Pune Meeting Report

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Pune Haiku Meet, December 2006

First Meet of Indian Haiku Poets in Pune, India
9th and 10th December, 2006

in association with
The Pune Municipal Corporation
The Association of Friends of Japan, Pune



by Mrs. Kala Ramesh

* * *


The members of WHCindia, the bi-lingual Indian/English haiku forum of the World Haiku Club, have been corresponding with each other on the Internet over the last year. We therefore have got to know each other quite well on paper, as it were, but in this event we suddenly came face to face to each other for the first time. We all of course share the same roots but we have different mother tongues, with English being the only common language. In the event, however, we bonded perfectly and beautifully well as Indians and also as haiku poets.

All sessions of the WHCindia Meeting went well and according to the schedule. There were interesting papers, important discussions and enjoyable haiku activities.

Most interestingly, haiku in Hindi and Marathi were read out and translated into English. We also had intense discussion about Urdu short verses, which are surprisingly similar to haiku, at least in spirit! Rabindranath Tagore and his short verses were another topic of interest.

India is a vast country from Kanya Kumari to the Himalayas, and from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal… For us haiku poets to get together in one place was a special and memorable experience as N.K. Singh put it:

north to south --
travelling three thousand miles
for a three line poem

The first meeting of WHCindia in Pune has brought all of us much closer than we already were, a strong impression shared by all the participants. It is hoped that the success of this meeting will take us further and deeper in our aspiration of binding as many Indian haiku poets as possible closer and closer together and of bringing to all of them harmony, friendship and unity. It is our wish that WHCindia will be able to play a small part in it and make a difference.


first frost
we shake hands
exchanging warmth

With some trepidation we, the participants who gathered together, entered the Japanese Garden. All beginnings are exciting. When one has planned it for months as we did for this occasion, it is especially so and takes on many colors of expectations in the mind. Our first MEET of WHCindia was just about to begin.

And what a welcome it was! Waiting for us were 150 haiku by poets across the world each of which was placed in trees and bushes, on stonewalls and bamboo sticks – fluttering in the winter breeze – ushering us into the world of haiku sensibilities.

Corresponding with poets in an Internet forum is one thing. Meeting them in person is quite another. So, in between shy smiles and laughter it was quite a job but a joyful one for all of us to try and guess who’s who, i.e. to connect names to faces.

We began the Saturday session with:

A heritage camp in the art of Bonsai conducted by Ms Mandakini Malaniya. At each step her demonstration we could see the Japanese mastery of miniature art that could easily be discerned in haiku, the most compressed form of poetry in the world.

WHCindia’s official meeting followed this. After a short round of introduction by each poet we got down to the important agenda of planning our next big venture – World Haiku Festival in India 2007. The ideas that poured in this brainstorming session were breath-taking and we agreed to start the work of preparing for this event straightaway.

Then came the main session and our inauguration ceremony began with a welcome address by Mrs. Kala Ramesh, the organizer of the event, which was followed by our founder and chairman Mr. Susumu Takiguchi’s thought-provoking speech read out by Mr. Dalip Daswani on his behalf. The keynote addresses were most poignantly given by Prof. N. K. Singh and by Mr. Johannes Manjrekar.

After the main presentations, hot Darjeeling tea was served and in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, the mood was set for the following day’s colourful events

Activity-led sessions were added on Sunday:

Early in the morning we had our Ginko walk in Osho’s Teertha Park. Several years previously Swami Rajneesh had converted this piece of land into the first Japanese garden in Pune. Since then, it has become a nature’s virtual treasure house. The haiku poets went wild when they saw many interesting things, ranging from a giant spider’s web to wooden bridges with palms cascading most beautifully. Tall bamboos studded with statues of Buddha mediating. It seemed as if the whole garden was in deep meditation. The rising morning sun shining through the leaves gave shades of meaning to seeking minds.

wings out-stretched
the fishing cormorant poses

Two simultaneous haiku workshops were conducted by K. Ramesh and Johannes Manjrekar. They were well attended by young adults in addition to our WHCindia forum members.

Paper presentations:
(Moderated by Dr. Vidur Jyoti)

The Scene of Haiku in India Today
by Ms Urmila Kaul

Haiku-like poems of Tagore and Nishikanto
by Aju Mukhopadhayay

Comparative study of Haiku and Indian Short Poetry
by N. K. Singh

All of the three papers were delivered most impressively.

Open Panel Discussion:
(Moderated by Dalip Daswani)

Topic: ‘And What Is Not A Haiku?’ It was led by K. Ramesh and Johannes Manjrekar and was most enjoyable. Every poet present was drawn into the dialogue and made his/her contribution.

The reading of Haiku, Tanka, Senryu & Haibun by the members of WHCindia: A. Thiagarajan, K. Ramesh, Urmila Kaul, Johannes Manjrekar, Prof N. K. Singh, Aju Mukhopadhayay, Mukul Dahal, Dalip Daswani, Dr. Vidur Jyoti and Kala Ramesh

The Meet ended on a high note.

* * *

The two-day event lifted us to a positive and upbeat mood and we all came away feeling that we must meet again soon.

wintry skyline
our dreams spread their wings
like birds

Haiku by Susumu Takiguchi

This report and its haiku poems were written by Mrs. Kala Ramesh.
Photos are by Dr. Vidur Jyoti.



at WHCindia Meeting in Pune
by Susumu Takiguchi
Chairman, The World Haiku Club

Pioneers and Latecomers

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In any field of human activity pioneers are normally admired and given a special place in history. Followers, or latecomers, by contrast, would not be given such a treatment. This is half justifiable for obvious reasons but the other half is open to question, especially when the pioneers would be over-worshipped on the one hand and the latecomers would be unduly under-estimated on the other. Pioneers must be allowed to come down from the pedestal on which they have been forced to stand and find their right place in history. Latecomers must be allowed to be free from the pioneers' mistakes.

It depends of course on what these pioneers are of. If they are pioneers of landing on the moon, or discovering the number zero, or penicillin, then they cannot be worshipped enough. However, if they are pioneers of discovering haiku and of introducing it outside Japan, it is a slightly different story.

Pioneers have the advantage in that nobody has known whatever they are pioneering. Latecomers have the advantage of hindsight and all the wisdom and knowledge which have been accumulated since the first discovery. Pioneers make mistakes as well as discoveries and in a
sense they are allowed to make mistakes if the importance of what they discover far outweighs the ill effects of their mistakes.

Latecomers on the other hand are not allowed to make such mistakes or any other mistakes made perfectly preventable by the wisdom and knowledge available to them. More importantly, it is the duty of the latecomers to correct the mistakes of the pioneers. This is not to belittle them but on the contrary to pay them proper respect rather than florid but meaningless adulation.

All too often pioneers get excessively hero-worshipped, overly admired and wholly idolised by those who would benefit from such extravagance. Namely, they do it for self-aggrandisement. This is not genuine homage to the pioneers but it does happen and happens once too many. In haiku there is no shortage of examples of this: Ezra Pound, Shiki Masaoka, R. H. Blyth and, yes, Basho himself to name but a few heavyweights. There is a serious need to review not only what Shiki achieved but also and even more importantly possible ill-effects of him. Blyth is at last widely admired but this is precisely the dangerous time when we have to examine his bad influences in addition to his positive contributions to gain a balanced view of him, all in our interest.

What is true with individuals is also true with countries. There are pioneering countries and "late-coming" countries. I do not know if there were pioneers in India who a hundred years, or fifty years ago practiced haiku and disseminated it across the country. There may well have been some such pioneers if we dig deeply into India's modern history. However, as a country let us for the argument's sake assume that India is a latecomer in haiku. Once again, let me hasten to add that this is not to insult India in any way. Far from it, it is in fact a grand celebration as you will see soon enough from what I am going to say.

Blessed are the latecomers: for theirs is the kingdom of haiku heaven. They have all the advantages which the pioneers were not endowed with and none of the disadvantages which were more or less all that the pioneers possessed. Latecomers have no heavy and unwanted baggage. Latecomers are like a brand new canvas. Latecomers can bring fresh views and different insight to the table. So much more so if the latecomers were countries of long and rich history of culture and civilisation such as India.

If you have a living legacy as old as Vedas and modern men as great as Rabindranath Tagore, India cannot be an ordinary latecomer in haiku. India is one of the countries I have a special expectation in terms of how haiku would develop in a profound way. China is another such country.

The circumstances under which haiku would or would not start to be practiced in a country other than Japan can be complex. They also can be and are different from one country to another, though there has been a common pattern whereby the same influence would penetrate into a late-coming country from a dominant haiku force.

