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The Indianness in Contemporary Haiku
by Ramesh Anand
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It is an attempt to demonstrate the contemporary haiku accepted by the various journals across the world through my published haiku of Indian essence. Seasonal reference is strongly endorsed by the journals across the world though 5-7-5 format is a long forgotten guideline in English haiku. Most of them still like S/L/S format haiku.

rice fields . . .
bent woman reaping
gossip
 
India is predominantly an agrarian economic country and rice cultivation is one of our main occupations. This poem has a strong seasonal reference, one of harvest time – which in India is around end of autumn. Hai means humour and ku means verse. This little poem fits into this definition most beautifully! – Kala Ramesh

winter deepens
... lungi shivering on
the beggar's face

Lungi is a piece of cloth that is worn / tied around the waist [something like a sarong], by men. In a hot humid country like India, something that is loosely wrapped around the waist is a more practical way of handling this scorching heat. Since a poor man’s wardrobe would be limited, what he wears in winter might be the same lungi that would have kept him cool in summer too.

Here I clearly see a poor man, in extreme cold weather, hunched and huddled-up, The impact this image creates is noteworthy. The poem is rewarding if readers know a bit about lungi, else it could easily pass off as a pedestrian attempt.

Haiku is made up of unadorned words with an inbuilt emotional dexterity that it needs no special knowledge of a language to enjoy them. In my opinion, a haiku’s strength lies in the world of imagery, and surely not in merely understanding the words as they stand. – Kala Ramesh

summer dream
counting the butterflies
in neighbor’s garden

Philippines

maple leaves
in so many colours  . . .
her embroidery

In this poem the reader can see the leaves changing colour as autumn arrives and the beautiful colours in the woman’s needlework. Many people will have observed the change that takes place in autumn leaves and will also be familiar with a fine piece of tapestry or needlepoint. – Patricia Prime

the lemon shivers
over my stretched hand
. . . spoon race

India

spring's end
my infant fingers
the fallen petal

Really moving Haiku Ramesh Anand and the Haiku is structurally well formed. From the vast term "spring's end" (which acts as the kigo too), suddenly one zooms to the infant and then further zooms to the fingers and finally the haiku, reveals the mysterious fallen petal! 

"Fallen petal" is clearly the ageless symbol of "spring's end". But the ancient lore gets a new leash of life with this haiku that brings an infant's innocent fingers to resonate silently, the hidden time element insinuating the eternal ephemeral nature of all existence, in the cosmic biography of a fallen petal. - Vishnu Narayanan

waters of spring . . .
father backstrokes
into healthiness

spring dream
a rooster stirs the stillness
into dawn

USA

autumn sky . . .
patches of twilight
in the falling leaf

rolling out
of the rice fields –
the remaining snow

holding on
with what she left behind 
winter moon

Australia

Contemporary haiku follows the fragment and the phrase structure from the traditional haiku. Contemporary haiku when connects the fragment in first line with the phrase in third line turns into classical haiku. 

Contemporary haiku is evolving as faster as any other art but keeping the nucleus intact; seasonal reference, cutting line, one breath reading structure, a poet lives in zem moment, captures the observed moment in a truthful manner, gives the reader an inspiration to align with nature etc.,

Decades back, a haiku that is not captured immediately after observing the moment is called desk haiku. In today's contest, everything is desk haiku as it has be represented in an artistic structure.

sound of fountain . . .
my infancy echoes
in her rhythm

Germany

monsoon’s end
patches of emptiness
on the evening moon

new year’s wishes
sprouts between the
concrete slabs

Ireland

uphill walking . . .
she takes me into
winter clouds

autumn dawn --
she sees a white hair
in my mustache

autumn evening –
each tombstone’s shadow
joins the next grave

Canada

summer dawn –
the path of cowries
beyond the sea
 
Serbia
 
spring moon
the scent of jasmine
spreading in the night
 
Croatia

autumn dawn --
mother serves white rice
on an almond leaf
 
new year's eve
rangoli patterns
in the street

Each state has special ways of drawing designs on the entrance to their homes. In Southern India, we draw with powdered rice flour, which actually helps to feed the ants and the birds. One of the ways of co-existence that’s practiced even today. – Kala Ramesh

new year dawn--
memories of mother
praying aloud

Japan 

Continued to "The Role of Seasons in Indian Haiku" 
 

July 21, 2012

More by :  Ramesh Anand

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