Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring in November

(brave line, beautiful verse)
by Dumitru Radu

tranlated into English by Dumitru Rosu

The change of our eurocentric attitude opened new windows to Far Eastern cultures whose art and literature can be enjoyed despite language and philosophical barriers.
In this framework, classical Japanese poetry has aroused particular interest thanks to its haiku micro-poem as well as other related poetic genres (tanka, renku, haibun).
We note however that in recent years there has been growing interest for poems that associate the haiku with images (drawings or photographs): the haiga and photo-haiku. They polarize the recipient’s interest by revealing a complementarity between the visual and the textual. Numerous exhibitions at home and abroad stand testimony to this impact that challenges both imagination and creativity.
After the first haiga exhibition of Paula and Adina Romanescu in Bucharest, 1994, there have been others in Constanta and Targu Mures. A successful photo-haiku exhibition was that of Jules Cohn Botea at Cercul Militar din Bucureşti, at the bebinning of 2008.
The year’s end brought us a new haiga exhibition, that of graphic artist and poet Dumitru Roşu and of poetess Vali Iancu, opened 18th to 30th November 2008 at Sala Dalles in Bucharest.
The boldness of the line and beauty of the verse come together in the works of Dumitru Roşu. Being fascinated by Hokusai’s stamps, he puts together a small group of poems named Facets of Mount Fuji.

Fascination –
Solar eruption
On Mount Fuji

The second image is auditory: the silence of the ocean deep competes against the height of the celebrated mountain peak:

Halt on Mount Fuji –
From the peak I hear
The silence of the deep

Another exotic theme approaches the desert and its contrasting colours:

Sunset –
Among blooded dunes
Grey dromedaries

The two “erotic” haikus do not convince us, as the rules of haiku exclude the erotic element.
The one I find the best is a local theme preserving over time the sadness of the exiled poet:

On the sea shore
Ovidiu’s sorrow
Carved in stone

If we weigh the visual against the poetic, the balance tilts toward the first, and the small number of haigas does not allow a more ample appreciation.

Her poetic experience, activity within the workshops of the Romanian Haiku Society, and publications in periodicals, allow poetess Vali Iancu to develop a broad thematic palette, ranging from thought to timelessness, from flower to remembrance.

Let us have a taste of a few haigas:

Old fireplace –
the ghost of youth
dances in the flames

Here, the intense feelings of youth overlap the flames that define both their intensity, and perishable nature.
The thought poising for a moment over a half-drunk glass of beer echoes the wind-blown leaves, both just as hesitant in their drift.
The poetess proves to be a fine “watercolourist” through the faint caresses of shadows over otrher shadows (saints), in turn shadowed by time:

Leaves’ shadows
caress the faces of saints
in the old stained glass

By cultivating contrasts, Vali Iancu opposes the violets in her mother’s window to a spring snowfall:

My mother’s window
full of violets –
outside, it’s snowing

Her ability to create an autumn atmosphere is proven by another poem. Brahms, usually volcanic, can only be heard faintly, echoing the pale autumn tones:

Frost takes over –
no bug outside
subdued Brahms

For last I have left a poem I noticed long ago, which would do honour to any anthology. It is a poem capturing the moment, a constant element of Japanese haiku:

A drifting butterfly
stopped on my shoulder –
friends of a second

Graphic artist Dumitru Roşu understood the poetess’s intentions which he illustrated with subtlety, always surprising through novelty.
A haiga should be admired in an exhibition, not in a book, on the Internet or on television where it loses its flavour, because reception is amplified in an exhibition room through the joint energetic fields, the light, the atmosphere, and the presence of the authors.
One leaves this exhibition with a feeling of Spring, although it’s November and cold. The poems’ texts mounted on branches gives the impression of the month of flowers, and the line and verse join into a symbiosis not to be forgotten soon.
To quote Arghezi, who, witnessing the performance of a violinist, noticed that “the joining of a second’s worth of bow with a second’s worth of violin gives birth to an eternity of thrill”, we now bear witness to another union: that of a line coupled with a verse giving rise to sentiment.
I congratulate the authors for the visual and spiritual feast and urge them to join their creative powers once again for other such occasions.