Since haiku poetry began to fly out of Japan across national, linguistic and cultural frontiers, it has been bestowed with a new potential of expanding its scope, enriching its content and celebrating its varieties to an unprecedented degree. This potential would be severely curtailed if the influence of a single dominating force would pervade all or most of the countries in the world.

This makes it so much more important for a country like India to develop its own haiku on the basis of its own study of Japanese tradition, of its own literary and aesthetic tradition and of its own perception and sensibility concerning haiku, quite independent of, but not divorced from, the dominant force.

If India is a latecomer in haiku, it is in fact an unbelievably fortunate gift not only for Indian haiku poets but for haiku itself. This is because Indian haiku poets can set out on a new and different journey of the way of haiku and haiku can have a chance to benefit from how it develops in India. The other side of the coin is that Indian haiku poets have some kind of a special responsibility for developing their haiku in the right way. For if they would develop haiku in the wrong way it would mean a great opportunity lost not only for them but also for the rest of the haiku poets in the world.

How that can be achieved would be up to the Indian haiku poets. However, some of the basic points may be of use. Freedom is probably the most important point. By this I do not mean political `freedom' which is bandied about nowadays with guns and explosives. It is freedom of poetic expression and creation in a narrow sense and also freedom of spirit in a broad sense. However, like any other kinds of freedom it is not limitless or without some constraints or responsibility. The most crucial constraint is of course the framework within which poems should remain as haiku. Outside this framework it would become meaningless to call anything haiku.

How far one would expand or limit the framework is a difficult question but is basically a practical and relative consideration and would vary according to different schools of thought. Within the framework there is a tangible element (form, kigo etc. ) and intangible element (haiku spirit, subject matter, etc.). I shall not go into details. There are other kinds of freedom, including freedom from undue influence from other haiku movements, especially dominant ones.

The second point I believe to be important is the critical faculty of the Indian poet. It is a kind of creative doubt or scepticism and a capability of creative criticism, which should go along with his/her ability to keep an open mind. If some pioneers preach and pontificate, the first thing this poet should do is not to accept it hook, line and sinker. Similarly he/she should doubt any received theories, rules, dos and don'ts before truly digesting them, especially if they are no more than dogmas. The poet should also use his/her critical power to be able to tell good haiku from bad not according to the received wisdom but according to his/her own inner insight as a poet.

The third important point is Indian poets' readiness and humility with which he/she always refers back to Japanese haiku and its tradition rather than deluding him/herself at any given time into thinking that Indian haiku has now been so well established that there is no longer any need for or point of learning anything from Japan. Such thought is very tempting as everybody wishes to celebrate the establishment of his or her own haiku world. However, the temptation must be resisted for the good of Indian haiku.

The fourth point is the importance of the local soil. In addition to originality and individuality which are so vital for haiku of interest and distinction, what comes naturally and spontaneously from the local culture makes the haiku more distinctly Indian. This is the most interesting aspect from the point of view of the world haiku movement. Here lies the rich soil out of which many haiku poems can be expected to flourish which are distinct from those written in other parts of the world, especially in the West.

The fifth point is closely related to the fourth, namely indigenous languages in India. A lot of good things can be expected from the development of haiku in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali or Urdu, if not all 500 local languages. In the worst case, these languages and their literary tradition may be totally unsuitable for, or incompatible with, the style and spirit of haiku. Even then, experiment of writing haiku in these languages will be worth trying and we may well have some pleasant surprises. A much greater possibility is that the poetic tradition in these languages will help create a new haiku trend in India which will add to the merit of haiku as well as to the Indian poetry itself.

The old anthologies such as Ettutogaiad or Pattuppattu in classical Tamil may be too ancient to be adapted to haiku (not to mention the classical Sanskrit) but modern Tamil may have a good prospect. Unlike the classical Sanskrit, Prakrit is a vernacular language and may be more suitable for haiku-writing. The Rajasthani bards in Hindi of some 600 years ago may be an example to which Indian poetic tradition can trace its origin back and can work as references for guiding haiku in India.

There is also such legacy as the Kesav Das which is erotic literature in later Hindi which can give inspiration to erotic haiku. Satirical poets such as the 18 century Saudi would help injecting a sense of humour to haiku, or inspiring Indian senryu. There is a well-established short form of poetry in Urdu which has a similar rhythm, style and pathos as haiku.

Even if English is an official language in India, writing haiku only in English would be far from sufficient not least because there are 17 other official languages.

