Tag Archives: haiku

Return to Solitude: Juxtaposing love with wounds

Dr. Nabanita Sengupta reviews Gopal Lahiri’s latest poetry anthology, Return to Solitude and shares how she thinks the poet provokes his readers to think.

Title – Return to Solitude (Poetry anthology)

Poet – Gopal Lahiri

Publisher and Date of Publication – Hawakal Publishers, 2018

Reviewed by – Nabanita Sengupta

Gopal Lahiri is an internationally acclaimed and widely published poet based in Kolkata. A Geo-physicist by profession and a poet by choice, the earth, its flora and fauna seep into his work as comfortably as do complex emotions. Return To Solitude, his collection of haikus, senryus and other short poems vouchsafe the bond that the poet shares with nature.

‘crevice and gap

questions buried, eyebrows raised

glide into history’

The above can be an example of three succinct lines that merge the persona of the perceptive poet and the earth scientist.

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Poetry: Bioscope by G.Akila


G.Akila juggles the muse, work, home and a nine-year-old daughter. She engages in free verse and the Japanese forms of haiku and haibun written in English language. She has read and conducted workshops in writers’ carnivals organised in Hyderabad and her works have been published in anthologies and several reputed online and print journals. She has presented poetry at various reading events such as the Hyderabad Litfest 2019, Goa Arts and Literature Festival, 2016, TEDx -VNR VJIET College, Hyderabad and the Young Writers Festival 2017 edition of Sahitya Akademi. She is also an active member of the Twin City Poetry Club, Hyderabad. Her poem ‘Stains’ is one of the ten poems shortlisted for the Womeninc Sakhi Award 2018. Currently, she is deciphering contours of a dream in her first manuscript of poetry. Read more

Sightlines: How Marc Nair “sees the world in a grain of sand”, much in the tradition of William Blake

Book Review by Kaiyi Tan


Title: Sightlines

Author: Marc Nair

Photographer: Tsen-Waye Tay

Publisher: Math Press, 2019

I must first confess that I did not like Sightlines when I first read it. As I absorbed this book of poems with photography by Marc Nair and Tsen-Waye Tay, I couldn’t help but feel that a certain song-like lyricism was missing. Usually, my first instinct is to judge verses based solely on the quality of sound alone. Meaning can be secondary, as long as the words form a particular harmony. Knowing that Marc Nair is an established poet in Singapore with a huge reputation for spoken word, I was slightly disappointed.

But on my second reading, something very simple happened.

I followed the recommendation in Mr. Nair’s introduction: I read the poems with the images in mind. And suddenly, like Blake’s experience of seeing a world in a grain of sand, the entire book changed for me. Mr. Nair’s words, together with the stark and beautiful photography of Ms. Tay, emerged as mini-narratives of their own. Read more

Book Review: Vital Possessions by Marc Nair

Reviewed By Mitali Chakravarty




Title: Vital Possessions

Author: Marc Nair

Publisher: Ethos books, Singapore


Vital Possessions is a collection of poems, haikus, monologues and photographs by award winning Singaporean poet and photographer Marc Nair. The content reflects the tussle between city life and nature.

Marc Nair takes us on a journey through ASEAN countries — Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and of course Singapore. He finds nature pushing its way through the crevices of city life. In one of his haikus, accompanied by a photograph of a worn out wall with grass growing out of the gaps, he writes,

“Nature never fails

to push against the grain

of forgotten cities.”

When I see the picture and read the lines, what springs to my mind is the St Paul’s church in Malacca, built in 1521, a forgotten church of a bygone era. The monument has vegetation growing out of crevices, which many old buildings would have. However, a sense unique hopefulness is brought to the fore by Marc Nair’s brevity of words to create a picture perfect perspective. Read more

Book review: Paper Asylum by Rochelle Potkar

Reviewed by Paresh Tiwari

Rochelle Potkar

Title: Paper Asylum
Rochelle Potkar
Publisher: Copper Coin (2018)
Pages: 103
Price: INR 295/-


Among the many sub-genres of poetry, haibun might be the hardest to categorise. Is it in essence poetry or prose? Or a tapestry woven from the two threads by a skilled practitioner? Is it distilled from personal experience or a product of the fanciful flight in a fabulist world created by the poet?

Haibun, despite being a 500-year-old form, assiduously escapes the narrow confines of a definition. Yet, the critical elements of this form – sincerity, brevity, suspension of cleverness, living the moment, and experiencing the world afresh (to name but a few) – are universal. They lay the foundation for works which stop being a collection of words, images, memories, or feelings and invite the reader to embrace the poetry and own it.

