In the late autumn, on a starry night, I requested World Haijin, Dr. P.K. Padhy from India to reveal his successful Japanese short form Verses journey and he immediately accepted my invite and shared his rich living experiences.
Pravat Kumar Padhy, hails from Berhampur, Orissa, professionally a Petroleum Geologist, ONGC, India. Holds Masters in Science and Ph.D in Applied Geology from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. Published literary articles and poems in leading English news papers, journals, anthologies and e-zines. Literary work referred in ‘Interviews with Indian Writing in English’, Indian Literature, Anger in Action: Exploration in Indian Writing in English, Spectrum History of Indian Literature in English, Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Poetry, A Survey of Indian English Poetry etc. Awarded “Certificate of Honour” from Writer’s Life Line, Canada. Included in International Who’s Who in Poetry and Poets, Literary article titled “Abstract Poems” adjudged as the 2nd best entry in the Asian American Poetry e-Journal. Member, World Society of Poets, USA, Honoured as “Featured Poet” by Poetry Street e-Journal, UK, Editors’ Choice Poet award at Poetbay, USA. Recipient of Poetry award from Writers Guild of India.
Credited publication of verses, “Silence of the Seas”, and “The Tiny Pebbles”. The third volume of verse, “Songs of Love - A Celebration” is in press (Writers Workshop Publication)
Member, World Poets Society, USA and United Minds for Peace Society (UMFPS) and many overseas literary journals.
R.A: Please tell us about your global entry into the Japanese short form verses such as Haiku, Senryu and Tanka? During your entry, who were the prominent English writing Haiku Poets in India and Abroad?
P.K.P: I used to enjoy poetic feeling of expression and at an early age of around thirteen or fourteen, I composed proverbial type of short poems (one or two lines) while writing essay on some topics. In 1978 some of my haiku-like poems in my mother tongue “Oriya” appeared in the Deepti magazine. In the collection, Interviews with Indians Writing in English, edited by Atma Ram, 1992, I said, “Poems come to my mind as fragrance to flower. Anything I see, it creates a symbolic frame in my mind......... when I see a small grain of seed, I feel it is tiny / because it nests with care / the mightiest in it”.
Earlier I wrote both longer and shorter versions of free and formal verses. Presently I feel more comfortable in writing with shorter version of poem. It gives enough energy for unveiling the touch of beauty through brevity. Earlier I was not fully versed with the Japanese form verses and I used to compose concise style of poems and called them as “Abstract Poems”.
In late 2009 I had a chance of over viewing the published review article on “Indian English Haiku and R K Singh” by Razni Singh in e-zine “Got Poetry”. I read the article carefully and the poetic beauty of the three-line expression. In Sept 2009, I posted a mini poem “Pretending” in PoetBay and got a quick mention of appreciation from Shells, UK suggesting to condense it to three lines instead four, in the form of haiku. I could find that some of my earlier poems quite closely resemble (though not in the strict sense) to haiku and tanka like verses.
I was thrilled when I got an acceptance of my first haiku poem in Lynx.
Dog is misspelled
the child discovered
I had written the above poem as short verse with title “God” long ago (late eighties and early nineties).
Below Haiku gave me immense confidence when it was published in “The Notes From the Gean”, Vol.2, Issue 1, June 2010.
measuring sand dune height
a lone lizard
My first printed haiku was published in the journal “Ambrosia”, Summer Issue -2010, It was a haiku expressing with simple words keeping in view the brevity and using a Kigo withproper juxtaposition of images.
The prominent Indian haikuists during that time are Yajushi, Johannes Manjrekar, Rajiv Lather, Angelee Deodhar, Kala Ramesh, K. Ramesh, A. Thiagrajan, R.K.Singh, Aju Mukhopadhyay and Gautami Nadkarni.
There are many iconic figures in Japanese-form of writing in the world. No doubt Basho, Busan, Issac and Shiki are the pillars of the Japanese creative poetic form. I have the opportunity of reading haiku by Jim Kacian, Hisashi Nakamura, Susumu Takiguchi, Fay Aoyagi, H G Blyth, William J. Higginson, Hidenori Hiruta, Lorin Ford, George Swede, Peggy Willis Lyles, Ferris Gilli and many others. I record with deep pleasure the inspirations I received from many well wishers and specially Alice Frampton.
R.A: What motivates you to write Zen Poetries so regularly? How it is unique compared to the other forms of poetry? Does writing these poetries take a poet towards enlightenment as Haijins claim to be?
