BUCSA Asian Cultural Heritage Series Part I : The Art of Letters

Haiku as World Literature

A Celebration of the 150th Birthday of Haiku Poet Masaoka Shiki

October 12 & 13, 2017

Haiku is perhaps the best travelled of all world literary genres. Since the seventeenth century, when Matsuo Bashō wrote his masterpiece, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, haiku poets have embarked on countless figural and literal journeys, and they have taken the genre with them. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, dense social networks of haiku poets crisscrossed the whole of Japan, and by the early twentieth century, haiku in its modern form had spread across the globe through the work of poets including Ezra Pound, Rabindrath Tagore, Frederico Garcia Lorca, and Yu Ping Bo. Today millions of people write haiku in Japanese and dozens of other languages.

This symposium marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the haiku poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). Despite spending the last seven years of his short life immobilized by tuberculosis, Shiki contributed more than any other poet to the genre’s emergence as a globe-trotting literary form. Scholars and poets working on haiku in Japanese, English, Persian, Chinese, and Spanish will share their work on Shiki and on the poetics of haiku in its global dimensions. We will also celebrate the recent digitization on the “Open BU” archive of 145 back issues of the Shiki kaishi: the journal of the Matsuyama Shiki Society, a treasure trove of original research on Shiki and his circle written by the Society’s members.

Because the best way to appreciate haiku is to write one yourself, we will reconvene on Friday, October 13 for a Haiku Circle, led by Nanae Tamura of the Matsuyama Shiki Society.  We will meet at the Pardee School 121 Bay State Road, from 11:00-1:00. 

For a description of how the haiku-circle works, including some useful notes and resources on how to write haiku, see here.

If you plan to come, please register here.  Submit a maximum of three haiku here.

Participation is limited to 30 people, so please sign up soon!

Haiku Poster

The Symposium will take place on October 12, 2017 on the Boston University Campus, at

Barristers Hall / Sumner M. Redstone Building / 765 Commonwealth Avenue / Boston MA 02215

Schedule

8:oo-8:45

Breakfast Reception

8:45-9:00 Welcome:
Catherine Yeh, Director of the BU Center for the Study of Asia
Keith Vincent, Chair WLL

9:00-9:30 KEYNOTE: Janine Beichman (Professor Emerita, Daitō Bunka University)

Haiku is a “globe-trotting” form now, as the website for this symposium says, but a little more than a century ago it was moribund and about to die out. Masaoka Shiki and his group of dedicated fellow poets revived it, as we know. The how of haiku’s rebirth is pretty well mapped out—Shiki’s brilliant essays in defense of the form, which argued so compellingly for its right to be called literature in the modern sense, and the poetry of Shiki and his friends, which demonstrated persuasively that haiku could express the thoughts and feelings of modern people. In contrast, the why is not so clear. That is, why was haiku able to inspire the solicitude and the loyalty of Shiki and his friends?  What is it about the form and its traditions that fired them with such passion? Whatever it was, it is still there today. One of the things that reading haiku teaches us is that there are many ways, to borrow from Wallace Stevens, to look at a blackbird, or, in this case, haiku—not just a particular poem, but the form itself. In preparing this keynote, I knew the twenty or so haiku I wanted to talk about but I was not sure of the most effective order to arrange them in. As I played around with that, I began to see them in a new way, through the prism of two sets of complementary qualities: mindfulness and imagination on the one hand,  lightness and stickiness on the other. Both have to do with the generosity of haiku and I think it may be this quality, a kind of generosity in the form itself, that spells the why.

Janine Beichman is Professor Emerita of Daito Bunka University. She is the author of Masaoka Shiki (G.K.Hall, 1982), the first biography of Shiki in English; the augmented edition is Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works (Cheng & Tsui, 2002). She is also the author of Embracing the Firebird: Yosano Akiko and the Birth of the Female Voice in Modern Japanese Poetry (Hawaii UP, 2002). Recent essays include “The Prophet and the Poet: Leo Tolstoy and Yosano Akiko”(Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fifth Series, 5:2013), “Portrait of a Marriage: Yosano Akiko’s Paris Foray” (Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fifth Series, 8:2016) and “Yosano Akiko, Symbolist” (Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fifth Series, 9: 2017). Current projects include the second volume of her biography of Yosano Akiko, and new and expanded editions of her translations of the poet and critic Ōoka Makoto’s Beneath the Sleepless Tossing of the Planets and Poems for All Seasons.

