their junk mail, carefully check each item in the hope of finding a letter from a loved one?
I feel very honoured that my haiga has been selected as, to date, almost 4000 submissions have been received from 89 countries.