P.K.P: Poetry creates a fabric of resonance to transmit the human essence into the world of physics and geology, and further into a greater space. It directly bridges the poet’s inner feeling and his relationship with the nature. We all are integral part of natural beauty entwining the philosophy of science and arts. The tiniest object of nature has its genuine worth in this world and it is associated with us in different forms. I feel it is the realization of this truth that has given rise to genesis of Haiku poem. The haiku discovers the meaning of each entity through aesthetic way. Haiku imparts life to every object with the help of vivid image. Essentially the genre of expression acts as a diligent medium to have a wide spectrum of exploration and thus it motivates me a lot. Writing haiku unveils the poetic essence and lively moments associated with all the entities within the fold of nature and human observations. Slowly you start realizing the value of the minute dust particle to diamond, rain drops to ranges of mountain, distance of sun rays to closeness to your shadow, tiniest creatures to the mightiest, tender grass blade to the eucalyptus and voice of silence to rhythms of sound.
Haiku is unique in its form and simplistic expression with reference to season or nature as a whole. It offers a chance to unearth the scientific divinity that surrounds us. This makes it distinct from the rest form of poetry. The image that is created through haiku in its brevity is undoubtedly is the spark of self-realization.
Nature is the mother of all lives, matters and antimatters. When we honestly try to unveil the beauty of the rest and correlate with others, we do become philosophical and subtly get enlightened. You start pouring respect to everything within the ambient of nature. The inner feeling slowly mingles with the soulful light through creative writings leading to possibly self-realization and enlightenment.
R.A: Please showcase a haiku and a tanka from your creations that is so close to your heart and also kindly give some insight, for the readers, on how to interpret them?
P.K.P: I am still an amateur in the world of Japanese poetry-form of writing. Through haiku I tried to unfold the spiritual wealth of even the dust particle because it embodies the basic building block of creation, living or non-living. Though it becomes difficult to choose one out of many, I take liberty to solemnly put forth the following haiku and tanka (two each) for example sake.
the child wonders
The above haiku appeared in “The Mainichi Daily News”, 3rd Nov 2010 and awarded Honourable Mention, Haiku in English: Best of 2010, The Mainichi Daily News. It was displayed in the “Haiku Wall “Haiku Art Exhibition, historic Liberty Theatre at the Quarterly National Haiku Society of America Meeting in Bend, Oregon, USA, June 3-5, 2011.
The above haiku essentially expresses the anxiety on the part of the child about the absence of full moon. Mythological points of view, parents in India symbolize the full moon for narrating many stories. There is an s/l/s schema with Kigo reference. It evaluates the moment and creates meaningful juxtaposition of two images.
My second choice is the following one.
flight of cranes—
bridging the sea
with the sky
The above haiku was published in “Haiku Reality / Haiku Stvarnost”, May, 2011 and awarded the “Second Best Choice” of the issue.
The flight of crane is a dynamic manifestation making an image of linkage between the sea and the sky. The first line, in segment form, juxtaposes the genetic linkage with the other image expressed in the second and third line. It exhibits phenomena of moment.
My first tanka (given below), published in “Atlas Poetica”, Issue 6, 2010, narrates the essence of the poem to a different level of imagination. The pivotal third line juxtaposes the human feelings in a spontaneous urge.
tomorrow man may
fly to Mars and beyond
I wish all to settle
and flourish as human alone -
no caste, no religion
Another tanka, I wish to refer, is the one given below that appeared in “Simply Haiku”, Vol.8, No.2, 2010.
awaits the old man at post office
the grief soaked paper
sends the message to darkness
over the coffee mixed with tears
One can stretch the pathos of the old man on receiving the telegram containing the sad news. The pivotal third line - grief soaked paper - speaks everything of it.
R.A: Why India have only a few world-class Zen poets unlike the Western and the Eastern countries and What it takes for any other poet to be a Haiku or a Tanka poet?
P.K.P: Traditionally the contemporary Indian poetry has a rich heritage embodying various socio-economic, socio-political and nature based concepts. Poetry in Indian regional languages dealt with multifaceted subject matters and thematic values. The Indian poetry, in earlier age, was of highly symbolic with finest lyrical value depicting romance, socio-moral and patriotic entities. The literary culture dates back to saint poetry like the Vedas and the Upanishads. The poetry dominated with idealism and metaphysical milieu. The Indian English Poetry or earlier The Anglo-Indian, as generally known, generally followed the voice of Victorian poets particularly during pre-independence time. In those days the expression was loaded with metaphors, similes and images. The post-independence writings took a gradual shift towards contemporary values reflecting more of socio-political ideas and issues. The expression becomes liberalized keeping intact the essence of poetry in designing the modern Indian English literature. Thus a wide section of people could articulate their feelings in shaping the socio-economics of the present India. In this process a number of writers and poets established their indelible marks in the world literature.
