Blesok no. 54, May-June, 2007
Haiku – Poetry of Integration
Towards Day and Night of Everyday by Josip Osti and For a Sparrow by Jack Galmitz, Blesok, 2007
|I only look and do not|
wonder. I am only
what I see.
|Inside of me|
A planetary disturbance
And a smile
One of the lucid conclusions in the short but exceptionally inspiring essay “Haiku – an elixir of life” by Borivoj Bukva (published in Loza magazine no. 18, translated by Marjan Minov) is that creating haiku means at least three things, three abilities, three prerequisites:
“/1/ experience – ability for genuine, clear, real experience of oneself, world and life, genuine reality
/2/ expression – ability for expressing the experience in words, unaltered, as is
/3/ life – in integration of oneself, world, reality, life, in integration of experiences and expressions, haiku is born.”
The amalgam of these components, as well as the term “integration” (and its numerous connotations) not only sublime the act of creation of haiku poetry on a general level, it also allows us locate one of the key common denominators of the contemporary haiku masters' poetics – Josip Osti (1945) and Jack Galmitz (1951). Their works are presented in two of the latest multilingual editions of haiku poetry, published by “Blesok.”
The multilingualism of these editions is the first factor of (linguistic) integration. In the collection Day and Night of Everyday, Josip Osti's haiku poems are located on the same page with their Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian/Bosnian and English versions, while Galmitz's poems – in English and in Macedonian translation. Author of the Macedonian translations is Igor Isakovski. Vertical alignment of the original and the translations (permitted by haiku shortness), implicitly offers a rare privilege to the reader: asks him/her to peek inside artistic lab of (re)creation, chant and translation of poetic messages. Hereupon, reading of all “versions” of a same haiku often lets integration and nuance of semantic layers, while from musical-phonetic aspect there is specific (multilingual) echo-effect in reader's mind.
Second permeation and integration happens on intermediary level, otherwise deeply rooted in haiku tradition. As since early beginnings haiku verses were accompanied with artworks on the long rolls, as based on poems haigas were created and vice versa, these new titles from “Masin” edition continue, stir and emphasize the dialog between haiku and painting. Thanks to illuminative Zen-minimalist art language of drawings/haigas by Miroslav Masin, browsing through books moreover turns into “reading/watching” a mini-gallery. Very similar to a haiku by Osti (“I describe / what I see. Do you see / what I describe?”) Masin's art transpositions are not only testimony of how a painter “sees” poet's verses, but concurrently allow us to read the poems in a different way.
Between the covers of Osti's and Galmitz's books there is also a dramatic dialogue, integration and uniting between the sensibility of contemporary poetry and the ancient Japanese lyrical genre. With seven books of haiku poetry and international awards, among which is Japanese Ginyu Prize for 2006 for the best book(s) of haiku, Jack Galmitz is considered one of the leading contemporary haiku masters. Josip Osti debuts in haiku realm precisely with the book which title possess poetical implications both for haiku poetics and author's way of life. The title Day and Night of Everyday could be interpreted as particular poetics of integration, and also as re-actualization of the known maxim “everything is haiku,” which points towards conjugative and inclusive logic, as well as to aesthetical ideals of the traditional haiku. Namely, in the poetry of Osti and Galmitz there are no insignificant moments or less important places and parts from the everyday. On the contrary, in their poetry haiku moments may happen (and they do happen) in every moment of day and night.
Based on authentic experience of “eternity of the moment,” Josip Osti's haiku respects basic postulates of traditional haiku not only on versification and stylistic level, but also on the level of poetic sensibility: “Eternity of the moment / each time takes farewell / of me – forever.” Jack Galmitz's poetic pictures and extreme lapidary of poetical discourse embody permeation of lyrical subject's experience with objects' lyrical expression. An integration of the one inside with the one outside. Although sound paradoxical, haiku written by Galmitz is introspectively oriented. The basic poetic constant of his letter is based on the fact that poetic pictures simultaneously refer towards inner and outside world (“Inside of my skull”) of the lyric subject: “The first snow: / I find in myself / The whole world”; “ Inside of me / Bison are stampeding / Across caves”; “From a vast store / With pegs and many drawers / I build a world”; “Inside of me / A planetary disturbance / And a smile”, while Osti notes: “All the world in a dewdrop / on a slender grassblade / going down.” Subject's consciousness of permeation with the world that surrounds it can be seen in another Galmitz's haiku: “We are the road / Upon which all things travel… / A summer shower.” Man “gets closer to oneself” in melting within Others. On the other hand, Osti's poetry intuition articulated through the haiku “I only look / and do not wonder. I am / only what I see.” re-actualizes ancient Upanishadic wisdom (Tat Tvam Asi) and knowledge of old Japanese haiku masters. In the epiphanic haiku moment, the classical subject-object dichotomy collapses.
Parallel reading of haiku Galmitz's and Osti's accomplishments allows us to note significant number of “common” topics and idioms and poetical “coincidences”: we emphasize the most illustrative examples that create a sort of renga: 1) “ Today the sun rests / in an abandoned nest. / What will become of the egg?” (Osti) and “A quarter moon / In the blue bay – / Whose boat is this?” (Galmitz); 2) “ New moon / with sharp sickle reaps / flowers of heaven.” (Osti) and “Tomorrow: / In a sky swept of clouds, / Brindled cows graze” (Galmitz); 3) “I throw flowers / At these solid walls… / Down, down they fall” (Galmitz) and “Shade supports / the old house. Without it, / it would have crumbled long ago.” (Osti); 4) “There are times when / dandelion flowers are – / stars of David.” (Osti) and “Chanukah: / Menorahs lit in the windows / And the stars are kindled” (Galmitz); 5) “Homeless in the park – / Listen to the yellow sounds / Of leaves falling off” (Galmitz) and “Birds on a barren tree. / Flying away. / Leaves falling upwards.” (Osti); 6) “All day in the garden / I whisper with flowers. / In my dreams I scream.” (Osti) and “Countryside night… / Into a river of stars / I’m borne aloft” (Galmitz); 7) “Black sun – / I wait my turn / To fly with the birds” (Galmitz) and “One book I shall not / read to the end. Only / I don't know which.” (Osti); 8) “A bird’s call / Lifts me up / From the netherworld” (Galmitz) and “Tomorrow earth will be / my mother, then I shall soon / again be her son.” (Osti)…
Though we could search for many reasons or to impose various hypotheses about these “artistic coincidences” (B. Koneski), maybe i8t would be closer to haiku spirit to search for one of the possible answers right in Josip Osti's haiku: “There are moments when / for me all poets are / just one sole poet.”
Translated by: Igor Isakovski
English translations of Josip Osti's haiku by: Alan McConnell-Duff
order Day and Night of Everyday
order For a Sparrow