 

(scroll down for panel paper abstracts and speaker bios)

9:30-11:00 Masaoka Shiki and the Birth of the Modern Haiku

Discussant: Yoon Sun Yang (Boston University, WLL Korean)

Nanae Tamura (Matsuyama Shiki Society)
On the 150th anniversary of their Birth: Shiki, Sōseki, Kyokudō & Matsuyama”

Robert Tuck (University of Montana)
“Haiku Gets Political: Shiki, Nippon, and Meiji ‘Newspaper Literature’”

Reiko Abe Auestad (University of Oslo)
“Abe Yoshishige on ‘Masaoka Shiki as a Person’”

11:00-12:30 Shiki’s Poetics

Discussant: Anna Elliot (Boston University, WLL Japanese)

Rebekah Machemer (Boston University WLL Alumna)
“Shiki’s Haiku in a Comic Panel: Exercises in Composition and Contextualization”

Lorenzo Marinucci (Sapenzia University of Rome)
“Shiki’s Bashō: Malady and Modernity of a Poetic Meeting”

J . Keith Vincent (Boston University, WLL)
“Better than Sex? Shiki’s Food Haiku”

12:30-1:30 Break for Lunch

1:30-3:00 Haiku Before and After Shiki

Discussant: Peter Schwartz (Boston University, WLL German)

Cheryl Crowley (Emory University)
“Does Good Haiku have a Gender?  Tagami Kikusha (1753-1826) and the Mino School”

Sarah Frederick (Boston University, WLL)
“Mountains and Rivers on her Desk:  Novelist Yoshiya Nobuko’s Haiku Diary (1944-1973)”

Anita Patterson (Boston University, English)
“‘Projections in the Haiku Manner’: Richard Wright and Transpacific Modernism”

3:00-3:30 Coffee Break

3:30-5:00 Haiku in the World:

Discussant: Wiebke Denecke (Boston University, WLL East Asian Literature)

Faryaneh Fadaeiresketi (Heidelberg University)
“Haiku in Iran and the ‘Haiku Effect’ in Contemporary Persian Poetry”

Christopher Maurer (Boston University, Romance Studies)
“‘This Lyrical Box of Chocolates’:  Lorca Discovers Haiku”

Catherine Yeh (Boston University, WLL)
“Japanese Haiku and the Formation of Chinese Short Poetry”

PAPER ABSTRACTS AND SPEAKER BIOS (in alphabetical order)

“Abe Yoshishige on ‘Masaoka Shiki as a Person’”

In his essay on Masaoka Shiki on the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Abe Yoshishige discusses his view of Shiki “as a person,” based on the anecdotes he has heard from his friends, relatives, and the novelist Natsume Sōseki, as well as on his own reading of some of Shiki’s works (sixteen years his junior, Abe’s first-hand experience with Shiki was rather limited).  Abe’s father, Abe Yoshitō, studied the Chinese classics under Shiki’s maternal grandfather, Ōhara Kanzan, and his family closely associated with Shiki’s mother, uncles and cousins.  Yoshitō the doctor even saved Shiki’s life when he suffered from cholera as a fourteen-year-old.  Abe also talks about Sōseki’s jestful description of Shiki as a “nikui otoko,” (hateful, or headstrong person) which, together with other comparative observations of them which Abe makes, adds color to his characterization of Shiki.  Beneath the tone of characteristic Confucian austerity, we get glimpses of Abe’s warm feelings and pride about Shiki’s achievement as a native of Matsuyama. Through a reading of this very personal, meandering essay, and Sōseki’s short piece titled “Masaoka Shiki,” this paper tries to take stock of the figure of Shiki as he appeared to Abe and others, as well as of the homosocial cultural milieu of which Shiki, Sōseki, and Abe Yoshishige were a part in the late nineteenth century.

