Joining the Twenty-first century

caribou sign croppedI’m such a dinosaur!  Bucking this and ducking that, like using Twitter!  Years ago, my publisher for Arctic Twilight, said Get a blog! Get on Twitter! But no, I went on down my antediluvian path, trusting to the ether…and of course, not getting very far.  So, I’m kicking over a new leaf, or sloshing through the piles of dropped ones. Wish me well. Look for me on Twitter as well as on Facebook and tell me how clever I am, how modern, how glorious!  I look forward to connecting with everyone.   It sounds so strange to use a ‘handle’, like I’m home on the range somewhere, and lost. So that’s @claudiaradmore (On Twitter, don’t use the one with ‘leisale’ in the address…I had to start all over today with a new account…)

I’ll tell you now that I’m very pleased to be having The Alfred Gustav Press publish a chapbook of a selection of the Fogo island poems that ended up short-listed for Malahat’s 2017 Long Poem Contest! Hence, the image of the handsome fellow at the top of this post.

It’s been a busy time, working on four manuscripts at once and completing all of them before going to Santa Fe on September 12th.  My fingers are so crossed, but I am only getting younger in my mind…Again, wish me well. Dropping a comment to this post would be the best way.

book fair w catkin signIn Santa Fe we were welcomed not only by New Mexico State Senator Bill O’Neill, a poet in his own right, but also by Craig Quanchillo, Governor of the Picuris Pueblo. We were at The Santa Fe Hacienda & Spa which is owned by the Picuris Pueblo, and for the most part, staffed with people from that nation. It is a wonderful place, with a lovely open atmosphere.  This was the bookroom.  (There were $15,000 worth of sales overall in four days!) Way up in the top left corner of the photo, you can find my new catkin press signage!

My husband Ted and I continued on a tour of the state, and you may get to see more of it in further posts. Visiting pueblos and staying at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch are some of the highlights. Oh, Abiquiu, how beautiful are your mountains!

 

 

hans jongman’s ‘swooning’

I love the books I publish at catkin press. The latest is a wonderful memoir in haibun by Haiku Canada member Hans Jongman, with a section by his wife Farida.

As soon as I started to read the manuscript I knew I wanted this for a catkin book, but as I continued reading, I was captured by story, the haiku between the prose, the sense of a long deep relationship. It is punctuated with pathos and humour, and wanders all around the world. Photos enhance the sections well, as in this one in which all his sixteen-year-old hopes and vulnerability on his first sea voyage are apparent.

sailor hans

Farida’s written contribution (as opposed to her part in the overall story) leads to the later sections and the possibility of resolving a longtime situation.

I don’t want to say too much, except that it is mystery and a bit of treasure hunt for the things that really matter in life.

Hans’ peripatetic life began in Holland in 1951, and before eventually settling in Toronto, goes to sea, takes flights, car journeys. It keeps longtime friends, falls in love, has children and grandchildren, as many do. But his and Farida’s together make an extra intriguing literary intertwining.

He gets out of the haibun form all that Basho meant the form to produce; haibun adds lightness and space and the opportunity for the reader to breathe, and to add their own connotations. The text has several titled sections, such as one called “The Most Beautiful Eyes”, and another, “To Sea”

When Farida (the owner of the beautiful eyes) writes, the tale is succinct, easy to follow. eyes 2

Not haibun, just good straight effective prose. She says what she has to say, what she wants to tell, cleanly. No flounces or purple language here. Though not known as a writer, I think she should consider writing more in the future.

Read this book also for a picture of what it was to be a teenager in Holland in the 60s, for the situation of a young woman who loses her mother and is cut off from family. This book isn’t only for those who know the haibun form; anyone who enjoys a good read will love it.

On the extra benefit side, the haibun form may, because of SWOONING discover a new cohort of followers when they find what an accessible form it is and how subtly the haiku enhance the overall writing.

 

 

 

 

writing in the yukon

It comes to this: haiku poets travel to Whitehorse, Yukon, because they are poets, because they are curious about the Yukon, and/or want to meet other haiku poets, because they want to broaden their knowledge of the world of Japanese-form poetry, because they enjoy conferences, (and this will be The 2016 Haiku Canada Weekend!) because, just because they look forward to rubbing shoulders with members of Haiku Canada who are are the best people to be around, ever.  They’ve been to one of these Weekends, or more, and just have to be at another, or they are intrigued by the idea that poets will travel that far, from New York, Quebec, California, New Mexico, to spend a weekend based on poems that can be expressed in ‘one breath.’

