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Per Diem Archive: D. Blackwell, Aug 2018, Spanish-language Haiku

Spanish-language Haiku

Spanish-language haiku appears around the same time as haiku is being discovered in the French and English-speaking worlds, and there are some notable influences between Europe and the Americas. Spanish-language haiku really begins with the Mexican poet Tablada, whose influence is key to understanding the development of the genre in the first few decades of the 1900s. Key features of early haiku production are a reliance on titles, metaphor, and rhyme.

When Nobel Prize recipient Octavio Paz heard of Tablada’s death he entered a public library and revisited the poet’s work, as a result of which Paz became further interested in Japanese poetry, leading him to translate Basho’s travelogue Oku no hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North) in the 1950s, thereby creating a newfound interest in haiku.

The final wave of interest occurred in the 80s and 90s with Argentinean Borges and Uruguayan Benedetti both producing haiku poems. With the subsequent arrival of the internet, interest in haiku has flourished. Spanish scholar Vicente Haya laments what he refers to as “Benedetti syndrome”: 5-7-5 haiku that aim only at syllable count or brevity but do not respect the themes and techniques of classical Japanese haiku. Some of Haya’s disciples are included here, alongside haiku that reflect other tendencies.

There is much debate about what constitutes haiku in the Spanish language, as with English-language productions, and the lines are often blurred between haiku, senryu, zappai, and other more Western forms, such as epigrams and so on. Whatever the case, Spanish-language haiku has a rich and fascinating history that I hope to present in more detail in my upcoming book Haiku From Iberia and Beyond.

I hope you enjoy the current selection and I look forward to any feedback you may wish to offer.

Danny Blackwell


*The translation of the poems from Spanish into English is by Danny Blackwell.

Author: Rafael Garcia Bidó
The shadows once more
are mountains.
Author: Ana Añón
Late snow.
The sopping wet shoes
beside the fireplace.
Author: Frutos Soriano
quiet street
the sound of cutlery
on plates
Author: Grego (Gregorio Dávila)
Old woman,
in her begging bowl
only orange blossoms.
Author: Palmira (Susana Benet)
At each turn 
of the merry-go-round, my father
saying goodbye.
Author: Blanca Villanueva
between the pines 
only a dry path 
where the sun is
Author: Kotori (Mercedes Pérez)
all of a sudden they’re maple
the leaves that fall
beside the river path
Author: José Juan Tablada
Clumps of mud,
on the dark path
toads leap.
Author: Carlos Gutiérrez Cruz
The scorpion
Coming out of its position
in between a parenthesis
and an inquisition.
Author: Alberto Guillén
Having rained last night
it has its voice refreshed
the river.
Author: José M. Oxholm Lopéz
Each pine a ghost
this moonlit
Author: Umberto Senegal
Hazy dawn.
The swallows awoke
in another world.
Author: Javier Tafur González
Dreaming in the dream.
The heron,
in the cottonfield.
Author: Ko Kumo (Patricia Binôme)
pink sky
wee things in the mountain range 
turn on their lights
Author: Francisco Acuyo
In the pond,
eternity moves
for an instant.
Author: Anna María Santolaria
sea breeze,
the fisherman’s shadow
changes rock
Author: Diente de León (Toñi Sánchez)
Still warm
the spot left by the cat . . .
autumn afternoon
Author: Antonio Cabrera
Oak tree night.
The green darkness
ululates. Eyes.
Author: Konstantin Dimitrov
On the other shore:
two strangers
under an umbrella
Author: Hadaverde (Leticia Sicilia)
Hanging out the washing;
the first stars 
between the clothes pegs.
Author: Litago (Lita Gomez Terrón)
Waiting room.
A sigh in sync 
with her fan
Author: Ana Rosa Esteban
Another blackout—
How deep her wrinkles
beside the fire!
Author: María Jesús Pérez Núñez
remembering the child
not born . . .                 
such an immense plain!
Author: Ana Rosa Núñez
The breeze gives the pine
its voice
as the dawn to the nightingale.
Author: Rosario Raro
In the bathtub
I submerge the nostalgia
of your embraces.
Author: José María Millares Sall
I think that you
no longer think that I
drink your light.
Author: Julia Otxoa
Your only reality,
damn you, is a simulacra,
officiating nectar while sharpening a knife.
Author: Mila Villanueva
In the net
the fish still moving
on the sand.
Author: Federico García Lorca
May my heart
be for you.
The moon over the water
and the cherry tree in bloom.
Author: Jesús Munárriz
on the platform of the metro
the butterfly
Author: Luis Corrales
The blackbird dead
and its yellow beak
still yellow
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