Monday, August 31, 2015

Wendy's Smile

This is Wendy Wright at Asilomar, backlit by the bright ocean sunlight.

moonlit road
the old oil wells
for company 

Wendy Wright

This is one of the moon verses from the renku party in 2004.
This renku was called "Thistle Seeds."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Record of the Renku

Each YT Haiku Retreat winds up with a bang on the last evening with the group-writing session
for a renku. Here we see Patrick Gallagher in his Renku Party Regalia as he videos the completed
renku several years ago, accompanied by Carol Steele.

Below is another renku from two years ago. Notice that in this style of renku there are 36 verses, which alternate between two and three lines. Certain links, like the blossom and moon verses, occur at specified positions. Participants write several links, which are submitted to the Renku Master, who chooses each link as we proceed. Each link is written on the display board as it is chosen. The whole event is a lot of fun and can get a quite rowdy.

So Good To See You; kasen renku

November 9, 2013
Asilomar Retreat
Pacific Grove, California

Written by Roger Abe, Mimi Ahern, Beverly Acuff Momoi,
Linda Papanicolaou, Michael Sheffield, David Sherertz,
Christine Lamb Stern and Alison Woolpert

Carol Steele, renku master

1) I knocked and knocked —
so good to see you again
acorn woodpecker

2) through the branches
just a bite of chestnut moon

3) plated pomegranates
and the heady smell
of mulled wine

4) in the music room
so many vintage flutes

5) dry zephyrs
moving sparse clouds
slowly across the sky

6) the patio party startled
with the arrival of a toad

7) wrestling with Proteus
who changes into
a giant robot

8) a blind date arrives
in a rental car

9) the parents ask him
“just exactly what is it
that you do?”

10) come upstairs and
look at my etchings

11) for hours on end
Henry David Thoreau
stared at the dust motes

12) the calico in the window
cleaning her claws

13) longing for peace
Syria impaled
on the cold moon

14) gingerbread men
with all the heads bitten off

15) at Urgent Care
the doctor on duty
knows all the regulars

16) two tickets to see
the losing team

17) cherry blossom rain
will it be yet another year
before the Dream Act passes?

18) concentric colors
ring the vernal pool

19) April Fool’s Day
there’s salt
in the sugar bowl

20) new candles in holders
ready for the match

21) the long-awaited
box arrives from

22) skipping down the street
the boy lands on every crack

23) the old garden hose
unkinks again
spraying her face

24) our slugs will only
drink imported beer

25) in the early dawn
a single, piercing cry
jolts the calm

26) could her jeans
be any tighter?

27) after their annulment
sky typing
ten miles wide

28) she draws the drapes
across the dirty windows

29) a rumpled square
of moonlight
in the motorcycle shop

30) new sake always inspired
the wandering poets

31) invitation
to a feast of chanterelles
sautéed in butter

32) even the atheist
joins hands for the prayer

33) singing in unison
unexpected harmonies
raise goose bumps

34) remember when we
reminisced into the night

35) laughing
to be caught
in swirling cherry blossoms

36) the koi leaps
into the shining wind

(This renku was published in the 2014 membership anthology.)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Renku Laughter

At the end of each YT Haiku Retreat, we have a Renku Party!
We write a linked-verse poem according to a plan.
It is quite a bit of fun as you can tell from this photo!
Left to right: Carol Steele, Judith Schallberger and Wendy Wright.

marry the sea’s rhythms—
stories in my palm

Judith Morrison Schallberger

Friday, August 28, 2015

To the sea . . .

To the sea, the sea! The new boardwalk at Asilomar during the YT Retreat in 2009.

on and on---endless---
this passage of shearwaters
---the summer sea

Patricia J. Machmiller

The Mockingbird Sings; 1997 Membership Anthology
Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, page 12.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A fox has changed himself

When we visited Japan in Cherry Blossom Time, we were also in the time of Young Leaves.
(Remember to use the Yuki Teikei website at

Hiji shiroki so no karine ya yoi no haru

The white elbow
of a priest who is dozing!
Dusk in spring.

