Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saša Važić - Three Questions

Saša VažićSaša Važić is a freelance journalist, astrologer, translator, writer of prose and poetry, essays, book reviews. Author of over 1000 articles on various topics which appeared in newspapers and journals, member of the editorial board of Haiku Novine, Niš, Serbia, Balkan Advisor and News Editor for moonset the Newspaper (Oregon, USA), and member of the World Haiku Club, her haiku have been included in over ten national and international haiku anthologies and in a number of national and international haiku magazines. They have been translated into English, Japanese, Chinese, Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian, German, Czech, Bulgarian, Russian, Polish, Dutch, Norwegian, French, Italian, Hungarian and Romanian. She is the recipient of a number of awards and commendations in contests held in her country, in Japan (Water, Lake and Sea; Suruga Baika; Basho Festival; Ito en; Mainichi), Germany, Croatia, Bulgaria, Canada, the USA and France. Largely, through her translation efforts she has brought English language haiku poetry, articles and books to Balkan readers and vice versa. Važić is the editor of the bilingual Haiku Reality. She is the author of an e-book of haiku poetry entitled muddy shoes candy heart, edited by Anita Virgil and published by Peaks Press, USA.

She also writes tanka and creates haiga, some of which have been published at the World Haiku Association’s website and at Kuniharu Shimizu’s website See Haiga Here, as well as in Contemporary Haibun published by the Red Moon Press, USA.

She has translated more than 20 books of haiku poetry by Serbian and some foreign authors (into English), as well as David G Lanoue’s novels Haiku Guy and Laughing Buddha into Serbian.

Her many longer poems and short stories as well as some literary articles and book reviews have also been published in a number of journals, in her country and abroad.

1) Why do you write haiku?

I was forced to do that. How? You can read my answer at Simply Haiku (Summer 2005, vol 3 no 2. I). Robert Wilson interviewed me. I still agree with what I said:

RW: What is haiku to you, and why have you chosen it to express your soul?

SV: I must say that I've been spending very much of my time reading and writing about haiku, writing my own haiku, translating other poets' haiku and a whole lot of haiku for their books as well as articles on haiku for Serbian and some other Balkan haiku journals, and that I still don't feel it as an integral part of myself. Actually, it may not be a part of myself, but of nature, and should remain there. You take by glance, leave and go, but it is still there where it has always been, where it is and I hope will be. So, it seems that I have not chosen haiku but that I’ve been chosen by it. Or is it not by God or just by my parents and theirs . . .?

It appears easy to write . . . just three lines, two or one . . . that number of syllables or not . . . and difficult to express that what is essential, to hide yourself behind words, to show the meaning of every single particle within the universe of which it is a part, of which the universe is a part. A light breeze coming from the universe which stirs a curtain behind which a man is sitting contemplating in his solitude, in seeming emptiness, which makes him cast his glance in its direction . . . We are not alone. Every single thing and every single man is with us every moment. And we are with every single thing and every single being.


I'll try to explain . . . I first became acquainted with haiku («never heard» then) in 1997 as a program organizer for a Belgrade club. I happened to know a man called Ilija Bratic, a retired professor of philosophy, prose and poetry writer, including haiku, whom I interviewed on some other topics for a local magazine. In that interview he mentioned haiku he had written and afterwards I talked to the club people to invite Belgrade poets from their haiku club, Shiki, for a gathering and presentation of their work.

I can’t admit that I even listened carefully to their haiku, let alone understood what they were all about. When it was over, Ilija told me that I myself should start writing haiku. I refused. I didn't have that feeling for such a short, tender, «meaningless» form. Out of spite (yes, these are the right words), I just tried to find out what it was all about, and having spent hours and hours over typed pieces of a girl (14) who named them haiku (I saved a manuscript she gave me when I interviewed her regarding her first novel), trying to make out what that famous 5-7-5 was and . . . finally found out!

Then I started writing like mad. In a day I produced some 20 pages of what I thought were haiku. What I had written were but very good pieces of something else, Ilija told me, and started showing me haiku by various authors. I was still against it and ready to leave. Then he took down a book from a shelf, a small, bright-covered The Old Pond, and I stopped to take the last glance at what he «intended» to make from me. I stopped, looked, listened (thank you David Lanoue) . . . and felt ashamed:

Oh, Matcushima
Oh, Matcushima

(This poem was not among Basho's hokku and haiku in that book).

As I said, I don't feel myself to be a poet and rarely read poetry books. Only particular poems, which I then read and reread until I get to know them by heart. Edgar Allan Poe's "Raven," Lord Byron's "Incantation" . . . and of course and first of all those written by Serbian marvelous lyric masters: Vladislav Petkovic´ Dis, Vojislav Ilic´, Jovan Ducic´, Djura Jaksic´, Aleksa Santic´. . . . It's a pity their words cannot be translated into any language and save the feeling they are able to evoke. There is always a danger I would leave out some of many world-class authors, but I must mention our Nobel Prize winner, Ivo Andric´, who wrote «as if he does not touch a paper» as another Serbian writer, Jara Ribnikar, said to me in an interview I had with her. Then my favorite and beloved "The Little Prince." In fact we all learn from everybody, from every single being, no matter whether he/she is a writer or not; from every single plant or animal . . . everything and everybody.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Lyric and mysterious, dark and out of space and time.

3) Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide publication credits.)

None. I am frightened by this question. :) How can I know? I don't write to appraise myself or to be appraised. A need to write? (as there is no other way, save to keep silent) appears of itself...from time to time and that's all.

A number of the poet's haiku are located on the following two web sites:

Page 1 & Page 2

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response (whether it be for haiku or tanka) to the three little questions that Saša answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Marc di Saverio will be our guest next week.


Pamela A. Babusci said...

dear sasa,
very interesting article from simply haiku &
i enjoyed your haiku.
love, pamela

Anonymous said...

Sasa, very interesting answers! I enjoyed reading the, as well as your haiku.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pamala and Aurora.

Have a nice Sunday
and then... all the next week
days in a row go......:)

Unknown said...

a very good response to Curtis's questions Sasa, thank you for sharing.


Area 17 said...

Good posting, I'll be back to read it again.


Ed Baker said...


I like your attitude.

this 'occasional' (two versions:

full moon
depends upon
her attitude

full moon
depends upon
the altitude

(not "great" poems.... but, what are?)

robert d. wilson said...

You are refreshing humble, Sasa. I like your answers, as they help me to get a better feel for Baltic poetry. Some of the best haiku in the world comes out of your region. I also like your answer to the favorite haiku question. You state a simple truth, that you write and continue to grow. You are not in need of back pats, kudos, and awards. A favorite haiku is just that: a favorite haiku. We evolve with every haiku we pen, ever gulp of air we breathe. You are a superb poet, Sasa. We are all blessed to have access to your poetry, and the humbleness of a soul who is not a social climber. You are the real thing.