I received my copy of 'Toy Box 2010 - a compilation of English and Japanese poetry' in the post last Wednesday. I was really excited when I saw the envelope with beautiful Japanese stamps of Geisha and Samurai. I had been exchanging e-mails with Ashida Minori (aka 'Yuka', with her full name being surname first according to Japanese custom) since last September. She approached me after the students' poetry reading of the Yeats Summer School (2009) in Sligo, where I had read out a few of my haiku. I was flattered when she told me that she liked them, and asked for my contact details. She then informed me briefly about her project, and gave me a copy of her previous edited booklet of poetry.
Yuka then began sending me e-mails, asking if I would be interested in adding some of my haiku to her project, another booklet of English language and Japanese poetry, translated from one language to the other. I was delighted at such an opportunity, and for the next few months we sent drafts to one another, correcting mistakes and writing a short profile of the poet, i.e. myself, for the back of the book. Yuka translated my haiku, and I was very excited when she sent one of the final drafts with the originals and their Japanese translations beside them. I sat and picked out the Japanese characters for my name, and for the words in Irish and placenames in Sligo.
The finished product is beautiful. Edited by Ashida Minori (Yuka) and illustrated by Hashizume Sayaka, it contains the poems and haiku of Japanese poets, and poets from China, America, Canada and Hawaii, and myself from Ireland. (I've just realised that I'm the only European representative, which is an honour!) The compilation is in three sections, the first being 'Poem Travels' from Japanese to English, the second 'Poem Travels' from English to Japanese, and the final section 'Haiku and Tanka', which features five of my haiku, two of which are in Irish. Mine are the only contributions of haiku. (I must look into the Tanka form and try my hand at it...)
I must say that it is an honour for my first publication of haiku in a Japanese publication, and for them to be translated in the original language of haiku, Japanese. Haiku in Irish compliment the early Irish nature lyrics, or dánta dúlra, and that is what I find so appealing and relevant in haiku. The Japanese seem to show a great interest in Irish literature and culture - there is always a representative from Japan studying at the Yeats Summer School, and they even have their own Yeats Society in Japan! Yeats himself showed a keen interest in Japanese culture, through the influence of Ezra Pound, and wrote two of his plays (At the Hawks Well and The Death of Cuchulainn) in the ancient Noh form of Japanese drama. Folklore studies is very popular in Japan, as they have a rich culture of folklore - maybe Ireland will begin to show an interest in Japanese culture and folklore as the Japanese show in ours...
My haiku that are included in the compilation have been posted on this blog, and my blog in Irish before - 'At Tobar an Ailt', 'Haiku as Gaeilge' aka 'Eala Óg Bródúil', 'Lá Gaofar', 'Sligo Summer' and 'Vixen'.