Reiko Abe Auestad is Professor at the University of Oslo. She is the author of Rereading Soseki: Three Early Twentieth-Century Japanese Novels (1998) which was republished in a digital form from CEAS Reprint Series for Rare and Out of Print Publications at Yale University (2016).  Her recent essays include “Invoking Affect in Kawakami Mieko’s Chichi to ran (Breasts and Eggs 2008),” Japan Forum (2016) and “Ibuse Masuji’s Kuroi Ame (Black Rain 1965) and Imamura Shōhei’s Film Adaptation (1989),” Bunron (2017).  “The Affect that Disorients Kokoro” in The Review of Japanese Culture and Society and “Colliding Forms in Literary History: A Reading of Natsume Sōseki’s Light and Dark” in the Routledge Companion to World Literature and World History are forthcoming. Together with Alan Tansman and Keith J. Vincent, she is also co-editing two collections of essays on the novelist Natsume Sōseki.

KEYNOTE: The Pleasures of Haiku: from Bashō to Shiki and Beyond

Haiku is a “globe-trotting” form now, as the website for this symposium says, but a little more than a century ago it was moribund and about to die out. Masaoka Shiki and his group of dedicated fellow poets revived it, as we know. The how of haiku’s rebirth is pretty well mapped out—Shiki’s brilliant essays in defense of the form, which argued so compellingly for its right to be called literature in the modern sense, and the poetry of Shiki and his friends, which demonstrated persuasively that haiku could express the thoughts and feelings of modern people. In contrast, the why is not so clear. That is, why was haiku able to inspire the solicitude and the loyalty of Shiki and his friends?  What is it about the form and its traditions that fired them with such passion? Whatever it was, it is still there today. One of the things that reading haiku teaches us is that there are many ways, to borrow from Wallace Stevens, to look at a blackbird, or, in this case, haiku—not just a particular poem, but the form itself. In preparing this keynote, I knew the twenty or so haiku I wanted to talk about but I was not sure of the most effective order to arrange them in. As I played around with that, I began to see them in a new way, through the prism of two sets of complementary qualities: mindfulness and imagination on the one hand,  lightness and stickiness on the other. Both have to do with the generosity of haiku and I think it may be this quality, a kind of generosity in the form itself, that spells the why.

Janine Beichman is Professor Emerita of Daito Bunka University. She is the author of Masaoka Shiki (G.K.Hall, 1982), the first biography of Shiki in English; the augmented edition is Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works (Cheng & Tsui, 2002). She is also the author of Embracing the Firebird: Yosano Akiko and the Birth of the Female Voice in Modern Japanese Poetry (Hawaii UP, 2002). Recent essays include “The Prophet and the Poet: Leo Tolstoy and Yosano Akiko”(Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fifth Series, 5:2013), “Portrait of a Marriage: Yosano Akiko’s Paris Foray” (Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fifth Series, 8:2016) and “Yosano Akiko, Symbolist” (Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fifth Series, 9: 2017). Current projects include the second volume of her biography of Yosano Akiko, and new and expanded editions of her translations of the poet and critic Ōoka Makoto’s Beneath the Sleepless Tossing of the Planets and Poems for All Seasons.

 

“Does Good Haiku have a Gender? Tagami Kikusha (1753–1826) and the Minô School”

In  contemporary  Japan,  membership  in haiku  groups  is overwhelmingly female.  However,  in the  early part of  the  Edo  period  (1603-1868),  only 2-5%  of  poets  writing  haikai  (the premodern  name  for haiku)  were women.  One  of  the  most  prominent  of  these  early female  haikai  poets was Tagami Kikusha, whose life of incessant travel was inspired by  that of  Matsuo  Bashô  (1644-1694).

Kikusha was a member of the Minô School of haikai, whose founder, Kagami Shikô, came to be called the “Haikai Demon” to contrast him from  Bashô, the “Haikai Saint.” The  style that Shikô promoted  was simple, straightforward, and  appealed to provincials, whose  ranks at the turn of the 18th into the 19th century increasingly included women. Minô School verse was exactly the kind that Masaoka Shiki deplored as “tsukinami” (hackneyed). In my paper, I will consider the hokku of Kikusha as exemplifying the Minô School style. Does it fall under that category of tsukinami haiku, and if so, can this be attributed to its author’s gender, or her allegiance to a populist school of haikai?

Cheryl Crowley teaches courses on premodern Japanese literature and visual culture at Emory University. She completed her masters degree at the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. at Columbia University. Her book, Lightening into Dawn: Haikai Poet Yosa Buson and the Bashô Revival , was published by Brill in 2007. She is working on a book about women haikai poets in early modern Japan.

“Haiku in Iran and the ‘Haiku Effect’ in Contemporary Persian Poetry”

In 2011, the entry on haiku in Iran was added into Encyclopedia Iranica, signaling the eventual recognition of this poetic form within the corpora of contemporary Persian poetry. The website of the National Library and Archive of Iran shows a record of more than sixty poetry collections in the haiku category, including both translations and original compositions. More than half of these haiku collections, written by Iranian poets, were published between the years 2000 and 2015. The recent increasing popularity of this form in Iran could not have been imagined three decades ago when it was introduced as an example of “Eastern” culture in the second half of the 20th century. The first translators and commentators of haiku in Iran were Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980), Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000) and Mehdi Akhavan Sales (1929-1990), the most celebrated figures of modern Persian poetry. They played a significant role in this cultural encounter, both in the text selection and the literary transmission process. Considering the insufficient information and sources available in Persian about Japanese culture and literature, the intense struggle of these Iranian poet-translators and poet-critics to understand the haiku aesthetic is highly evident. This study aims to analyze the reception process of haiku in Iran during the 20th  and 21st centuries—from translation to composition and impacts—and delineate the dialectic of cultural persistence and change in contemporary Iran.

Faryaneh Fadaeiresketi is a Ph.D. candidate in Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University. She completed her Master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam and Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University. Her research focuses on the reception of haiku in Iran through analyzing the dialectical relation between this literary reception and the image of Japan in Iran during the 20th and 21st centuries. She also examines the “haiku effect” in the formation of contemporary Persian poetry.

“Mountains and Rivers on her Desk:  Novelist Yoshiya Nobuko’s Haiku Diary (1944-1973)”

Well known as a writer of popular serialized novels, little known is Yoshiya Nobuko (1896-1973)’s deep engagement with haiku, particularly during the Pacific War. Takahama Kyoshi, mentored by Shiki in Matsuyama took over the haiku journal Hototogisu after his death, later moving to Kamakura south of Tokyo. Yoshiya too moved to Kamakura during the war and she came to participate in Kyoshi’s ku-kai gatherings there. Once misunderstanding that the meeting was canceled, she showed up in her monpe pantaloons and fire raid safety hat, only to realize she would be a haiku “group” of one that day. By her own account, she found it difficult to write novels near the end of the war and focused on haiku instead, an experience she turned into the novel Kacho (Flowers and Birds, 1948) and a number of biographical sketches of women haiku poets. She also filled many small datebooks with haiku, which I have looked at in her archive and many of which find their way into a posthumous collection edited by her partner. The presentation will discuss materials from Yoshiya’s wartime “haiku diary” and relationships among her haiku, novels, and wartime experiences.

Sarah Frederick is Associate Professor of Japanese Literature and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Boston University. She is the author of Turning Pages: Reading and Writing Women’s Magazines in Interwar Japan (Univ. of Hawaii), and author of books and chapters on Japanese literature, media, and feminism. She is writing a book on Yoshiya Nobuko (1896-1973) and has published a translation and scholarly introduction of her work Yellow Rose (Expanded Editions). She is also working on GIS (Geographic Information Systems) digital mapping of Japanese literature with a focus on Natsume Sōseki and Kyoto.

