the wanton tree

A haiku blog. Non traditional ramblings (this guy does'nt count his syllables) of a haiku poet about town. Includes daily haiku from the author and his shady poet friends. Off the cuff haiku book reviews. Writing ideas, gripes, and non categorical asides. Off the beaten haiku path.

Location: California, United States

I often post while wearing a speedo because it keeps me focused.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Women Who Kill (and the men who love them)

The Haiku World was at one time almost solely a man's province. Thank God that's over. Though I don't know about America, according to Makoto Ueda, 70% of modern day Japan's haiku writing population are women. To say the land of the rising sun was not supportive of women's participation back in the early days would be an understatement to say the least.

A feudal warlord structure of rigidly defined roles did not provide the opportunity and training for women interested in haiku. Women were expected to write Tanka if they were poetically inclined. But as you well know, women just don't seem to understand what the words, "No Girls Allowed" mean. So they infiltrated the movement early on and their ranks swelled.

I'm going to keep my haiku out of this one and let the gals have at it here. A few quotes from Makoto Ueda's excellent book, Far Beyond The Field- haiku by Japanese women(Columbia University Press) as well as a few from some contemporary American women writers who let me hang out with them sometimes. (Though I always have to make the coffee)

Ueda's book offers 20 poets, biographies, and 20 haiku from each poet. From the seventeenth century to todays writers. In addition, there is great introductory material that impresses upon you the obstacles these women faced. Fascinating historical background.

Some of the writers therein:

a bush warbler-
my hands in the sink
rest for awhile

-Kawai Chigetsu

moonflowers in bloom
when a woman's skin
gleams through the dusk


the more callouses
the more brightly
my ring sparkles

-Takeshita Shizunojo

up on a hydro pole
an electrician turns
into a cicada

-Mitsuhashi Takajo

the rose garden-
unless you retrace your steps
there's no exit

-Tsuda Kiyoko

the soul, the breasts
and all else are held in the arms
when autumn arrives

-Uda Kiyoko

the butterfly-
its face is the same
as a caterpillars

-Tsuji Momoko

There are 400 of these graceful, angry, fragile, strong, sexy verses in this book. If you like reading haiku and enjoy an informed history of the genre's female pioneers, this is it.

A few of my known associates:

cold blustery wind
fists clenching in the moonlight
my untold anger

the cold hardwood floor
damp with the sweat of fury
worn out boxing gloves

-Carly Shea

dreams in white of white
buried up to my nostrils-
Christmas is over

beer cans on my lawn
all the life crushed out of them-
classes start today

spiderbite itches
car won't start, i'm penniless
wow, look at that sun!


silent saturday-
realtor's "This House For Sale Sign"
pushed up by the breeze

showerdrops falling
on long wet hair make a sound
something like the wind

-Sara Nagle

all love is young
all love is giddy and true

blue black sky above
all life seems asleep-
i wink back at the stars

futon lovers
awakening together-
matching backaches

-Donna LaValley

the silence of crows
gathered on telephone wires
absorbing our words

cocktail umbrella
tumbling from her rain soaked hair
paper icarus

dreamcrashingly hot
graduate of clark kent state
reads anais nin



Blogger momiji said...

I'd like to mention another from Ueda's collection. It seems rather plain, but contains such complicated passion it ignites me.

the fierce snowfall -
I'll die, having known no hands
other than my husband's

yuki hageshi tsuma no te no hoka shirazu shisu

by Hashimoto Takako

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