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)

It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. — Eugene Ionesco

golden-ratio_01

If a question had a shape, perhaps it would look something like the Fibonacci spiral inside this nautilus shell —  ever-expanding, never fixed, never finished  . . . just opening.

The echoes of longstanding battles never cease, what are some keywords for lasting peace?
          She draws an infinity symbol with her hips

Question Richard Gilbert,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)

What Flies Between: Richard Gilbert

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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)

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)