Hello and welcome to the Haiku Pea podcast. We’re into our 2nd series so many of you already know who I am but for anyone listening for the first time today, I’m Patricia your host and this week I have lots to tell you about.

I have some news from around the community, a definition of the Japanese aesthetic of mono no aware and a few examples of the aesthetic in practice, including an attempt from me, and last but not least an introduction to a poet new to the community, Mani Shanmugham

Let’s start with a little round up of news:

Tim Gardiner, one of our regular contributors has had his first book of Haibun published by Alba publishing. It’s called The Flintknapper’s Ghost. I will be reviewing it in March, but if you can’t wait why not go straight ahead and buy it.  

In the last  podcast about childhood, I told you that another of our regular contributors, Goran Gatalica, had won the “Basho-an Award” in the First Basho-an International Haiku Competition in Tokyo, Japan. I promised to tell you a little more:

First off this is the poem that was chosen by the judge Mr. Kai Hasegawa as his choice of winner: Congratulations Goran.

thinking of war
wrapped in barbed wire
fragile butterfly

Mr. Hasegawa commented that “The association from memories of war to “fragile butterfly” is excellent. Foreign language haiku, including English haiku, need to be as excellent as  a Japanese poem when it is translated into Japanese as in their original language. This haiku from Croatia showed a high level of quality for this very first competition.” Of course I can’t comment on the Japanese translation, but if you would like to read it, you can go to the website.

Goran  also had three haiku selected for Honorable Mentions:

deep winter
the vivid nudity
of fallen tree

autumn clouds
folded in a handkerchief
after mother’s death

first plum blossoms
stuck in a rain gutter
refugee camp

I wonder whether this last one could be said to be written with mono no aware in mind? See what you think.

So what is mono no aware? It’s quite difficult for me to say the phrase, I am always tempted to put the stresses in the wrong place. If you’d like to hear a native say it, please click here

I read many definitions of the term, but this is the one that spoke most clearly to me: the Kyoto Journal  translated it as ““the beauty of dying things” or “the beauty of transient things.”

So in using it we are appreciating the beauty in the transience of things, but at the same time we are not glorifying it. There should still be a sadness to our work, a certain sentimentality maybe, yet we should strive not to flood our poems with schmaltz.

Here is an example from Bashō (1644-1694), translated by Blyth

Ah! Summer grasses
All that remains
Of the warriors’ dreams —

Blyth, Haiku, vol. 3, 309

Now Many poets use the cherry blossom as a symbol of transience and of course as a Kigo or seasonal word. Blossoms of course don’t last very long, but whilst they exist they can be stunning.  Ever been in Washington DC in the Spring? I know there are other places which show spring blossoms at their best. Where’s your favourite? I wonder do we appreciate blossom all the more because we are aware of its temporary nature?

Of course nature gives us many things which arrive and then disappear, autumn leaves, people, animals, fading flowers, seasons, to name a few. Let me give you some examples:

This is by Dakotsu 1885-1962

the dead body —
autumn wind blows
through its nostrils

and this by Taigi

wisteria spray
left withered in a vase—
wayside inn

     Taken from “The Penguin Book of Haiku” translated and edited by Adam L Kern

summer’s end
I pedal home
in the new darkness

    Margot Gallant- The Touch of the Moth, the 35th Annual Haiku Canada Member’s Anthology

the snow hillock
cradles a carrot
winter sun

Next I have an apology to make. I left someone out of the Childhood podcast. I was absolutely mortified and to make up for it today I am featuring him, another new contributor to the podcast Mani Shanmugham. He is a police superintendent from India. He has written 6 books all in the Tamil language. So If there is anyone out there who would like more details, just let me know. Mani feels that haiku is the greatest of all poetry forms, do you agree?

I think it’s interesting sometimes to learn what other people think makes a good haiku. In Mani’s case these are his criteria:

  • subtlety
  • depth of meaning
  • a sense of beauty
  • a drop of sadness
  • emotion
  • and a sense of suggestion, allowing us , the reader to use our imagination.

Can you add to these criteria, or maybe you disagree? Let me know.

And so, to Mani’s haiku:

halloween candy –
intensifying the demand
upon out of sight.

Thanks so much Mani. I know we shall hear from you in other podcasts.

And so we end this podcast.

Thank you so much for coming along to listen, let me know what you thought. You can contact me via the website or of course on Twitter @thepoetrypea. I’m following many of you, but if you are on Twitter and I’m not following you, let me know.

The next podcast will be haiku on the topic of sport, “sportku”. Deadline 11th of February, so you need to get a wiggle on if you would like to submit. I have a number of pieces but it’s always lovely to have more. Submissions only by email please.

Tim Gardiner’s book

Bashō An Award

Kyoto Journal:  Patricia Donegan – The Birth and Death of each moment

Series 2 Episode 3: mono no aware

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