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Creative Blooms 12: Satō Ayaka (Part 2)

 
 

 
 

An Introduction to the Haiku of Satō Ayaka

 

Translations, Annotations by
Profs. Richard Gilbert, Itō Yūki, David Ostman, Masahiro Hori

 
Satō Ayaka (1985 – ) Daughter of Satō Eisaku (Professor of Linguistics, Ehime University). While in high school, she was a winner of the second place prize of the fifth Haiku Kōshien (national High School competition). Entered Waseda University and joined the Waseda Haiku Club. In 2005, founded the haiku group Haiku Machine (disbanded in 2012). In 2006, won the Shiba Fukio New Haiku Poet Prize (Jury Encouragement Award). In 2008, published her first haiku collection, Seaweed Specimens [Kaisō hyōhin] and won the Sō Sakon Haiku Haiku Grand Prize. In 2010, was included in the noted anthology Shinsei 21, and founded the “Short-term, Short-form Women’s Haiku Group” Guca (disbanded, 2012). In 2012, joined the haiku group Mirror [Kagami]. In 2014, started her own journal group “Ku +” publishing her second haiku collection You Have Eyes Open Your Eyes [Kimi ni me ga ari mihirakare], and published her first non-haiku poetry collection Please Teach Me New Music [Atarashii ongaku wo oshiete]. In 2017, edited and published the haiku anthology The Milky Way Galaxy Power Plant [Amanogawa Ginga Hatsudensho].

夏の蝶自画像の目は開いてゐる
natsu no chō jigazō no me wa aiteiru

summer butterfly –
its eyes open to
a self-portrait 

Kigo: 夏の蝶 natsu no chō, summer butterfly; Summer. Meter: 5-7-5.

Note: The key to this haiku is whose jigazō (self-portrait) is being presented here? Hori’s impression is that the eyes in question are actually the pattern on the butterfly’s wings. A good example is the peacock butterfly, commonly found throughout Japan (example: kujyaku chō.

マフラーの匂ひの会話してをりぬ
mafurā no nioi no kaiwa shite orinu

from a neck scarf
the fragrance of chatter —
conversing

Kigo: マフラー mafurā, muffler; Winter. Meter: 5-7-5.

Note: For “muffler”: this term would be taken as a car-exhaust muffler, in common English; “muffler + smell” will not indicate a piece of clothing. mafurā no nioi is a pleasant smell or a faint, fine scent. Two friends are talking about ordinary or trivial matters but the conversation makes them warm their hearts like their neck scarves do (Hori).

夕刊に凍蜂の死を包みけり
yuukan ni itebachi no shi wo tusutsumi keri

in an evening newspaper
wrapping up the death 
of a frozen wasp

Kigo: 凍蜂 itebachi, hornet in winter/frozen wasp; Winter. Meter: 5-7-5.

Note: Itebachi is a common kigo. The bee in winter may be queen bee; it is probably large. Even so, it is dying in its weakness. In big cities, some newspapers put out both morning and evening newspaper editions (Ito).

風はもう冷たくない乾いてもいない
kaze wa mō tsumetaku mo nai kawaite mo inai

the wind, no longer
cold
nor dry 

Kigo: Winter, or no-/betweenseason (see note below). Meter: 5-6-8.

Note: kaze ga tsumetai (that is, “wind is cold”) suggests a winter kigo. However, kaze wa mō tsumetaku mo nai (that is “the wind is no longer cold) in this haiku means that “it is not winter.” On the other hand, “the wind is not dry” implies that “it is not spring.” This reminds me of the word “twilight,” which Yeats cherished. “Twilight” means “the time when day is just starting to become night.” It seems to me that Ayaka wanted to express a “two-season” phenomenal sense, or in my coinage “twiseason” — expressing “the time when winter is just starting to become spring” (Hori). According to the author, this haiku is written as an elegy or mourning haiku (Ito).

知らない町の吹雪の中は知っている
shiranai machi no fubuki no naka wa shitteiru

an unknown town
that snowstorm –
i know its inside

Kigo: 吹雪 fubuki, snowstorm; Winter. Meter: 7-7-5.

Note: This haiku reminds me, as a Canadian, of the aftermath of every snow storm, where the scenery changes into an unrecognizable landscape (Ostman). The author was not born in a snowy town; even so, she was able to write this haiku as she is a book person. She may know of a snowy town only from her reading experiences. To give a personal example, I too was not born in snow country, yet just by reading the famed opening scene of Kawabata Yasunari’s novel The Snow Country a deep impression was made. Probably, Ayaka has her own favorite novels or poems from “snow country” (Ito).

Reference: Book: 柚子の花君に目があり見開かれ

 
 
As longterm members of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, Kumamoto University, founded in 2006, these four denizens of Japan with joy, patience and determination, have continued to devote spare months, hours and days co-translating gendaihaiku. Presently, Dr. Itō Yūki, a Yeats scholar, is an assistant professor at Josai University, Saitama; Dr. David Ostman, who researches the role of empathy in intercultural competence, holds a similar position at Kumamoto Gakuen University; Dr. Masahiro Hori, a world-class linguist is a senior professor also at Kumamoto Gakuen University; Dr. Richard Gilbert is professor emeritus, Kumamoto University.

Creative Blooms will appear every other Tuesday. Three poems will be provided with commentary, and an additional three offered for creative interaction by our readership. With every third installment, Gilbert will introduce a largely unknown Japanese poet, translated into English with annotations, for the first time. We look forward to a lively discussion of these fascinating and challenging poems.

Richard Gilbert, professor of English Literature at Kumamoto University in Japan, is the author of Poetry as Consciousness: Haiku Forests, Space of Mind, and an Ethics of Freedom (illustrated by Sabine Miller, Kebunsha Co. Ltd., 2018, ISBN 978-4-86330-189-4), The Disjunctive Dragonfly (Red Moon Press, 2008, rev. 2013), and Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), among others. He is also director of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, whose most recent book is the tour de force Haiku as Life: A Tohta Kaneko Omnnibus (Red Moon Press, 2019). In January 2020, he announced the creation of Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, an evolution of the Haiku Sanctuary forum.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. .
    an unknown town
    that snowstorm –
    i know its inside
    .
    Satō Ayaka
    Translated into English by Profs. Richard Gilbert, Itō Yūki, David Ostman, Masahiro Hori
    .
    .
    I’m someone who has experienced several great British snow winters, including the Big Freeze of 1962/63 as a child, and the next “Big Freeze” as adult and renga-poet-in-residence for Kingston upon Hull (usually abbreviated to Hull, or ‘Ull!) in 2009/2010! 🙂
    .
    As a child I was physically limited to Bristol (England UK) and life was basic and difficult but I enjoyed the challenges despite a lack of facilities! 🙂
    .
    As the renga poet-in-residence I traveled from South West England through the Midlands and up into the North of England. We faced several different blizzards, and motorway facilities sometimes broken down by the huge weight of snow. Most shops at one motorway complex were closed due to snow damage, and flooding, except for one medium sized coffee chain shop that valiantly made sure we all got some basic hot drinks and food. It was like Narnia but without the wicked people!
    .
    I kept the car window open and felt one with the blizzards, and even kept the hotel window wide open that was supplied free of charge as a renga poet-in-residence. As long as you have a place of safety, a hot radiator, access to hot drinks (room kettle) and food (breakfast room etc…) it was like Narnia, full of strange wonderment beyond the wardrobe! 🙂
    .

    When I read this haiku by Satō Ayaka, translated into English by Profs. Richard Gilbert, Itō Yūki, David Ostman, Masahiro Hori, you can imagine I fell in love with it! 🙂
    .
    .
    Towns can be transformed by being blanketed with snow, so even our hometown, if we’ve not witnessed snow before, will be ‘unknown’, at least to me as a six year boy discovering the front door had another door entirely made out of snow! And then later navigating treacherous ice and snow with my mom, on foot, down a steep hill, to the shopping street! 🙂 It would take us a whole morning to get to food supplies safely, and then back again!
    .
    I loved the second line as it transformed the logic/linear “an unknown town” into ‘that’ snowstorm, as if I am emerging for the first time from the ‘other side’ of the wardrobe:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO8v1yFoAwo

