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“Spring sea” poetry: tsunami haiku.

March 26, 2011 \pm\31 3:08 pm

~ from the Los Angeles Times:

Japan’s disaster / fertile ground for haikuists / pain in a few words

“It’s safe, but”/they say over and over/that’s worrisome

Tadashi Nishimura’s lament (which, like most here, were written in Japanese and have been translated from the original 17 syllables) appeared alongside Kurota’s in the pages of the Asahi. The poem distills his anxiety about officials’ frequent reassurances that all is fine — even as they warn day in and out about vegetables, milk and water contaminated by radiation from the stricken nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture.

The two men’s compositions are technically senryuu, which follow the same syllabic rules as haiku but are typically more social commentary than, say, musings on natural phenomena such as the ephemeral beauty of a cherry blossom. In a culture that can seem unacquainted with sarcasm, senryuu can range from mildly chiding to strikingly acerbic.

and at the end…

Typically, a haiku will include a special word or phrase, called a kigo, that signals what season the poem is about. One such phrase is “spring sea,” which this year poets are appropriating to signify the tsunami.

A regular contributor, who goes by the pen name Murasaki Sagano, wrote McMurray to say her mother had died five days after the tsunami.

Mother’s pain/into the spring sea/her last sleep

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