Kindachi ni kitsune baketari yoi no haru

Into a nobleman
a fox has changed himself--
early evening of spring

Haiku Master Buson; Yuki Sawa and Edith M. Schiffert,
Heian, 1978, page 54.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Presidents

The women in this picture have all been presidents of the
Yuki Teikei Haiku Society!
Left to right: Patricia J. Machmiller, Alison Woolpert 
and in the photo, founder, Kiyoko Tokutomi.
This picture was taken at an Asilomar Haiku Retreat at which

white breath
the passage of the spirit world
through the sipapu

Alison Woolpert

Wild Violets; Yuki Teikei Membership Anthology 2011, page 18.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Catching Dreams

We usually try to include an afternoon of making art in each of our YT Retreats.
This is Wendy Wright's booklet made from paper decorated by blowing
small amounts of watercolor paint with a straw. See how perfect it is as a haiku-catcher?

first autumn rain . . .
dusting the dream-catcher
for a houseguest

Wendy Wright

Wild Violets; 
Yuki Teikei Haiku Society Member's Anthology 2011,
page 19.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Across the blue, blue ocean

During a YT Haiku Retreat, and looking west from Asilomar, towards Japan, birthplace of haiku.

Each of these haiku has a headnote which helps to place it in historical context; 
I have italicized these headnotes.

Air raids night after night

clear starlit sky
in freezing night, after the planes
roar has vanished

Ishibasho Hideno

Soldier of a defeated country . . .
autumn's hot sun
nowhere on his military cap
twinkle the stars

Ishibasho Hideno

Often seen in the street
to a redhead
"Hello!"--how depressing
this spring rain*

Ishibasho Hideno

*after the war, hungry children would call out, "hello" in English 
to American GIs in hopes of being given candy.


I found the life story of this poet very moving because Kiyoshi Tokutomi, one of our founders (and an American citizen)
was in Japan at this same time, having been prevented 
by the war from returning from his schooling in Japan. 
He also contracted tuberculosis at this time
and suffered from the consequences the rest of his life.
And, with tuberculosis, one always remembers Shiki!

This Japanese woman haiku poet has only one book of poems, 
Sakura Koku (Cherry Blossoms Deep) 
which was published by her husband 
after her early death from tuberculosis, 
soon after World War II. 

I found her story in Far Beyond the Field: Haiku by Japanese Women; compiled and translated with an introduction by Makoto Ueda, Columbia University Press, 2003, Kindle location 2101. 
This excellent book is still in print 
and is also available on Kindle.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Under the Bright Sky

Even great pines can be beautifully trimmed in Japan. 
This is on the grounds of Matsuyama Castle, 2007.


Under the bright sky
a hairy caterpillar crawls
on the pine tree's branch

Akutagawa Ryonosuki

Modern Japanese Haiku; an Anthology, Makoto Ueda,
University of Toronto Press, 1974, page 107.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Floating Petals

Japan in Cherry Blossom Time (2007) on our YT Haiku Society travels.
Petals carpeted the walkways and blew into corners!

yo no naka wa/ mikka minu ma ni/ sakura kana

Ah, this world of ours:
just three days I don't look out---
and cherry blossoms!

Oshima Ryota

Traditional Japanese Poetry; an anthology;
translated, with an Introduction by Steven D. Carter,
Stanford University Press, 1991, page 403.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Platter of Persimmons

At one of the Yuki Teikei gatherings (I think it might have been a renku party.)
someone (I think it might have been Ann Bendixen)
brought a platter of persimmons, striking in their vividness.

So I have been looking tonight for some of the famous haiku by Shiki
about persimmons. This is from the World Haiku Review, Summer, 2013,
and gives us two English versions of the same haiku.

Maegaki (foreword) says: "Resting at a tea house of Horyuji Temple".

Kaki=persimmon/ kueba=as I eat/ kane=bell/ naru=rings/ nari=an adverb/ Horyuji=Horyuji Temple

as I eat a persimmon
the bell starts ringing
at Horyuji Temple 

(version by Susumu Takiguchi)

I bite into a persimmon
and a bell resounds –

(tr. by Janine Beichman)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bunraku by daylight

In Matsuyama in Cherry Blossom Time, we were treated to a bunraku lady in daylight. This shows her secret, a puppetmaster who makes her move. In the performance we saw later,
the drama was very moving; one completely forgot about the puppetmaster, who
does not show against the black backdrop on the dimly lighted stage.
If you ever get a chance to see this, be sure to go! It is an amazing art!