    .
    .

    an unknown town
    that snowstorm
    .
    .
    The last line intrigues me, which reads as:
    .
    .
    i know its inside
    .
    .
    Not only that there is “I” in lowercase as “i” but that this line has two possessive pronouns (“i” and “its”).
    .
    Note:
    “its” is a possessive just like “my” or “your.” Whereas if it was “it’s” then that is a contraction of “it is.”
    .
    .
    So if we take it that “its” means that the author knows the snowstorm’s internal organs, the storm’s “inside” or “insides,” rather than just that the snowstorm is “inside” the town, and this fascinates me, and echoes what I was saying with my own haiku of the 2010/11 snowstorm(s).
    .
    My own haiku was originally composed as a one-line haiku, written during a haikai multi-genre residential retreat that I was running, not long after the winter of 2010/11 had finally subsided. It came to me during one of our many wonderful teabreaks! It had to be made into a 3-line haiku as I knew it would be too long for the ‘haiku calendar’ contest, if it did well.
    .
    .

    So:
    .
    snowing through the blizzard particles of me
    .
    Became:
    .
    .

    snowing
    through the blizzard
    particles of me
    .
    Alan Summers
    .
    .

    Even though Satō Ayaka had never physically experienced snow she has certainly captured an essence of it, which after all, is a strong feature of haiku! 🙂
    .
    .
    If I stretch out the English version into one line:
    .
    .

    an unknown town that snowstorm i know its inside
    .
    .
    We also have an incredible haiku, though I feel the option to make it over three lines works just that bit better. Don’t you?
    .
    The 3-line version suggests that the snowstorm is an unknown town, which is quietly brilliant and atmospheric. Those of us caught in a snowstorm realise it has its own “presence”, and is a separate ‘township’, almost a ‘spaceship’ and we become snow, as if our molecules are drifting and spiraling and “mingling”. 🙂
    .
    A thoroughly enjoyable haiku! 🙂

    1. .
      snowing
      through the blizzard
      particles of me
      .
      Alan Summers
      .
      Winner, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2011 (Snapshot Press)
      Publication credit: The Haiku Calendar 2012 (Snapshot Press)
      .
      It was a previously unpublished poem that was quickly sent to the competition. Since then it has garnered further publications and features, including these major anthologies:
      .
      Anthology credits:
      The Humours of Haiku (Iron Press 2012) ed. David Cobb; Faces and Place (Haiku Anthology) ed. Don Baird (The Little Buddha Press 2015); naad anunaad: an anthology of contemporary international haiku ed. Shloka Shankar, Sanjuktaa Asopa, Kala Ramesh (India, 2016); Earth in Sunrise: A Course for English-Language Haiku Study (Kumamoto University, Japan, textbook for teaching university-level English-language education) ed. Professor Richard Gilbert and David Ostman (Red Moon Press 2017)
      .

      Online poet-in-residence:
      Cornell University, Mann Library (March 2013) curated by Tom Clausen:
      https://haiku.mannlib.cornell.edu/2013/03/18/4318/
      .
      Feature:
      The Haiku Foundation Per Diem “Transcendence” theme (April 2014) curated by Don Wentworth
      .
      chapbook collection:
      “The In-Between Season” (With Words Haiku Pamphlet Series 2012):
      https://area17.blogspot.com/2012/06/in-between-season-haiku-pamphlet-will.html

      1. .
        snowing
        through the blizzard
        particles of me
        .

        haiku by Alan Summers: http://www.callofthepage.org
        picture by Ian Battaglia: https://unsplash.com/@ianjbattaglia
        .
        .
        Also the subject of Naviar Records Haiku Challenge 270 – a music project in which artists are invited to make new music inspired by a weekly assigned haiku poem: https://www.naviarrecords.com/2019/03/06/naviarhaiku270-snowing/
        .
        A gorgeous haiku which inspired a number of fabulous and original musical compositions.

        1. Thanks! 🙂
          .
          Yes, it was incredible to listen to so many music tracks! As a fan of ambient music it was a great honor.
          .
          Being approached for an interview is also a great honor, and here it was the Sonic Boom publication that interviewed me, and I bring in this haiku: Magazine Interview:
          Interview with Alan Summers by Shloka Shankar (Founder/Chief Editor, Sonic Boom Issue seven, December 2016)
          https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/files/original/724503644a042672b8a57ed98cc19ffd.pdf
          .

          Thanks again, for reminding me that this haiku has done some travellin’! 🙂

  2. Well done, Alan! Even I can understand your thorough analysis that is more like a mathematical proof.

  3. 夏の蝶自画像の目は開いてゐる
    natsu no chō jigazō no me wa aiteiru
    .
    summer butterfly –
    its eyes open to
    a self-portrait
    .
    Kigo: 夏の蝶 natsu no chō, summer butterfly; Summer. Meter: 5-7-5.
    .
    Thank you Princess K for your additional insight to this beautiful and mysterious poem. I think you have found the perfect connection to Chuang Tzu’s parable. The poetic dialogue between the two writers gives this poem so much more depth.
    .
    Alan, I agree that your slight change in the poem gives it more meaning to my English reading mind. My first reaction was to think of our usual ‘evening wrap-up of the news’, then with the last line to be brought down to the death of a lowly wasp. Beautiful transportation from the larger impersonal world to the most personal and simple.
    .
    Thanks Princess K and Alan for adding depth to these two poems.

    1. The poem Alan commented on that I was referring to is:
      .
      in an evening newspaper
      wrapping up the death
      of a frozen wasp
      .
      Satō Ayaka
      Transl. Profs. Richard Gilbert, Itō Yūki, David Ostman, Masahiro Hori

      I apologize for not including the reference.

    2. And often the newspaper is used as a weapon, whether propaganda, or rolled up to down a fly or wasp, which makes for an interesting comparison in itself?

  4. .
    知らない町の吹雪の中は知っている
    shiranai machi no fubuki no naka wa shitteiru
    .
    an unknown town
    that snowstorm –
    i know its inside
    .
    Kigo: 吹雪 fubuki, snowstorm; Winter. Meter: 7-7-5.
    .
    .
    My initial reaction to this haiku was the cold lonely feeling of being a stranger in a strange town.
    .
    On second reading, I played with the words a bit, changing the word “snowstorm” to the word “drifter”. I still read the haiku as “a stranger in a strange land”, but with a different feeling to line 3: I know its inside. As in the book with the same title “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein, I interpret line 3 with the single word “grok” coined by Heinlein in his book. From Wikipedia:
    .
    Grok /ˈɡrɒk/ is a neologism coined by American writer Robert A. Heinlein for his 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. While the Oxford English Dictionary summarizes the meaning of grok as “to understand intuitively or by empathy, to establish rapport with” and “to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment”.
    .
    It is interesting that the word drifter can have conflicting meanings, a person who moves aimlessly from place to place or from job to job, or a person who is driven (possibly to achieve, given the author’s background). An affecting haiku and the blizzard/snowstorm/drifter providing a vivid imagery.

    1. Love the drifter and drifting! 🙂
      .
      .

      all this drifting snow
      I wonder how I became
      yet another shape
       .
      Alan Summers
      Best of Mainichi Shimbun 2014 (haiku column, Japan)
      .
      .

    2. .
      知らない町の吹雪の中は知っている
      shiranai machi no fubuki no naka wa shitteiru
      .
      an unknown town
      that snowstorm –
      i know its inside
      .
      Kigo: 吹雪 fubuki, snowstorm; Winter. Meter: 7-7-5.
      .
      .
      Perhaps worth noting – reading this poem again, I realize another juxtaposition – that of the unknown (town) with the known (its inside(snowstorm)).

  5. .
    夏の蝶自画像の目は開いてゐる
    natsu no chō jigazō no me wa aiteiru
    .
    summer butterfly –
    its eyes open to
    a self-portrait
    .
    Kigo: 夏の蝶 natsu no chō, summer butterfly; Summer. Meter: 5-7-5.
    .
    Note: The key to this haiku is whose jigazō (self-portrait) is being presented here? Hori’s impression is that the eyes in question are actually the pattern on the butterfly’s wings. A good example is the peacock butterfly, commonly found throughout Japan (example: kujyaku chō.
    .
    .
    I was reading about the butterfly kigo on the World Kigo Database and was wondering if this haiku might be an allusion to the famous parable by the Chinese sage Chunag-Tsu (Chunag Tzu), as outlined on the WKD. According to the WKD:
    .
    Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly.
    All day long, he floated on the breeze
    Without a thought of who he was or where he was going.
    .
    When he awoke, Chuang Tzu became confused.
    .

