Hailstone is an events-based group started in 2000 that holds ginko (i.e., haiku walks), rengakai (collaborative poetry-creating sessions), seminars, etc. The Hailstone Haiku Circle is based in Kyoto, and operates mainly by way of its Wordpress blog, Icebox.
However, since 2001, the Hailstone Haiku Circle has also been publishing a biennial anthology of the best of its work.
The seventh anthology, Meltdown, came out at the end of last year. Meltdown features almost 500 haiku, arranged by theme, as well as a short 4-part renku cycle—a renku being a collaborative poem to which guests each add a stanza.
'Renku' is a relatively modern word for certain types of 'haikai-no-renga.' The renga tradition has its its roots in the imperial court.The pinnacle of the art is considered to have been attained in the 17th century by the poet Matsuo Basho, who established the single-stanza haiku as an individualistic, reflective form of literary art.
Renga saw vicissitudes in the seriousness of its content. A period of humorous or baser renga would follow on from one of serious 'high art' renga. Basho expressed both elegance and down-to-earth wit in his works.
The haiku in Meltdown are in English, helping bring the enchantment of the literary snapshots that are haiku to English-speakers everywhere.
The cover of Meltdown features a woodblock print crafted by Richard Steiner. The anthology is edited by Stephen Henry Gill.
The Meltdown haiku and renku anthology can be ordered from overseas for $20 a copy, or $38 for two.
Go to the Hailstone website to order your copies.
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