præsentation – haikufestival / Japan 2013 – how did it all start?

H.C. Andersen, Issa og mig.

Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-1875.

Begyndte det i virkeligheden ikke med et eventyr? Det hændte min mor læste op af Andersens: ”Kejserens nye klæder”, ”Nattergalen”, ”Prinsessen på ærten”, og når julen nærmede sig ”Den lille pige med svovlstikkerne”.

Jeg syntes det var godt at bo i et lille land, hvor hovedstaden hedder København med de små brolagte stræder, hvor eventyrdigteren dengang spadserede med sin stok og sin høje hat, et land der har fostret så stor en digter.

Da jeg var barn var det ikke kun et land, men et kongerige med en konge, og han havde en datter der i dag er dronning, som også tager kongekronen på en gang imellem. I dag er jeg ikke særlig royal, men jeg ved egentlig ikke om jeg foretrækker en præsident frem for en konge. Det er ikke nemt i en tid, hvor alt er blevet så polariseret og uden visioner og nuancer i vort såkaldte Europæiske Fællesskab, der efterhånden er ligeså vaklende som den vaklende rønne i et af Andersens eventyr. Fortællingen om Kejserens nye klæder har fået en ny aktualitet – som den lille dreng i eventyret sagde: ”Mor, han har jo ikke noget tøj på”.

Andersen var verdensborger, og et af hans berømte citater lyder: ”At rejse er at leve”, velbevandret som han var i andre kulturer. Han var et usædvanligt menneske, en drømmer og en fantast. Han var høj, kantet og ranglet, ikke ligefrem køn, men hans ansigtsudtryk vidnede om godhed og sjælelig rigdom. Hans værk er selvbiografisk og eventyret om ”Den grimme ælling” fortæller hans livshistorie. Selvom han opnåede at blive højt elsket og berømmet i hele verden, skal man ikke glemme at han kæmpede hele livet med et følsomt sind og et skrøbeligt helbred. Han kaldte ligefrem sin tilstand for ”sygelig sørgmodighed”. Held i kærlighed havde han heller ikke. Hans første og største kærlighed, Riborg Voigt, giftede sig med en anden. Et brev hun skrev til ham, fandt man i en lille læderpose, som han bar om halsen til sin død 70 år gammel. Han havde båret den i 45 år. Inspireret af hans egne breve, har jeg skrevet dette digt:

Kærlighedsbrevet
skrevet med en svanefjer
fra en såret fugl

H.C. Andersen skrev alt mellem himmel og jord, og en af styrkerne ved hans kunst er evnen til at improvisere. Han er kendt for sine citater og kortdigte, eksempelvis ”Kavaleren”: ”Jeg danser længe, jeg danser hurtigt, jeg danser med hele skroget”. Jeg tror nu ikke han hentydede til tranedansen, men det er let at associere til denne dans, der ikke handler om at parre sig, men om at skabe en livslang relation, som Andersen drømte om. Jeg ser ham for mig, danse med sin lange hals og lange ben, lidt komisk, men autentisk og elskeligt, og jeg blev inspireret til at skrive digtet:

Isen er smeltet
tranens kluntede landing
i engens virvar

Da jeg selv har arbejdet med improvisation i min karriere som jazzsanger, er det ikke svært at føle et vist slægtskab med det musiske og det poetiske i Andersens kunst. Han sagde om sit værk: ”Kort, klart og sandfærdigt skal det være, kun da bliver det til kunst”. Og det leder på en naturlig måde, som en usynlig tråd, over til det lille store haikudigt.

Kobayashi Issa, 1763-1828.

Det var kærlighed ved første blik i 2004, da jeg stødte på Issa og opdagede kunsten at skrive haiku.

Jeg har ofte spurgt mig selv, hvad det var der fik mig til at læse og skrive dem. Jeg ved det faktisk ikke. På en måde får de mig til at glemme mig selv, og pludselig husker jeg hvordan det var at springe i spagat og danse med træerne, og i et déjà vu, ser jeg min hårdt arbejdende mor:

Det renskurede gulv 
min mors smukke hænder
altid dansende (1)

Jeg holder af Issa for hans levende interesse for dårligt stillede mennesker. Deres liv og levned skildrede han med stor sympati og et skarpt blik. Han var desuden, som en haikai poet formodentlig er, også god til at observere sig selv udefra. Her er et humoristisk selvportræt, selvom humoren og ironien til tider havde et hånligt tvist.

Efterårsvinden
en tigger ser på mig
så på ham selv (2)

Jeg kom i kontakt med Haiku gruppen i Dansk Forfatter Forening og blev inspireret af formanden Hanne Hansens opfordring til at læse ”Dew on the Grass”. Jeg følte ingen afstand i tid i forhold til digtene, der kunne være skrevet af en nutidig digter, hvilket er ret enestående.

