Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weekly Romanian Kukai no. 440

First Place – Ana Drobot

bilingual dictionary –
besides the street’s name
cherry tree in bloom

Second Place – Grigore Chitul

ready to go -
some dandelion puff
hanging on to my suitcase

Third Place – Magda Vlad

four pins neatly arranged -
two pairs of butterflies
in an insectarium

Mention – Carmen Duvalma

homesickness -
in a yellowed envelope
the entire universe

Mention – Cezar Ciobîcă

visiting day -
through the iron bars
lilac perfume

Mention – Argentina Stanciu
pereți coșcoviți -
alb de floarea miresii
gardul văduvei

peeling walls -
white from the bride’s  flower
the widow’s  fence

Mention – Vasilica Grigoraş

lilac bouquet -
forgetting for a while
my longing for mother

Mention – Livia Ciupav

night watch -
no portent
in the coffee

Mention – Rodica P. Calotă

mosquito net -
the unstoppable entrance
of the blackbird’s song

Mention – Cezar Ciobîcă

Labor Day -
the blackbird’s song
without caesura

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The cuckoo and the grandfather clock

the grandfather clock has stopped -
through the open window
cuckoo’s song

Violeta Urdă

The cuckoo’s song, joined to the broken grandfather clock, is hiding a small ellipse: the cuckoo in the grandfather clock no longer announces the time, it is dead. The ticking time, measured in a pedantic way, is given, by the time of the cuckoo, another measure, a syncopated and living one. The antithesis between mechanical and living, between domestic and wild, between the stale air from inside and the fresh breeze from the outside imposes not only two images in opposition to each other but also an option, a vision of renewal, the an open window remaining a symbol of receptivity.

I think that the quiet grandfather clock, an adjective with two meanings, broken and silent, would have  been more suggestive, evoking a paradoxical sympathy of the pendulum. After all, even if the haiku’s text is silent as to a desirable attitude, it creates an atmosphere that is saturated by its suggestions.

(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Weekly Romanian Kukai no. 439

First Place – Petru-Ioan Gârda

lilac flowers –
the warmth is returning
in mother’s eyes

Second Place – Valeria Tamaș

weakened bridge -
even the butterflies
waiting for their turn to pass

Third Place – Vasilica Grigoraș

election year –
the venom therapy
more extensively used

Third Place – Valeria Tamaș

among the seedlings -
under the weight of years
mother’s hands

Mention – Magda Vlad

competition -
cherry flowers and stars
in a corner of heaven

Mention – Argentina Stanciu

Hawthorn flowers -
suddenly getting more quiet
the heartbeat

Mention – Ana Urma

almost daytime -
a branch with flowers
illuminating the window

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Apricot tree in bloom

apricot tree in bloom -
scraping the night off
the cast-iron cauldron

Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă

The poem excels in simplicity. Through its elegance of form, naturalness and ease of style, through its fluency. The fluency somehow deviates our attention away from the meaning. But as soon as we are a little more vigilant, we note that the gerund scraping introduces an equivocal action, without the certainty of a well-defined agent. Who is, in fact, the agent?

As we are more careful, we grasp the paradox: no scraping is going on, as we tend to believe, it is the night and not reinforced soot, the darkness, the clay that is scraped off the pot actually the night. The first elegance of the poem, which sent us on a casual but false trail, becomes now subtly provocative. Undoubtedly, we are being proposed a less orthodox agent – the blooming apricot tree. The whole poem swerves. Subtle images and objects – the apricot and the cast-iron cauldron  - are transfigured. For the characters in the fable, correspondences are searched in the visual imagination, in an attempt to cope with a vision. The blossoming, the coming of spring, the new light of the apricot flowers take us away from our obsession with the foggy cast-iron cauldron where we chew on the polenta of our everyday lives and which gives us a miracle, that of becoming open to the world. We get the whiteness of the dim eyes scraped; our eyes are dim with the pressing and important domestic chores.

If we have an additional agilility of imagination, we can finally see the grumpy cast-iron cauldron covered in a black foam, which is removed easily and elegantly by a Gillette Fusion Power razor with thousands of apricot blooms (functioning as blades).

Corneliu Traian Atanasiu

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sharpening the Green Pencil Commendation 2016

This is all. How could you take your home with you? How could you take your orchard along with you as you are wandering away? Still, you never leave without taking anything away with you. As you leave everything behind, there is still something left for you to take along, it clings on to you, on to your coat's wrinkles, sleeves, pockets, to your brain, to the depths of your soul. And, on the first longer pause along the way, in the first oasis, the seats will sprout. Just like at home.

(Comment by Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Thoughts on Haiku in Romania

“My interest in haiku was also favoured, perhaps, by the culture of the people to which I belong - a people with a culture which is very sensitive to influences, and able to synthesize and interpret in an original way the artistic models that came from the West or East.
Even the harsh and cold wind coming from the north is tempered on the Romanian soil by the mouth of the Danube and the Black Sea shore. In our folklore, it is nature that represents the frame of spiritual communion, in which man shares his sorrows and joys with the sun and moon, with the trees and flowers, with the rivers and mountains.
The doina was one of the Romanian lyrical genres that have cultivated man's relationship with nature, of course, on a different scale in poetic forms other than haiku.
There is this tradition of the dialogue between man and nature in our poetry; thus, the Romanians could not remain indifferent to the spirit to haiku, that cultivates a similar theme.
Someone might ask me whether the European aesthetic principles of mimesis, poesis, and catharsis do not come into conflict with the aesthetics of haiku or whether they do not oppose the reception of the haiku moment.
My personal artistic experience leads me to claim that these principles are not only far from having prevented me from getting close to haiku, but, on the contrary, they have helped me to open my horizons towards any form of poetry coming from another cultural space.
The taking over of haiku by non-Japanese poets in the twentieth century demonstrates that the spirit of this poem has transcended time, geographic spaces, as well as the boundaries and limits of the languages in which it is translated or created.
The Romanian language - although it has lexical features other than Japanese – offers me, however, plenty of possibilities of expression through its musicality, through the richness of the meaning of some words, to cultivate this poem and make it known in my country.

