The second European Haiku Conference took place in Vadstena, a small medieval town in Sweden on the Vättern Lake, from 8th to 10th June 2007. It was organized by the Swedish Haiku Society.
56 Haijins from 15 countries (in addition to Sweden, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, also Japan, USA and Russia) took part in it.
Italy was represented by a delegation of Cascina Macondo with Pietro Tartamella, Anna Maria Verrastro, Antonella Filippi, Annette Seimer, Gian Maria Vinci.
The aim of the Conference was to analyze the state of diffusion of Haiku in Europe, to compare the problems related to it, and last but not least, to promote the cultural and personal contacts among the Haijins of the various countries.
The event was opened on Friday evening, 8th June, with a party at Villa Sörgården, the former residence of the painter and architect Prince Eugen (1865–1947), hosted by the former Swedish Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Magnus Vahlquist and his wife Märta Christina.
Saturday, 9th June, was entirely dedicated to the sessions. The conference was held in English.
Kai Falkman, president of the Swedish Haiku Society, welcomed the participants and spoke about the situation of visibility of Haiku in Sweden.
Shokan Kondo from Japan spoke about the use of Kigo and the possibility to divide the seasons further on in “season spells”. He presented the suggestions of various parts of the world and invited the participants to elaborate in their countries a similar list of terms, which indicate precise periods within the seasons.
Jim Kacian, USA, explained the situation of Haiku poetry in North America, comparing the various publishing sectors – mainstream publishers, small, specialized editors, independent artisan editors – with their possibilities of divulgation and quality criteria.
David Cobb, England, in his speech “Clever Haiku” set to discussion the figures of speech and the stylistic figures of poetry, which normally are not considered valid for Haikus (for example title, rhyme, metaphor, personification, alliteration, etc). Yet he demonstrated that in particular cases the rules could be neglected, also for the Haiku.
Visnja McMaster, Croatia, illustrated with a Power Point presentation the game “Haiku cards” which she has invented for her pedagogic work in Croatia, were the Haiku is part of the school curriculum, to spread the interest for Haikus in children and adults. In three phases: the reading of a composition “as a game” with the careful observation of the surroundings, the transposition of the poem in a painting and the experience to go out into nature to fix the details observed into three lines, the game gets the participants closer to Haiku.
The Polish painter Janina Kraupe-Swiderska presented her Haiga with a short reflection about the use of words and images in Haiku. In her paintings in gouache technique she illustrates one haiku at a time using the colours to associate text and images.
Zinovy Vayman, of Russian origin, resident in Boston, also active in Israel, spoke about humour in Haiku, based on his specific research about the use of humour in this kind of poetry from the beginning on.
Antonella Filippi and Annette Seimer of the delegation of Cascina Macondo presented a short overview of Haiku in Italy, followed by an illustration of the specific activities of Cascina Macondo in and for Haiku poetry: the International Contest, RakuHaiku, the journeys Wasnahaijin Oicimani. The speech of Pietro Tartamella about “Haiku – a transversal poetry” explored some characteristics of Haiku poetry, which came out of the long working experience with children and handicapped people, mentioning some of their compositions.
Max Verhart, Holland, spoke about “The essence of Haiku as perceived by Dutch-Flemish haiku poets”, based on a research among 17 poets in this linguistic area.
Klaus-Dieter Wirth, Germany, spoke about the historical background and development in the 20th century and the actual situation of Haiku poetry in Germany, while the Danish Hanne Hansen presented today’s experience in Denmark.
Noriko Thunman, Japan/Sweden, spoke about “Haiku and translations” and about the difficulties, considered the cultural difference, to transpose the Haiku in other languages.
BruceRoss from the USA reported about “The essence of Haiku”
Ludmilla Balabanova from Bulgaria explored “Metaphors and Haiku”.
Zrinka Simunovic, Croatia, explained in her speech “Poetic truth by children with language difficulties” her work with these children in special schools. The shortness and precision of haiku composition allows dyslexic children or with other linguistic problems to express themselves with surprising results. It is interesting to remark that the conclusions of Zrinka Simunovic’s work perfectly agree with Cascina Macondo’s ones about the work with handicap and disability.
With Paul Mercken from Holland was added another point of view on Haiku in a European context.
Takashi Ikari, Japan, described the Japanese culture and the characteristics to be found in Haiku as well, which are not always easily to understand in western countries.
Some speeches had to be shortened or even cancelled, as the quarter of an hour planned for each speaker was often exceeded. There was not enough time for discussion and collective confrontation about the single presentations.
Saturday ended with a guided tour of the Vadstena’s Abbey church and its the botanical garden, illustrated with interesting details about life and work of Saint Birgitta, founder of the Bridgettine Order and patron saint not only of Sweden but also of Europe.
Sunday morning, 10th June, opened with the results of the internal Haiku contest of the Conference (each participant sent two Haikus in English – 74 compositions in all). They had been distributed anonymously among the participants, each of which selected two. Florence Vilén of the host Society announced the number of votes for the first participants. The winner of the anonymous contest was Helga Härle as her two Haikus got most votes. Here is one:
still the sound
of the sea
The author herself, together with Visnja McMaster, Shokan Kondo and Jim Kacian, took also part in a panel discussion about news technologies for Haiku. The Internet is an interesting resource not only for the publications of texts and for reaching a very broad public but also because it offers news approaching possibilities especially for young people. For example the blog created in Croatia by Visnja McMaster: in three month it reached 7000 contacts, mostly by young people under 30 years.
The conference found its poetic conclusion in a renku session, introduced and lead by Shokan Kondo. These chain poems were created in small groups from 5 to 10 persons, starting with a first Haiku suggested by the leader itself. Following certain rules about the sequence, the order of the seasons, some special contents and including, according to the tradition, a tribute to the place that hosted the meeting, the renku compositions gradually took shape. As time was short, not all the renkus were finished, but some groups got in contact by e-mail to continue after the conference.
The Swedish Haiku Society will gather all the speeches of the conference written in English and will publish them in a special edition of the Society newsletter in autumn.
Cascina Macondo will translate all incoming speeches into Italian and will publish on the website www.cascinamacondo.com also the original English version of the ones that obtained the author permit.