Thursday, July 31, 2014

Carpe Diem #529, Foot-prints

!! I am still in the nightshift, so I publish this episode a bit earlier than I normally do !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the first episode of our new CDHK-month August in which we will explore and discover the beauty of the words of Khalil Gibran as shared in his "Sand and Foam" (1926), a book full of wonderful aphorisms. I think this will become a wonderful month in which we will take another path ... a path full of spirituality and joy.

"Sand and Foam" starts with the following poem, from which I distilled the first prompt of this month:

I am forever walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain

© Khalil Gibran

I think this is a wonderful poem and it sets the ''mood'' of this book. I am a fan of Khalil's writings and I have read all his books, "Sand and Foam'' is however the first of his books which I have read in English. I was caught immediately by his beautiful words ... and I hope you all will have (or get) the same feeling.

This month our Carpe Diem Specials will return and for those Specials I am given permission to use haiku by Jim Kacian, co-founder of the World Haiku Association and owner of Red Moon Press, the biggest publisher of haiku books in the world. I am glad that I may use his haiku this month.

Credits: Foot-prints in the sand
This first prompt of this new CDHK-month is almost a little episode of Carpe Diem "Distillation'' and of course you may use the goals of CD-distillation for this episode, that's all up to you, feel free ...

I love to share an older haiku, which I shared in February 2012 for the Haiku Challenge of SiS.

a little verse
to leave my footprint on the Internet
scent of Honeysuckle

scent of Honeysuckle
makes me slumberous
dreaming of passion

dreaming of passion
while walking along the seashore
with the one I love

with the one I love
I undertake a journey
into oblivion

into oblivion
with my pencil and paper
a little verse

a little verse
caught me years ago with it's beauty -
addicted forever

© Chèvrefeuille

I loved creating this new episode of our Haiku Kai and I hope you all will like it. I am looking forward to your inspired haiku and I hope to see and read new names ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until August 3rd at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, mist, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Carpe Diem #528 Basho (6), "my dreams start to wander"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Well ... this is it ... our last episode of our Special CDHK-month with only haiku written by the 'big-five', Basho, Chiyo-Ni, Buson, Issa and Shiki. I think we have had a wonderful month and I also think the haiku by the big five have really inspired you all. To me it was a busy month, but ... well it's what I like to do ... being your host at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, a haiku-family in which we can share our deepest thoughts and feelings ... and I hope you all feel that loving environment as we are a haiku family.

Today, as I already said, our last haiku by the 'big-five' and that's a haiku by (my master) Matsuo Basho. At the start of this month I shared the first haiku written by Basho when he was around 20 yrs old and to close this wonderful month I love to share his last haiku, his death-poem, with you all here at CDHK.
I have told you earlier that it was a common use for poets to write a last poem before they died and so did Basho. I think it's one of his masterpieces, but that's just my thought and maybe you, my dear Haijin, visitors and travelers, have other ideas about that. Feel free to share them here at our CDHK haiku-family.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
Basho's own death poem is thought provoking and enlightening:

tabi ni yande  yume wa kareno wo  kake-meguru

ill on a journey
my dreams start to wander
across dessicated fields

© Matsuo Basho (Tr. Chèvrefeuille)

Dessicated fields can be the time that has passed. The moment captured is true and original, an insight into the particular time of Matsuo Basho's last days. The journey is long and could represent life, as he is now ill. No longer having control of your destiny or your dreams as they go wandering back to better times. The haiku creates an image of finality of a great journey that is cut short due to an illness, which could perhaps represent death. The reader is left to ponder and figure out the meaning of these carefully chosen words.
Basho himself once said: "I will die on one of my journeys" and he did just that ... Basho, in my opinion, the greatest haiku-poet of all times ... I am grateful that I may say that he was my teacher, he learned me how to write haiku ...

dessicated fields (of corn)
With this haiku by Matsuo Basho ends our CDHK-month July and now we will go on with our journey into the philosophy of Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese philosopher, poet, painter and writer. With his "Sand and Foam" (an anthology of his aphorisms) in our hand we will go on a new path to discover new thoughts and ideas and of course we will find new gems, diamonds and masterpieces in our haiku.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until August 2nd at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, our first of August,  foot prints, later on.
For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #19, Georgia on kyoka

!! I am posting this new GW-episode earlier, because I am in the nightshift. So you have to be a bit more patient, because it's open tonight for your submissions. !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Another week has gone by and it's already time for a new Ghost Writer post. This week Georgia of Bastet's Waka Library is our Ghost Writer and she has a wonderful post written about the kyoka. Kyoka is similar with senryu, but it follows the rules of the Tanka. Kyoka is one of the lost forms of Japanese poetry. I think it''s a gorgeous post and it will learn us something new.
Georgia ... thank you for this wonderful post. have fun!


