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Volume 38.2
Summer 2007

book review:

From One Sky to Another: Haiku Anthology of the European Union
by by L'Association Française de Haïku

Reviewed by Bruce Ross

From One Sky to Another: Haiku Anthology of the European Union, edited by L'Association Française de Haïku (Seichamps, France: Éditions de l'Association Française de Haïku, 2006). 296 pages; 14.5 cm x 20.5 cm. Paper covers; perfecbound. ISBN 2-9522178-0-7. $28.00, US $25.00, Can $28.00, from the editors at 14 rue Molière, 54280 Seichamps, France.

There is a bright expressionistic painting by Marc Chagall, Paris through he Window (1913), of a window’s view of the Paris cityscape, including the Eiffel Tower. In a way the spirit of this monumental volume of European Union haiku follows the painting.

The French Haiku Association chose 221 haiku from 66 authors from 16 countries. Some 1,100 haiku were submitted on a number of themes: the beginning of April, night, tree, the national day, the open window. The anthology is preceded by three short introductions written by Dominique Chipot, founder and president of the association, and concluded by information on the included haiku poets, the translators, the illustrator, and the association.

It is a handsome volume, with a glossy cobalt blue cover with incandescent white stars trailing across the front and back covers. Fourteen engravings by Senadin Tursic are interspersed throughout the anthology. The impressive full-page engravings are semi-abstract landscapes and waterscapes, some, like Golden Waters and Every Evening, based on traditional Japanese painting. Each haiku poet’s entry consists of the poet’s name and country of residence and his or her poems, one to a page, in their original language with an English (Daniel Py, Klaus-Dieter Wirth), French (André Duhaime, Daniel Py, Klaus-Dieter Wirth), and Japanese translation (members of the Meguro Haiku International Circle). These poets and translations take different directions in terms of phrasing, idiom, punctuation, and general structure.

The translations seem clear and poetic in their phrasing, on occasion taking different possible choices as in this by David Cobb (England) that includes the word “poky” which could mean “shabby or “cramped”:

a poky hotel—
no space for my shadow
to stretch

The German is translated as schäbiges (“shabby”), the French exigu (“small”), and the Japanese mijikai (“short”). In a haiku by Daniel Dölschner (Germany) the German repeating of unter (“under”) possibly adds a note of awe and musicality in a pattern of “n” and “t” sounds in addition to the possible humorous delight of the French and English translations:

Sommernacht.
Wir liegen unter Sternen
sie unter mir

Nuit d’été. Sous les étoiles
Sous les étoiles
sur elle

Summer night
Under the stars
on top of her

In a wonderful haiku by Daniel Py (France) the musical pattern of “l’s” in this two-liner becomes equally melodious in the pattern of “f’s” in the English translation:

lendemain de feux d’artifice
les éclairs de l’orage

day after the fireworks
the flashes from the storm

By far most of the anthology haiku take up the window theme. The eye is the window to the soul, and the window is a metaphor for the entrance of the mind, spirit, feeling, or imagination into the world of experience or transport, as in these haiku and Chagall’s painting. Three of them begin with an open window: the simple hominess of a neighbor’s cooking by Edin Saraçeviç (Slovenia), the extraordinary image of a cloud through a torn curtain by Aksinia Mikhailova (Bulgaria), and the sound of cicadas near a school by Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic (Croatia).

open window—
buckwheat mash on the stove
in a neighbor’s house

the open window
the old curtain
mended with a grey cloud

the open windows
on the school building
cicadas, cicadas

For the theme of independence day issues of national feeling and memory become universal through the form of haiku. Notice the human synchronicity in Alenka Zorman (Slovenia), an important national event in modern history in Daniel Dölschner (Germany), and the pathos of war in Francis Attard (Malta):

Independence Day.
In the warm wind my scarf
touches a stranger.

Touching the Wall
being touched by the Wall—
Reunification Day

The National Day
a cool breeze sweeps leaves off—
the hero’s epitaph

This anthology is filled with wonderful seasonal haiku on harvest time by Geert Verbeke (Belgium) and Ion Codrescu (Romania):

summer night
mounting on her bike
hay in her hair

a pond in the field
the scent of harvest lingers
in the night

and on spring by Serge Tomé (Belgium) and autumn by Vasile Moldovan (Romania):

an old orchard—
only half the apple tree
has bloomed

Autumn leaves
enter in the tea room
before the guest

Unique and sensitive haiku on the persistence of nature in modern human spaces and the need for a connection with forebears are presented in haiku by Krzyztof Karwoski (Poland) and Roberta Beary (Ireland):

crack—
asphalt releases
the root of a lime

the open window
from the ancestor’s cottage
scent of granddad’s pipe

Some of the haiku are exquisitely crafted to offer an almost seamless evocation of feeling, as in a mystical metaphor in Alenka Zorman (Slovenia), an expression of simple joy in Damien Gabriels (France), and in a moment of transpersonal insight in David Cobb (England):

Roof by roof.
Each smoke reaches
its white cloud.

Coming home from work—
I count on my way
forsythias in blossoms

in the dark garden
a distant lightning flash—
the track of a snail

We are in the third century of Japanese artistic influence and the transformation of that influence on and by Europe. One thinks of the French Impressionists and Van Gogh in painting and early translations of tanka and later haiku in France and Romania. Now we have a full blooming gathering of such influence and transformation that has arrived in European haiku through this anthology.

Overall From One Sky to Another offers many rewards and is highly recommended and, moreover, is a high-water mark for international haiku.

 

© 2007 Modern Haiku • PO Box 930 • Portsmouth, RI 02871-0930