________________________

   A Crown of Roses

by Sayumi Kamakura

   

 

Sayumi Kamakura is reading from her book to the accompaniment of a live cello player.

1 返事はハミングで

Reply by Humming

English translations by James Shea & Jim Kacian

 

ほほえみは雲より軽しスイートピー

Our smiles

lighter than a cloud—

sweet peas in bloom

 

地平線うさぎは透きとおって越す

Transparent—

a rabbit

crosses the horizon

 

巴里を映す水晶体の青からん

Reflecting Paris,

my crystalline lens

must be pure blue

 

「暖かいね」わたしの返事はハミングで

“Isn’t it warm?”

I reply

by humming

 

万華鏡いちばん奥に王の部屋

In the deepest part

of the kaleidoscope:

the Emperor’s room

 

風船と甲板と白日の五月

A balloon,

a deck of a ship,      

and a bright sun in May

 

はるかなる石の王妃へ薔薇かんむり

For the stone Queen

far in the distance:

a crown of roses

 

ギリシアのアの音ひびく雨あがり

The echoing sound

of the Greek letter “alpha”—

the rain stopping

 

ポストまで歩けば二分走れば春

Walking, it’s two minutes

to the mailbox ―

running, it’s spring

 

にんじんの欠伸は泥がついている

The yawn of a carrot

is covered

with mud

 

君のそば桜草なら咲いていい

If I’m a primrose

at your side,

I’m allowed to bloom

 

伝えきく春の顔とは龍のかお

Tradition says

the face of Spring

is the face of dragon

 

パセリひと呑み鍵かけて来たかしら

I swallowed a piece of parsley—

Did I lock the door?

 

この暑さ定規は目盛り捨てたいよ

This summer heat—

the ruler wants

to remove its gradations!

 

まな板と猫と小指と日向ぼこ

A cutting board,

a cat and a pinky

basking in the sun

 

駅前が好きで噴水よく落ちる

Enjoying the station plaza—

sprays of water

fall from the fountain

 

風の背中にあたまに肩に鬼やんま

On the shoulder,

head and back of the wind:

dragonflies

 

向日葵をかかげ青空は止まらない

Hoisting up

a sunflower,

the blue sky never ends

______________________________________________

Haiku and I

A Short Interview with Japanese Haiku Master, Sayumi Kamakura

by Robert D. Wilson

                                                                         

RDW:  When composing a haiku, Sayumi, what is central to your composition?

SK:    The most important thing when composing a haiku is not the search for seasonal words.  It is the search for the truth of one’s spirit.  When I first encountered haiku in my teens, I strongly felt, “Yes, this is what my heart was seeking”. It was close to a conviction.  I can express my sentiments most frankly through haiku.

RDW:  Why did you choose haiku as the poetic genre to express yourself instead of, for instance, tanka?

SK:    The poems by which I could most closely approach the truth within myself was haiku. I engaged myself with haiku for more than 30 years afterwards, but there was no change in this feeling. Rather, it only became stronger.

RDW:  Please elucidate.

SK:     I also enjoyed playing outside with friends when I was small, looking at the mountains and trees, the grasses, flowers, and the brooklets of rivers. In the postscript to my first collection of haikus, I wrote that I compose haiku while facing “feelings that differ from joy, sorrow, and also from loneliness”, and this has not changed even now.

RDW:  I’ve noticed in reading your haiku in your new book, A Crown of Roses, a depth and sensitivity that has matured compared to your early haiku.  What do you attribute this change to?

SK:    What has changed is my experiences of love, marriage, of having children, becoming sick, and having lived in Paris due to my husband’s research. Through the occurrences surrounding me, in my physical world, so to speak, my heart has always been stirred.  It is enjoyable to gaze at my heart as it is stirred, and in turn, changes little by little.

It is likely I will continue pursuing the irresistible expression of these matters of the heart . . . no, of the soul, from here on after through the means of haiku.  Just as long ago I ran through the meadows playing tag until the day grew dark.

RDW:  Thank you, Sayumi, for taking the time to let me interview you.  Your poetry touches me deeply and I find myself reading and rereading your poetry again and again, and each time I read them, I get something new.  It is a gift when one can use an economy of words coupled with the unsaid to write a poem that literally lives.

Below is a sampling of the haiku in Sayumi Kamakura’s new book of haiku,  A Crown of Roses, with translations by Jim Kacian and James Shea.  A suggestion:  Read each poem slowly twice, with an empty mind, then interpret each haiku, guided by your own cultural memories, aesthetic sense, experience, etc.

In the deepest part

Of the kaleidoscope:

The Emperor’s room

Water for an iris

That falls easily –

And wine for you

A cat on the roof,

The moon in the east,

My husband

 –

Stupidly,

The floating ice

Enjoys the rays of the sun

 –

From the background

Of “Mona Lisa”,

The wind has left

 –

Someday my knees

Will be wrapped

In brilliant clouds

 

 __________________________________________________________________________

Born in 1953, Sayumi Kamakura, started composing haiku as a student at Saitama University.

The winner of numerous awards including the Oki Sango Prize, she founded the haiku magazine, Ginyu, with Ban’ya Natsuishi, and continues as its editor.  She has penned numerous books of haiku including Jun (Moisture, 1984), Tenmado kara (From the Skylight, 1992), and A Singing Blue: 50 Selected Haiku (2000).  She is married to the haiku poet, Professor Ban’ya Natsuishi.

_________________________________________________________________________

A Crown of Roses was first published in 2007. A second edition, was published last year (2009), by Cyberwit Press in India, and can be purchased online via www.cyberwit.net  for $15.

ISBN: 978-81-8253-090-4

_______________________________________________________________

Advertisements