“Shiki’s Haiku in a Comic Panel: Exercises in Composition and Contextualization”

Haiku and comics share an important characteristic: both have been referred to as “films on paper.” In the case of haiku, Sergei Eisenstein and Roland Barthes have likened certain verses to cinematic montage, and Shiki’s shasei poetry in particular is famous for presenting carefully-curated snapshots of real life in order to evoke a certain response from the reader. The same technique is used in film and comics to convey information to readers in concise, beautiful, and interesting ways. Noting this similarity, earlier this year I attempted to “translate” three of Shiki’s haiku into one-page comic illustrations, which have gone on to be featured in the Shiki kaishi and in local Matsuyama newspapers. In my talk I would like to describe my process of creating these comics, focusing on the way that supplementing each haiku with visuals allows the deeper implications of each poem to rise to the surface.

Rebekah Machemer is a recent graduate of Boston University, where she earned her B.A. in Japanese Language and Literature and minored in Visual Arts. She is passionate about the way that comics, animation, and film unite people and cultures, and this enthusiasm has led her to exhibit her artwork at American and Japanese comic conventions and to found the student organization BU Comic Arts. She began studying haiku in Fall 2016 under Professor Vincent, and since then has introduced Masaoka Shiki’s poetry to a wider audience through her work digitizing the Shiki kaishi and by creating haiku comics which have been featured in Japanese newspapers. Currently, Rebekah is job hunting as she continues to work on personal illustration projects.

“Shiki’s Bashō: Malady and Modernity of a Poetic Meeting”

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Shiki’s birth, it is fitting to remember how he himself wrote a key text of his haiku poetics, Bashō Zōdan, for the 200th of Bashō’s death. The parallelism is a good coincidence to think how the image of a poet works sometimes in a personal way, as a “meeting” more than a “reading.” To Shiki the Zōdan were a contrastive meeting with a poetic person, or even an ideology, named Bashō. Following them we see a peculiar mix of admiration, envy (a lot), and the ideological need to “kill the Buddha”, shaping their form and content. The confrontation with Bashō also lets us see how Shiki’s illness shapes both his sense of time (giving him a modern, internal subjectivity) and his struggle with space. Bashō was a man who spent the last ten years of his life traveling constantly, while Shiki passed his last five basically dying in one room: and yet both found a way to write incredible poetry out of these extreme and opposite conditions. Hence the “malady” in the title, and Shiki’s projection of death and vitality on Bashō.

Lorenzo Marinucci is a PhD candidate in Aesthetics at University of Rome – Tor Vergata, with a project exploring the role wind and atmosphere play as aeshtetic concepts in Japanese thought and the relations between haikai and modern philosophy. He translated in Italian philosophical works by Nishitani Keiji, Kuki Shūzō and Watsuji Tetsurō, and has translated and edited Akutagawa’s collection of haiku and Masaoka Shiki’s Bashō Zōdan (Bashō in frammenti, 2017). He was a visiting researcher at the Italian School of East Asian Studies in Kyoto and is currently based in Berlin. 

“‘This Lyrical Box of Chocolates’:  Lorca Discovers Haiku”

In summer 1920 the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca wrote of a longing for “new songs,” without “lyrical flesh,” poems more succinct and moving than any he had ever written. Over the next few years, at least three art forms, paragons of brevity, helped him toward that goal: the lyrics of Andalusian cante jondo, the greguerías (lyrical epigrams) of Ramón Gómez de la Serna, and haiku, recently introduced into Spanish-language poetry by the Mexican José Juan Tablada. Sensing a new moment in Spanish poetry, Lorca wrote in 1922 of his–and his fellow poets’–responsibility to “prune the overluxuriant lyrical tree left to us by Romantics and Post-Romantics.” Quoting from a birthday gift from the poet to his mother–a series of whimsical, affectionate poems he called a “box of lyrical chocolates”–this talk describes the discovery of haiku by Lorca and his friends in the early 20s, its perceived similarity to cante jondo (deep song), and its transformative effect on his early poetry.

