Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
I love to introduce an all new feature at our Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. It's very different of our other features, but I think it can be real fun and learning. It is called Carpe Diem's Sea Shell Game ... and as the 'name' already says it's a game ... a game in which we will choose a winning haiku ...
Let me first tell you something about the history of The Sea Shell Game.
For centuries part of the training of Japanese children to be sensitive to beauty and the different levels of it was accomplished by a game. Even adults, in their lighter moments, will start a game with shells, or leaves or flowers. Perhaps you, too, have done the same process in order to find the best or loveliest in a collection.
|Credits: Seashell pair painted by DSisson|
When poets would gather for poetry contests, often sponsored by the emperor, even in times before Japan's written history (764 AD), this same process of elimination was used. The prizes then were bolts of silk or, if a poem was really special, the emperor would give one of his possessions -- a musical instrument or his fan.
When Basho was a young teacher of renga (the linked poetry form) he felt that the first verse of a renga (then called a hokku) was so important that his students should be made aware of the difference between a “good” hokku and a great one. Basho would organize contests built on the old principles of comparing things. Thus, in 1672 he commissioned scribes to write down records of his judging comments to be saved and these he collected under his title of "The Sea Shell Game." This was the only book he published in his lifetime. Other books that he compiled or advised were all published by his patrons or students. Translations of "The Shell Game" give us a peek into what and how he taught.
|Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)|
Your poem will be printed without your name but with a pen name if you so chose. These will be picked, two at a time, at random. The judge will display the poems, comment on each and choose one over the other. This process will continue until one haiku is left. This one will be declared winner, the author's name will be revealed and a prize awarded. A list of the winning haiku will be kept so that people who are new to the game can read the winning poems and authors' names. The judges' comments, as well as the poems discussed, will be archived in the Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Archive. (Source: Aha-Poetry)
Chèvrefeuille, your host.