Friday, May 29, 2020

Cosmic Symphony (A Haiku Collection) by Pravat Kumar Padhy  (2019, Ciberwit, Allahabad, India) 64 pages, 5.5” x 8.5”. Four-color card covers, perfect bound. ISBN 9789389074321. $15 from

Pravat Kumar Padhy has a PhD in geology and enjoys writing haiku that celebrate scientific exploration of the cosmos. In the introduction he notes the longstanding tradition of “haiku with reference to heavenly bodies and cosmic references”. With interest in exploring a “dream-home on the moon and beyond” Padhy writes about “time and space with poetic effervescence for the universal truism, here and beyond” (20). Here is one that expresses our desire to imagine the unknown: half-moon — / the child wonders / the rest (25). I relate to this one: morning son — / the sunflower and I / turn up for breakfast (29). Here is an example of looking for life beyond our current knowledge: deep dark space / many cosmic townships / with their own light (31). Sometimes we’re just too busy to notice: supermoon — / the girls busy playing / basketball (38). And then again, sometimes there is not enough time: early moonset / so much to speak before / she left smiling (59). This is an excellent collection that demonstrates that we are connected to the heavens, heavenly bodies and the cosmos.

Randy Brooks
Frogpond. volume 43:2, 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

blue moon
through the oncology window
twisting aside
I stare at the twinkling stars
to become one amongst all

Eucalypt, Issue 28,2020 (Ed.Julie Thorndyke)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Haiku Spirit
An essay by Dr. Pravat Kumar Padhy

A brilliant article by a poet who is a Student and Master of Japanese Aesthetics and Poetry. ‘The Haiku Spirit’ touches upon AND details the very essence of Haiku from a philosophical-spiritual point of view. Dr. Padhy also illustrates his teachings with a discussion on a ku by one of Inida’s most beloved poets, Dr. Angelee Deodhar. Thank you, Dr. Padhy, we are indebted to you.

Pranav Kodial, 13.5.2020 Triveni World Haiku Utsav


By Dr. Pravat Kumar Padhy

Japanese literature is largely inspired by Chinese literature during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in China. Kojiki (712), and Nihonshoki (720) are the books of the earliest Japanese mythology, history, and poems. The word haiku is a combination of two different words ‘haikai’ and ‘hokku’. Haikai is a linked-verse (collaborative)  in haikai no renga poetry style developed during the Edo period (1602–1869). Haikai, a type of renga poetry, consists of at least 100 verses in 5-7-5-7-7 pattern. Hokku is the name given to the opening verse (5-7-5, go schichi go) and the last two-line is known as wakiku. Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is the pioneer of writing Hokku. Haiku poetry came into existence from hokku of haikai and Masaoka Shiki named hokku as haiku (ha-i-ku, 3-sound in Japanese) in 1892. The etymology of the word Haiku from Japanese is ‘hai amusement + ku verse. Haiku consists of 17 ‘on’ or ‘morae’ (sound), written in a vertical single line (top to bottom) having the intertextual echoes  A Japanese haiku comprises three sections namely kami go (the top five-section), naka shichi (the middle seven-section), and shimo go (the lower five-section). Matsua Basho (1644-1694),Yosa Busan (1716-1784), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) and Mosaoka Shiki (1867-1902) are the Masters of the Haiku literature, including the woman haikuist Chiyo-ni (1703-1775).

Haiku is a Japanese art form of poetry having a long and rich history of more than 400 years old. Art of haiku writing is a way of imaging around nature (kocho-fuei), behavioural sense of man, animal and non-living entities, and exploring the human feeling and relationship. Even the tiniest object of nature has its genuine worth in this world. I feel it is the realisation of this truth and the Zen moment that has given rise to the genesis of the Haiku poem. It enunciates a contemplation of spiritualism and the realization of self- being a part of nature. Haiku is an objective-based expression. The poet simply sows the seeds of the image leaving the readers to harvest it’s musicality and aesthetic value for times to come.