Christopher Maurer, Professor of Spanish in Boston University’s Department of Romance Studies, translates and writes about poetry in Spanish, from the 16th century to the present. He is the editor of García Lorca’s Collected Poems, co-editor with Andrew A. Anderson of his complete letters, and translator of his prose. His books include Obra y vida de Francisco de Figueroa (an edition and biography of a sixteenth-century poet), Dreaming in Clay on the Coast of Mississippi: Love and Art at Shearwater Pottery (with María Estrella Iglesias) and Fortune’s Favorite Child: The Uneasy Life of Walter Anderson (the painter and writer), which won a Eudora Welty Prize and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Non-Fiction. He is the translator, among other books, of The Complete Perfectionist by Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Sebastian’s Arrows: Letters and Mementos of Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca, both published by Swan Isle Press. One of his latest projects is a study of Jacinta la pelirroja, a book of poems and drawings by the Spaniard José Moreno Villa.

 

“‘Projections in the Haiku Manner’: Richard Wright and Transpacific Modernism”

In the months leading up to his death in 1960, the African American author Richard Wright composed over 4,000 poems, 817 of which he selected for This Other World:  Projections in the Haiku Manner, a collection that was not published until 1998.  I hope to show how these experiments with haiku mark a significant advance in a tradition of transpacific interculturality in American literature that includes T. S. Eliot. Wright’s systematic study of scholarship on Buddhism and haiku, most notably by R. H. Blyth, helps to explain why his haiku-inspired poems are best understood in light of his early, formative encounter with Eliot’s transpacific modernism in The Waste Land, and the abiding memory of Eliot in prose published throughout Wright’s career.  As we shall see, Wright’s turn to haiku and revisiting of Eliot’s poetry fundamentally reshaped his style and perspective in This Other World.

Anita Patterson is Professor of English at Boston University.  She is the author of From Emerson to King:  Democracy, Race, and the Politics of Protest (Oxford University Press, 1997), Race, American Literature and Transnational Modernisms (Cambridge University Press, 2008), “Global America Revisited:  Ezra Pound, Yone Noguchi, and Modernist Japonisme” (Nanzan Review of American Studies, 2011), and “T. S. Eliot and Transpacific Modernism” (American Literary History, 2015).  Her current project studies how the opening of Japan, and the widening popularity of Japanese culture in the latter half of the nineteenth century, had a formative effect on the emergence of American modernism.  As part of that project, she has been researching how Richard Wright’s adaptations of haiku, which he called “projections in the haiku manner,” marked a significant advance in a longstanding tradition of transpacific interculturality in American literature that includes Ralph Waldo Emerson, W. E. B. Du Bois, and T. S. Eliot.

“On the 150th anniversary of their Birth: Shiki, Sōseki, Kyokudō & Matsuyama”

This presentation will provide some background on Masaoka Shiki and his associates, and his home town of Matsuyama, Japan. Matsuyama is located on the Inland Sea on the Island of Shikoku. It is famous for its hot springs, its castle, and its literature, especially haiku and Shiki. Everyone in Matsuyama seems to love Shiki now. However, there was a time when Shiki and his achievements were almost forgotten. He left his hometown when he was 16 years old and died young in Tokyo. If Kyokudō Yanagihara had not been close to him, many fewer people would know about Shiki’s achievements. Kyokudō started the haiku magazine Hototogisu in 1897 in Matsuyama. The editorial offices were moved to Tokyo the next year, and the editorship was taken over by Shiki’s disciple Takahama Kyoshi. The journal still exists today, and is run by one of the largest haiku groups in Japan, led by the great grandson of Kyoshi. Kyokudō also founded the Matsuyama Shiki Society in 1943 when he was 76 years old. The Society has continuously produced journals which contain precious materials and research on Shiki until the present day. Kyokudō’s great energy for supporting and recognizing Shiki largely came from an incident when he heard two voices talking in Gudabutsu-an, the house that Shiki’s friend the future novelist Natsume Sōseki rented in Matsyama in the fall of 1895: “It is time for us to create new Japanese literature.” I will discuss this incident and Kyokudō, Shiki, and Kyoshi’s legacy, beginning with a traditional “paper theater” [kami-shibai] presentation called ‘The Life of Shiki.’

