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Day 3: August 6, 2009
I’d like to begin by saying I wasn’t able to attend all the sessions I’d have liked to. My recounting of these next days will be based upon those I was able to attend and experience first-hand.
The morning began at 9:00 a.m. with a presentation by Emiko Miyashita titled “Feel the Word” – one that I found very enlightening. Emiko spoke from a translator’s point of view, giving examples of haiku translated two different ways and contrasting them . . . what was conveyed? what was lost?
Emiko presented many concepts to us much as I imagine they may have been taught to her by her own haiku teacher. I felt very strongly the passing on of lessons as Emiko spoke with humble passion. Her haiku teacher, Akira Omine, said that “haiku comes not from one’s brain but from one’s subconsciousness.” This immediately resonated with me and with many others attending her presentation, as evicenced by the gentle nodding of heads around me.
Emiko spoke of kigo and the deep symbolism rooted within the Japanese culture. In fact, one member of the audience likened kigo to the “emotional echo of our life stages.” Emiko nodded. But Emiko also spoke to our choices of expression in the larger context, too. She said it was Basho who cautioned, “Straighten up and correct the usage of words” to which Emiko added, “Words are dangerous; if you misuse them you lose your dignity.”
We’ve all found ourselves at a loss for words at one time or another. It can be frustrating when writing haiku, when hoping to convey a special moment, to have the right word escape you. Emiko told us that “the word” is always simple. Akira Omine said to “seek real words – words with identity.” Emiko’s message was this: “Synchronize with the primal rhythm of the universe and wait for the word to come.” The haiku will follow.
She advised us not to draw a line between nature and ourselves.
At 10:00 a.m. I attended a presentation titled “Nick Virgilio: Crossing Currents of Form and Inspiration” with three haiku poets comprising the panel: Raffael de Gruttola, Kathleen O’Toole, and Michael Dylan Welch.
2009 marks the twentieth anniversary of Nick Virgilio’s death. Looking back on his poetry and haiku we were able to see the boundaries he pushed, which seemed true to his very nature. He had a gift of capturing the essence but often disregarded many of the traditional avenues of approach at the time and writing to form. Did this invalidate his poetry? Did breaking haiku conventions mean he wasn’t writing haiku? As I listened to each panel member speak of him, I came to realize I would have liked Nick Virgilio very much had I the opportunity to meet him. The panel as a whole, as well as members of the audience, were particularly focused on keeping Nick Virgilio and his legacy available to all haiku poets now and in the future. Michael Dylan Welch quoted Virgilio, and I wish I’d been able to write down the quote verbatim. I need to contact Michael to obtain the rest of the quote, but it went something like this: “I don’t care what you call what I do, haiku or shmaiku or whatever. What I do is poetry.” And regarding adhering to haiku’s poetic devices, Virgilio said, “it only becomes a problem when the technique overtakes the poem.”
One of Nick Virgilio’s most well-known haiku (which was recited during this presentation) is:
out of the water . . .
out of itself
Claudia Coutu-Radmore created an inspired presentation titled “Crosscurrents/Inspirations” also listed as “Haiku and Art Crosscurrents.”
Members of Haiku Canada were asked to submit haiku for this presentation. 32 haiku written by 21 poets were selected, and Claudia created several exquisite pieces of artwork, each containing some of the submitted haiku. The paintings were then further interpreted by 1) a musician playing on the guitar a song he wrote inspired by one of the paintings, 2) recorded sound by Dorothy Howard as inspired by another painting, 3) recorded music produced by production-line typyes of machinery, and 4) a vignette created and acted by a local actor and haiku poet.
Maudie, an aging art critic at times more interested in sneaking a quick sip from the contents of a flask she concealed in, well, you can imagine . . . any way, at times its lure overcame her often dramatic attempt to critique the piece of artwork at hand. This part was cleverly played by actress and fellow haiku poet Patricia “Pat” Benedict. Her vignette rounded out a varied, unique, and inspired approach in conveying crosscurrents, the theme of this year’s HNA gathering.
David Lanoue and I took a lunch break to savor some local food. We wandered down the “walking lane” between the many government buildings, called “Sparks Street Mall“, along which restaurants create outdoor seating areas to cater to government workers taking their lunch breaks. It’s apparently a practice that works, for many of the outdoor dining areas were filled, with waiting lists longer than the time we had to devote to lunch. I asked David what kind of food he wanted.
humid day . . .
all he knows he wants for lunch,
a non-sandwich and beer
We found an outdoor dining area serving Lebanese food, and we were set for lunch: A vegetarian plate with falafel, hummus, pita bread, rice, and macaroni salad (ok, so the macaroni salad was a little unexpected) and a beef & chicken shawarma plate . . . oh, and a side order of roasted potatoes with garlic mayonaise . . . YUM!
