f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 10, 2005

this heron is adjourned

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:44 am

For centuries, Japanese haiku poets have been fascinated with the heron, and that
interest has spread to haijin around the world.   The heron is a large wading bird with a
long neck and long legs, and it family includes bitterns and egrets.  I’ve always liked
the logo of the Haiku Society of America, which includes a simple image of a heron.
This year, the same heron appears on the cover of HSA’s journal, Frogpond,
as well as on the HSA newsletter.  I decided to learn more about the image,
and wondered why the Newsletter called it “sumi-e.”   Here are my findings:
sumi-e is the Japanese art of brush painting.  Only black ink is used in sumi-e
and four brush strokes are the basis for everything painted in sumi-e.  The strokes
are called the “Four Gentlemen” and correspond with the brush stroke used to
paint four plants — the Bamboo Stroke, the Wild Orchid Stroke, the Chrysanthe-
mum Stroke, and the Plum Branch Stroke.

Stephen Addiss of the University of Richmond Department of
Art and History, painted the HSA’s heron sumi-e.  You can see
more of his painting in this collection of haiga, which was featured
in Simply Haiku (March 2004).  Prof. Addiss has edited or written
many books on Japanese art — find a list here.  I’m pleased to have
one of them in my personal collection — Haiku Landscapes: In Sun,
Wind, Rain, And Snow.
Click here for a larger version of Stephen Addiss’ sumi-e heron.

update (Nov. 11, 2005):  Ed Markowski, our  most reliable
source of topical haiku (especially with Issa offline), has shared
the following pair, along with an account of the sinking of the
Edmund Fitzgerald, in a Comment:

first time on the river
i fish the spot
the heron fished
a sunfish thrashes
in the heron’s beak

boy writing Yes, I’m on vacation this week, and am staying away from
the heavy stuff today (so far).
lingering chill
the catkins
toadstool –
sharing tales
with my sister
seafood restaurant
guppies surround
the lighthouse

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