True, we are a bit crazy, but we also know that secrets/surprises will unfold during this weekend, and we want in on them.  So here’s what happened: many people got there early or stayed longer to see the area around Whitehorse. Some got all the way to Skagway and Dawson City to drink a Sour Toe Cocktail, and to experience the Alaska Highway and Kluane National Park. Some went on Elisabeth Wiegand’s wonderful Black Bear Adventures Tours. Some rented a camper. Some were billeted by the most gracious and generous hosts. All that alone was worth the trip.

Highway sign to Bean North Coffee
Highway sign to Bean North Coffee Roasting on the takhini Hotsprings Road

But we are writers.  Writers who know the difficulty of putting such a weekend together. This time it was Kathy Munro and her team, many from her Solstice haiku group, many from the Bean North Wednesday Writers who meet way out in those bear-filled woods at Bean North Coffee Roasting Ltd., a delightful café that’s been going for about 15 years. You’d never expect to find such a place, complete with its own roaster, with organic food and Free Trade coffee and chocolate and simple lunches so good you might dream about them later.

Kathy Munro had written to The Commissioner of Yukon, Hon. Doug Phillips, requesting that the week be called Haiku Week in the Yukon; he signed a proclamation, and it was so. Haiku Week in the Yukon! The Cultural Services branch paid for all the ads in the papers! The City of Whitehorse got in on the act, getting out the trolley a couple of days earlier than usual so conference members could be clanged through town to the Northern Front Gallery. The MacBride Museum of Yukon History hosted a related reading, as did the Library, which also gave space for a display (more on this later…) and a reading; bookstores gave discounts and one gave super window space to a Haiku Book display; a coffee shop too, had discounts. Newspapers and radio gave space.  CBC on the radio and on CBC Yukon’s Facebook page gave information on the weekend. Everything seemed intertwined, the paper maker and the reporter attending the conference, the novelist putting copies of her novel Ice to Ashes on the ‘Free’ table. (Yes, haiku poets always have a ‘free’ table! Imagine!) Haiku Canada was everywhere.

The Wednesday group is known also as The Whitehorse Poetry Society and Local Writers, associated with Yukon Writers Collective, but members sometimes refer to themselves simply as The Bean North Writers.

Jessica Simon. reporter/novelist at Bean North
Jessica Simon. reporter/novelist
at Bean North

They gather, some with paper, others with laptops, in the little perfectly-chosen-blue room up front, with big windows that bring that Big North Feeling into the room, into the writing. Haiku writers work on Japanese-form poems, prose writers work on novels and short stories and newspaper articles. Plans get hatched. Two writers, reporter/crime novelist Jessica Simon, and Kathy Munro came up with one of those ‘extras’ that made the weekend extraordinary: Why not send out a call for ‘crime haiku’ and display the results in the Whitehorse Library. No sooner hatched, the path to realization had begun. The final display on ‘Killer Ku’ was magnificent.

crime pic 2 vancouver haiku group

So there was a team, and all the parts of the Weekend came together. I haven’t started, and won’t because this is a blog and not a book, to mention all the people and the planning that made the Weekend happen. And a report of everything that happened at the conference, as well as the agenda, will soon be up on the Haiku Canada website.

There are a few quiet volunteers and donors who might be missed though; Laurel Parry, calligrapher par excellence, who also made opening remarks for the conference, gave hours to making calligraph, name cards on the spot, putting them into name-tag holders scavenged by Kathy’s husband at a geology conference, holders that are much more chic than what we normally call name-tags.

Helen O’Connor, paper artist, who curated an exhibit called Words at The Northern Front Gallery, (handmade paper art that included poetry or other word applications) was another team member as she and Ms. Munro collaborated to have the show opening sync with the conference and three haiku poets had pieces in the show. Ms. O’Connor also gave us paper-making, calligraphy and book binding workshops. She also donated hand-made paper for the name tags…

stinging Nettle Knickers, byHelen O'Connor
stinging Nettle Knickers, by Helen O’Connor, image from the WORDS exhibition catalogue

But I wanted to zone in on the writers who meet regularly, their spirit and the way they connect at Bean North, and how central they can be to setting cultural atmoshpere in a far away northern city. When they get together in that blue room, writing is simply in the air; you can almost see it, and you can certainly feel it. I was only there for a couple of hours, but the ease of camaraderie among these wordsmiths reminded me of that famous house in Toronto where members of the Group of Seven painters had their studios, how they would work, but also roam around, comment on each other’s paintings, have coffee.