Rochelle Potkar’s full-length prose poetry collection, Paper Asylum, is humanity turned inside out, flesh, bones and soul, painted skilfully on every page. Her poetry deftly navigates a plethora of complicated subjects and themes – love and lust in their myriad shades, longing, pain, loss, gears of society, growing up in a world that makes little sense, and the multifarious joy at finding and being found in the bargain. These poems are explorers journeying through the self and its projection on the universe beyond.

Potkar’s prose poems (most of which could be categorised as haibun) strengthens my belief that one of the qualities of good poetry is its ability to surprise. Much like life itself. In that sense, I propose that poetry and life are one and the same. Paper Asylum brims with life, in all its visceral, raw, urgent, messy glory.

Sample this:

He missed her after the breakup. Although he was the one who had broken off. He didn’t know what came into him when he got too close to women. When he poured everything into her like an ocean into a jug of wet earth.

 He felt deeply wronged.

                                                                                                                                           fish catch –

                                                                                                                                 the boat swinging

                                                                                                                                           in surrender

– “About Turn”


Anyone who has ever had a breakup would instantly recognise the truth in those lines. The hunger of loneliness and the need are not only palpable but instantly identifiable.

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‘Fractures’: Putting together the pieces of a story told in verse

By Dana Macalanda

“Fractures” is a slip of a book featuring 27 haiku-inspired poems from author and Japan Times contributor Iain Maloney.

It is of course possible to blitz through quickly, but consider this: While each poem can stand independently, taken together, they cover both an emotional and physical journey that spans an entire year and at least two countries.

People share memories using all types of social media that momentarily transport friends and loved ones into our individual worlds — it’s arguable that “Fractures” functions similarly, but where torrents of social media can amount to “oversharing,” this collection is rich with the unsaid. Where some use Snapchat and Facebook, Maloney chronicles in verse. Read more

Source: Japan Times

Hiroshi Kato: Adventures of a Japanese haiku poet in Singapore

By Zafar Anjum

Hiroshi Kato

Hiroshi Kato

Haiku is a globally popular literary form. The earliest westerner known to have written haiku was Hendrik Doeff (1764–1837). He was the Dutch commissioner in the Dejima trading post in Nagasaki, during the first years of the 19th century. However, haiku entered the English language through Ezra Pound in 1913. Since then, it has become a global phenomenon in poetry, transcending barriers of geography and language.

30 years ago, as a kid growing up in India, I would often come across haiku written even in my mother tongue, Urdu. Interestingly, it was Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore who contributed a great deal in introducing haiku to India. In the early 20th century, he composed haiku in Bengali and also translated some from Japanese.

Clearly, this quintessential Japanese form of poetry has had a great influence on global literature. In Singapore too, where poetry is a very popular form, we find a Japanese haiku poet Hiroshi Kato who is devoted to the genre and actively promotes it in this part of the world.

Meeting Hiroshi Kato

It was a rainy afternoon in November when I met this tall and lanky Japanese poet and art dealer in his gallery, Kato Art Duo (http://katoartduo.com/) in the Raffles Hotel Arcade. He had just moved into that office space and the décor of the room was still incomplete. A pile of cartoons was lying in a corner of the room. Large picture frames wrapped in newspapers stood by the wall. Read more

Haikunama: For the love of haiku

Haiku“Haiku,” edited by haiku practitioner David Cobb, and “Haiku Love,” edited by Japanese language scholar Alan Cummings, are both fun books. Originally published by the British Museum, they are sumptuously illustrated withnihonga (Japanese-style painting) and ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) from the museum’s collections, each haiku presented with the original given in an elegant Japanese calligraphic font. The format makes both publications look like picture books with captions in verse.

Take these two pieces in “Haiku”: Read more

Review: The Winter Sun Shines In: A Life of Masaoka Shiki, by Donald Keene

wintersunHaiku, the short Japanese poem now proliferating overseas, scarcely needs an introduction anymore. Its three great pillars, widely read even in translation, are the poets Matsuo Basho (1641-1694), its first creator, then Yosa Buson (1716-1784) and Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), who renewed it.

By the mid-19th century, it was a dying form, and it might have vanished if not for the efforts of one man, Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), the subject of this new biography by Donald Keene.

Born in the provincial capital of Matsuyama, on the cusp of the new Meiji Era, Shiki died a full decade before its close, yet his work exerted great influence throughout the century that followed.

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