Photo/Illutration(Illustration by Mitsuaki Kojima)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Missing mom who believed my fibs All Fool’s Day

--Satoru Kanematsu (Nagoya)

* * *

Walking into

a cedar forest

my friend laughing

--Devin Harrison (Vancouver Island, Canada)

* * *

First day of spring

the sap icicle

on the broken branch

--Philomene Kocher (Kingston, Canada)

* * *

Morning prayer--

discovered in dewdrops

pieces of sky

--Marek Kozubek (Bangkok, Thailand)

* * *

My every desire--

plum blossoms

in the wind

--Lilia Racheva (Ruse, Bulgaria)

* * *

Dark river

the short memory

of snowflakes

--Patrick Sweeney (Misawa, Aomori)

* * *

A game of

blind man’s bluff

cherry blossoms in the dirt

--Grace Stroer-Jarvis (Misawa, Aomori)

* * *

April Fool’s Day

everywhere I go

my father’s shadow

--Gabriel Sawicki (Wroclaw, Poland)

* * *

Deep, cold, river

Drina is ready, Bosnia

does not need a cemetery

--Smajil Durmisevic (Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

* * *

Rural alehouse

over a tin-pot beer

beautiful stories

--Wieslaw Karlinski (Namyslow, Poland)

-------------------------

FROM THE NOTEBOOK

-------------------------

Migratory winds

surprise--first green morning

for centuries

--Lydia Lecheva (Sofia, Bulgaria)

The haikuist was astonished by the early greening up hill and down dale of her hometown. Iris, a poet from Matsuyama, made a pilgrimage on Shikoku island. Her first poem on the journey was penned near Okubo-ji, which is usually the 88th and last temple on the pilgrim’s route. This is a leap year, however, so she started walking around Shikoku in reverse order.

Pilgrim bells

arouse the valley

the spring breeze

Muscovite Natalia Kuznetsova believes in the mystical powers residing in the poetic words and lines of haiku. Borrowing from the Japanese concept of “kotodama,” perhaps the words that haikuists--from Matsuyama to Moscow--recite have a far-reaching influence on the environment, body, mind and soul.

Poetry magic

in the depth of three lines...

haiku spirit

In reciting 17 syllables, Thomas Canull follows a simple life in Carmel, Indiana.

Start 5-7-5

a new world will open up

just the essentials

Making his debut in this column, Anthony Q. Rabang shares a quiet moment in Vigan, a 16th century town in the Philippines recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. When he learned that his first submission was accepted, he replied that was the best news of his day, adding that this is “my first published haiku.”

Smooth wind--

paper planes blown

towards the field

In Moscow, Evgeny Ivanov knows what’s best to have first thing in the morning. In Tokyo, Murasaki Sagano knows where good jokes can be heard.

April fools--

pale Moon dissolved

in morning tea

* * *

Radio

giggle at breakfast

April Fools’ Day

Ernesto P. Santiago chides the foolhardy in Athens. Ian Willey, an expat-American in Japan and Anna Goluba in Poland can’t turn off the political debates.

Spring clouds

the sheer misrule

of April fools

* * *

April 1st!

Today’s the day Trump will say

April Fools!

* * *

Watching TV news . ..

How I wish it all to be

April Fool’s Day

Note these head rhyming sounds by Guliz Vural from Ankara.

Blossom haze

barely the zephyr

blows the dawn

Speaking of b’s and blowing out candles at dawn, it’s the 21st birthday of the Asahi Haikuist Network. This column first appeared on Monday April 3, 1995, in the culture section of the broadsheets published by the Asahi Evening News. At that time, haikuists were grieving the aftershock of the Great Hanshin earthquake of Jan. 17, 1995. Writing from Australia today, Barbara A. Taylor continues to fret over the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, noting “nuclear energy is such a dilemma,” but adds that she’s “happy with my solar energy; haven’t paid a bill for several years.”