This writers’ group acts as a think tank, some of the creative people of Whitehorse, who interact in various ways, who are connected through words, through Art, through book clubs. My feeling was if you have anything to do with writing, newbie or seasoned, you’re invited and included as part of the group. Whitehorse is an ‘alive’ place to be an artist or a writer, and since live things grow, and are dependent on supports of various kinds, this is the place to be on Wednesdays. The best part is that, though it is not formally a critique group, that can happen if a writer is looking for input.  So there’s no stress involved. You don’t have to ‘come up with something’ to share. But if you have something to share, you’re in the right café.

And if you want to know how to get things done, writers often have the skills and connections to make something happen, as witnessed by the whole of Yukon in the papers and on the radio. In all my years with Haiku organizations in North America, the Whitehorse experience made more use of the media, including social media, and of the cultural and physical aspects of an area than ever before, including respect and appreciation for the use Whitehorse citizens have of First Nations Land.

That ‘Killer Ku’ exhibit at the library will likely become a book, for example; the writers are already working on that project. So I would suggest, if for any reason you are going to Whitehorse, and are a writer, that you connect with this group. You never know what will come of it, and the least that could happen is that you meet some amazing people who happen to write. And if you are lucky, you will connect with Haiku Canada at http://haikucanada.org whether you write haiku or not.

I for one, recommend going to Whitehorse for many reasons, and my best dreams would be of being quiet among those sacred mountains. With all the creative and hospitable people that live there.

 

 

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Luna Moth

IMAG1023_1Every once in a while I get an idea for a book that takes way too long to make, but I am stubborn, so I decide to make it anyway.

I was gifted (thank you Terry Ann Carter) a stack of odd-sized tissue-like paper and it has been simmering in my mind for a few years. My commercial printer could not print on it, so if it would be a book one day, it was up to me to print the pages on my home printer.

I am glad that I began five months before the conference in Schenectady where it was to be on the book table.

There are not many pages; it meant putting each of five sheets of paper into the printer twice. I won’t bore with the whole tale, but some of the lowlights were having the printer jam several hundred times even though I only made 17 copies of Luna Moth. I ran out of ink, and had to print a couple of pages twice (four passes x 17 pages through the printer) because I found errors and wanted perfect books. Besides that, each time I printed a page, I had to print it as a single copy. If I could have demanded that my printer simple print say, 10 copies, that would have been much too easy. Trying this was not clever as ten or twenty pages would stick to each other, bound and determined to go through the printer together. So for each pass-through, I had to give the system four separate commands. That would be, let’s see, about eight hundred individually printed pages, or 3200 commands. I may be exaggerating, but only slightly.

Then I assembled and sewed the pages with my sewing machine, which wasn’t too pleased with working on paper and retaliated by not ever giving me a perfect tension. Three rows of stitches for each book, leaving the threads long, in a kind of tassle effect. The I was ready to insert dried fake bamboo touched up with gold paint through the sewn channels, so that I could put gold ‘thread’ hangers on these hang-up books. A couple of turquoise beads to anchor the threads. A snap.

But the grasses didn’t all fit through the sewn channels (I had to hunt for some more svelte members of the fake bamboo clan), the threads were finicky when I was fitting the end loops over the grasses, the beads were upset at being stuck down with a glue gun…they kept jumping from my fingers in revenge, arranging for said fingers to get burned by the hot glue while I fumbled. But the results are worth it. Here are some poems from Luna Moth:

tangerines/bursting/ with/ themselves

after rain/ a rinsed light, over the hills

milkweed blossom monarchs fold into each other

earthbound luna moth/ its rain-soaked/ transparent wings

plum
bloss
oms
fall
in
to
pink

on her skin he writes
invisible love letters
each word
a little warmer
than the next

i remember/ the moon/ in shades of raw silk/ and everywhere/ the music of water

Now I embark on another of the same kind of mission. I’ll use the same transparent paper. It will jam the printer. But I’ll feel great winning a few battles with my technology. Won’t I?

