This is our reply to violence: to make haiku more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. Changing the world one haiku at a time.
– Chen-ou Liu, paraphrasing Leonard Bernstein
Kamesan’s World Haiku Anthology on War, Violence and Human Rights Violation, edited by the renowned film director and haiku poet Dimitar Anakiev, is a unique haiku anthology: 903 haiku written in 35 languages by 435 poets from 48 countries across the globe and non-English language haiku accompanied by their English translations. The original idea of publishing this kind of world haiku anthology with its sharp focus on war stemmed from Anakiev’s late 1990s experience in the war-torn Balkans. During that tumultuous period of time, he served as the co-editor of Knots: The Anthology of Southeastern European Haiku Poetry, receiving many haiku on the topic of confrontation and violence. Then, in 2009, he invited the poets from the Balkan region to submit their haiku on the topic of war. To his great surprise, he received many haiku by poets from all corners of the world. He recognized the universality of the theme of war and decided to publish a world haiku anthology on war, violence, and human rights violation (p. 5).
As Dimitar Anakiev emphasizes in the Foreword, titled “Towards the ‘haiku of the third millennium,” “three elements shape this anthology. First, it was created as an expression of the real need of poets to speak about the theme of war, violence, and human rights violation through haiku…. The second element is the experience of war, violence, and human rights violation [that] seems to be more present than ever. The third element, the multicultural (and multilingual) concept of the book, is directly linked to the theme.” (p. 5) In the rest of the foreword, he also clearly points out an aesthetic “need to [open] new poetic horizons for and with haiku. These horizons include an openness to different poetic methods like metaphor, personification, varied syllable counts including 5-7-5.” (p. 6) Then, he traces the linguistic root of the ancient Greek word for “anthology” that leads to “flowery meadow.” (p. 6) While editing the anthology, he adopted an editorial attitude based on the principle of this democratic image and tried to plant a meadow of world haiku with “various kinds of flowers,” not a greenhouse with only a certain type of “best flowers.” (pp. 6-7).
This anthology includes not only the haiku written by contemporary poets around the world, but also the classic haiku poems composed by New Rising haiku poets 1 and gendai haiku poets, and most importantly, the most-famous anti-war haiku by Japanese master Basho. In publishing approach of this world haiku anthology, Dimitar Anakiev also searched for an answer to the question – “what qualities would define haiku in the third millennium?” – raised 12 years ago during the founding the World Haiku Association (p. 7). Now, he can say that the “third millennium haiku will be perhaps completely freed from cultural clamps, colonialism and neocolonialism, from fundamentalisms of all kinds, and will be left to the poets of the world to use the form the best they can, in all cultures, in their own specific way.” (p. 7) And he sincerely hopes that “this anthology is the start of this new haiku, freed from cultural politics.” (p. 7)
A great anthology, which, in addition to literary value has also ethical and political message!
- Boris A. Novak, acclamied Slovene poet, dramaturg and editor, former vice-president of International PEN
In this amazing anthology, poets from many countries hold the shock and anguish of war within a loving and sorrowful gaze that recognizes the true costs to our shared humanity. I am encouraged by the variety of voices. The honesty of this effort is a step toward disassembling the machines of war and turning attention toward that challenging and intricate necessity called peace.
- Marilyn Hazelton, editor of red lights tanka magazine
This landmark collection, interweaving hundreds of poetic voices from around the world, creates a powerful statement for peace and against war. I have never stood in a minefield, or toted a gun on my shoulder, or watched bombs bursting in the night sky over my city—at least not until I read this book. The sparseness of haiku leaves no room for illusion, no separation between reader and the scene described. Our comfort zone is stripped away poem after poem until we have no choice but to confront the full sweep of war and all its consequences. And in so doing, we end up defining our humanity more sharply. We become keenly aware of what we truly value. The American composer Leonard Bernstein once remarked “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” Kamesan’s World Haiku Anthology on War, Violence and Human Rights Violations is a potent example of that strategy at work. Changing the world one poem at a time.
- Kim Goldberg, author of Red Zone and other books
The poets from all corners of the world courageously take a closer look at war and sincerely explore its true costs to our shared humanity.
- Chen-ou Liu, acclaimed poet and writer