Kino kure kyo mata kurete yuku haru ya

Yesterday ended,
today again there will be an end--
spring is going


Yuku haru ya omotaki biwa no daki gokoro

The going of spring!
The heaviness of a mandolin
felt while it is held.


Haiku Master Buson, Yuki Sawa and
Edith M. Schiffert, Heian, 1978, both on page 57.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Amelia's beautiful coat

Amelia Fielden and Jerry Ball in the garden during haiku conference. Japan 2007.
Amelia is an Australian poet well known for her own volumes of tanka poetry.
Jerry is known for his shirt-pocket notebook for writing haiku whenever.

a dew-washed morning
light barely light
here is the chance
to begin afresh
to forgive then forget

Amelia Fielden

Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
Summer 2007, vol 5 no 2

Amelia Fielden is an Australian living near Sydney. She is a professional Japanese translator and holds a Master of Arts degree in Japanese Literature. To date, working sometimes with native speaker co-translators, sometimes solo, Amelia has produced eight books of contemporary Japanese tanka in translation; currently she is working on a ninth, with Dr.Kozue Uzawa, editor of Gusts (journal of Tanka Canada). A poet in her own right, four volumes of Amelia's original English-language tanka are in print, and a fifth is underway. (Note from Journal cited above.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Looking towards the sunset

Looking toward the sunset (Japan is over there!)
here is Donnalynn Chase
who has made an amazing contribution on many of our special publications.

scent of dry grass
reminds me of old yearnings

Donnalynn Chase
YTHS Menbership anthology, 2010

midsummer darkness -
mistakes show me how to be
the person I am

Donnalynn Chase
GEPPO, July/August 2005

Monday, August 17, 2015

Issa's fly

Near the boardwalk, Jerry Ball held out his hand and said, "Issa's fly!"
And then he let it fly. . .

a spring day in winter--
I go out for a walk
a fly comes along


I go back in
my thatched hut...
the fly does the same


Haiku and translations from David Lanoue's

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Half Finished Book

Here are Jerry Ball and Jim Arnold on the trip to Japan
for the haiku conference in 2007.

Not quite full 
this autumn moon - 
half finished book

Jim Arnold
(from a manuscript)

in front of the line
he seems to be the head duck
in charge of pure water

Jerry Ball

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Precarious Footing

Jim Arnold took us on an outing from the Asilomar Retreat to this Cove on the Monterey Bay
during the last Retreat he attended before his sudden, untimely death.
I don't remember who was in the hoodie, or the blue cap,
but I know they were part of out group!

Insistent fledglings -- 
their voices finally dim 
at sunset

(Jim Arnold) 
from a manuscript

Friday, August 14, 2015

On a Pedestal

From our visit to Japan:this is another image of the statue seen here. It was a lovely garden!

mon o dete kojin ni ainu aki no kure

Going out the gate,
happening to meet an old acquaintance
this twilight in autumn.


Haiku Master Buson, 
Yuki Sawa and Edith M. Shiffert, 
Heian, 1978, page 109.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Autumn's Shadow

Another of the kimonoed ladies seen on our visit to Japan.

When I set
something down, there emerges
autumn's shadow

Takahama Kyoshi

Kiyoshi was from Matsuyama and inspired by Shiki.
He was the publisher of the influential magazine Cuckoo.

Modern Japanese Haiku; an anthology,
compiled, translated and with an introduction by Makoto Ueda, University of Toronto Press, 1976, page 57.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kiyoko's Laughter

When Kiyoko laughed, there was nothing halfhearted about it, She really enjoyed
Jane Hirshfield when she was the featured guest at the Asilomar Haiku Retreat.
Jane's book The Ink Dark Moon  translated from the Japanese 
with Mariko Aritani had just come out.
It seemed to me these two could really communicate through their mutual love for 
ancient Japanese literature, Below is a little example of Kiyoko's gift for laughter.

Such a summer day!
among the dazzling things
are my guest's knees

Kiyoko Tokutomi

Kiyoko's Sky; the haiku of Kiyoko Tokutomi, 
Brooks Books, 2002,  page 78.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sound of the Stream

The day we went to Muir Woods with Dr. Arima
it had been raining and the stream was running fast and clear.
Once in a while, drop fell from the trees.

thinking of Dogen
I search for plum blossoms
in the redwood grove

Donnalynn Chase