 

 

Poetry with nine and ten year olds

Although I have been in the teaching profession all my life, it’s been a while now since I’ve been in a classroom. I love teaching though, so when asked, I said yes, I’d teach poetry to an elementary school class. While waiting for the class to start I began writing words from ‘Jabberwocky’ on the whiteboard. MIMSY  BRILLIG FRUMIOUS VORPAL MANXOME MOME SLITHY… and as I printed, I could hear the students sounding them out, curious.

I began the session by reading ‘How to Paint a Donkey’ by Naomi Shihab Nye. The discussion became a bit warm as to whether a real donkey was being painted, or whether it was about a painting of a donkey. If we’d had time, we might have written that second version together. But they’d all been put down some time in their short life, and they empathized with the child speaking in the poem.

I’d made booklets up with poems about supernovas, the teeth of a shark, the first bright spark; we talked about rhyming and where rhymes might be in a poem, about the look of a poem and the sounds in poems, about what a poem could be about. Once we’d studied the words on the whiteboard, imagined what they might mean, I read Jabberwocky to them, brought up that they could even make up words if they wanted to.

We had more fun with a poem I wrote called ‘ode to the land down under’. Once we pinned down that it was about Australia and an interesting true vocabulary that Australians habitually use, I read them a poem full of place names like ‘woolloomooloo’, ‘toowoomba’, and ‘wahroonga’, phrases like ‘in the land of the barking frog’, and ‘pozzies, mozzies and cozzies’, but the sections they liked most were:

in the evening the macropods come out
wallabies
padmelons
potoroos
tree kangaroos

and:

where a cackleberry means an egg
for your brekkie
there could be a chook on the barbie
and if you’re sitting on your acre
you’re sitting on your own backside
well you’d have to get up
at sparrowfart mate to find anything else like it
this purler of a place
a true ridgy didge

They all wanted a chance to read a poem, so some got read twice. I had to drag out my notes on supernovas so they would believe the part about us all coming from stardust. I could hear the exhaled awe on that idea, which pleased them a lot.

One thing I wanted to talk about was that some of the biggest places were inside of them, that their imaginations were the biggest of all, so I asked about big places, what they could think of, and got castles, and the Canadian Tire Centre and space, galaxies… and then one quiet little redheaded girl put up her hand and literally breathed out the word ‘heart’…Well that was making my morning.

I had four haiku at the end of the booklet. What were these poems. None had heard of a haiku, which was wonderful, because I could start them off the right way, not counting syllables. I explained what many people thought, that a haiku meant 5 – 7 – 5, but told them about the difference between languages. I told them about living in a country where our word ‘piano’ meant nothing to them as most people there had never seen one. In Bislama, they called a piano wan-samting-blong-waet-man-we-i-gat-waet-tut-mo-blak-tut-mo-taem-you-kilim-hem-hemi-criaot-olsem-wan-puskat (which means ‘something that belongs to a white person that has white teeth and black teeth and when you hit it, it cries out like a cat). They seemed to get the idea of poems in seventeen Japanese syllables needing fewer words in English.

They were interested in the idea that haiku usually had a season word. We looked at the four poems in the book so they could get an idea of what that meant. The fun for me was that when I said we sometimes called haiku one-breath-poems, they all had to try that out. I could see them saying poems to themselves, seeing if that was true.

The haiku I presented were these:

November skies/ jellyfish hide/ inside themselves

singing night/ into day/ blackbirds

in the throat of the lily/ a spider/ wraps a fly

plum
bloss
oms
fall
in
to
pink

They wanted to know why they were poems, and what the one about plum blossoms meant. We acted that one out, the pink flowers falling onto those that were already on the ground. I am very glad I left these haiku to the last, because once we got on the theme of jellyfish, that was the end of everything else.  Jellyfish and Mexico, stingrays and swimming with jellyfish. We could have gone on for hours.

This was all part of Arts days, a two day happening in St. Mary’s Catholic School in Carleton Place. Artists, dancers, and writers came in for these artistic culture enrichment days. My thanks to Arts Carleton Place for asking me to be part of the fun. I’d certainly do it again. Thank you Inara Jackson for organizing this two-day experience, and to the school and its staff who were wonderful hosts, and the students were bright and simply terrific.