Emiko Miyashita conducted a reading from “Impressions of Wind“ which is an anthology of Haiku by World Children, edited by the JAL Foundation. She explained the history, dating back 45 years ago while the winter olympics were held in Tokyo. Japan Airlines (JAL) conducted a haiku contest that was announced on United States Radio. After receiving over 41,000 haiku, the winner was James W. Hackett.
After its success, many other haiku contests emerged appealing to a variety of age groups and world locations. In 1989 the first “Haiku by the World’s Children” publication was produced, and in 1990 the responsibility for continuing these activities transferred to the JAL Foundation. Emiko read to us that, “The contest is a biennial event, and for each contest, a haiku anthology containing winning pieces is published by the JAL Foundation.”
Attendees were seated in a circle, and Emiko distributed copies of the current anthology. Thumbing through the pages I found so many of the haiku and drawings enchanting and insightful. We took turns selecting a haiku, then standing up and citing the child’s name, age, and country of origin, and reading the haiku. What a touching experience this was!
Michael Dylan Welch gave a presentation titled “Fuyoh Observations: Seven Lessons we can Learn from Japan.” I was astonished to hear about the magnitude of submissions any one publication receives in Japan compared to what we experience here in North America and other places around the world. What’s more, there are literally hundreds of haiku journals in Japan, at a minimum one for each of the over 800 haiku groups there. “Hototogisu“, one of the Japan’s largest haiku journals, literally publishes approximately 10,000 haiku every month. Imagine over 800 journals each publishing tens of thousands of haiku every year.
Michael spoke of placement on the page and contrasted our tendency to print haiku with lots of white space surrounding them versus the practice and sheer necessity of concentrating haiku on a page in Japan within a journal containing so many thousands of haiku. It was interesting to consider how we’ve embraced the white space practice, to consider how in Japan the economy of space translates into their publications.
It was hard to imagine editing a monthly publication of the magnitude Michael described. How does one consider the volume of haiku submitted in a month to narrow down to 10,000 for publication. The thought alone dizzies me.
Jerome Cushman presented “Haiku in Performance” with three other wonderfully talented members of the Rochester Area Haiku Group. They spoke about preparing for a haiku performance. Jerome highlighted that listening to poets read haiku can be an uncomfortable experience at best, and can quickly become a very boring and frustrating experience. But with a little preparation, a “reading” can become a “performance.” Part of that preparation involves studying the selected haiku, understanding each one, discovering the world of each haiku, and then making meaning/feeling notations for each haiku.
Jerome also spoke about vocal techniques, highlighting proper pronunciation, enunciation with crisp articulation and “clip consonants.” He advised to “open up for good resonation and phonation” and to project, with prolonged vowel sounds.
Animation using body language and gestures can bring a haiku to life by emphasizing a particular part of the haiku, or the silent part at the pause between lines. And when the poet is in “delivery” Jerome advised to “be real” . . . to “see, think, feel, then move, then speak.”
We were then treated to a performance by Jerome and the three accompanying poets, all four reading their own haiku . . . no, PERFORMING their own haiku.
At the end of the day several of us headed for the “Glue Pot Pub” located across the street from the Crowne Plaza Hotel, for Bloody Mary’s and conversation.
And Day 3 in Ottawa, Ontario Canada came to a close.
Day 2: August 5, 2009
Another sight-seeing day, and Debbie and I were eager. Our first stop was for breakfast at “The Scone Witch” right across the street from our hotel. Their scones are the best I’ve ever had in my entire life. Breakfast consisted of bacon and gruyere on both sides of a halved scone – I was hooked. I did return one other morning to have this same breakfast once again, feeling certain I’d never again find a scone this delicious. Ok, three photos on “The Scone Witch” . . . that’s how good it was!
First on our list was a boat ride on the Rideau Canal, and we wanted to make sure we had time afterwards to see “The Museum of Civilization” just across the Pont Alexandra Bridge (image from wikimedia) from Ottawa into Gatineau Quebec (formerly Hull, Quebec). All this within walking distance of our hotel . . . amazing! There were lots of pictures along the way, so I’ll just post some in succession.
Taken at the Canadian War Memorial, where we happened upon the Changing of the Guard (hold your cursor over each photo for a brief pop-up description):
This was an amazingly fortunate happenstance, and we really enjoyed the ceremony.
Then we proceeded to the canal tour site, bought our tickets just in time for the next departing boat, and embarked on a 1-1/4 hour boat tour of the Rideau Canal, interior route to Dow’s Lake and back.