Rabindranath Tagore composed the haiku like one line poems and his book, “Stray Birds” was published by New York: Macmillion Company in 1916. Many such references have also been observed in his travelogue “Japan-Jatri”. Subramania Bharati also wrote extensively on Japanese poetry. The Indian poetry, both in English and regional languages, embodies huge literary wealth. During nineteen fifties Hindi poets namely Srikanta Varma, Krishnakanta Dubey, Kailash Vajpeyi and others wrote minimalist poetry in three lines. Like Ezra Pounds work, some of the Indian writings in regional languages are written in the minimalist form. Satyabhusan Verma translated Japanese poetry into Hindi during 1977. Probably due to limited exposure to age old Japanese-form of poetry and in the absence of wide translation, a few Indians have been recognized as world class Zen poets. In contrast, the western literary forum is quick enough to simplify the Japanese form of poetry and through literary journals and e-zines, tried to make it widely available. This has lead to get the haiku more popular in contemporary sense and expression in western world. Similarly the Japanese poems have earned popularity in Germany, France, Poland, Serbia, Croatia and many European countries. It also attained equal wide recognition in Australia and New Zealand.
A poet can unveil his or her poetic feeling in the form of Japanese genres. The haiku contains two images, the “fragment” and the “phrase”. The fragment is written in the first line and the phrase is expressed remaining in two lines. Personally I believe to respect the traditional rules of s/l/s schemata for haiku writing with a seasonal reference and having a fair degree of juxtaposition. The fragment image could also be expressed in the third line. Minimum use of adjective, articles, gerund, refraining from use of simile, metaphor (with exception of implied poetic predicament), adverbs and conditional clauses are some of the essential attributes for writing haiku. In general the haiku should not be personified. The poem should be written in the present sense. Do not try to incorporate ordinary cause and effect while writing. At no point it should be a sentence broken into three lines. One can put “dash” or “dots” (ellipsis) to separate the distinct images. Too much tension and compulsion won’t deliver the best. The traditional poets need a short transitional time for creating haiku and tanka. I have the best experience of it. It is always to have a tender expression of the nature by presenting art of words for the readers to derive the emotion, goodness and divine pleasure of the haiku moment. The wordplay needs to be simple with subtle contents with more of imageries rather than narration. Haiku is open ended, and one should try to avoid rhymes or denoting the haiku with a title. Haiku enlivens the common entity of nature and presents its dynamism both in scientific and aesthetic ways through tender poetic language.
Similarly the general format of s/l/s/l/l with human flavor needs to be incorporated with lyrical value in tanka writings. One has liberty to compose lyrical poem incorporating philosophical meaning between the first two lines with the fourth and fifth alongside the pivotal third line. The basic ingredients need to be respected with a fair degree of modernity. At the end it should reflect the wisdom of poetic credence. The image-moment around us and its poetic association with human behavior, season, climate, observances, plants, animals, geographical world and elements of senses are to be poetically embedded to enliven the soulful feeling .Too much of philosophical or input of metaphysical aspects may not evoke the tenderness of Japanese style of poetry. It should be simple and subtle enough to reflect the hidden beauty of natural world. One can try to evolve contemporary sketch of neo-haiku on the background on natural color, irrespective whether he lives in village, urban area or elsewhere. That is the beauty of craftsmanship of Japanese masters. Let us honor them even we shift to Moon or Mars!
R.A: What is your opinion on a Haiku being modernizing into one-line and artistic forms especially in Western countries?
P.KP: The original haiku in Japanese language is a class of its own. The richness cannot be fully transcreated into other language. But one can perceive the spiritual spark-moment of the unique style of poem. Discussion on syllable count, whether to express in one, two, or three lines or as long as four lines may remain as a debatable point, especially in the neo-literary revolution.
But it has been a unanimous practice to write haiku in s/l/s schemata with some minor exceptions. One can express the same in one-line style. But taking all liberty in the name of poetry, we should put the conventional three lines with seasonal reference so as to retain the aesthetic value of poetry. At the end the poetry should reflect the relationship between human with nature through the language of pristine poetic parlance.
R.A: Name some Haiku and Tanka Journals for the young poets to read and also to develop their writing skills in this genre?
P.K.P: In the present internet-world one can scan the whole universe within no time. But the main craftsmanship lies in the honest thinking and renewing the gift of nature within the ambient of literature. There should be an inner urge for deep appreciation of the entirety of the world. I feel one should first read extensively the traditional rich history of Japanese short form poetry. Though it appears very simple, it becomes difficult to justify the writings keeping in view the gift of the Japanese style.