Nanae Tamura is a haiku poet, translator, and haiku essayist with a column in the Shiki-shimpō (Shiki Newsletter). She learned haiku the most from her third teacher, Kiyoko Tsuda who was a disciple of Takako Hashimoto and Seishi Yamaguchi. She serves as a judge for both the Matsuyama City Haiku Post (for non-Japanese haiku,) and the Haiku Koshien, a nationwide haiku competition for high school students held in Matsuyama. She is the co-author (with Cor van den Heuvel) of Baseball Haiku (W.W. Norton, 2007) and she contributed haiku by Basho and Shiki on each page of the picture book Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young (Little Brown 2008). Her first attempt at haiku translation from English to Japanese is found in Lidia Rozmus’s haiga book In silence (Deep North Press 2017). She has produced the Shiki Haiku Calendar since 2001 and since 2007 for Ehime University where she worked as a career consultant and lecturer.

“Haiku Gets Political: Shiki, Nippon, and Meiji ‘Newspaper Literature’”

For many poets and scholars in Japan and beyond, the idea of a “political haiku” is almost a contradiction in terms. Haiku is, after all, conventionally thought of as being concerned primarily with the four seasons and the natural world, with commentary on human affairs reserved for haiku’s bawdy cousin senryū. But as this paper will show, the division between haiku and senryū was extremely fluid during the mid to late Meiji period (1867-1912). Not only was it far from unusual to find haiku used explicitly as a form of public discourse on current affairs within Japan’s daily newspapers before the turn of the century, in terms of readership, so-called “topical haiku (jiji haiku)” may actually have been the dominant mode of the genre in the late 19th century. Though primarily interested in “artistic” haiku, Shiki too wrote a substantial number topical haiku (jiji haiku) in his early career at the newspaper Nippon. Placing a number of Shiki’s early works and other examples of “topical haiku” in a contemporary media and political context, this paper highlights a side of haiku rarely remarked upon in conventional histories of haiku or Japanese poetry. In so doing, it further suggests that the politically charged nature of Shiki’s early haiku is critical for understanding his reform movement’s later activities and the history of modern haiku as a whole.

Robert Tuck is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he teaches Japanese language, literature, and history. His book, Idly Scribbling Rhymers: Poetry, Media, and Community in Nineteenth Century Japan, received the Weatherhead East Asian Institute’s First Book Prize, and is expected to appear in late 2018 from Columbia University Press. His research interests include poetry of all forms in Japan, particularly Shiki’s work in haiku and the role of kanshibun (Sinitic literary genres) throughout the nineteenth century. Recent publications include “Poets, Paragons, and Literary Politics: Sugawara no Michizane in Imperial Japan” (Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 2014) and “‘All Men Within the Four Seas are Brothers:’ Transnational Kanshi Exchange in Meiji Japan” (Sino-Japanese Studies, 2015). He is currently embarking on his second major research project, a monograph on and full translation of the nineteenth-century scholar and poet Rai Sanyō’s colossal kanbun masterpiece An Unofficial History of Japan (Nihon gaishi, 1829).

“Better than Sex? Shiki’s Food Haiku”

Bedridden for seven long years with tuberculosis of the spine, Shiki never lost the ability to enjoy a good meal. He ate huge quantities of food even after the disease had ravaged his digestive tract to such an extent that it hurt to eat and food could pass through almost wholly undigested. Many of his best poems describe the taste and texture of food and the sensual and convivial pleasures of eating. Given that Shiki never married or had a relationship with a woman, some critics have argued that his ravenous appetite for food, and for poems about food, can be explained as a displacement of his sexual libido. In this paper, I read a number of Shiki’s best poems on food and argue that they articulate an erotics all their own that may constitute Shiki’s most important contribution to haiku poetics. If Shiki’s famous advocacy of the “sketching from life”(shasei) technique in haiku has given him a reputation as a highly visual poet, he was also an intensely “gustatory” one, for whom food was a powerful mediator of his connections to others and a lively nexus of material, cultural, and social values that inspired him to imagine and inhabit novel forms of sociality and intimacy.

