Dream Haiku for Kaneko Tohta

 

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

                                         now gone

 

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
not A-bombed

 

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.

 

Of note:

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:

https://roadrunnerhaikublog.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/kaneko-tohtas-blue-sharks/

 

 

Lose your mind and come to your senses — Fritz Perls

I live for those wild — and strangely peaceful — moments when I am given a rare objective glimpse into the universe of thought.

Am I here?
          the fragrant molecule
                       on a path
                 to wilderness

Question Michelle Tennison,  Answer Richard Gilbert (2017)

The concept of  Ma is one of the ideas central to the Japanese haiku aesthetic. Richard Gilbert’s Poems of Consciousness and the interviews with contemporary Japanese poets found therein helped bring this difficult-to-pin down concept to the West.  The translators of one of these interviews with Hasegawa Kai define Ma in terms such as

space — ‘betweenness,’ alternate dimension or time, a psycho-poetic interval of betweenness — non-literal reality arising as resonance, between and through words, and beyond them.”

This gap or space between images, elements, and/or ideas created by “cutting,” whether as juxtaposition or disjunction (and here I refer you, dear reader, to Richard Gilbert’s remarkable The Disjunctive Dragonfly for those wanting to really explore this exciting poetic territory) is pretty much the soul of haiku,  and it is why we as fans of of the genre can keep coming back to a haiku again and again and continue to encounter something new there, depending upon where we find ourselves at that moment in our lives.

Clearly there is something similar going on here with the gap between questions and answers in the Surrealist Q&A Game, with its communally creative space that gives the sense of being infinitely possible.  Could it be that this gap that arises in Mind, this empty space, is where all the fun really is?


Rejecting a sentimental utopia, what is your vision?

          The white door between things

Question Richard Gilbert,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)

What Flies Between: Richard Gilbert

Version 3

Purple-podded pole bean, photograph by Michelle Tennison, 2016

 

Poet and scholar Richard Gilbert boldly peers into the spaces between things to give definition to what sparks there.

For over a decade Richard has helped to define haiku as Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), and his upcoming Investigations into the Space of Mind, of Poetry of Sanctuary: Haiku, and an Ethics of Freedom promises to take this exploration even further. His work is complex, often brilliant and groundbreaking. His essay The Disjunctive Dragonfly, originally published in 2004 and more recently expanded into book form with Red Moon Press in 2013, has been likened to a “thunderbolt” within the genre, “expanding the potential of haiku in the 21st Century. ”

So, (and this is just to give you a heads-up), if you play the Question and Answer Game with Richard Gilbert expect to travel into the farthest reaches of the space-time continuum, knock about there just a bit, and likely find a paradigm shift or two just for fun.

You are writing a poem to the inhabitable exoplanet Trappist-1e
“A world swimming in water in perpetual twilight.” What is it?
          In sand dunes I waited but she didn’t

Question Richard Gilbert,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)

Most likely you’ll then feel yourself heading deep into the heart of Mystery itself with a headlong aesthetic rush. Is Truth Love?  Is Truth Truth? I don’t know for certain, but it sure is beautiful.

Is this an unfortunate reality?
          just the two of us:
          what flies between
          the kiss

Question Michelle Tennison,  Answer Richard Gilbert (2017)

An Internal Barometer of Truth

The seemingly incongruous juxtaposition, the often wildly unexpected pairing of two or more images and/or concepts: This is where Surrealism draws much of its power to affect consciousness, and The Question and Answer Game is no exception.

The gift of resonance allows us to recognize veracity within what may at first appear to be an impossibly matched pair of answers and questions. The insights we experience aren’t necessarily grasped by the Mind, at least not at first, but they are nevertheless felt to be true. The pathway to this new awareness is more like a sudden expansion of consciousness, not the linear one we are used to in ordinary discourse.  It feels more like the opening up that occurs when we hear a sound that is particularly resonant, like that of a bell or a tuning fork, and something within us moves suddenly in synchronous agreement.

This energetic affirmation, this felt sense of  “Yes, that is so,” (often despite initial illogical appearance), is our guide to reading the results of Surrealist literary games,  as well as interacting with haiku and other forms of literature and art that are intuition-based. We can’t rely on expectations, history, or habit.  It is a felt experience, but where do we feel it? In our ‘gut,’ our heart, every cell of our being? Is our DNA doing a little dance of communion? I don’t believe that it is possible to exactly locate where the process occurs.  Maybe it is all of the above. The point is that this experience is to a large extent internal.

Why does this matter? If the assembly point of our reality and our sense of truth is internal, what does this mean? Perhaps if we can learn to trust this gift of resonance, we can learn to trust ourselves to determine what we will and will not align ourselves with, based on what feels most life-promoting, honest, and authentic. If we can learn to judge these things for ourselves maybe we will be less likely to be easily manipulated or swayed by the agendas of others.

Yes, this internal barometer of truth matters. It might even be at the heart of why Surrealism, despite its surface appearance,  is so much more than frivolous, why it is in fact revolutionary, and why nearly 100 years after its inception it continues to be relevant.

Surrealist games and Surrealistic art in general are rather brilliant at shining a light on this inherent, sometimes latent, skill of discerning truth for ourselves, in part by highlighting the fact that there are so many potential truths available at all times. It is up to us to accept or reject what is set before us. It is up to us to see what is possible.

How liberating!

When Meaning is Resonant

The term resonance has long been associated with the felt-depth of meaning and intuitively realized truth of haiku. It also plays a role in comprehension of the results of The Question and Answer Game.  Both haiku and the surrealist Q&A Game are by design nonlinear, and both can create a window into some of the mysteries of non-ordinary consciousness. The dictionary definition of resonance tells us that it is “the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions,” but within the realm of physics it is also clearly a factor of vibration. Resonance is also “the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object.” In the case of an individual responding to a work of literature or art, the implication of resonance is that there is some kind of energetic exchange and/or harmonious vibrational communion of heart (emotion) and of mind (memory/perception) involved. Something in the poem or artwork strikes a resonant chord within our being, a sense of expansion occurs, and we experience a recognition of Truth.

I personally find that the effect it is not too far off from that of the Sanskrit greeting Namaste, which loosely translates as The God within me recognizes the God within you.

Blues For a New Age

As Homo sapiens continues its evolutionary transition to perception of an ever broader range of the light spectrum

New one-syllable words for the color blue:

prist
sweem
bloof

New two-syllable words for the color blue:

prinkle
lushie

And going forward, acceptable general substitutions for the word blue shall include “misunderstood” and/or “snowy owl.”

 

twilight

5 X 7 watercolor and haiku by Sabine Miller, 2017