First of all I’d like to thank Chèvrefeuille for this opportunity to write about the kyoka genre of Japanese Poetry. Though far from an expert, the research has been interesting under many aspects.

Kyoka, though it had been around for a long time in the Japanese written poetry it had it’s heyday only in the last quarter of the 18th century.  Poetry had been reserved to the aristocratic samurai class and usually written in Chinese. Waka (Japanese Poetry) began to weave it’s way into the merchant class allowing them to create and enjoy poetry even if they didn’t have the extensive literary experience and training of the samurai, they could follow the metric rules and create acceptable verse.  Kyoka ("playful verses" 狂歌) became very popular at the time and was written by ukiyo-e ( "pictures of the floating world") (link: artists, commoners and of course samurai, though under pen-names.

The rules of kyoka are rather simple:

1.    The syllable structure is 5-7-5-7-7.

2. It divides in two, the 5-7-5 part is called kami-no-ku ("upper phrase"), and the 7-7 part is called shimo-no-ku ("lower phrase").
3. There is a subtle turn, often unexpected in the middle of the poem, usually after line two or three.
4. It has a syllable of thirty one (or fewer syllables).
5. It is humorous verse or a parody of a famous waka (tanka).
6. May contain internal rhyme but should avoid end rhyme.
7. Try to punctuate lightly, though some publishers prefer no punctuation.

There are three styles of kyoka:

1.    The Kokin style which tries to use all the rules of waka, but ends up being comical.
2.    The Tenmei style (born from a famous aristocratic poet, Ôta Nampo (1749-1823) who wrote under the pseudonym of  Yomo No Akira) which tries to impart an artistic flare to the poem whilst using colloquial language and writing about every day subjects and emotions.
3.    The third form is Honka-dori which takes an existing waka and parodies it. This latter form was more favored by the upper classes who could enjoy the subtleties of the parodies which the lower classes could not.

Yoshiwara no
Yomise o haru no
Yugure wa
iriai no kane ni
Hana ya sakuran

In Yoshiwara
the women are showing their wares
This evening –
Blossoms glowing in the echoes
of vesper bells

© Yomo No Akara (Translated by Steven Carter)

Here, Akira is talking about the ladies of the ukiyo-e plying their wares in the red light district.

It’s very difficult to find translations of the Japanese kyoka due to the ambiguity of the language, mundane language, puns and word associations. Let me try my hand:

in Busch Stadium
the pitcher smiled then let loose
smashing the batter's arm
he sure balled up that inning
two others’d been based on balls

© G.s.k. ‘14

*base on balls - if the pitcher throws four balls, the hitter is awarded a free "walk" to first base.

For the most part, senryu has supplanted kyoka although there are several kyoka writers in English.  The form has become practically extinct.


What a wonderful post ... maybe there is someone in our haiku-family who will be caught by kyoka. It's not really my ''cup of tea'', but it is great to read a post about this extinct poetry form. So I hope this GW-post will inspire you to write kyoka ... and maybe you are caught by it ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until August 1st at noon (CET). I will try to post our last episode of this wonderful CDHK month, the 6th haiku by Matsuo Basho, later on. For now ... have fun!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Carpe Diem #527 Shiki (5), "a departed soul"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Here it is our last haiku by Shiki and I have chosen to use his deathpoem, his Jisei. It's his very last haiku he wrote before he died as was a common use in classical Japan. I think in our time there will be also haiku-poets who write a last haiku before they die, but I don't know that for sure.