J. Keith Vincent is Chair of World Languages & Literatures at Boston University. He is the author of Two-Timing Modernity: Homosocial Narrative in Modern Japanese Fiction (Harvard Asia Center, 2012). Recent essays include “Takemura Kazuko: On Friendship and The Queering of American and Japanese Studies” in Rethinking Japanese Feminism (Hawaii UP, 2017) and “Queer Reading in Japanese Literature,” in the Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature (2016). His translation of Okamoto Kanoko’s A Riot of Goldfish won the 2011 U.S. Japan Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature and New Directions published his translation of Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s novel Devils in Daylight in 2017. Together with Alan Tansman and Reiko Abe Auestad, he is currently co-editing two collections of essays on the novelist Natsume Sōseki. He is also writing a book on the literary friendship between Sōseki and Masaoka Shiki.

“Japanese Haiku and the Formation of the Chinese Short Poetry”

The birth of the Chinese short poetry (xiaoshi 小詩) in 1921, is attributed to the efforts by Zhou Zuoren 周作人 to introduce haiku. Zhou had studied in Japan between 1906-1911together with his brother Lu Xun 魯迅. Both became leading lights in the New Culture movement since 1915, Zhou’s explicit aim was to shake-up and stimulate the “depressed” Chinese new poetry (xinshi 新詩) scene. For him, Haiku poetry represented Japan’s literary modernization; it linked the past to the present. Some Chinese writers responded to his call, which resulted in so-called “short poetry movement” of the1920s. Yet by the 1930’s this genre had all about vanished from the literary scene. It was not until the 1980s that the genre, which now had the name of “Chinese haiku” (Han pai 漢俳), was revived. This revival can also be cleared dated since it began with the first visit to China of the Japanese Haiku Society when the Chinese poet Zhao Puchu 趙樸初, who was also one of the directors of the “Chinese and Japanese Friendship Association”, composed haiku poems at a banquet welcoming the Japanese guests. Thus began China’s contemporary haiku fad.

It is obvious that both the 1921 and 1980 efforts, which brought about the writing of haiku poetry in China, were ideologically motivated. Because of these beginnings, haiku poetry in China was thus linked to cultural reform ideals and international diplomacy. Both factors also accounted to the demise of this new poetic genre during the 1930s and its revitalization after 1980s.

In this paper, I will explore the birth of haiku poetry in China as both a literary as well as a political product. The issues I will focus on are: in what way did the Chinese New Culture movement with its anti-traditional bias presage the demise of the “short poetry movement” of the 1920s? What impact did the conflict about whether a future Chinese modern poetry should emulate Western modern poetry or Japanese modern haiku have on the fate of Chinese short poetry? Can a political decision made by the Chinese authorities in the 1980s to go for “haiku diplomacy” secure a future for Chinese haiku?

 

Catherine Yeh is Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature and Director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia. Her teaching and research interests include 19th and 20th century Chinese literary, media, and visual culture. Her work has focused on the social and political implications of Chinese entertainment culture and literature, and its impact on social change in late imperial and Republican era China. She is the author, most recently, of The Chinese Political Novel: Migration of a World Genre  (Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard University Press, 2015). She is currently completing the project: The Rise of the Chinese Actor to National Stardom: The Female Impersonator and the Cultural Transformation of Modern China (1910s-1930s).

 

 

With thanks for the generosity of the following sponsors:

The Boston University Center for the Humanities, Boston University Center for the Study of Asia, National Endowment for the Humanities Professorship, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University, BU Department of World Languages & Literatures, BU Department of English, BU Department of Romance Studies, BU Creative Writing Program