 

Grant Savage/Masud Taj

grant x h-masud-taj-532-600

rainy day
on the floor a puzzle piece
of blue sky

Today a puzzle piece takes over.  It’s the perfect poem for today as the sun has relented a little and we are not sweltering, but upon my opening Taj’s masterful rendering of Grant’s poem, the sky has become blue again.

This time Taj received four poems and chose this one. I have no idea how his minds works to create such a thing of beauty, whether he ‘sees’ the haiku in this form from the start or whether it develops as he puts writing instrument to paper. I like to imagine his process, though I realize how useless it would be to try.

Except for the aura of peaceful concentration that must hover about him as he begins.

The poem itself, with its economy of words the nouns ― day, floor, piece, sky. This is where the master haiku writer shows up. The nouns are modified by only two words ― rainy and puzzle. Then two prepositions and an article. From these ‘word puzzle pieces’ describing what he saw, he lets us into the picture. He takes us out of one weather situation into another, possibly of the mind, a neat trick.

There’s a turn in the poem after the second line, and Taj picked that up and literally ‘turned’ the third line, making it look like a reflection. That says that this is a poem to reflect upon. It says remember those too-long summer days when we were (are) locked inside, and the things we do to make the day pleasant. This poem is all the stored boxed games of our youth. It is getting together with friends or family, it is competition on a grand play scale. It is what we can do instead of taking our mood from the weather, it is our ability to metaphorically make our own days sunny, and so of course, to stop puddling around in our ‘miseries’ and do something about our life in general. It is a haiku that reinforces what Rilke wrote: You must change your life.

That short last line does so much, in words, and now in this graceful rendering of the haiku. What I truly love about this poem and its beautiful interpretation is that both are brief, that artist and poet simply set out to do their job as artist and poet, but that they have done so much more.

That Taj is a magical poet in his own right would have given him insights that moved his hand and his mind to create such a moving piece to match this poem. That delightful physical expression of ‘rainy day’ falling so perfectly into the rest of the poem.

Grant D. Savage is an Ottawa poet and photographer.

H. Masud Taj is a roving poet and Adjunct Professor at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, Carleton University, Ottawa.

 

 

Philomene Kocher’s haiku/ H. Masud Taj calligraphy!

Just look at this calligraphy! Every once in a while someone will make an offer you can’t refuse… In this case poet/calligrapher/architect/professor (and more) Taj emailed that if I would send him a haiku from one of my haiku authors, he would rewrite it in calligraphy to put on my blog. Rose (1)

I sent him Philomene Kocher’s poem:

rose hips and roses and buds/ on the same bush/ August evening

I sent this one to him because another of her publishers, Marco Fraticelli, said it was one of his favourite haiku, and I think it is deserves to be portrayed through Taj’s art. .

Taj and Bruce Meyer co-authored Alphabestiary: A Poetry-Emblem Book (2011, Exile Editions). Taj will probably say that this post was not supposed to be about him, so I won’t go on about his careers and publishing history, all of which you can discover yourself on the internet. (Actually Taj, I would like to do this myself on the blog one day…) I will only say further that when he is able to join one of our Ottawa poetry critique groups in Ottawa, (he is often away in India and other far Eastern places…) we learn a lot from what he sees in a poem.

Philomene Kocher is another poet who will  seldom get up on a podium to say much about herself, but she is a sensitive writer who is concerned about writing good haiku, and works to introduce others to this form of poetry. She has spoken at conferences, and worked with seniors who have lost great chunks of their memory, finding new inroads to their minds through haiku, while helping them to express themselves through the form.

Her poem is the perfect one to be highlighted today. The calligraphy adds new dimensions to her observation about the rose bush, making us want to linger even longer with her words. Thank you Taj! Thank you Philomene!

 

More on taking risks in haibun

Jane Hirshfield writes that to read a haiku is to become its coauthor, to place yourself inside its words until they reveal one of the …shapes of your own life. If the listener/reader can do that, can settle with those few words of a haiku, listen to them, curl them around in her mind, live with them for longer than a few seconds, climb inside them, consider their flavours, then the poem may begin to affect a life the way a great piece of music does.

celesta's writing croppedHaibun offers the chance to do that, but also to understand how the prose is affected by the haiku, how the two parts reflect off each other, changing the meaning of each part, or enriching it, backwards and forwards.  When either part is unusual for one reason or another, we get to think about that, about why the writer put those two parts together, decide whether the pairings work, and why or why not.  When a respected poet does something outrageous, we accept that something completely new is in the making.