Shiki also wrote his death-poem and there is a nice story about that moment ... I love to share that here with you.
Shiki on his sick bed

Because of a debilitating disease (tuberculosis) Masaoka Shiki had to be confined to his bed for almost 7 years until he passed away. Despite the pain, he continued writing poems while lying on his back. When Shiki came near to death, one of his disciples, Hekigoto was at Shiki's bedside. Hekigoto wrote about how Shiki wrote his final three haiku as follows:
[…] "It was around 10 o'clock on the morning of September 18. I dipped his old writing brush ,whose stem and brush were both thin, full of ink and had him hold it in his right hand. Then quite abruptly in the center of the paper Shiki began to write readily "sponge gourd has bloomed " , and a little below that phrase, he again moved his brush in a breath "choked by phlegm" I was a little curious what he was going to write next and was watching the paper closely, then at last he wrote "a departed soul", which bit into my heart". [...]

Hekigoto was very touched when Shiki began to write the poem. Shiki was so weak, and desperately coughing, but he still had a determination to write these haiku.

sponge gourd has bloomed
choked by phlegm
a departed soul

© Masaoka Shiki

As I read the above story I thought that I also wish to share a haiku by Hekigoto (1873-1937), but I didn't know haiku written by him. So I had to sought out the Internet and I ran into the next haiku written by Hekigoto.
Hekigoto (1873-1937)
from a bathing tub
I throw water into the lake -
slight muddiness appears

© Hekigoto

Hekigoto was probably the most famous of Shiki's students. He was of the younger generation of haiku greats. His earlier poems followed the traditional haiku format. Later in his career he began to abandon the traditional form. He wanted his poems to come as close to reality as possible without the interference of man made rules. He started the New Trend Haiku Movement. He experimented with disregarding the seventeen syllable pattern.
far fireworks
sounding, otherwise
not a thing
© Hekigoto
Are these haiku gorgeous or not gorgeous? That's up to you to say, but to me they are wonderful. It will not be an easy task to write/compose an all new haiku (or more) to come close to the spirit of these haiku, or this haiku by Shiki.

Credits: Dew (awesome websit with wallpapers)
Here is my attempt:

morning dew
evaporates in the early sunlight -
spirit climbs to the sky

© Chèvrefeuille

Hm ... I don't know ... but  I like it ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 31st at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, a new Ghost Writer post, later on. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Carpe Diem #526 Issa (5), "New Year's Writing"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Well ... I have said it already several times, but this month of all big five haiku-poets is almost over and I am looking forward to our next CDHK-month in which we will have all prompts based on Khalil Gibran's "Sand and Foam", that also will be a great month ... and of course in that month we will have the CD Specials back and this month that will be Jim Kacian co-founder of the World Haiku Association.
Oke back to our prompt for today. Today we have our last (the fifth) haiku by Kobayashi Issa and I think I have found a wonderful haiku written by him in which he mentions one of his children. As you maybe know Issa had several kids who died young.

wanpaku ya mazu tenohira ni fude hajime

in the naughty child's
palm first, a brush...
New Year's writing
© Kobayashi Issa

It is a Japanese custom to write with a writing brush on the second day of the year. This haiku was written in Twelfth Month, 1819, several months after the death of Issa's daughter, Sato, so it could be a haiku in loving memory of her. 

Credits: Pampas grass field
And than there is the following haiku also with the sadness of Issa who lost his children all at young ages. This haiku refers to a game children used to play in the pampas grass fields around the neighborhood.

kodomora ga kitsune no mane mo susuki kana

the children
pretend to be foxes...
pampas grass

© Kobayashi Issa

In the tall pampas grass, the children play at being foxes--a significant choice, since the fox in Japan is considered to be a powerful spirit and god of the harvest. This means the children are not only pretending to be an animal but a supernatural being, just as children in the West might put sheets over their heads to transform into ghosts. The haiku captures a moment of fun, but as always in Issa, it resonates with deeper significance. The children are foxes; they are spirits. They are divine beings happily losing themselves in the tall grasses of the present world.

Issa's life was a life of only sadness ... at least so it looks, but I think his life had also very joyful moments as e.g. the birth of his children and his love for his wife, but also his strong belief in Amida Buddha and the Western Paradise.