ION CODRESCU, “A Way towards Haiku”
from the volume “Making the Tour of the Lake” – an Anthology by Ion Codrescu”, 1994, Constanţa

Haiku inspired by a photograph

A good photograph is not a reproduction of reality. It is not the raw product of a camera that simply records who enters and leaves the frame, for how long and what he does there. Behind the lens there is always a person who chooses what he wants to catch within the framework, who focuses and zooms the image or who prefers an hour of the day or a season, a certain atmosphere and color for the composition. If it is good, photography represents a point of view over what it captures, it is a vision illustrated through the visual elements carefully made valuable.
A haiku that written starting from a photo is not about only about listing slavishly what is shown in the image. The haiku poet sees beyond the image, which caused the photographer to capture and present it to others. If you can engage with that vision, then you can certainly write something that will not reproduce what you see in the picture, but instead you will use your words trying to weave a web of allusions that could meet a great atmosphere and color that vibrates in tune with the vision of the photographer.

(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)

Weekly Romanian Kukai no. 437

First Place –  Constantin Iliescu

walnut swing -
the wind is gently swaying
the memories

Second Place –  Magda Vlad

wall in ruins -
here and there patches
of heaven

and Ana Urma

clear sky in April -
a man raking his shadow
far and wide

Third Place – Ion Cuzuioc

shaken flowers -
in my home’s orchard
the Milky Way

Mention – Cezar-Florin Ciobîcă

day of fasting -
satiated with the fragrance
of the plum blossoms

Mention - Ioana Bud

white nights -
in the blue irises
a cherry blossom

Mention – Claudia-Ramona Codău

magnolia petals
on a bench in the park -
I stand

Mention – Oana Gheorghe

moonlight rays -
on the branch getting lit up
the wax cherry blossoms

Saturday, April 2, 2016

To one another...

Third Place
Haiku Contest Wild Plum 2016

black clouds rumble
our cotton candies stick
to one another

Lavana Kray

Both parts of the poem are linked to a strong expressive symbolism. Cut out from two antithetical situations, as their most relevant elements. Polarizing them in the most contrasting colors - black and white. Also, emphasizing the sharing of joy: to one another.

The threat and the secure oasis of happiness. The childlike joy that does not notice danger. Or, through the intensity of candor, it exorcises it. A haiku moment that can be placed on a medallion. Blessed is he wearing around his neck and soul such a talisman. He will always find serenity in the middle of the most hostile cloudy sky.

(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)

frost on the branch

frost on the branch -
grandmother is spinning her thread
by the fireside

Letiția Iubu

A poem that seems a sample of cliche and of the commonplace. The two parts simply record the facts. Their ordinary reality is devoid of any thrill. There is not even a small textual accident (like a pun, a word with two meanings etc.) to deter from the literary sense of what was said. Where does, however, its unquestionable seduction come from?

First of all, from the atmosphere it creates. One of the two images, clearly antithetical, becomes harmonized. Nature is not hostile, it is knitting outside as naturally as grandmother does her spinning. Winter is just another season of the flow of time when the weather is sometimes smooth, sometimes stormy. Human concerns are consistent with it. And the result is a certain tranquility and peace of mind.

Secondly, grandmother and fireplace impel us to go back somewhere to an idealized, or idyllic, almost fairy tale past. Moreover, the quiet atmosphere is disturbed by a certain nostalgia for the times that are gone and are not coming back again. Were they for real? Have we really lived during those times? Does the new generation know the only from the memories of others? Even if we have not got to live during those times, we keep mourning after them as they are in contrast with our times which have since long ago decreed that "good weather" means only that we do not get wet, that there is no snow or mud on the road, that it does not keep us from going to work in time and back home as soon as possible, where double-glazed windows protect us.

That which, after all, turned out to be the significance of the poem is a kind of layered widening of the context, for which the two original images were just a pretext.


Even the photograph from which the poem began is only a pretext. The frost on the branch had to be doubled by a human image to create that atmosphere which leads us to regret the times when we could enjoy the frost without feeling gloomy about the impediments that it might have on the smooth running of the civilized world.

(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)

A good haiku that was entered into Romanian Monthly Kukai March 2016

on the plains, abundant nettle -
the cart with iron scraps
overturned in the ditch

Violeta Urdă

Undoubtedly, the reader is invited to go back to what he already knows so that the poem can be understood properly. What is not said and is only suggested, that is, the allusions, will connect the whole poem and will provide a unified and meaningful waggish sense.

I do not think there is anyone in Romania who does not understand the poem speaks about the gypsies. The nettles, the wagon, the iron scraps represent, of course, their privilege. It is not hard to recognize them and it is not hard to imagine the funny way in which the author has staged the incident either. At the sight of the nettles, hypnotized by the vital and spring season prestige of the new, fresh and green iron, the tribe rushed on the plains, abandoning the bankrupt business with scraps of iron and returned to the old affair with the plant that refreshes hemoglobin. Their rush toppled the cart.

It is remarkable how eloquently the contextual ellipsis can work. I wonder if the poem could be understood without further clarifications in Sweden, Germany, and England. While for us its deciphering is not only a piece of cake but also a true delight. Equally true is the reader’s participation to sketching the whole scene with its imagined ironic motivations, out of only two details: the abundant nettle on the plains and an overturned cart.

(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)