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:
Surrealism takes the logic and continuity of the dream to have a truly given significance, equalled only by the revelatory power of the unexpected analogy, the marvellous conjunction.
— Mel Gooding, Introduction to Surrealist Games
What does the flying bird see?
What is invisible can be trusted.
Question Michelle Tennison, Answer Beverly Borton (2016)
. . . the surrealists are not politicians nor scientists, philosophers nor even physicians. They are poets, specialists in language, and it is language they will attack first.
First of all, no more logic. In language especially it must be hunted down, beaten to a pulp, reduced to nothing. There are no more verbs, subjects, complements. There are words that can even mean something other than what they actually say.
— Maurice Nadeau, The History of Surrealism
Which dead end will be reincarnated?
The river above the sound of the river
Question John Levy, Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)
Some documented neologisms of schizophrenic language:
watch: time vessel
subway passengers: elbow people
Perhaps there is more meaning inherent in everyday things than we realize.
When we play The Question and Answer game in definition form, with questions such as What is faith?, it feels like an experiment in living words, one where we might begin to reclaim language after years of devitalization through manipulative and/or mercenary agendas. (Beware the Vision checking account or Freedom mortgage). Many of us are longing to experience an authenticity in communication that we feel has been lost. One way to do this is to concretize and reconnect abstractions to their original source: The living Earth.
What is faith?
A cicada shell still hanging on the tree
Q&A Session with Chris Hudson, Mary Ellen Binkele, and Michelle Tennison (approx. 2003)
Blackberry Blossoms, digital photograph by Michelle Tennison, 2017
Is there … anything more charming, more fruitful and of a more positively stimulating nature than the commonplace?
— Charles Baudelaire, Salon de 1859
What is prayer?
I see a purple flower underneath some vines on the long, long walk to you.
Q&A Session Mary Ellen Binkele and Michelle Tennison, (1999)