Sunday, October 7, 2018

Carpe Diem #1516 Robin D. Gill, a haiku poet pur sang (Out Of The Box)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend to relax, to meditate and contemplate, but now it's Monday again so here we go with a new episode. Today I have chosen the letter G and that letter brings you a modern haiku poet, Robin D. Gill.

In this month of celebration I love to introduce new features and new haiku poets, but that isn’t easy. While searching the Internet for new names in haiku I ran into Robin D. Gill, one of modern times renown haiku poets. I have to say “I never had heard of him", but while searching the Internet I became a bit curious and reading several articles about him I just had to introduce him to you all.

Robin Dallas Gill, born in 1951 at Miami Beach, Florida, USA, and brought up on the island of Key Biscayne in the Florida Keys, is a bilingual author in Japanese and English. He wrote extensively on stereotypes of Japanese identity before moving on to publishing his research on, and translations of Japanese poetry, especially the genres of haiku and senryū.

Robin D. Gill

He is considered a 'maverick' writer within the field of Western studies on Edo-period poetry. He writes haiku in Japanese under the haigō (haiku pen-name) Keigu ('Yours foolishly', an homophonous pun on 'Yours truly'). Since 2013, he has been engaged in writing in Japanese for a Japanese audience, hoping to help, via introductions to the comic traditions of Japanese poetry, to shake Japan out of its "cultural doldrums". Much of his output has, according to Gill's own testimony, been done while a pauper for much of his life.

Gill's work focuses on kigo or seasonal keyword thematics in traditional Japanese poetry, ranging widely over haiku, senryū, waka and kyōka (crazy poems), concentrating in each successive book on sub-themes, with the poems arranged in thematic chains. Characteristically, he provides the original Japanese text, with romanized transliteration, a word-for-word literal gloss, and then multiple versions (what he calls by his portmanteau neologism, paraverse, though the method was used by Hiroaki Sato.) that enable the reader to see the variety of potential readings to be elicited from an otherwise ostensibly simple, straightforward set of verses, accompanied by notes. Gill's richness of competing English versions of the one original has been seen as a distinct advance on earlier renderings of Japanese poetry, while his digressive style, often original but somewhat diffuse, can distract and, Kern argues, make too much demands on the reader's time.

Sea Cucumber (© François Michonneau)

One of his most famous books is titled “Rise, Ye Sea Slugs!” 1000 Holothurian Haiku, (2003),a title that refers to the sea cucumber (Namako). A sea species that worldwide counts around 1700 different kinds.

In "Rise, Ye Sea Slugs!" Gill has gathered only "old haiku" about sea cucumbers and has ordered them like their species. However ... I was more interested in his own haiku and senryu, but I have to say his own haiku and senryu are not easily to find on the Internet, so it took me some time to extract a few examples of his own haiku and senryu, but here they are, mainly senryu:

a hoe sounds so good
a man will shiver

A wasp at work --
thick make-up is nothing
to be ashamed of

Mean fall sunlight
here in Brooklyn 2 square-ft
X 2 hrs per room

© Robin D. Gill (extracted from The Haiku Foundation)

I don't know what to say about him, but I think he is an awesome haiku/senryu poet pur sang, but his most known works are his translations of Japanese haiku and senryu as he did for example in "Rise, Ye Sea Slugs!". 

Translating haiku and senryu isn't easy, so for that I have to applaud Gill.

Maybe you remember our "out of the box" feature. (I will give you a link at the end) In "Out Of The Box" I challenged you to create something different than haiku or tanka. So this episode I love to challenge you to create senryu, the more satirical kind of haiku full of humour.

Reading Newspaper (image found on Pinterest)

Here is one of my own senryu, not really my "cup of tea":

another day
caught in black ink

© Chèvrefeuille (free-style & experimental)

I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope I have inspired you to create senryu. This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CEST) and will remain open until October 14th at noon (CEST). For now ... have fun!

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