For the beginners, I advise to read the basics first. A brief note on ‘An introduction to Haiku and Senryu for New Haiku and Senryu Poets’ by Curtis Dunlap, recently posted in Blogging Along Tobacco Road, is an interesting article for the beginners. “History of Haiku” by R H Blyth, “The Bare Bones School of Haiku” by Jane Reichhold, “First Thoughts - A Haiku Primer” by Jim Kacin (Red Moon Press, 2005) are of very useful reference books. Haiku Technique by Jane Reichhold, Contemporary Haiku: Origin and New Directions by A C Missia are some of the best articles available on haiku.
“Tanka Teachers Guide” (Modern English Tanka Press, 2007), “Ten Thousand Leaves- The Oldest Collection of Japanese Poetry”, “Poetics of Japanese Verse” by Koji Kawamoto are some of the books worth reading. One may also go through the classical articles on Tanka Techniques by Jane Reichhold, The Tanka Verse Form by J. Zimmerman. Shadow Poetry.com has given a useful note for reference on Haiku and Senryu. Poets can also refer articles posted in different haiku societies namely Aha Poetry, Haiku Society of America, Haiku Foundation, Haiku Oz, Haiku New Zealand, Haiku Dreaming Australia, British Haiku Society, Irish Haiku Society and others. “In the Moonlight a Worm …” is one of the best articles on haiku writing and is available on website www.haiku.insouthsea.uk.
Every journal has its own laid out format and priority. Hence my sincere advice is to reflect poetic value in writings rather than trapped in a meandering race. While writing, always distinguish between didactic prosaic expressions from that of more poetic idioms. One can approach different forums like The Poetry Pages, The Critical Poet, Lit.Org and blogs specially “Blogging Along The Tobacco Road” for enhancing knowledge on Japanese-form of poetry.
The time and topography have been changed over the years. The poetry should reflect the surroundings and preserve the history at large. We have to shape the moment with sublime touch to create the haiku spirit with feeling of goodness and mystical touch.
R.A: Who are your favourites poets, in this genre, from this century and also your favorite masters from Japan?
P.K.P: It is a tough question to classify the ever favourites. I respect all who express poetry with a soul of honesty, and value everything as a part of nature’s family. Indeed I try to like the poetry first.
My favourites, with no search of imagination, are Basho, Busan, Issac and Shiki. Every haikuist has his/her own personal reflection. Poetry of Yousei Hime, Hisashi Nakamura, Ban’ya Natsuishi, Susumu Takiguchi, Isamu Hashimoto, Hidenori Hiruta attracts me.
R.A: How important is a Kigo (Seasonal reference) and a Kireji (Cutting Word) for a Haiku? How much of your works uses these principle elements gifted to us by the Japanese masters? Do you find Kigos, from any book or database, for your haiku or do they create themselves in your haiku poetry? Please showcase some examples?
P.K.P: The basic guidelines bestowed by the Japanese masters have some deep meaning. The river tends to flow as per the physics of topography. We may modernize ourselves to any extent, but cannot stress nakedness is also a form of dress code. I feel the seasonal reference (Kigo) and the cutting word (Kireji) are the essence of haiku poem. Let us explore it as far as practicable with respect .The nature is an entity of manifold. Our attitude to it is changing. I try to keep these ingredients in my haiku either directly by use of seasonal words or by an implied meaning. It enlightens the inherent creativeness and poetic resonance. In Japanese the Kireji is expressed by syllables, but in English, it is denoted by punctuation. The “Kireji” sharpens the diamond edge of the haiku feeling in the form of juxtaposition or disjunction. If the poet thinks that the expression is explicit for the reader to understand the images without difficulty, the natural pause itself takes care of the cutting word.
I try to learn more about the aesthetic values and attempt to keep these elements while writing haiku.
I use to incorporate the common seasonal reference and compose haiku. They create themselves in my haiku. Very recently, as per suggestion to write haiku on a specific season, from the available Kigo database, for the first time, I referred “The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words” (selected by Kenkichi Yamamoto; translated by Kris Young Kondo and William J. Higginson) and “World Kigo Database” by Gabi Greve.
Also one can refer “The Haiku Handbook” by William J. Higginson to know more about kigo words.
The followings are some of my recent haiku depicting the seasonal references or the implied ones.
in lonely desert wind—
a widow tree
Sketchbook, Vol. 6, No.1, Jan-Feb, 2011
I move round
The Mainichi Daily News, 25th May , 2011
Honorable Mention, Asahi Haiku, October 21, 2011
Some examples for which I refer “The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words” to write haiku for the Autumn season are enumerated below:
moon at dawn--
roaming leaves caress
the tender winter
Autumn Kigo: “moon at dawn” / Autumn morning: from “World Kigo Database”
colorful waves across
Autumn Kigo: “autumn paddy” / Autumn- The Earth: from “The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words”