Saturday, February 16, 2008

Raffael de Gruttola - Three Questions

Last week, I posed three questions to my fellow haijin. The response has been wonderful, the answers diverse and interesting. Raffael de Gruttola, the first poet to reply, begins with what I hope will become a weekly feature at Blogging Along Tobacco Road.

For your reading pleasure and because we all enjoy getting to know our fellow haijin better, I've embedded a few relevant hyperlinks within Mr. de Gruttola's text.

1. Why do you write haiku?

I started reading haiku in translation back in the fifties with the Blyth Books. I was writing short free verse at the time and decided to try my hand at writing haiku. The writing of haiku became a way for me to record my inner most thoughts and also the wonderful experiences I had and wanted to share with others. I carried a small notebook everywhere I went and began to understand the technique and began to see the development of a style. In the early sixties, I met a friend who had been in the service in Japan and learned about haiku while stationed there. Together we started a friendship and met a couple of times each month to read and share our haiku. He left the area, but I continued my interest in the short free verse poem and haiku and when my first book of poems was published, I included three pages of haiku. This was in the late sixties. In the late seventies, I published my first book of haiku called Recycle/Reciclo, a bilingual English/Spanish edition of a haiku cycle. It was translated by a painter friend, Wilfredo Chiesa who also provided the design and drawings for the book. In 1987, I was one of the founding members of the Boston Haiku Society which has been meeting on a monthly basis since then at the Kaji Aso Studio in Boston. I'm still learning more about life each day and haiku becomes part of that perennial search.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I've been writing free verse for many years and have been published by small magazine presses in the area. I also like to experiment with different forms including renku, tanka, senryu and various free verse open forms. I did my undergraduate studies in English and American Literature so I've been reading all kinds of poetry in English, but also in Italian and French. For example I can read Dante's Commedia in the original Italian. I also enjoy Arthur Rimbaud and other French writers and can read many in the original.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?

Not sure I can answer this question because any new haiku that I have enjoyed writing becomes a new adventure. Anyway, three haiku that people and poets seem to like are:

frozen pond
       an oak leaf
               half in
                    half out

violin player
the shape of the sound
in her arms

paw prints
disappear in the snow
wind under the hemlocks

All three of the above haiku appeared first in the Boston Haiku Society News which I edit on a monthly basis and have been doing since 1987. I think Bruce Ross first published "frozen pond" in his book on haiku, but it has been published in Albatross Magazine in Romania and in some other magazines in Canada and the States.

The second was recently part of Carlos Colón's Electronic Library and I believe it will be included in Jim Kacian's forthcoming book.

The third is part of a haiga portfolio I did about ten years ago called Echoes in Sand with a painter friend, Wilfred Croteau. It can be googled on line and is part of Jeanne Emrich's Reeds Gallery as well.

Raffael de Gruttola

Next week, William J. Higginson shares his response to the same three questions.

No comments: