Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Poem - One Senryu & two haikus by Rupert Summerson


A sombre event
Dark glasses to hide the tears
Thinking of Japan


Chit chat chitter chat
Rosellas on the power lines
With a whirr they’re gone


Dawn has just broken
The street trees turned into gold
Old moon in the east

Rupert Summerson

My friend Rupert holds great reverence for all things Japanese. It was Rupert who re-introduced me to Basho (how could I have left him covered in dust for all those years?) and, too, to the sounds of the traditional wind instrument shakahachi and stringed instrument, koto. 

Rupert, Lisa Roberts (she of the lyrical krill and coccolithophors) and I met in Christchurch at the Imagining Antarctica conference hosted by Gateway Antarctica in --- heavens, when was it --- 2007? The Ant. conference happened to fall during the same week as Christchurch Writers' Week, so the city was a-buzz with creative zealots. I'd heard - though not really listened to - a shakuhachi a handful of times before. 

At the end of our day's meetings, a group of us walked into town to a restaurant beside the Avon River - 'Sticky Fingers' was on what's known as 'The Strip' on Oxford Terrace. We had a delicious meal with Central Otago red wine and wide-roaming conversation. Penelope was with us; I vividly recall her recounting the dream she'd had a few nights before - the dream that ultimately gave rise to her inspiring e-publishing company, Rosa Mira Books - yes! Reality is born of dreams.). After dinner, Rupert unsheathed his shakuhachi, walked over to a darkened corner of the restaurant and played a piece of ancient Japanese music for us.  

The shakuhachi is an instrument that's all about 'the breath.' It's played in an attitude of mindfulness - i.e, meditatively and with the intention of humility and 'offering' rather than one of performance. I find its sound haunting - it puts me in mind of words like 'origin' and 'ancient', 'sacred', 'source', 'pure' and 'distillation.' 

In the relatively short time I've known Rupert, he has written a great many haikus. These days, he generally writes between one and three haikus and/or senryus a week. In the recent e- that carried the three poems above, Rupert wrote, "Three haikus - actually, one senryu and two haikus - this week. On Saturday I went to a memorial event in the Japanese gardens near here for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Japan's ambassador was there and one of my shakuhachi-playing friends played Tamuke, a traditional piece often played at funerals. It means prayer for a safe passage and is very beautiful. . . "

Last month, Rupert - who lives in Canberra - played his shakuhachi every lunchtime to raise money for the Red Cross earthquake fund in Christchurch. The month before that, he played for the flood-affected people of Victoria; this coming month, he will again be busking for the people of Christchurch this time donating his earnings to MANY AS ONE. Thank you for this beautiful gesture, Rupert.   

Rupert busking in Canberra - April 2011


  1. What wonderful people you know Claire, and it's great to read some Haiku - so succinct, such a big picture they bring. Rupert is a generous and talented man.

  2. And now I've visited Rosa Mira Books (exceptional books!) and bought The Glass Harmonica - what a luscious story! I don't have an iReader yet, but can read it on my screen. Thanks so much for the link.

  3. The sense of covenant between Rupert and his art - music, haiku - comes through so strongly here. Sacred acts to which we may be witness say we are capable, with intention, of creating our own and remind us to take nothing for granted. Who knows what a moment may contain. xo

  4. Outstanding poems! with a great follow-up story. Thanks.

  5. Hi Julie - great to see you here; thanks for coming. You will not regret buying Dorothee Kock's 'The Glass Harmonica', the first of many of Penelope's exceptional ebooks, yes! Like you, I bought it without having an iReader/eReader. ; )

    Rupert is a generous and talented man, yes. And I see we appreciate haiku for similar reasons - 'so succinct, such a big picture they bring.' Hope your painting is going well. . . L, C

  6. Dear Marylinn - 'who knows what a moment may contain', each one as sacred as the next, regardless of how ordinary or extraordinary they may appear? As you suggest here, we are continually in the process of creating our personal and collective biography/mythology. It happens as we speak, as we play the flute, witness, watch, wake or sleep. What happens there influences and alters what happens here, and vice versa. I love the idea of us being engaged in an ongoing collaboration. We don't need to know where it might lead; we just need to turn up? xo

  7. Stephen - hello, and welcome to Icelines. It's great to find you here and to discover your poetry collection (with the enviable title!), The Timbre of Sand. I have visited your website and followed the link to Amazon. . . one day soon, I hope to be able to order a copy and begin reading. Are your poems posted anywhere else on the web? If so, a link would be much appreciated. I will also go back to your site and see if I missed something to this effect there. Take care, Claire