Haiku is unique in its form and simplistic expression with reference to season or nature as a whole. The basic elements (teikei) of haiku are the seasonal reference (kigo), the surrealistic silence in the form of pause (kireji), Juxtaposition (renso), depth and mystery (yugen), contained space (ma), becomingness (kokora), lightness (karumi),creativeness (zoko), elegance (fuga) and simplicity (iki). It is an art of capturing the happening at the present moment and leaving the interpretation to the readers without telling it (show but do not tell) with brevity (less is more). Denis M. Garrison says, “It is a commonplace to say that the haiku reader “co-creates the haiku” by adding from his/her own experiential context to the haiku and, thereby, completing it.” Unexpectedness (atarashimi) and drifting mood (nioi) in expression render beauty to haiku.

Haiku is written about the keen observations of happenings around nature or human aspects related to nature based on the experience through five senses. Touchingness of things (mono na aware) and touchningness of life (yo no aware) are the essences of haiku. This makes it a distinct style from other poetry forms. It reflects simplicity and honesty in expression without any artificiality, complexity or pretention. “A haiku lets things become what they are”, Robert Spiess says. The image created through haiku in its brevity (kakakoto) is undoubtedly is the spark of self-realization. The poetic sincerity (fuga no makota) as aspired by Basho is the cornerstone of haiku writings.

Simple swinging of hands and twisting of fingers cannot create the experience of dance performance. There need to be graceful postures, a poignant space in between and selfless manifestation for the audience to share the divine nectar. Hence a mere wordplay won’t compose a poem. There has to be a soul, freshness and honesty in it to radiate its brilliance. This is the lighthouse of haiku spirit. W Hackett says, ‘Lifefulness, not beauty, is the real quality of haiku’.

Haiku is considered as the shortest non-rhyming Japanese poetry form written in three lines, in 5-7-5 format, with 17 syllables in total. In Japanese literature, there is no such syllabic concept as in English. These formats are indeed the phonic or sound expression or onji in line length, and onji refers to the counting of phonic sounds in Japanese poetry. Hence it is not possible to translate the Japanese haiku into English in the same format. Generally, the strict syllable style is not followed in English and it is written in the form of short/long/short lines, all in lower case. The haiku contains two images, in the form of ‘fragment’ (Line 1) and ‘phrase’ (Lines 2 and 3), and they juxtapose each other either as association or contrast. The art of juxtaposition (renso) is an exploration of reasoning and a poetic logic that resides in one’s imagism. Between fragment and phrase, there lies a surrealistic silence in the form of pause (kireji), or cutting word. In English, it is denoted by punctuation and one can put “dash” or “dots” (ellipsis) to separate the two distinct images and to provide structural support for haiku. If the poet thinks that the expression is explicit for the reader to understand the images without difficulty, the natural pause itself takes care of the cutting word. The “Kireji(ya, kana, keri, nari), in its sublime form, sparks the juxtaposition or disjunction of the two images (syntactic pivot) facilitating a “leap”. Haiku is not a sentence, hence there is no capital letter or full stop in haiku writing, and there is no title of the haiku. Additionally, the two images should not reflect the simple cause and effect. Minimum use of adjectives, articles, gerunds, refraining from the use of simile, metaphor (with exception of implied poetic predicament), adverbs, verbs, and conditional clauses are some of the essential characteristics of writing haiku. In general, the haiku should not be personified.

My Choice:

Dr. Angelee Deodhar (1947-2018) is revered as the iconic figure of haiku literature in India. Her contribution to Japanese short form of poetry is internationally recognized. I had the opportunity to meet her in February 2018 in the Art and Literature Festival, Bhubaneswar. She once said in an interview in the blogzine GLO-TALK:

In two and a half decades of learning about haiku I have understood one thing,
that all writing is a lonely calling – to write a passable haiku one must be alone much – observe and respond from a felt depth.”

Indeed, poetry emanates from the inner realization in solitude. She has written many beautiful haiku. I pick up the following haiku for the readers to feel the simplicity that she experiences, and her honest depiction.

sharing an umbrella
your wet left shoulder
my right one

(HAS Members’ Anthology, 2001)
(Mann Library’s Daily Haiku, May 12, 2013)

Let us explain the haiku in a simple way for a better understanding of the budding poets. The spirit of natural expression and creative synthesis have been infused by Angelee in the haiku. The haiku is written in short/long/short style having a total of 14 syllables. ‘sharing an umbrella’ constitutes the fragment of the haiku.  Line 2 and Line 3 ‘your wet left shoulder/ my right one’ constitute the image of the phrase part of the haiku. You may notice that there is an implied brief pause or silence (kireji) after Line 1. She has not purposefully put any dash or ellipsis after Line 1 as it is not much demanding here. The haiku has a seasonal reference (kigo) ie rainy season (tsuyu). Here she artfully captures the happening in present and leaves room for the readers to unfold the rest. Both the images (fragment and phrase) juxtapose each other. There is a sense of musicality and freshness in the haiku.