The sixth point I wish to mention is the importance of avoiding any internal division or conflict within Indian haiku community. Such division or conflict is caused by negative haiku politics which any country should do without. The reality is that many countries suffer from this disease. In a country like India with such enormous linguistic, regional, social and racial differences and varieties, there is an increased likelihood of negative haiku politics leading to division and conflict. Special vigilance is therefore necessary against it. This point cannot be stressed enough as such division and conflict would sap the energy of healthy development of haiku in India, distorting it and bringing inconvenience and unpleasantness to those involved.

At the moment relatively small number of poets are practicing haiku independently in India. They are not organised. It is important for them to communicate and help each other as much as they can in order to make the most of the limited available resources and to avoid wasteful rivalry and harmful conflict. Soon there will be a desire to form a haiku organisation in India. Keep it to be a single united organisation only for as long as possible and avoid any temptation to create the second haiku organisation which is bound to be in conflict with the first. You do not need two haiku organisations in India at least for the foreseeable future.

I have celebrated the position of being a latecomer. Indian haiku poets can enjoy the best of both worlds. Namely, they can take good things from the pioneering countries while rejecting their mistakes or things inappropriate for India. They can also benefit from the knowledge and experience which have been accumulated for the last 50 years or so.

I wish I were with you and share the joy of getting together in this beautiful Japanese garden for WHCindia's first meeting. You may have expected from me the kind of flowery language of greetings and diplomatic niceties which are often used in a welcome speech like this. Instead, I have chosen to mention some hard realities and cautionary tales in order not to insult your intelligence and to make it quite clear from the outset that much can be expected from you in your long haiku journey. Few people are likely to say what I have said today. I have many more things to say to you but they can wait.

I am sure that this will be a very good meeting. Set some time aside to discuss freely how you will wish to organise, perhaps next year, World Haiku Festival in India, which will be very good for the development of haiku movement in India and can be a huge stimulus for existing and potential haiku poets. I would like to congratulate you all on making it possible to hold this meeting and thank Mr. Khaire and his colleagues for providing this wonderful venue. I would also like to salute Mrs. Kala Ramesh for organising this meeting. Mrs. Ramesh has been appointed WHC's Director of World Haiku Festival in India and I hope everybody will give her as much helping hand and support as she needs in planning, preparing and executing this challenging Festival.

I wish to close this message by quoting from Stray Birds by Rabindranath Tagore, which seems to be most appropriate and auspicious for the World Haiku Club wishing to hold its World Haiku Festival in India. It seems to symbolise our spirit:

"The world puts off its mask of vastness to its lover.
It becomes small as one song,
as one kiss of the eternal."



The World Haiku Club India MEET at Pune had a write up in the India’s national news paper - The Times of India on 15th December 07.


By Pranjal Bhuyan / TNN

Pune recently hosted the first World Haiku Club India meet and plans are afoot to hold the first World Haiku Festival in New Delhi next year. The Club has more than 50 haiku enthusiasts across the country, 11 of whom participated in the Pune meeting.

“Haiku is spiritualism in the sense that the poet touches nature and becomes one with the truth while composing it,” said Kala Ramesh, Pune-based organizer of the Club. A haiku poet watches minute differences in nature, and the style and the syntax follows from the observation, she added. “ One of the changes in modern times is the stylization of the verse,” Ramesh said. Due to this, besides the season word, a key word has become a norm for haiku poets”

The style was caught by the renowned Tamil nationalist of the last century, Subramaniam Bharatiyar, and Rabindranath Tagore also tried out the form. Syllable pattern also underwent a change with the use of English and other languages. “The five, seven, five pattern wobbled the poems in other languages” Ramesh said.

Though no university in India has made haiku part of its syllabus, there is definitely a developing interest in it. According to Archana Chandrachud, faculty of the University of Pune, lots of students now read it to get an insight into the linguistic history and development of the language.


Following our successful first World Haiku Club India MEET at Pune on 9th and 10th of Dec. 06, we conducted The Pune Epilogue Kukai Contest . The response from the Indian haijin was most encouraging and Susumu san offered to be the judge for us!

The results are given below, with a most comprehensive analysis of each haiku by Susumu san.

There were 44 entries in all but we are publishing here, the first *** 3 Prize Winners *** and 7 honorable mentions



Introducing the Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden
Japanese and English 「プーネ岡山友好公園」

Biographies and more info about the participants

Photo Album of this Meeting


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