The following haiku were chosen from A Vast Sky, An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku, edited by Bruce Ross (The New World), Kōko Katō (Japan), Dietmar Tauchner (Europe), and Patricia Prime (Rest of the World) and published by Tancho Press in 2015. There are many fine haiku from contemporary world haiku poets in this anthology and otherwise.
The choices here are in part a product of my recent studies in world religion, poetry, and philosophy and preparation of upcoming lectures in the same areas, with a focus on the spiritual and philosophic understanding of infinity and phenomenological “openings” into experience. These concerns in regard to haiku reopen issues contained in my term “absolute metaphor” and my definition of haiku as “feeling connected to nature”. Of course, haiku around the world now include wit of various stripes as well as the presiding nature connection, including human nature. In haiku, though, the issue of feeling becomes far more important than structure. Far more concerned with Anaximander, say, than Aristotle. Of course phrasing, sound values, and uniqueness of observation comprise haiku as poetry.
Even the clouds
take their children to play
at autumn equinox
Aoyagi Shigeki, Japan
Haiku from its inception held a central regard for the animated world. Even rocks and such “unanimated” elements are animated by our feeling or something deeper.
more and more light
Iliana Ilieva, Bulgaria
Seasons, let us say, the constant, often regularly repeating, facets of nature are a central aspect of haiku, which may prefigure with autumn light the coming of winter darkness.
spring rain we leave our shadows on a stone
Seànan Forbes, England
We have a predilection to have an awareness of the animated world we live in, despite more formal understandings of the world’s “realism”.
walking through the vineyards –
turns into a hare
Danièle Duteil, France
There is a synesthesia embedded in the animated world, such as Bashō’s conflation of colour and sound. Senses may also change places with a sudden awareness.
writing table –
I watch a spoon
gather the dawn
Seán Mac Mathúna, Ireland
The world, as they say, is one. Even the universe. This is why the mundane and ordinary thing can take on a cosmic quality.
fallen magnolia petals
the little girl makes
a new flower
Zoran Doderovic, Serbia
Even the surefire knowledge of life and death can be rethought. Milarepa suggests one regard as one, this present life, the past “life” before the present, and the future “life”. An innocent’s creativity carries some of this thought.
the baby turns
under her hand
Vera Constantineau, Canada
If we are one with the universe, haiku becomes a particularly significant kind of poetry as it expresses moments of such oneness.
all the way to the vanishing point cicada
Joyce Clement, USA
Western thought replaces generalised concepts as in ancient China calling any distance as simply “far”. Even now the kinds of directions you get in the big city or the countryside are even less direct, perhaps a habitual unconscious relation to the natural world, including in cities, that disregards somewhat rational precision.
one tiny feather
all the colours of the bird
weightless on my palm
Beverley George, Australia
There is, however, a seemingly unfathomable intention in nature as such, beyond reason and linguistic focus. Haiku poetry, especially, can nonetheless convey through feeling these moments of awe.
a tui mimics
Nola Borrell, New Zealand
Part of that “feeling connected to nature” is a recognition of something shared with the rest of nature, something like recognisable loneliness or even wit.
Editor’s note: Bruce Ross is a professor emeritus in humanities and independent studies. He lives with his wife Astrid in northeast Maine, USA. Bruce and Astrid are avid hikers and kayakers.
Bruce has edited Haiku Moment, An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku (Tuttle, 1993), Journey to the Interior, American Versions of Haibun (Tuttle, 1998), How to Haiku, A Writer’s Guide to Haiku and Related Forms (Tuttle, 2002), and A Vast Sky, An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku (Tancho Press, 2015).
He authored spring clouds haiku (Tancho Press, 2012) and other collections of haiku and haibun. His essays on haiku poetics are widely translated. He also authored Traveling to Other Worlds, Lectures on Transpersonal Expression in Literature and the Arts (Peter Lang, 2012) and several similar volumes.