This was an amazing adventure. If you hold your cursor over each photograph a brief pop-up description will tell you a bit more about it.
Left to Right: The boat turned around at Dow’s Lake; Colorful flowers; Boat dock arrival, the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill
The western edge of the University of Ottawa campus borders the Rideau Canal so we were able to see many of the university buildings. We also saw many distinctive homes and modern high-end apartment buildings, several scenic churches including the “Holy Ghost Chapel” with its traditional latin masses , a stadium, the inviting canal-side restaurant Canal Ritz, the National Arts Center, and several embassies including the Embassy of Armenia.
After returning from the canal cruise we walked toward the Ottawa River, taking the same underpass as yesterday when we bought the street artist’s prints. This time there were several vendors, most selling hand-made jewelry. I bought a macrame necklace with a beautiful turquoise stone in the center and Debbie bought an equally gorgeous necklace from this lovely lady named Rose.
Continuing our walk we once again passed by the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and the National Gallery of Canada. In fact, I couldn’t resist taking a rather surreal photo that made it appear the bronze giant spider sculpture I mentioned in my entry about Aug 4, 2009 activities was invading the front of the cathedral. Bear with me, I mean no disrespect, it just seemed so surreal.
Outside the National Gallery of Canada a crew was cleaning and sprucing up one of the many statues that adorn Ottawa.
We began our trek across the Ottawa River on the Pont Alexandra Bridge, leaving Ottawa, Ontario and entering Gatineau, Quebec. I was struck by the bridge harmonics, created by traffic crossing it almost nonstop. During lull traffic periods the harmonic sounds wafted away, to begin their slow return as cars approached again, building up to such beautiful tones.
This is an image of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, taken from the Pont Alexandra Bridge as I was crossing into Quebec. And this is the Parliament building also taken from the bridge. After all the photos we’d taken from the Wellington Street side, this seemed like an entirely new and awesome building. What a breath-taking view!
Right: the Ottawa River with the Parliament building to the right and the locks to the left.
as rivers, poets converge . . .
I took this photograph from the Gautineau, Quebec side of the Ottawa River as we were about to enter the Museum of Civilization. When I saw this fountain to the backdrop of the Parliament building I couldn’t help but take yet again another picture. There are so many great angles to photograph the wonderful architecture of Ottawa that it’s hard to stop. Debbie and I kept saying, “Ok, this is the last picture” but it seldom was.
Knowing we had limited time before the first of the HNA 2009 activities began we bought the ticket to walk through the “Early Civilization” section of the museum. I think both Debbie and I agree we’d like to see the entire museum next time we visit the Ottawa area!
Below is Debbie in front of an oil on canvas painting titled “The Indian In Transition.”
Left, Naia in front of some Totems (photo taken by Deborah P. Kolodji).
We scurried back to our hotel with just enough time to change clothes and freshen up a bit, then walk a quick couple of blocks from our hotel to The Library and Archives Canada building, where HNA 2009 was held. We checked in, got our packets and nametags, and began mingling with fellow haiku poets. It wasn’t long before I spotted my long-time friend and first mentor, David Lanoue, from New Orleans. It had been a number of years since we’d spent time together so we had a lot of catching up to do.
Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures this first night. At 6:00 p.m. Michael Dylan Welch and Garry Gay welcomed everyone in the auditorium. Michael and Grant Savage co-edited the HNA 2009 Anthology titled Into Our Words, from a haiku in the anthology written by Gary Hotham. Both Michael and Grant performed a reading of haiku in the anthology. In the photo to the right: David Lanoue, Naia, Patricia Donegan, Dennis Maloney (photo taken by Deborah P. Kolodji).
After the reading we all gathered for a wine and cheese reception sponsored by “Modern Haiku” and its editor, Charles Trumbull. It was delightful to have some time to mingle, meet folks, and chat. Angela Leuck and a group of Montreal poets entertained us, and everyone enjoyed this delightful evening.
Later, several of us who hadn’t yet had dinner departed for a little pub where we could enjoy cold beer and some excellent food to carry us over till the next morning. Pictured left to right: David Lanoue, Zoanne Schnell, and Rich Schnell.
Later that evening I returned to the hotel room. Debbie and I arrived near the same time. Debbie was one of the presenters at HNA 2009 and some of our late night chats occurred as she was going over her presentation.
It was a fabulous sight-seeing day and an enriching opening evening of Haiku North America 2009.
End of Day 2 in Ottawa, August 5, 2009
I attended my first ever Haiku North America conference (HNA 2009) and consider myself blessed that this particular conference was the one I chose as my first.
