Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Rules for Thanksgiving Haiku

One Hundred Forty-First Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

rules for Thanksgiving 
barefaced men wave brand new copies
of 1984

FYI: ABC News, Nov. 18: As pandemic surges, Trump White House calls Thanksgiving restrictions 'Orwellian' and Reuters, Nov. 23: Millions travel for Thanksgiving despite warnings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

ER Orderly Tanka

two clock hands
overlap for the fourth time ...
wiping her brow
an orderly looks at her hands
and at the ER floor

Monday, November 23, 2020

Weight of Another Lockdown Haiku

One Hundred Fortieth  Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
for Torotonians 

snow on snow ...
the weight of another

FYI: Toronto is now in lockdown, another record high for Ontario Covid-19 (CityNews Nov. 23), and Toronto was hit with a record-setting 19.4 cm snowfall last night (CityNews, Nov. 23)

Haiku Invitational Interview with Chen-ou Liu

Poetry is here, just here. Something wrestling with how we live... something honest.--  Dionne Brand

It is not success or failure that matters but the struggle itself. The purpose of a writing life is the struggle, and a haiku poet’s salvation is based upon how well he or she handles the struggle.-- Chen-ou Liu 
(This online interview was conducted by Haiku Invitational committee member, Michael Dylan Welch)

blossom wind
my sick wife holds my hand

Top Winner, Canada, Haiku Invitational Winner 2020

MDW: Congratulations on having your haiku selected as the top winner in the Canada category in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s 2020 Haiku Invitational contest. How did you first learn about haiku, and how much writing of haiku or other poetry have you done?
COL: In 2009, with the aid of a newly acquainted poet friend, Brian Zimmer, I was exposed to the Japanese haiku, gendai [modern] haiku, and monostiches. Since then, I’ve studied and written haiku and related genres on a daily basis, and my poems have been published in print and online journals. In 2013, I started an English–Chinese haiku and tanka blog, editing, translating and publishing haiku, its related genres, reviews, and essays.
MDW: What was the inspiration for your winning poem?
COL: My haiku was inspired by an old Taiwanese movie scene. In it, a young couple walked out of a doctor’s office on a chilly morning. On their way home, they walked side by side, slowly and quietly. The background music of this poignant scene was their favorite song about cherry blossoms blooming on Mt. Yangming, Taipei.
MDW: Describe the moment when you first learned you had won.
COL: The moment when I first learned that my haiku had been chosen for the Best Canada category, I immediately phoned my mother, who lives in Taiwan.  She was happy for me, but her first question was, do you have enough face masks? The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted my March travel plans. My health and safety-related issues had been occupying my mother’s mind since the WHO pandemic declaration.
MDW: Do you have favourite books or websites relating to haiku that others might benefit from in order to learn haiku as a literary art and to share one’s haiku?

COL:Burton Watson’s Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems gives me a glimpse into the suffering soul and prolific life of an innovative poet. Shiki’s three poetic principles—shasei (“sketching from life”), makoto (“truthfulness”), and everyday language—help me set my feet firmly on the ground. Haruo Shirane’s Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Bashō, establishes the ground for critical discussion and reading of Bashō’s poetry in the context of broader socio-cultural change. It helps me look beyond the haiku moment and debunk some modern haiku myths. Richard Gilbert’s Poems of Consciousness: Contemporary Japanese & English-language Haiku in Cross-cultural Perspectives creates a new poetic vocabulary for the haiku community to employ in analyzing how and why haiku work effectively, and it gives analytical categories and explanations for some innovative haiku that fall outside the juxtaposition/shasei realm.
MDW: Please tell us more about yourself.
COL: After more than ten years of struggling towards a new life vision and preparing for a major change in my field of study (computer science to cultural studies), in the summer of 2002 I emigrated to Canada to pursue a PhD and settled in Ajax, a suburb of Toronto. After arriving in Canada, I was frustrated by the lack of in-depth and wide-ranging classroom discussions, and most importantly, I was stressed by financial burden. I quit my studies and started to write essays in an adopted language, English. After two years of striving, I published three essays but got little attention from the scholars in those fields. Furthermore, I was disappointed by my inability to master English quickly. My pent-up emotions began spilling over onto pieces of scrap paper in the form of short poetry. The more I wrote, the more I thought about becoming a poet. Now, I’m a published poet and the editor and translator of NeverEnding Story
I write
at the gun-mouth
of time’s barrel . . .
I live for myself
by myself
MDW: How does where you live and what you enjoy doing affect the way you write haiku?
COL: I lives in Ajax, a suburb of Toronto. It’s just a five-minute drive to Lake Ontario where I spend most of my leisure time reflecting upon and responding to books, films, and socio-cultural events I’ve read, watched, or experienced. I resonate with this quotation from tanka poet Ishikawa Takuboku: “My mind, which was yearning after some indescribable thing from morning to night, could find an outlet to some extent only by making poems.” Like my favorite Canadian novelist and activist, Dionne Brand, I believe that “Poetry is here, just here. Something wrestling with how we live . . . something honest.” And I think that it is not success or failure that matters but the struggle itself. The purpose of a writing life is the struggle, and a haiku poet’s salvation is based upon how well he or she handles the struggle.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Dawn of the Dead Tanka

One Hundred Thirty-Ninth  Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

at false dawn
a double-shift nurse murmurs
to another ...
just like Dawn of the Dead
only the credits never roll

FYI: The Dis/United States of America topped 12 million cases of Covid19 yesterday

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Silence and Drunken Shadow Haiku

shelter in place
for days the silence of me
and my drunken shadow

Covid19 Haiku Anthology, 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Border Wall and Makeshift Tents Tanka

One Hundred Thirty-Seventh  Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

the border wall
under the El Paso sky
row upon row
of makeshift gray tents
outside the medical center

FYI: El Paso, known for its large military presence anchored by Fort Bliss and Mexico–United States barrier also known as the border wall whose length is 1954 miles (3145 km), "has turned to jail inmates to staff mobile morgues, and local officials say hospitals are nearing a point where they could have to ration care," The Texas Tribune, Nov. 18

Added: One Hundred Thirty-Eighth  Entry

lockdown announced
as new cases surge --
on the lawyer's desk
a pile of divorce files

Silent Epidemic

“312 people died of suspected opioid overdoses last month, more than the total number of people in the province who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.” The reporters turn to each other, not a word uttered. A silence envelops the conference room for a while. 

“I cannot express how shocking this news has been to hear,” says the province’s top doctor at the briefing, fighting to hold back her tears.  “The overdose crisis is rooted in pain. Stigma, shame and fear or distrust of authorities have prevented drug users from seeking help. Most of them died in the shadow of a back alley or behind the dumpster.” 

The doctor’s concluding remark unsettles in the darkest corners of my mind. I put the TV on mute and grow restless.
a baby
in the crook of her arm …
she writes we miss you
inside a purple heart
on the memorial walk

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he will ask the federal government to approve a plan to decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs in the city. The move comes as the overdose crisis shows no sign of slowing, with 2020 tracking to be the worst year on record.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The President and His Wall-to-Wall Mirrors Tanka

inspired by the diagnosis  psychologist and author of Too Much and Never Enough, Mary Trump, gave on Nov. 9

he won only
in the eyes of fake-news media ...
in shadowy light
the President cries out 
to his wall-to-wall mirrors

Monday, November 16, 2020

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Heat Map Tanka

One Hundred Thirty-Sixth  Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

the surge 
of waves and whitecaps ...
more red dots
added to the heat map
of Covid-19

Added: In the Wake of Defeat 
a tanka set written in response to "Trump's vow against U.S. coronavirus lockdown in 1st speech since election defeat," Global News, Nov. 13

before the long wall
of U.S. flags ...
bubbles of spit frothing 
from the President's mouth

piercing cries
of count every vote
and stop the steal ...
MAGA fans white with rage
against the dying of the light

FYI: I made a request for a judicial recount of participants in this so-called "Million" MAGA March

Added: a sequel to In the Wake of Defeat for Trump Party faithfuls, including Trump himself and the Trumps in the wall-to-wall mirrors of the Presidential Suite 

a night of dreams 
the EVICTION balloon arch
over the White House 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Selected Haiku: Winter Sunlight and Tea Haiku

a sip of tea ...
listening to winter

German Translation by Chrysanthemum Editorial Team

ein Schlückchen Tee ...
dem Winter lauschend

Chrysanthemum, 21, Spring 2011

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Silhouetted against the White House Haiku

written in response to U.S. Secretary of State's assurance: "smooth transition — to 2nd Trump presidency"

anti-climb wall
military guards silhouetted
against the White House

Monday, November 9, 2020

Trumping Trump

Any resemblance to current events or actual locales, or to living persons, is not coincidental. It is meant to be -- God's way of remaining anonymous.

piss-stained Four More Years
the plus-sized We Just Did hat
on my Champ's head

FYI: Joe Biden has a dog of the same name, Champ (short for Champion). And "the Internet thinks Joe Biden's hat is masterfully trolling Donald Trump," Mehera Bonner, Cosmopolitan, November 9

Added: Nothing Less Real Than RealityIV

the evangelist 
bursts into his manic laughter
at Biden's win
until his flock join in ...
this darkness fused in light

FYI: "Trump-Supporting Televangelist Kenneth Copeland Has The Weirdest Meltdown Over Biden Victory," Ed Mazza, HuffPost, November 9

Shimmer Haiku

the shimmer
of garden tomatoes
morning breeze

seashores, 4, 2020