Well ... this was our last haiku by Issa for this month, there will of course be more haiku by Issa during CDHK's upcoming months ... so we don't have to miss him.

Credits: Japanese Fireworks
Here is my attempt to write a haiku in the same sense, tone and spirit as the one(s) by Issa:

New Year's Eve
children playing with the fresh fallen snow -
fireworks coloring the sky

© Chèvrefeuille

This is a haiku in the so called Kanshicho-style which doesn't use the classical syllables-count as Basho did for several years. Basho called "in the way of the Chinese poems". In which he wrote his haiku from 1683 until 1685, afterwards he did re-write several of his haiku into the classical way.
I am a big fan of this Kanshicho-style, because (in my opinion) it's more close to the Western way of writing haiku.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 30th at noon (CET). I will try to post our new episode, the last haiku by Shiki, later on.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Carpe Diem #525 Buson (5), "a glimpse of dawn"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Slowly, slowly ... the end of this month is coming closer. It was a month full of haiku of the big five, Basho, Chiyo-Ni, Buson, Issa and Shiki. They all wrote wonderful haiku and you all did a great job every episode again with writing all new haiku inspired on the haiku by the big five. It makes me proud and humble to be your host here at CDHK.

Today we have our last haiku by Buson and I hope you all will be inspired by this haiku written/composed by Yosa Buson.

shira ume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri

the night almost past
through the white plum blossoms
a glimpse of dawn

© Buson

Yosa Buson died on December 25th 1783 and the above haiku was, what we call, his Jisei or deathpoem. Even on his deathbed Buson wrote haiku as if he was painting ... what a gorgeous haiku he left behind as his soul travelled to Paradise.

Credits: White Plum Blossom (woodblock print by Kawarazaki Shodo)
It will not be easy to write an all new haiku inspired on the last one Buson wrote, but I have to try ...

white cranes
flying above the meadow -
church bells ring

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 29th at noon (CET). I will try to post our new episode later on, that will be the last haiku by Issa for this month.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Carpe Diem's Sea Shell Game

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As you all know I have started the first edition of the Sea Shell Game on Carpe Diem. You can find that post  HERE ... I have understand that there were problems with submitting haiku entries for the Sea Shell Game, because of not working of the email-link in the post.
I have checked another time and it occured that there was a mismatch in the link. I have repaired it so I hope the emailaddress link will work now.

This the correct email-address:

I have it also repaired in the post as refert to above.

Sorry for causing this problem.

Hope to see all of you participate in this first edition of Carpe Diem's Sea Shell Game.


Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Carpe Diem #524 Chiyo-Ni (5), ''waterweed''

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This wonderful month is running to it's end and today we already our last haiku by Chiyo-Ni. I think I have found a wonderful haiku written by her and therefor I will not write more than is needy.

floating away, despite
the butterfly’s weight on it

© Chiyo-Ni

Credits; Yellow Swallowtail
This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 28th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, the fifth haiku by Buson, later on. For now ... have fun!
!! PS. I have created a new feature at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Special weblog !!

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #44, Sho-u "spring in our country''

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

A new Tan Renga Challenge is on ... to challenge your senses and insights in the association on themes. As I have done this month with the Tan Renga Challenges I have another classical haiku-poet for you to write Tan Renga. This week I have chosen a haiku by Sho-u. As far as I know he wrote only two haiku and there is nothing else to tell about him ... I couldn't find anything about Sho-u ... The goal of the Tan Renga Challenge is to write a second stanza of two lines (7-7 syllables or less) towards the given haiku by association on the first stanza in this case the haiku by Sho-u.

mannaka ni  fuji sobietari  kuni no haru

in the centre,
mount Fuji towers up:
spring in our country

© Sho-u

Poetry, like charity, begins at home, and if we do not love that country in which we have seen, how shall we love that country which we have not seen? For various reasons, excellent patriotic poems are rare in the literature of every country. Every nation has its own peculiar love of country, inexpressible save obliquely as in the above verse. It cannot be explained and hardly be imagined by anyone unless born and bred in that country, imbibing in the most trivial affairs of daily life something which sees, for example, in Mount Fuji an embodiment of his most secret origins and aspirations.
The love of country here, that is identified with the springtime of that country, is rightly felt by Issa to be something of living value:

[...] ''A symbol endures, but everything beautiful vanishes with the life-pulsation of the man, the class, the people or race that feels it as a specific beauty in the general cosmic rhythm''. [...]

