Archive for the ‘Bilingual’ Category

Subtitle: A bilingual anthology of Haiku by 105 Poets from India.

Chandigarh, India: privately printed, 2008; 70+5 pp., 4.5×7″ (115×177 mm), US$2.5 + s&h from the editor, 1224, Sector 42-B, Chandigarh, 160 036 India.

With thanks to the editor.

With this modest collection, the initial attempts of Indian poets to grasp Japanese haiku and make something of their own from that understanding appear outside the realm of single-sheet newsletters and the like. The majority of these poems originally appeared in Hindi, and have been presented here in two-page spreads with an English translation on the left and Hindi on the right, with each opening showing three poems in the two languages. (And, confusingly, both pages bearing the same number, though one’s in what we call “Arabic” and the other in Hindi.) Toward the end of the book, some haiku written originally in English are included, along with Hindi translations. As I have no competence in Hindi, I cannot vouch for the translations, but knowing Angelee, I imagine that they are fairly accurate to their originals, going either way.

Here are some selected from random openings:

thundering, again
it breaks the burden of silence
—the downpour

Dr. Satyapal Chugh (3)

This strikes me as interesting on a couple of levels. The “burden of silence” may seem a little hyperbolic, but brings across the notion of human relationship and the ways nature can be found as T. S. Eliot’s objective correlative for the “thunder” of human feelings. And, we might suppose, the “downpour” may also refigure some crying that preceded or went along with that silence. A poem more interesting than I thought at first glance.

mountains weep
a thousand tears
a stream flows

—Dr. Manoj Sonkar (14)

This seems just a rather trite metaphor. Unfortunately, several of the poems in this collection exhibit similar triteness and failures of imagination, or, perhaps more accurately, failure to find fresh language for their perceptions.

The next poem has the virtue of genuine simplicity, as do a number of the poems in Indian Haiku:

waves came
and went back again
with the sand

—Ajay Charmam (21)

These are three of the poems apparently translated from Hindi. Indian Haiku also contains a representative of Gujarati and one from Marathi. As India has many native languages, we may hope for more haiku from these and other languages in the near future.

The next two I believe are English originals:

on the veena strings
her fingers

—Dr. Vidur Jyoti (34)

The veena is a stringed musical instrument featuring a round sound box or bowl and fretted neck, usually four feet or more long. In this poem the moonbeams and playing of the veena echo each other in a not-uncommon haiku manner, effectively becoming mutually metaphorical while, of course, also carrying their literal meanings as primary. A similar technique occurs in the following, last poem, by the book’s editor:

stars adrift
in the chill of night
the last diary entry

—Angelee Deodhar (35)

While it seems to me that the last dozen or more poems—those apparently written originally in English—do the best job of fulfilling my personal sense of the haiku genre, the overall effect of the collection will hopefully encourage existing and new Indian poets to take up the haiku and make it their own. As we’ve noted here before, Angelee Deodhar will undoubtedly be one of the main reasons this happens.



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Japanese title: 『新しい池—英語圏の俳人たち』 宮下 恵美子 編者訳者

Tokyo: Hokumeisha, 2002.

With belated thanks to Emiko!

This book came to Penny and me in July of 2002, and somehow got left at our son’s house. On a visit there just a few days ago, I saw it on a shelf, and, not recognizing it as mine, pulled it down to look at it. (It was on the family poetry shelves.) Wow! There in the front, not only an inscription, but a very pleasant note from the editor. Well, I thank the powers that be for the return of our book. (Come to think of it, July 2002 was just when Penny and I were in the middle of our move back to New Jersey, after eleven years in fabulous Santa Fe, New Mexico, the main reason for the move being precisely that distance between Santa Fe and our children, all here on the East Coast. I guess the book must have arrived in our midst while we were in transit.)

Both Penny and I have two poems each in this collection, which is unusual, as Emiko points out in her note. The pages are so openly designed, and the poems given lots of air, such space is at a premium, and we are duly honored to be included, twice each!

But the book is not about pleasing us, or any of the other contributors. Like books by our friend Prof. Kazuo Satô before her, Emiko’s book is to help Japanese readers get to know and appreciate English-language haiku. The book has the poets grouped into the following sections, each with a brief introduction, sometimes in English and Japanese, sometimes in Japanese only (these titles are my loose translations of Japanese headings):

1. The American Midwest
2. Northern California: Yuki Teikei Haiku Society
3. Boston Haiku Society
4. Towpath Haiku Group (Washington, D.C. area)
5. American Pacific Northwest
6. Haiku Poets of Northern California
7. British Haiku Society
8. Spring Street Haiku Group (New York City)
9. Haiku North America (2001, held in Boston)
10. Haiku Canada
11. North American Haiku Poets
12. September 11, 2001

Each section features one haiku by each of ten poets, with very few poets appearing in more than one section. The introduction to the last section, in which the poems reflect upon the terrorist attacks on the USA on that date, is a sequence of two tanka and four haiku by Cor van den Heuvel.

Each poem appears in English, with a literal translation in colloquial Japanese and a “haiku translation” that represents the poem in traditional haiku form. Two sample poems from the book by poets whose work is less familiar to me (Emiko’s haiku translations are given below in parentheses; if your computer is not prepared to read Japanese text, you will see a series of question marks instead):

Summer’s highest tide—
the roots of the old fig tree
mingle with the shells

( 夏の潮満たて古木に届く貝)

Wendy Wright (Yuki Teikei)

rust speckles the new saw
left by the carpenter
under the stars

( 星月夜大工忘れし鋸に錆)

Randal Johnson (Pacific Northwest)

An eminent collection of 120+ haiku by a similar number of North American and British poets. Well-done, Emiko! And my apologies for this late notice . . .

Copies of The New Pond are available in North America from Brooks Books.


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