Monday, August 2, 2010

Keeping it short

Kala Ramesh has mastered haiku, the Japanese form of 'one-breath poems'

An old cliche goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. But when it comes to haiku -- a Japanese form of poetry--the observation can't get any better. Haiku, which is an ancient form of poetry dating back to over 400 years, is like a painting of words.

Kala Ramesh, an exponent of haiku in the city, has won many accolades in this art form, and wishes that more people come to know about it. Kala, who is a Hindustani classical singer, came across haiku in 2005; she loved the form and started pursuing it. "Haiku is a very simple form of poetry. It has a fixed set of rules, and needs constant practice. Simplicity in anything is extremely difficult to master," explains Kala, who has learnt classical music for many years from Shubhada Chirmule in Pune.

Kala started writing haiku poems in January 2005, and her first poem was accepted in March by a publication called Bottle Rockets, and her haiku and tanka (a Japanese form of five-line poetry) were accepted for publication in Simply Haiku for their summer and autumn issues respectively. "There are plenty of printed and e-versions of haiku magazines.

Such magazines prove to be a source of information on the poetry form," informs Kala, whose credentials include an honourable mention in Mainichi Daily News Annual Selection in the years 2007-08.Haiku, which can also be called a one-breath poem, uses minimum words to express the meaning. Haiku is a three-line poem, but can also be written in one, two or four lines. Capital letters are generally not used in English language haiku (ELH) but there are exceptions.

"Basho, a master of this art form, has aptly said, 'Learn of the pine from the pine; learn of the bamboo from the bamboo', meaning, to become one with nature, is the most important ingredient while attempting to write a haiku," says Kala.

The poet says that in India, there are few Haiku poets who write in English. "Charoli in Marathi is similar to haiku," she says. Kala is keen to spread this art form by taking up workshops. She has taken workshops in New Delhi, Mumbai and in Pune.

"Many haiku poets, who are also professionals, feel good after writing them, as they get a chance to break away from the monotony of their life and spend some time with nature," she says.

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