In the above haiku, Angelee tries to express her observation in probably the ever simplest way. Robert Spiess says “A haiku lets things become what they are”. She,  with all humbleness, translates the images into pleasant words with a touch of honesty. The image ‘your wet left shoulder/ my right one’ unveils the intimacy of feeling of the two persons- might be mother and daughter or husband and wife. It could be two close friends or lovers and both are partially drenched in rain. Now let us explore the arrangement of words in Line 2 and Line 3, and how she tries to explore the poetic elegance (miyabi). There has been a spatial manifestation by using words like ‘left’ and ‘right’. The splendor of expression ‘your wet left shoulder’, ‘my right one’ depicts the aesthetic human feeling. Technically she tried to create a matrix of  ‘opposites’.  The expression makes one spellbound. The precision use of word, and word arrangements speak the highest order of poetic skill.  This is called “poetic spells” as Martin Lucas opines about the essence of haiku. Fostering an ideal family life and close bonding are depicted in the haiku in its layered meanings. All need to adjust to the circumstance by sharing pleasure and pain in equal measure to usher in human cohesion. The poetess manifests the simplicity (iki) with the element of lightness (karumi) in the above haiku. One imbibes an inner pleasure by sharing the sense of compassion. The haiku portrays the essence of graceful relationships and mutual affection in life.

The beauty of a flower is a divine art, the colour is the physics, the aroma is its chemistry. I wish the budding poets to bloom into blissful flowers emanating the inner fragrance and sharing with others.

I am delighted to express my gratitude to Pranav for awarding me the opportunity to interact with the dear budding haiku-lovers of Triveni World Haiku Utsav Group.



Pravat Kumar Padhy has obtained his Masters of Science and Technology and a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology, ISM Dhanbad. He has a certification of the Executive Education Programme on “Advanced Management” from IIM-Bangalore.

His poetry has been featured in many journals and anthologies including  History of Contemporary Indian English Poetry,  and others.  His poems received many awards, honours, and commendations including the Editors’ Choice Award at Writers Guild of India, Asian American Poetry, Poetbay, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival International Haiku Honourable Mention, UNESCO International Year Award of Water Co-operation, The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Award, IAFOR Vladimir Devide Haiku Award, and others.  He guest-edited “Per Diem,The Haiku Foundation, November Issue, 2019,” (Monoku about ‘Celestial Bodies’). His haiku is showcased in the exhibition “Haiku Wall”, Historic Liberty Theatre Gallery in Bend, Oregon, USA. His tanka, ‘I mingle’ is featured in the “Kudo Resource Guide”, University of California, Berkeley. He is credited with seven collections of verses including “Cosmic Symphony”- A Haiku Collection. His poem, “How Beautiful” is included in the Undergraduate English Curriculum at the university level.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

a dog gently pushes 
the door

evening market
cats join their voices
with the vendors

The Poetry Pea Journal Of haiku and senryu, Spring 2020 (Ed. Patricia McGuire)

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Leading the Way

Pravat Kumar Padhy

Early winter, I stroll with my granddaughter, Mishku. There is a charm in recounting the seasonal flowers with her. She asks about chirping birds, the moon and the twinkling stars. It is exciting to explain the science behind them in the form of story-language for her own playful imagination!

The flowers and their names, I often narrate to keep her amused in the evening's tender breeze. She caresses her hand over the tiny grass rinsed with softened dew. There is a charm in rediscovering yourself, to convince the first-learner. Who knows, there could be a little Marie Curie or Ada E. Yonath residing in her!

I recall Wordsworth’s phrase: “the child is father of the man”. It's toying with me, but I know, “the child is mother of the woman”.

garden umbrella
shadow changes its length
with passing time

Drifting Sands Haibun, Premier Issue, April 2020 (Eds.Richard Grahn and Cyndi Lloyd)