Credits: Mount Fuji

I have never been to Japan so I cannot feel the intensity of the Japanese living with their country, but as I look to my own country, than I can feel the same as is said in the haiku by Sho-u and in the words by Issa. So this Tan Renga, started by Sho-u, has to have a second stanza which is making that feeling of love for nature stronger ... So that will not be an easy task ...

in the centre
Mount Fuji towers up:
spring in our country

a gathering of families
celebrates the cherry blossoms

Awesome! I did succeed I think to make the Japanese love for their country even stronger and I even could share my love for the Cherry blossom in this second stanza. I celebrate the Japanese spring every year again in my own garden as my Sakura starts to bloom.

This Tan Renga Challenge is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until next Friday August 1st at noon (CET). Have fun!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Carpe Diem #523 Basho (5), ''How Rare!''

Dear haijin, visitors and travellers,

Today our last ''role'' of haiku by the big-five starts with a beautiful haiku written by Matsuo Basho. I hope you like this post and I hope it will inspire you all to write new haiku.
mezurashi ya   yama wo ide ha no   natsu nasubi
how rare!
on leaving the mountain
the first eggplant

© Basho
Basho was host of a renga party at the home of Nagayama Shigeyuki, a military man of the Shonai Clan. This was the greeting verse and it was used as 'hokku' for the renga.
He had visited Mount Hagura for seven days and was glad that he could finally eat fresh vegetables. It was published in his 'Narrow Road to the Deep North', his most well known  haibun.
I love this haiku, it's not so well known verse, but it's a verse in which we can see Basho as a traveller. On the other hand this verse brought some nice memories.

The first sentence 'how rare!' was the same as my first thought when I wrote my first haiku. I think that's almost 25 years ago. I had scribbled some short verses at the school where I then learned to be a teacher. One my fellow students told me that the scribblings I had made looked very similar like haiku. I had never heard about haiku. I thought those short verses 'rare' 'strange', but from that time on I never let go of haiku. I can't remember that very first verse, but I can recall that in that first verse I used Honeysuckle as a season word. Several years later I took the French translation of Honeysuckle as my “nom de plum” or my pseudonym. I became Chèvrefeuille, haiku poet.
Since I had nice memories when reading the above verse I have written a haiku for this episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai with my pseudonym, Chèvrefeuille, in it:

the sweet perfume
of the Honeysuckle
makes me drowsy
© Chèvrefeuille

At that time I couldn't know that haiku would become my passion and still is. I also couldn't know at that time that my haiku would be Internationally known. I am glad to write haiku and will write them for a long time.
What a joyful haiku don't you think so too?

As you maybe have read I have started our first Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Sea Shell Game a few days ago. This first edition is open for your submissions until October 15th at noon (CET). I have understand that a few of you couldn't use the email-adress which i created for our Sea Shell Game. So if you have trouble using it ... than you can email your haiku for the Sea Shell Game to our other emailaddress:

I hope you all will participate in this all new Sea Shell Game of our CDHK-haiku family.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Carpe Diem #522 Shiki (4), "the cuckoo's cry"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today (July 23rd) The Netherlands have a noational day of mourning for the casualties of the Malaysian Aitlines Shoot Down, so this new episode of CDHK will be severe in it's choice of words and it will not be a long episode. Just the haiku by Shiki ...

minazuki no  kokū ni suzushi  hototogisu

in the coolness
of the empty sixth-month sky...
the cuckoo's cry

© Masaoka Shiki

A wonderful haiku I think and it's also in the same sense, tone and spirit as The Netherlands are today ... thinking at all those who died in the Malaysian Airlines attack. Our thoughts are with those who are left behind with empty hands and mourning for their loved ones who didn't survive ....

the summer heat
trembles at the horizon -
a cooling breeze

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 26th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, the fifth haiku by Matsuo Basho, later on. That will be the first haiku of the last week of this wonderful haiku-month.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Carpe Diem's Sea Shell Game (Introduction)

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.
From a pile of, let us say, stones one person draws two stones at random. The stones are compared and then judged to say, "This stone is lovelier than that one." The ‘’winners’’ go in one pile, the ‘’losers’’ in another until all the stones have been compared. Then the process is repeated with the “winners”, again and again, until one stone remains.

