The following haiku is from a dream, copied down verbatim. At the time I knew it was written in response to, and in honor of the work of Kaneko Tohta:
at what point
during the A-bomb
did the cherry blossoms bloom
How did the impact of Tohta’s poetry weave a way into my dreams? His work was largely unknown in the west until the publication of a series of works translated from the Japanese by The Kon Nichi Translation Group, (of which Richard Gilbert is a member). The strikingly original imagery and often surreality of Tohta’s haiku cause them to linger in the consciousness long after reading.
I was struck by his unflinching, matter-of factness when addressing topics like the war and the unspeakably horrific Atomic bomb:
one dog two cats
we three finally
This alongside his gift for transcendently sensitive imagery reflecting on man’s relationship to Nature makes Tohta’s work remarkable, moving, and deeply affecting:
we all flow, float away
the sea tide stays
The two haiku above are from Kaneko Tohta: Selected Haiku With Notes and Commentary, Part 2: 1961-2012, published by Red Moon Press in 2012.
Scott Metz has written an exploration of Tohta’s blue sharks haiku, including numerous possible translations from a variety of sources, as well as a look at the unexpected role of surrealism in haiku. This R’r blog entry is well worth a second or even third read and can be found in the Roadrunner Haiku Journal archives here: