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R H Blyth award

January 2014

The R. H. Blyth Award 2013 


= The Results =


The Award Winner:

The World Haiku Club is pleased to announce 
that The R. H. Blyth Award 2013 
goes to 

Dr. David McMurray

His entry to the contest was done in the form of the excellent publication of “Canada Project: Collected Essays & Poems, 2013 Volume 8”. The Award marks a celebration of the praise-worthy achievements made by a non-Japanese native who has chosen to live in Japan and with rare passion and dedication devoted himself to education through haiku and related subject matter.

The publication is a compendium, the eighth of the kind, compiling different academic activities around a research group called Canada Project of which David is the leader, and based at the Institute for Regional Studies of The International University of Kagoshima where he teaches.(Copies of this publication and all other seven volumes can be purchased individually or as a set. For further details, contact ke00@kinokuniya.co.jp or telephone +88 99 261-9951 or fax +88 99 261 0227)


His direct commitment is of course to the interests of education, Japan, Canada and his own occupation. However, his case also has shown that such specific purposes can serve, even indirectly, the purposes of the whole (in our case the haiku world) if they are exercised properly, professionally and selflessly. David receives the Award of 500 GBP (British pounds) minus money transfer fees. David, O-medeto-gozaimasu!, Many Congratulations!


There were so many entries to The R. H. Blyth Award 2013, among which those of freshness and high quality were abundant. This proves to be especially rewarding when one considers the extremely wide variety of genres entered, from haiku anthologies to academic papers.


Two Runners-up:


Two runners-up are particularly important, Dr. Angelee Deodhar and Ron Rosenstock. The former, a well-known haiku poetess from Chandigarh, India, has won this position for her outstanding contribution to the development of world haiku in general and to the spread of haiku literature to the vast audience of India through translation in particular, both represented by her entry of collected translation of haiku books into Hindi.


They are: Classic Haiku, A Master’s Selection, Selected & translated by Yuzuru Miura, Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc. of Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan, 

Hindi-English edition 2006/ Children’s Haiku From Around the World – A Haiku Primer, Hindi translation & bilingual publication by Dr. Angelee Deodhar, 2007 (originally a JAL Foundation publication)

The Distant Mountain, The Life and Haiku of Kobayashi Issa, by David G. Lanoue, Hindi-English edition by Dr. Angelee Deodhar, 2009/ 

Indian Haiku, A bilingual anthology of Haiku by 105 Poets from India, compiled & edited by Dr. Angelee Deodhar, 2008/ 

and a book of Hindi translation of Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, by the same translator. For details, contact the translator:angeleedeodhar@gmail.com

The latter, Ron Rosenstock, is an American photographer whose stunning images have fascinated his fans across the world. He has been elected as a runner-up for his entry of The Invisible Light, Infrared Photographs, a collection of special black and white landscape photographs of supreme beauty.www.ronrosenstock.com The album is accompanied by haiku poems written by the internationally acclaimed haiku poet, Gabriel Rosenstock from Ireland.

  Many congratulations to two of you, Angelee and Ron! Please expect to receive by post some token prize in due course.



Seven Honourable Mentions:


There are seven other entries of merit, receiving Honourable Mention and therefore among the Best Ten. They are listed below without any particular order. Let me emphasise at this point that this does not mean that other entries were found not worthy. On the contrary, they have all kinds of different merits and the creators of them should feel proud of themselves and continue to pursue and enjoy what a good fortune history has given each one of us, enjoying the haiku literature the way we do. But after all this is a competition, which has its own raison dêtre.


Sylvia Forges-Ryan: Take a Deep Breath, The Haiku Way to Inner Peace, Apocryphile Press, 1700 Shattuck Ave #81, Berkeley, CA 94709,http://www.apocryphile.org/, First Published by Kodansha America, Copyright 2002 by Sylvia Forges-Ryan and Edward Ryan, First Apocryphile edition 2006, ISBN 1-933993-07-3


[WHC regards Sylvia Forges-Ryan as one of the best contemporary haiku poets in the world, amalgamating Japanese haiku essence, American sensibility and her own poetic feelings. Through this anthology and elsewhere she has inspired many other haiku poets and is desired to do the same to many more still far into the future.]



Nicholas A. Virgilio, Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku, Edited and introduced by Raffael de Gruttola, Turtle Light Press, USA, 2012 Turtle Light Press Trade Paperback Edition, http://www.turtlelightpress.com/ , ISBN 978-0-9748147-3-5


[Nick Virgilio is synonymous with fathers of American haiku. His “lily” haiku is, arguably, as famous as Basho’s “old pond” haiku, or an American answer (albeit in a modest way) to the latter. Still retaining American essence (“out of itself”), the poem is magically devoid of arrogance. He is against all sorts of falsity, including false modesty as well. His teaching: “Eschew all false modesty!” It is therefore natural that he should receive accolades including this one. The book contains many hitherto unpublished haiku poems, as well as his essays on haiku, an interview with the poet, a tribute to him and many interesting photos. However, since this beloved poet is no longer with us, who should be receiving the Honourable Mention. WHC thinks it should be given to all who worked hard to bring this beautiful volume into the world, most especially Raffael de Gruttola who edited it and wrote the instructive introduction, and Tony Virgilio who gave invaluable insight into his brother’s sensibility and personality. ]



Naomi Wakan: Haiku, one breath poetry, 1993 Pacific-Rim Publishers, Box 5204, Stn B, Victoria, B.C. Canada, V8R 6N4, ISBN 0-921358-18-0


[One of the most important areas of WHC activities is children’s haiku or teaching haiku to children. The author is a British-born, naturalised Canadian artist, writer, poet and haijin, who has become a “child” again, having learned after so many years “…to unlearn a lot of things and recall that I was once an imaginative, inventive child who knew how to play. I tap my dreams for my writing, my island for the natural forms found in my artwork. But my island also is a background for my haiku and my life on it enriches my dreams.


In this way all my creative works blend together... the essence being play. From play comes freshness, frankness and joy.” (quote from the author)  Which better person, then, is there to teach haiku to children, and perhaps more importantly to us adults most of whom have lost “the child in us” and busy theorising, pontificating, dogmatising and attacking (she even lived in and presumably loved Japan)? Her way of haiku seems more akin to Japanese haiku than most other western writers. I wish I knew the author before and asked her to play her part in WHC as she is the nearest personification of what WHC is all about. Perhaps, it is no surprise that this this little gem of a book has received the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice Award.]



Clelia Ifrim: My loved Japan, Editura Universitara, Bucuresti, Romania 2012, ISBN 978-606-591-400-1, http://www.editurauniversitara.ro/


[For the Japanese people the “3/11” triple disaster of big earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear power station explosion was a trauma comparable with “9/11” or the 1945 atomic bomb catastrophes. Tributes of all sorts have been made world-wide to this tragedy. This book was one of the earliest such tributes and David Burleigh comments on it in his Best Books of 2011 column of the Japan Times, saying that it “…offers a very fine imaginative response…” to the disaster. The poems in the book by this Romanian poetess are presented in four languages, Romanian, English, German and French, and now also in Japanese. It is a moving book. The author offers to donate all proceeds from the sale of the book to the Japanese Red Cross and copies can be obtained through Amazon.co.jp.]



Ecaterina Neagoe: Florie Vantului, The Flowers of The Wind, Les Fleurs Du VentHaiku, Cover, Japanese calligraphy, haiga by Ion Codrescu, Ex Ponto, Constanta, 2012


[Romanian poets are inclined to level up the reaches of haiku from the stereotypical American approaches to something more fundamental and sophisticated. Ecaterina Neagoe is one such and has also created her own universe of haiku rarely seen elsewhere. Many of her haiku have stories to tell, songs to sing, colours to paint and poesy to recite. She has advanced haiku a notch further. Many are asked to follow suit.]



Sherry Weaver Smith: Land Shapes, Selected Haiku Poems, Paintings by Sylvia Van Strijthem, Copyright 2011 by Richer Resources Publications, 1926 N. Woodrow Street, Arlington, Virginia 22207, USA, http://www.richerresourcespublications.com/  ISBN 978-1-935238-60-7, Library of Congress Control Number 2011936823


[WHC welcomes people who have something new to offer rather than those who tend to be cautious, conservative and unoriginal. The way this author writes her Acknowledgements (often the most boring part of any book) already is new. Then, she immediately goes on to write an introduction like no other. She talks about strange things such as “geometry” in relation to haiku, the likes of which have seldom appeared in normal haiku books. As if this is not enough, she presents the arrangements of her haiku poems in a totally new structure. That is not all. She puts a haibun before presenting her haiku---haibun which, though taking the standard American-led haibun form, has little resemblance to the usual boring writing about nothing. Her haibun is strange, interesting and informative. What about her haiku poems themselves? They, clean and tidy, look similar enough in form to other American-led haiku. Her haiku poems are never boring in content with interesting angles and different happenings. They are like the first scene of a drama, development of a story or change in the narrative, and how desperately we want to know the drama, story or narrative themselves! The author is a good haiku poetess, no doubt, but she sounds as if she is a much better story-teller. Either there is something wrong with haiku for her, or she can still develop her haiku which is self-contained, i.e. story itself. She has a world of her own, like a detailed map, collaborating with nature and her haiku may be like windows through which to view some landscapes, no, land shapes, within that world.]


Bruce Ross: spring clouds, haiku, First published 2012 by Tancho Press, Suite 127, 499 Broadway, Bangor, ME 04401, USA, ISBN 978-0-9837141-1-8


[An old hand in haiku, the author never ceases to learn and advance. Both as a learner and a teacher, Ross has made substantial contributions to the development of world haiku, let alone American haiku, including the editing of Haiku Moment, An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku. His last haiku anthology appeared back in 1997 with the publication of Silence: Collected Haiku. Reading this new collection, one gets an impression that one is reading a standard textbook of American haiku, which makes it very handy for those who wish to study this particular branch of the world haiku, in which the author excels.]


(Note: The word “poetess” is used deliberately and constructively in this review in order to combat the shallow and harmful use of political correctness which kills culture, and thereby to preserve at least some of the invaluable words and expressions we humans have created, without being prejudicial to either sex. It is therefore not intended to insult the persons concerned.)