Five years on

where rice once grew

contamination

By 1999, the haiku column was syndicated to the tabloid-sized “Asahi Japan” newspaper distributed in bookshops, hotels, restaurants and trendy cafes in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. From April 2, 2001, the column began to regularly appear in The Asahi Shimbun/ International Herald Tribune. A colorful, upbeat Asahi Haikuist Network appeared in both print and digital forms starting from Sept. 29, 2003. A reformatted print version highlighting a few of the best haiku plus a beefed up online offering made their debut on weekends starting from April 3, 2005. The column was archived at the Asahi Shimbun Digital website from September 29, 2003 to December 21, 2012. From Jan. 10, 2013, to March 21, 2016, the Asahi Haikuist developed a truly global appeal via the Asia and Japan Watch online portal, where readers commented on haiku they liked and themes that moved them. An absence of snow this year in the U.K. town of Chippenham prompted Alan Summers to write “even my new winter coat wants to go out and find its season.”

First frost

the fur on my coat

pawing the air

In reply to the stance of the final regular column on AJW, Summers observed, “More than ever haiku poets are the record makers and record-keepers of the seasons as they shift away from normal weather patterns to those directly affected by humans.” A developing new challenge for readers of this column is to write haiku about how nature has changed.

Spring wind

my face colder

where the tears are

The above haiku is one of Philomene Kocher’s favorite. The Canadian collected 142 poems that she composed over the past 22 years. By arranging them chronologically in the anthology “Singing in the Silo” by Catkin Press, she was able to appreciate “the development of my craft and the path of my journey.” Lilia Racheva penned this haiku while listening to wind instruments at a festival in Bulgaria where the “violin and the music was magic.”

Spring moon,

I’m wandering

with the winds

As the Asahi Haikuist column enters its 22nd year of chronologically recording what is important and sometimes even magical to our contributors, we have the rare opportunity to witness their development as writers and to reflect upon their spiritual journeys. A diverse network of poets, aged from 12 to 92, regularly submit haiku. This one by elementary school student Ethan Dooley was penned in Aomori where, “Mid-spring blossoms are pinker than last year.”

Silently walking

my little sister

follows me home

Viewing the column online from Tokyo, Kiyoshi Fukuzawa shares similar values with haiku colleagues around the world.

Wherever one lives

we learn that spring is special

haiku from the Net

Every day from Monday to Saturday, since this column first appeared, Satoru Kanematsu has mailed a haiku on a postcard to share with our readers. On Sundays, he says, he takes a break from that routine and watches a haiku program on TV; his grandson sitting with him patiently for it to end so they can both view another great show right after.

Spring choo-choo

Thomas and his friends

pulling out

The next issues of the Asahi Haikuist Network appear April 15 and 29. Readers are invited to send haiku about greenery or greenhouse gases on a postcard to David McMurray at the International University of Kagoshima, Sakanoue 8-34-1, Kagoshima, 891-0197, Japan, or e-mail to (mcmurray@fka.att.ne.jp). This column is contained in The Asahi Shimbun’s English news database.

* * *

David McMurray has been writing the Asahi Haikuist Network column since April 1995, first for the Asahi Evening News. He is also the editor of OUTREACH, a bi-monthly column featuring international teachers in The Language Teacher of the Japan Association for Language Teacher (JALT).

McMurray is professor of intercultural studies at The International University of Kagoshima where he lectures on international haiku. At the Graduate School he supervises students who research haiku. He is a correspondent school teacher of Haiku in English for the Asahi Culture Center in Tokyo.

McMurray judges haiku contests organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Asahi Culture Center, Matsuyama City, and Seinan Jo Gakuin University.

McMurray's books include: "Canada Project in Kyushu" Vol. 1 (2006) - Vol. 7 (2011), Pukeko: Fukuoka; "Haiku in English as a Japanese Language" (2003), Pukeko: Kitakyushu; and "Hospital Departmental Operations--A Guide for Trustees and Managers," Canadian Hospital Association: Ottawa, Canada.