Poetry Reading: Bright Future for haiku
by the lamplight
oak leaves in the rain
—Angela J. Naccarato
future for haiku in Vancouver is certain
A spark of it
shone at the two-year old Vancouver Haiku Group’s (VHG)
first Poetry Reading dubbed “Under the Cherry Tree, an
evening of haiku, free verse and music” at Chapters
Bookstore on Robson St., Vancouver, BC, Canada on May 31.
Sharing their haiku and other Japanese short poetry forms
like tanka and haibun, exploratory forms and free verse were
VHG members with grade four and five students from Panorama
Heights Elementary School in Coquitlam, BC.
In her introduction, VHG member and teacher, Brenda Larsen
proudly announced that her students have broken through the
“5-7-5 headlock” in writing their haiku, which Juliana Nunes
and Matthew Zhao read—their own and their classmates’—for
the opening number. Most were on cherry blossoms, some take
off on their favorite poetry, and a few on Jessica
Tremblay’s ‘Old Pond Comics, with a couple of free verse
blossoms in haiku
theme, Jessica Tremblay, originally from Montreal, first
read her Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku
Invitational (VCBF HI) winning haiku, her first in English.
She followed it up with a delightful presentation of
selected frames from her “Old Pond” comics, a take off from
a Basho classic, on a frog trying to learn haiku, and her
explorations of this unique form using works of other
Japanese masters like Issa on a split frame.
Alegria Imperial, formerly of Manila, also included her VCBF
HI winning and first published haiku, a VHG exercise voted
favorite, as well as some of her other winning and recently
published haiku, tanka and experimental haibun diary.
Vicki McCullough, who has won several VCBF awards, read her
cherry blossom haiku from across the HI years, as well as
those of Haiku Canada members Alice Frampton, elehna de
sousa, Naomi Beth Wakan and Susan Constable—and a few more
favorites showing the international diversity of VCBF HI
submissions. She concluded with a six blossom-themed tanka
by Haiku Canada Review editor LeRoy Gorman,
from his new tanka collection, fast enough to leave this
world. Vicki is coordinator of the BC region for Haiku
Canada, also known as pacifi-kana.
Brenda started her reading with a VHG cherry blossom haiku
exercise inspired by a cherry tree at Joy Kogawa’s Vancouver
Heritage House in Vancouver’s Marpole area, which she ended
with a touching free verse on her battle with a chronic
allergy that affects her breathing.
VHG organizer and facilitator, Angela J. Naccarato, during
the first part of the program picked a few of Amelia
Fielding’s tanka who had sent a written permission from her
online series, sakura, sakura accompanied on the clarinet by
Nik Stimpson. Amelia is a professional translator of
Japanese literature. Angela, later in the second part of the
program, read her cherry blossom haiku and a series inspired
by her trip to the British Isles, accompanied by James
Mullin on a Javanese gamelan.
of the evening were Rachel Enomoto’s reading in the original
Japanese selected works of Japanese women haiku poets from
the 18th to the 20th century with English translation and
interesting background notes—Chiyo-ni, being her favorite,
while James Mullin read picks from his own free verse
collection. Declaring his transformation by haiku, which
according to him had taught him the humility the discipline
asked of haiku poetry, he then recited from memory his most
memorable haiku inspired by a ginko walk at Burnaby’s
heritage memorial park.
Guest poet, Ruona Asplund also read Nature poems, one a
paean to “Mother Earth”, from two of her three published
books. For the musical break, Nik performed a Quebecois
piece, “Isabeau s’y promene” and Mozart’s “Sonatina No. 1”.
played an acoustic guitar number to conclude the program.
Taking advantage of the “open mic”, guest Hadley Mielke read
poems from her journals.
An enthusiastic audience filled the reading room on the
third floor of Chapters. Sprigs of crepe paper cherry
blossoms on tall vases made by Brenda’s students adorned the
wall. Crane origami with haiku written on them also by
Brenda’s students, graced a table, where haiku book
selections, which Cameron Russell of Chapters, who also
helped facilitate the event, had set up. Cameron also took
video and pictures, now up at the Chapters on Robson
Up soon, a second poetry
VHG meets every
third Sunday of the month at the Britannia Community
Services Centre on Commercial Drive, Vancouver. Facilitator
Angela J. Naccarato, whose intuitive exercises aims at
tapping the subconscious, also organizes the group’s ginko
walks such as those at Strathcona Gardens in Vancouver, the
Chinese Buddhist Temple in Richmond and the Heritage
Cemetery in Burnaby.
Already, the group’s second poetry reading has been
scheduled in partnership with Britannia at its annual summer
event, “Artful Sundays”, held at the center’s premises for
four consecutive Sundays from Aug. 12 to Sept. 12. VHG
members will present their poems at the performer’s tent on
Aug. 26. They will also conduct haiku writing and crane
origami making workshops.