    “Am I a Man”, he thought,
    “who dreamed that I was a butterfly?
    Or am I butterfly, dreaming that I am a man?
    Perhaps my whole waking life is
    but a moment in a butterfly’s dream!.
    This is a story of transformation”
    .
    Perhaps lines 2 & 3:
    .
    its eyes open to
    a self-portrait
    .
    could be referring to the awakened Chuang Tzu?

  6. .
    I love the feel of this haiku:
    .
    summer butterfly –
    its eyes open to
    a self-portrait
    .
    Satō Ayaka
    Transl. Profs. Richard Gilbert, Itō Yūki, David Ostman, Masahiro Hori
    .
    .
    Beautiful, beguiling, mysterious! 🙂
    Great feel of tactile texture & sound
    .
    .
    .
    in an evening newspaper
    wrapping up the death
    of a frozen wasp
    .
    Satō Ayaka
    Transl. Profs. Richard Gilbert, Itō Yūki, David Ostman, Masahiro Hori
    .
    .
    I’d personally lose “in”:
    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/in-into
    .
    .
    e.g.
    .
    .
    an evening newspaper
    wrapping up the death
    of a frozen wasp
    .
    .
    I feels it reads better now.
    .
    So we have the immediate context of a newspaper, and initially we can believe it is the evening.
    .
    Then the second line, with the first line…
    .
    .
    an evening newspaper
    wrapping up the death
    .
    .
    …continues into an inclusion of ‘death’ where I immediately think of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”:
    .
    [It’s] the final track of the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, the verses were mainly written by John Lennon, with Paul McCartney primarily contributing the song’s middle section. It is widely regarded as one of the finest and most important works in popular music history. WIKIPEDIA
    .
    Lyrics extract:
    .
    .

    “And though the news was rather sad
    Well, I just had to laugh
    I saw the photograph
    He blew his mind out in a car
    He didn’t notice that the lights had changed”
    .
    .

    And eventually the newspaper, starting out as a wrapper of news, and then of other things such as an evening’s fish supper or just a fabulous wrapping up of British chips aka potato fries, with salt and vinegar, has this third line transporting us into another realm! The death of an insect, and the end of a year as it’s frozen in winter (kigo).
    .
    .
    Has someone used yesterday’s newspaper to rid themselves of a pest (insect) or is it like Jack Kerouac’s winter fly?
    .
    .
    In my medicine cabinet
    the winter fly
    Has died of old age
    .
    Jack Kerouac
    Book of Haikus, edited and with an Introduction by Regina Weinreich. Penguin USA, 2003
    .
    .
    Or
    .
    .
    冬蜂の死にどころなく歩きけり
    .
    fuyubachi no shinidokoro naku arukikeri
    .
    Murakami Kijo (1865-1938)

    .
    winter wasp no place to die keep walking
    .
    English version by Alan Summers
    .
    .
    Coming back to
    .
    an evening newspaper
    wrapping up the death
    of a frozen wasp
    .
    .
    The newspaper, allegedly a carrier of ‘news’ is either bringing to an end the life of a wasp, either by hitting it with the rolled up ‘edition’ and thus quite literally making it become part of the ‘news’ and its ‘newspaper’ carrier, or its interim burial site, coffin, or “paper sarcophagus” with “yesterday’s news”.
    .
    The use of the indefinite article [an], I feel, is very important, and is part of the bridge of nuance that the humble articles of grammar [a/an & the] can offer and bring to us:
    https://area17.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-definite-and-indefinite-article-how.html
    .
    .
    Just as the evening edition of the news was wrapping up the news of the day, it is now a different kind of wrapper. Such a simple haiku with many layers of poignancy.
    .
    .

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