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Per Diem Archive: D. Blackwell Feb. 2019, Iberian Haiku

Haiku in the Languages of Iberia

In 2018, I was fortunate enough to be given funding by the Consortium of Museums for the region of Valencia, Spain, for a project I called Haiku from Iberia and Beyond. The project was an investigation into haiku written in the languages of the Iberian Peninsula, and which culminated in the publishing of an anthology of poems, with extensive notes on the unique tendencies of haiku in the languages and areas studied.

The Iberian Peninsula is composed of Spain and Portugal, with the most widely spoken languages being Spanish and Portuguese. Spain, of course, has other officially recognized languages, namely Basque, Catalan, and Galician. The languages of the Iberian peninsula, however, are not limited to the peninsula itself. Spanish and Portguese are also the main languages of Latin America, as well as being spoken in parts of Africa. The history of these languages and the regions where they are spoken is complex and I invite anyone interested to study further. (Of note is the debate about Catalan and Valencian, the language spoken in Valencia.)
I was interested to see how the history of haiku had developed in these differing regions and languages. While there are many poets who were greatly inspired by the Japanese classics, haiku itself, has left its mark on Spanish and Portuguese poetry and there are notable poets, such as Tablada in Mexico, who had a profound influence of the production of haiku in their native tongue. And Brazil, too, is a unique country in terms of the history of haiku because of the Japanese immigration there, as well as the long history of haiku being written both in Portuguese and in Japanese.
One of my objectives with Haiku from Iberia and Beyond, and by extension with this month’s Per Diem of Haiku in the Languages of Iberia, is to see previously marginalized languages and poets get exposure so that we can re-evaluate the current canon; and to show that there is a willingness to broaden the horizons of haiku so that, in future, speakers of languages such as Basque, Catalan, and Galician need not compose in Spanish if they are to be read. One Basque poet claimed in an unpublished essay on haiku in Basque that to write in Basque is to make oneself invisible. Hopefully, those days are gone.
Danny Blackwell
*The translation of the poems from Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish into English is by Danny Blackwell. (The Basque poems, however, were first translated by the poets into Spanish before being translated by Danny Blackwell into English.)



Author: Guilherme de Almeida
Night. A whistle in the sky.
In the station, no one. And the train.
Without stopping passes by.
Author: José María Millares Sall
This morning
the dying hands
remembered you.
Author: Yvette Centeno
The sigh of the man
at the top
the hill
Author: Lécio Ferreira
the fishermen have families
the seagulls too
Author: Blanca Villanueva
only the night
walks without fear
between the branches
Author: Luísa Freire
People rushing
in search of their life,
which always escapes them
Author: Elson Fróes
sun drenched temple 
time let loose
i contemplate alone
Author: Hidekazu Masuda Goga
Silk floss tree:
recalling the cherry blossom
an old immigrant . . .
Author: Paulo Leminski
party over
ants chew
on the remains of a cicada
Author: Franklin Magalhães
Rainy carnival.                             
Wet dogs and harlequins
in the doorway of the bar
Author: Fernando Pessoa
Flickering in the night,
A hesitant astral glow,
O that which will not be.
Author: David Rodrigues
sunset over the sea
only the gaze stays on this side
of the horizon.
Author: Alice Ruiz
dead bird
in the middle of the street
cars flying
Author: Alice Ruiz
between us
only etceteras
Author: Afrânio Peixoto
An airplane 
Looking for fuel … 
Oh! It’s a mosquito.
Author: Hidekazu Masuda Goga
beep of a horn:
      crossing the dry river
      an orderly herd of bulls
Author: Mila Villanueva
In the net
the fish still moving
on the sand.
Author: Ricardo Martínez-Conde
No one initiates
the ceremony of morning
yet it exists.
Author: Josu Jimenez Maia
A scent of storm,
the red fruit
of the hawthorn
Author: Juan Kruz Igerabide
The crows 
break the rhythm
of the wheat.
Author: Joan Salvat-Papassseit
Such strong winds!,
and a rain so fine!
— The tram sparks
Author: Joana Raspall
I live exiled                    
in a land drenched
by absentmindedness.
Author: Konstantin Dimitrov
On the other shore:
two strangers
under an umbrella
Author: Salvador Espriu
From one well to another
of the night. We are deep thirst
of clear fountains.
Author: Carmen Valois
Fear in the air
Six black bulls
Author: Rosa Leveroni
Like the blooming almond trees
I arouse my unease.
Flowers in the wind
Author: Agustí Bartra
All is a path 
for the memories that yearn for
the high pasture.
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