Monday, October 29, 2018

Carpe Diem #1532 Richard Wright's "A Red Sinking Autumn Sun"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Well ... this 6th anniversary month is almost over, so the end is near of our celebrations. Next month I have chosen the theme "Autumn". I think that theme says enough. Next month we are celebrating Autumn, in my opinion the most beautiful season, but that's for later this week.

For this episode I looked back into our rich history and I ran into an episode about Richard Wright in our Ghost Writer feature back in 2014. And than I thought ... maybe I can bring him back for one day here at our Haiku Kai.

Richard Wright (1908-1960)
Richard Wright (1908-1960), one of the early forceful and eloquent spokesmen for black Americans, author of "Native Son," and "Black Boy", was also, it turns out, a major poet. During the last eighteen months of his life, he discovered and became enamored of haiku, the strict seventeen-syllable Japanese form. Wright became so excited about the discovery that he began writing his own haiku, in which he attempted to capture, through his sensibility as an African American, the same Zen discipline and beauty in depicting man's relationship, not to his fellow man as he had in his fiction, but to nature and the natural world.

Cover: Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright

In all, he wrote over 4,000 haiku, from which he chose, before he died, the 817 he preferred. Rather than a deviation from his self-appointed role as spokesman for black Americans of his time, Richard Wright's haiku, disciplined and steeped in beauty, are a culmination: not only do they give added scope to his work but they bring to it a universality that transcends both race and color without ever denying them.

Wright wrote his haiku obsessively--in bed, in cafes, in restaurants, in both Paris and the French countryside. His daughter Julia believes, quite rightly, that her father's haiku were "self-developed antidotes against illness, and that breaking down words into syllables matched the shortness of his breath." They also offered the novelist and essayist a new form of expression and a new vision: with the threat of death constantly before him, he found inspiration, beauty, and insights in and through the haiku form. The discovery and writing of haiku also helped him come to terms with nature and the earth, which in his early years he had viewed as hostile and equated with suffering and physical hunger. Fighting illness and frequently bedridden, deeply upset by the recent loss of his mother, Ella, Wright continued, as his daughter notes, "to spin these poems of light out of the gathering darkness."

For this episode I love to challenge you to create a Renga With Richard Wright. That means: I will give you six haiku. You may choose your own line-up and add your two-lined stanzas. Here are the six haiku to work with:

I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away.

Keep straight down this block,
Then turn right where you will find
A peach tree blooming.

Make up you mind, Snail!
You are half inside your house,
And halfway out!

You moths must leave now;
I am turning out the light
And going to sleep.

One Magnolia

All right, You Sparrows;
The sun has set and you can now
Stop your chattering!

One magnolia
Landed upon another
In the dew-wet grass.

© Richard Wright

I hope you did like this episode about Richard Wright and I am looking forward to your Renga With Richard Wright. Have fun!

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 5th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode later on, but I have a very busy day tomorrow.

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