When in Drifting (2014, catkin press) Marco Fraticelli set out to create haibun from a ragged set of papers, bills and journals, written by an unknown woman in the early 1900s, he did exactly that. He got to know Celesta Taylor so well, first by reading every scrap she left in that abandoned cabin, and then by paring her words down to the few that best told her story.  It is as if he became Celesta, until her story began to merge with his own life, until she and he were ready to coauthor the haibun in Drifting.

One might be surprised that a man wanted to take this on, or feel that a man would miss the subtle parts of what she chose to record, not only her emotions, but the details like canning tomatoes, doing the mending, her thoughts about God. However, to read the excerpts he has chosen tells us he understood her well and thoroughly in 1905 and through the following 11 years, felt close enough to Celesta to feel what she did, see what she did, and act as she did. He becomes Celesta. There’s a feeling of conversation between the Celesta who was and the Celesta he has become. This is me, Marco, wanting to communicate with you, Celesta Taylor.  I feel I know you. It’s a conversation that begins:

Henry gave me this diary/ an old one of his/ so I like it better than new. (November 6, 1910), a haiku he has created from her own words.

Celesta’s diary begins in 1905 when she writes about her teenage sons away at school, about going to the doctor about her arm, and reporting that the mill caught fire. The mill belonged to the man and his daughter that she was housekeeping for. Each of these entries a month apart were marked with a mysterious ‘X’. Half the world’s population will get this right away.

The haiku following these three entries, written by Fraticelli, form links with her words, yet also with his own life, for this is something he himself has also done:

I sprinkle ashes/from the woodstove/onto the compost pile

After a difficult month, Celesta barely mentions Christmas, 1905:

December 18, 1905: Henry’s surgical operation.

December 20, 1905: Henry sat up a few minutes.

December 21, 1905: Grandpa died.

December 25, 1905: Christmas. Ploding about as usual.  (Her own spelling)

Marco responds with: boxing day/I light the fire/with wrapping paper

Using found material in any poetry can be risky. Yet in Drifting, Celesta Taylor becomes real, and her story mesmerizing, for these are her own words, her own experience, her own feelings, and her lover’s ultimate betrayal. Drifting is a collaboration happening across a century.

In his further investigations in using haibun, Fraticelli has put together a small chapbook of selections from Fragments, a work in progress.

fragments cover Also called Fragments, (2014, King’s road Press) in these chapbook poems he works backwards from Chiyo-ni’s haiku, creating the prose in Chiyo-ni’s voice. The imaginary premise is that letters written by Chiyo-ni have been found in a Buddhist temple. Marco ‘edits’ these invented letters, and follows the prose with one of Chiyo-ni’s haiku:

I can’t imagine that I will actually ever send these letters to you. It is more likely that they will be found under my pillow one morning when I do not return from my final dream of you.

 I also saw the moon/ and now, world/ “yours truly…”

Recreating a poet from made-up letters, now that is amazing, Mr. Fraticelli.

Terry Ann Carter of Victoria, B.C., is writing haibun from another unusual perspective. For a long time she has been in awe of the set of woodcut prints known as The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido, for which Hiroshige (1797 – 1858) painted the originals.

shimada

Widely recognised as one of the true greats of ukiyo-e art, Hiroshige was a prolific artist who specialised in painting landscapes and adopting Western techniques such as perspective.

Hiroshige was not a printmaker. He painted the pictures which were then used as guides to be pasted onto woodblocks by the woodblock carver and his apprentices. One block was needed for each colour, and sometimes as many as twenty or thirty blocks were needed. A carver would train for over twenty years before he was allowed to touch the finer parts of a block.

Then the blocks were off to the printers. Each finished print was the outcome of registering each of the many carved blocks over the previously printed colour so that the lines and colours fell in exactly the right place. It was a complicated system of keeping the papers damp, and having highly developed complex colour and printing skills, knowing about changes in pressure, in the brushing, variations in the proportion of pigment to paste, in the way the pigment pools subtlely at the edge of the printed shapes, in the types of brushes used. Hiroshige had the easy part, though he is the one who gets credit for the prints, just as Picasso did.

