Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Return of “A Haiku a day”

I spent a very interesting year in 2012 writing a Haiku a day. It’s a creative project I’m very proud of and though the quality is, shall we say, mixed, the output is a lovely tribute to my year. It’s a snapshot diary of events, some of which are not significant, some of which, when I read now, are disconnected from any memory they might have been associated with. The memory or inspiration for the writing has melted away and that pleases me, because I, like you, can take my own meaning from those words hanging in space, with no narrative to go with them.

Writing the Haikus was mostly a spur of the moment thing, I would have an idea, then I’d write it quickly, trying to avoid over analysis or indulgent editing. I diligently followed the 5-7-5 syllable structure and though I shouldn’t necessarily have used metaphors and should have written in the present tense, mostly I didn’t. I guess it doesn’t matter. As long as it conveys something.

Looking at the tags it seemed wildlife played a big part in my year, especially birds. Also death. And the weather, or more accurately, the changing seasons. It was, in many ways, a difficult year, but I learnt the discipline of writing every day and I learnt to be patient, to listen, to watch, to absorb, to feel more and to learn, academically and through my heart. Having the ability to just stop, step out of phase and become a ghost for even a few minutes felt like something of great significance. Modern life and the artificial pressures that come with it become meaningless in those moments. And… Inspiration? It can come from the tiniest thing. It’s often the little whispers, a tiny act, often overlooked or stomped over, which offer the most wisdom. Stop. Listen. Watch. Breathe. Feel.

So, in that I am travelling to Japan tomorrow, the home of the Haiku, the Haiku a day blog will make a little comeback for the sixteen days I’m there. I’ll post a single photo a day and a haiku to go with it. Just for the extra challenge. I have a feeling that the intensity of life, especially in the days I’m working will be more challenging in Japan. Phasing out and being a ghost will be harder, but I’ll try, even if it’s for a few seconds, even if the photo is a spark of neon smeared across the lens through a rainy taxi window. Whatever this turns into, I hope you’ll enjoy.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Reiko Watanabe, Hiroshima


Tomorrow is the anniversary of the nuclear bomb falling on Hiroshima. It’s often the story of the individual which hits home when contemplating the horrors of war and the associated loss of life. In Reiko Watanabe’s case, it’s her lack of a story, the hole left, the emptiness of a future taken from her, the life she could have led, which really hit home for me. She was only 15 when the bomb dropped, helping with fire prevention work with her fellow students. She might be alive today, a grandmother, or great grandmother. We can only imagine the dreams and ambitions she concocted in her youth. The war raged around her, but she had a future.

Her body was never found, she was working by a mud wall, and later, her lunch box was discovered, melted, but still distinguishable and full of the rice and peas her mother had prepared for her that morning. It was all carbonised of course, but it was a tiny glimpse to show she was loved. And missed.

The photo below is by Hiromi Tsuchida, it is Reiko’s lunchbox. I first saw this photo in an exhibition at the Tate Modern, Conflict, Time, Photography and I was both chilled to the core at the power of the weapons we’ve made to destroy each other and moved by the humanity of the portrait of this last memento of a young girl’s life.

I wrote these words for her.



By the low wall, Reiko diligently performed the fire drill

she briefly saw the white light, In an eerie silence,

Before it blinded her,

moments later the force, hit her,

Vapourised her, leaving the girl,

In the the spring of her youth,

Just a memory to those who loved her,


Her future dreams, caught in the shock wave,

scattered, as single words,

Sewn seeds, in the poisoned fields,

The wall she worked by, it fell,

so that even her shadow,

was lost,


But her lunch box,

Buckled by the heat, survived,

A memento, a tribute to the love,

of her proud mother, who sent her out,

with precious rice and peas,

to help.


Poem © Mel Melis (photograph by Hiromi Tsuchida)