De korte reflekterede digte har altid tiltrukket mig lige fra dengang jeg begyndte, som en genert indadvendt teenager, at skrive til skuffen. Ud over det med ord, var der også tidligt en interesse for de store malere, der skar ind til benet, Picasso, Miro og den eventyrlige Paul Klee, der har givet en masse inspiration til både haiku og musik og poesi i det hele taget. At være i et ”haiku-moment” er for mig en meditativ måde der giver nærvær i hverdagen. Det har Andersens skrevet om, og Issa har vist vejen.

Nogenlunde samtidig med at jeg udgav min første haikusamling på dansk ”Bladene Drypper” i 2007, fik jeg chancen til at læse op fra Kobayashi Issa’s ”Dugdråbeverden” på det årligt tilbagevendende Bogforum i København. Samlingen er udgivet af ”Husets Forlag” i 2006, udvalgt og oversat af journalisten og historikeren Arne Herløv Petersen, (3). Hans oversættelse af et af Issa’s digte lyder:

En flok spurve
og ikke én af dem
er stedbarn

Her er AHP inde ved et af smertepunkterne i Issa’s liv. Digtene i samlingen stammer fra tiden efter at han igen som 51 årig i 1814 vendte hjem fra sine vandringer i provinserne, og gennem et forlig endelig overtog halvdelen af sin fædrene gård.

Issa var dog ikke hjemme ret længe ad gangen. Kort tid efter brylluppet med sin unge brud Kiku, tog han afsted igen. I et brev dateret 1817, skriver han til sin kone med beklagelse over at være væk så længe pga. en hudsygdom. Han udtrykker sig skyldigt over at hun da må kede sig en hel del ved hans lange fravær, Jo, ret kedeligt har det vel været ind imellem, kan jeg forestille mig, næsten som at leve med en jazzmusiker, men til tider, sikkert også meget stimulerende. Fra en lille dansk folder ”Jazz and Haiku” 2009, dette omskrevne digt:

Jazztrompetisten
afslører det hele
-natskyggerne

Generelt menes det, at Issa ikke er på højde med mestrene Basho og Buson, men det er for mig evident, at han er den mest elskede af alle japanske haikudigtere. Hans jordnære varme og dybe samhørighed med alle levende væsener, fortæller hvorfor.

Basho’s og Issa’s relation til at vandre var dog meget forskellig. For Issa var det ikke en øvelse i at være alene, en disciplin i at give afkald, som det var for zenbuddhisten Basho. Men derimod var ”Vejen” et bånd til mødet med det andet menneske. Issa søgte relationer, nøjagtig som Andersen søgte relationer og fællesskab.

Jeg identificerer mig med dette, at relationen og det at skabe dem er selve omdrejningspunktet i livet, netop fordi det at føle ægte fællesskab er noget der skal kæmpes for, næsten noget skæbnesvangert:

Efterårsløvet
skovens legende ansigt

altid det samme (4)

Realitet er én side af kunsten at skrive haiku, følelsen fuldender den, og er man blevet berørt, vil denne følelse videregives til andre, til alle tider.

Issa:

Manden der trak radiser op
viste vejen
med en radise

 

Noter: 1. Fra antologien Haiku Workshop in Copenhagen, jan. 2008 med Colin Blundell. (Hub Editions, Hand Made in Wingland). 2. “Dew on the Grass”, s 55. The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa by Makoto Ueda. 3. Arne Herløv Petersen, f. 1943, oversætter siden 1965 af bla. Asiatiske sprog. 4. Haiku skrevet på en rejse til Bindlach, Beyreuth, 2007.

Mona Larsen, feb. 2013

English version.

H.C. Andersen, Issa and me.

Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-1875.
Actually, how did it all start, with fairy tales? My mother read Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales to me and my brother and sister. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Nightingale”, “The Princess and the Pea”, and when Christmas approached, we listened to “The Little Match Girl”.
I have often thought it was good to live in a small country like Denmark with a capital such as Copenhagen, which still has the small cobbled alleys, where Andersen walked with his top hat and his stick, a country that has produced such a great poet.

When I was a kid, it was not only a country but also a kingdom with a king, and he had a daughter who is now queen and who occasionally, still puts the royal crown on. Today, although I am not much of a royalist, I do not really know whether I prefer a president instead of a king. It is quite a difficult political decision, when everything is so polarized and without visions and nuances in our so-called European Community, which now is as wobbly as a ramshackle house in Andersen’s adventure. The story of the Emperor’s new clothes has become a new current affair – as the little boy in the story said: “Mom, he has no clothes on!”
Andersen was a world citizen at heart. One of his famous quotes says, “To travel is to live”, well versed in other cultures, as he was. He was an extraordinary man, brought up in great poverty, a dreamer and a visionary. His appearance was also unusual; tall, angular and lanky, and not exactly handsome, but his face bore witness to his goodness and spiritual wealth; indeed a touching person in many ways. His work is autobiographical and the tale of “The Ugly Duckling” tells his life story.
Though he was beloved and revered throughout the world, one should not forget that he, with his sensitive mind and fragile health, wrestled with his life, even referring to his own state as “morbid sadness”. Unlucky in love, Riborg Voigt, his first and greatest love, married another. Until his death, at 70 years of age, he wore a letter she wrote in a small leather pouch around his neck. He had worn it for 45 years. Inspired by his own letters, I have written this poem:

A love letter
written with a swan feather
from a wounded bird

Andersen wrote everything between heaven and earth and one of the strengths of his art is improvisation, which gave his pen freedom and ease. He is known for his quotes and short poems for example, “Cavalier”: “I dance a long time, I dance quickly, and I dance with the miserable thing.” Although he did not refer to the crane dance, I can easily associate it with this dance, which is not about mating, but about creating a lifelong relationship, as dreamt of by Andersen. In a vision, I see him dance with his long neck and long legs, slightly comical-looking, but authentic and lovable, and I was inspired to write this:

The ice has melted
crane clumsy landing
meadow quiver

I too have worked with improvisation in my career as a jazz singer, and I feel a certain kinship with the music and poetry in Andersen’s art. He said of his work: ”Short, clear and truthful it should be, only then it becomes art”, and it leads in a natural way like an invisible thread to the little big haiku poem.

Kobayashi Issa, 1763-1823

Issa and me.
Not long ago, in 2004, it was love at first sight, when I came across Kobayashi Issa and discovered the art of haiku poetry. I have often asked myself what it was that got me to read and write them. I really do not know. In a way they make me forget about myself, and suddenly I remember what it was like to do splits and dance with the trees, and in a déjà vu I saw my hard working mother:

1

The scrubbed floor
my mother
s beautiful hands
always dancing

I like Issa for his keen interest in the people from the lowest class, who he portrayed with great sympathy and a sharp eye. He was also, as a haikai poet probably is, very good at observing himself from the outside. Here a humorous self-portrait, though the humor and irony sometimes had a twist of mockery:

2

Autumn wind
a beggar looks at me
then at himself

I came in close contact with the Haiku Group of the Danish Writers Association and the President Hanne Hansen who inspired me to read, “Dew on the Grass”. I felt no distance in time relative to the poems, which is unique.
The short reflective poems have always attracted me, ever since I began as a shy and introspective teenager writing only for the drawer. From the beginning, I have also been interested in the great painters, particularly the ones who cut to the bone – Picasso, Miro and the adventurous painter Paul Klee, who has inspired art and poetry.

Being in a haiku moment, displaying it in a poem, for me is a meditative way to live life in the presence, with gratitude and sometimes forgiveness, and that you can spend a whole lifetime. Andersen has written about it, and Issa has shown the way.

At about the same time, when I published my first haiku collection in Danish, “Leaves Dripping” in 2007, I had the great pleasure, to read from Kobayashi Issa’s “Dugdråbeverden” at the annual Book Forum in Copenhagen. The journalist and historian Arne Herløv Petersen 3 has translated and collected Issa’s poem:

A flock of sparrows
and not one of them
a stepchild

Exactly here he is at the crux of the matter of Issa’s life. The poems in the collection date from after his return home from wandering in the provinces as a 51-year-old man in 1814, when, through a settlement, he took over half of his ancestral farm.
Issa was not at home for very long. Soon after the wedding with his young wife Kiku, he took off again. In a letter dated April 18, 1817, he wrote to his wife that he was sorry to be away for so long, partly blaming it on a skin disease he was suffering from. He expressed guilt at being away and boring her with his absences. Well, I can imagine, almost like living with a jazz musician – quite boring at times, but also very stimulating at other times. From my self-made small booklet, “Jazz and Haiku, 2009 –  a rewriting:

The trumpet player
reveals everything
– nightshades

It is generally believed that he is not on par with the masters Basho and Buson, but it is evident to me, that he is the most beloved of all Japanese poets. His earthly, warm and deep sense of connectedness to all living beings happens to tell me why.

Basho’s and Issa’s relation to wander was very different. For Issa, it was not an exercise in being alone, a discipline of giving up, as it was for Basho. On the other hand, “the way” was a ribbon to the meeting with the other person. He sought relationships, just as Andersen sought relationships.

I can easily identify myself with this. The creation of relationships is the very core of life, precisely as the feeling of genuine fellowship is something to fight for, almost something fatal.

4

Autumn leaves
the forest’s playful face
always the same
 

Reality is one side of the art of writing haiku, the feeling completes it, and if you have been affected, that feeling is passed on to others at all times.

I read Issa:

The man who pulled radishes up
showed the way
with a radish

Notes:

  1. 1. Anthology “Haiku Workshop in Copenhagen, in January 2008, with Colin Blundell. (Hub Editions, Hand Made in Wingland). 2 “Dew on the Grass”, p.55. The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa by Makoto Ueda. 3 Arne Herløv Petersen, born 1943, translator since 1965 of Asian languages. 4 Haiku, my journey to Bindlach, Bayreuth, Germany 2007.

    Mona Larsen, February 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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