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)

We are playing the Japanese Sea Shell Game in English. Poems which are called haiku are compared, commented on, and sorted out until one poem remains as “winner’’. Various persons who are active haiku writers will be invited to do the judging. (For this first edition of Carpe Diem's Sea Shell Game I will be your judge). You can only submit haiku written by yourself for the contest.
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)

For this new CDHK feature I have made a new emailadress to which you can send your haiku which you want to be in this SeaShell Game. This first edition runs to October 15th. After that date I will try to be your judge and will pick a winner as is described above. You can email your haiku for the Sea Shell Game to:

I am looking forward to your submitted haiku for this Sea Shell Game.


Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Carpe Diem Ghost Writer #18 Jessica Slavin on Issa

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Another week has gone, it was a very week full of ups and downs ... but also a week with wonderful summer weather here in The Netherlands. Today we have an all new Ghost Writer post. This time it is written by Jessica Slavin from Jessica Slavin (Jessica has a new weblog at Silvrback) ... she loves to share a post about Kobayashi Issa and of course that's ok. Here is her GW-post I wish you all a lot of pleasure reading it and I hope it will inspire you all to write new haiku.



Issa's Hot Night

How fun to have the chance to write a post on Kristjaan's fantastic haiku blog. I am really happy and grateful for all the effort Kristjaan has made and for this nice little (well not so little!) haiku community. It brings a lot of joy into a lot of lives, including mine.

For this post I decided to do offer what Kristjaan calls the "special" type of prompt--looking to a particular haiku of a master and responding in the same style and spirit. The haiku I chose is by one of my favorite haiku poets, the master Kobayashi Issa. The translator and poet and writer David Lanoue has translated many of Issa's haiku into English and offers a searchable database of more than 10,000 of them. He has also written essays about Issa's style and themes. He writes that Issa's haiku share a theme of "the dewdrop-like elusiveness of happiness.” To me that phrase captures why I love haiku. Somehow they hold still in their words that fleeting movement of beauty and experience that makes up our days.

Even when Issa's haiku are sad, which they sometimes are, they have that quality of savoring something precious. For example so far I think my favorite of Issa’s haiku is this one:

don't go geese!
everywhere it's a floating world
of sorrow

Lanoue also suggests that maybe Issa would have been uncomfortable with the label of "master" that he shares with the other poets recognized as the classical masters. Issa was unpretentious and his haiku were not just about cherry blossoms and harvest moons but the more humble aspects of life too. There are 19 haiku by Issa with the word "poop," for example, in Lanoue's online archive. Here's one:

the high priest
poops in the field...
Credits: Bats (Woodblock print)

So. I think that's enough to give you a good sense about the interesting and wonderful Issa. On to the haiku that is our inspiration for this particular post.

hot night --
bats dangle
at the river's edge

I found this one by looking through a book Lanoue recently released called “Issa’s Best,” where he selected some of what he thinks are Lanoue’s best haiku. He links to it on the main page of his blog, which I linked to above. I chose this particular haiku because of its summer theme and because it delights me.

It also reminds me of watching the bats fly between the tall lights that stood in the lawn and driveway area of the dairy farm when I grew up. I was terrified of bats at the time and yet it was also mesmerizing to watch them fly so swiftly, chasing the mosquitos.

July dusk
bats flitting in the lamplight
shadows flicker


And now it's up to you my dear haijin, visitors and travelers to write a haiku inspired on these haiku by Issa. And I think it will be fun.

late at night
bats fly around the block
on the hunt for food

© Chèvrefeuille

Somewhere beneath the roof of my home we have bats hiding and every evening as it starts to become dark they fly out to hunt for flies. It's a gorgeous sight, but I always close the windows (as they are open), because I don't want them inside my home.

This GW-post is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 25th at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, the fourth haiku by Shiki, later on. For now have fun! And Jessica ... thank you for being a Ghost-Writer. Thank you for this wonderful GW-post on Issa.