The Tokaido was one of several important roads constructed by the Shoguns to increase their control over the country. In 1832 Hiroshige made the trip to Kyoto as part of a delegation sent on behalf of the Shogun. Upon his arrival back in Edo he immediately began work on a series of prints that would become known as The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido.

All that to explain the fascination of the prints from an artistic point of view.  Ms. Carter sees this side of the prints, and has envisioned Hiroshige as he walks the Tokaido, putting herself into the mind of the painter, but linking it to her own world. We shift from 1832 Japan to 2015 Canada in these poems.  Although Hiroshige was looking and sketching landscape, he could not escape his own concerns, such as how to survive as an artist and maintain his own political integrity.

In her haibu, she walks the path with the painter and suddenly realizes the world crashing in on her meditative or reflective state. In this haibun, she and Hiroshige arrive at Station 23:

Station 23: Shimada

How Best to Cross a River or a Stream

You always said try holding it together for a change. But I’m battling depression. My body a tripod with the help of a walking stick. A hiking manual deleting the part about shallow water. Your answer to everything…elliptical. A poet writes about being a kid. Seeing his neighbour drown a sack of kittens one cold November night. That river too wide to cross. Does anyone listen to Little Walter anymore? My eye surgeon cutting into the heart of me. All that I see. My father crossing North Africa. 1943. Rommel on the run. These trajectories at the lookout, north of Black Mountain College. On the North Carolina switchback they call Blue Ridge.

triptych/ painting of a chair/ a chair and sumi-e

I once was at a weekend workshop in Connecticut with Jane Hirshfield and Robert Bly. The simplicity and honesty in their approach to poetry was remarkable. My respect for what she writes tripled, and it was mighty to begin with.  She writes: To plunge one thing into the shape or nature of another is a fundamental gesture of creative insight, part of how we make for ourselves a world more expansive, deft, fertile, and startling in richness.

Here we have seen Terry ann Carter and Marco Fraticelli ‘plunging’ into the lives of others, creating, through ‘sympathetic magic’, opportunities for the rest of us to experience those lost rich worlds.

 

More Publisher’s Hat

Singing in the Silo by Philomene Kocher (2014, catkin press)

singing in the silo coverAt the end of this post, note the website of Philomene Kocher, for that is where you can get a copy of this gem.

When a writer with a haiku heart lets you in on her process, it is a special gift to the haiku/tanka/haibun world. This is what Philomene Kocher has done. Instead of selecting ‘only her best’ work, she shows her first haiku, and lets you follow her growth in writing Japanese form.

Ms. Kocher grew up on a farm in Ontario, and many of her haiku reflect this, and speak of family joys and sadness:

boots phil 1In a haibun (prose followed by haiku) this is the haiku she uses, an early memory:

U turn/ the snake slides/ over its own tail

After a death, she writes:

over the years/ the wound on the elm/ has closed and healed/ like the one in my heart

There is a tender world between the covers of Singing in the Silo, between her photo on the front cover of a lake dear to her and her sisters, and the image of the farm family’s boots on the back.

http://www.singinginthesilo.ca/

 

More Publisher’s hat

Drifting, Marco Fraticelli  (2013, catkin press)COVER drifting frontWhen I began catkin press, I wanted fiercely to start with publishing poetry by Marco Fraticelli. Any poetry by Fraticelli, and I was sure he was hiding a manuscript or two, or ideas for a manuscript or two, so I asked him. Turned out there was an idea he had been thinking about and working on for a long time. Not the haiku or lyric poetry he was known for, something else: haibun based on some old papers he had found in an abandoned house in the Eastern Townships over 30 years ago.

I was intrigued by the yellowing paper, especially the journal fragments, and the handwriting of one Celesta Taylor, in love with an older man, caring for his children, and the details of a rural woman’s life in the early 1900s.

What Marco did was to edit and use her words as the basis of the prose part of the haibun, adding his own haiku. He has been a haiku poet for many years and is another Canadian haiku master. In a foreword, he explains more about his process, and tells more of her life, garnered from research done by his sister Rina who had made a NFB film based on the same materials.

We came up with the perfect size for Drifting-a little smaller, the right size to tuck into a pocket or purse. Convenient.

Marco Fraticcelli is a lyric and haiku poet, and publisher, from Montreal. For copies, message me on facebook.