AUGUST 4, 2009
Deborah P. Kolodji (Debbie) and I roomed together at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which was so wonderfully situated in what we soon found to be an ideal “walking” city. Ottawa is the capitol city of Canada. We planned for two sight-seeing days before the conference began and put them to excellent use walking everywhere and seeing everything we’d hoped to and more.
We walked to By Marche (Byward Market). Established by Lt. Col. John By in 1926, it is one of the oldest and largest public markets in Canada. Part of the charm are the many fresh vegetable booths comprising the Farmer’s Market. The vegetables are colorful and perfect, and are available to purchase 7 days/week. Coming from Southern California I had to admit that these vegetables could put our own rich farmland produce to shame.
When I commented on how white the cauliflower heads were, a local vendor told me that they don’t allow the leaves around the cauliflower to open up. When they begin opening the farmer ties them closed for protection from the intense sunshine that ultimately discolors exposed cauliflower heads.
We visited St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church where one of the parishoner’s told us of the history surrounding this very old church, including ties to Holland and its royalty. We learned, in fact, that Ottawa has a tulip festival each year as a direct result of Holland’s influence. Holland’s current queen is Queen Beatrix. One of her younger sisters, Princess Margriet (3rd of 4 daughters), was born in the Civic Hospital and baptized in St. Andrew’s Church. (Archival film/story) Her mother was Queen Juliana (though she was still a princess at this time), and our parishoner guide showed us pictures of the royal family during the baptism. Princess Margriet is currently ninth in the line of succession to the Dutch throne.
Parliament Hill is a major part of the landscape in Ottawa. (Parliament Hill webcam) To the left is a photograph of the “Centre Block” and to the right a photograph of the “Peace Tower” – the overcast conditions really enhanced the “eternal flame” situated directly in front of the Peace Tower. It’s an amazing sight. In July and August the Peace Tower’s fabulous carillon plays an hour of the most entrancing music, from 11am to noon each day. We were lucky enough to catch one of those concerts on our first day out. (Youtube Video by YourCTV, September 2008)
The National Gallery of Canada is located in Ottawa, featuring “Maman” – an enormous bronze spider sculpted by famed artist Louise Bourgeouis. (National Gallery webcam) We bought tickets to enter the part of the museum that houses artwork by “The Group of Seven” and Tom Thomson (Youtube “A Tribute to the Group of Seven” and close associates Tom Thomson and Emily Carr), often considered the 8th artist of the group, though he died before the group was formed. I wrote ekphrastic poems for each of three Tom Thomson paintings: “The Jack Pine” (oil on canvas), “Burnt Land” (oil on canvas), and “Northern Lights” (oil on wood).
Across the street from the National Gallery of Canada is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica (three guided tours). It’s an awesome presence to behold from outside the structure, and ten-fold more awesome once we entered this breathtaking structure. It’s ornate and the lighting inside shows off every feature in amazing depth. (Youtube video by YourCTV, September 2008)
We stopped for lunch at a charming local Irish Pub “Patty Boland’s” and soon realized we were also on an amazing dining experience in Ottawa. Many of these local spots have seating areas out on the sidewalks/walkways.
As we left the restaurant a thunder and lightening storm moved in. The lightning was startlingly close, so at first we ducked into a quaint bead and clothing shop and browsed around. Then we made our way to a charming tea shop on York called, of course, the “teastore” where we ordered a pot of tea and scone each, and visited until the lightning flashes and rumbling thunder had passed.
Eventually it was time to return to the hotel. Along Wellington Street there’s an underpass located at Rideau Street next to the Rideau Canal. It had still been raining enough to have my umbrella open and the underpass afforded some shelter. A street artist was already there, painting a scene of the city alongside prints of the many others he’d painted.
After our initial greetings the street artist seemed happy to take a break and chat, so he opened up a notebook filled with his prints and guided Debbie and me on a tour through Ottawa via his paintings. Before leaving I bought two of his prints: one of an autumn scene looking down the Rideau Canal toward Parliament Hill and the other of the same scene but in winter, depicting the canal frozen over and filled with ice skaters (a winter scene photo from About.com, showing a view similar to his painting). I understand Ottawans have a wonderful winter celebration each year called “Winterlude” (winterlude videos). There are ice sculpting contests, and if you search Google you’ll discover just how large and elaborate these sculptures are, each made from a single piece of ice. They also have snow sculpting contests, and vendor buildings line the iced-over canal.
Day 1, and I was already in love with Ottawa!
End of Day 1 In Ottawa, Aug 4, 2009