A Hundred Gourds 4:4 September 2015

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The Second International Haiku Conference in Krakow, Poland (May 15-17, 2015)

by J. Brian Robertson

| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 |page 4


The conference started on Friday evening and had a schedule with presentations, round-table discussions, breaks and receptions, a competition, and a lounge-like late-dinner gathering on Saturday night. The conference was part of the much larger 4th Miłosz Festival of Poetry which had its own city-wide program of panels, debates, concerts, exhibits, and so on—in short: a big literature festival.

To give you an idea of Krakow, it has almost a million people and has that rare “giant village” vibe. Given the number of cultural festivals, book fairs, and Nobel-Prize winners who have lived there, the city is also a UNESCO City of Literature. (Other cities with this title, for example, are Edinburgh, Granada, and Melbourne.) What I found most appealing about Krakow were its charm and contrasts. There are state-of-the-art trams that run along streets full of shiny new buildings and quaint parks of all sizes with overgrown grass, weeds, and rusty kiosks selling snacks, balloons, and local magazines. There are buildings built with some kind of socialist futuristic vision (from an era that seemed to imagine us more advanced than we are today) and buildings with dilapidating walls (or walls that were never painted to begin with). There are also stunningly well-preserved buildings from the middle ages, especially in the city’s old town “Stare Miasto.” No surprise that this district is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Krakow has character.


The entrance to the Manggha Museum / Across the street from the museum

The schedule began on Friday with an opening reception and welcoming talks by the co-organisers. That evening all the participants gathered to read their poems that were published in the conference’s 58-page anthology (see reference below). Throughout the entire event there were translations from English to Polish and vice-versa. The official themes of the conference were Miłosz and haiku, and haiku in Central and Eastern Europe. In attendance were 41 participants who were mostly haiku poets, haibun writers, and haiga artists from the following countries: Bulgaria, Switzerland, USA, Croatia, Germany, Canada, Poland, the UK, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Holland, Denmark, Sweden/Australia, and Japan. Many poets brought friends or their spouses, and several Polish authors sat in for the presentations and debates.

On exhibition at the event were haiga from Lidia Rozmus (USA/Poland), Dainius Dirgela (Lithuania), Robert Kania (Poland), and Tomasz Budziak (Poland). There were also three tables on which haiku, haibun, and haiga books by conference participants were sold. There were Polish, English, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian titles available, and several were bi- or trilingual. Many were excellent and I bought too many for my modest knapsack. (Not something I regret.)


full moon - 122nd WHA Haiga Contest (07/2014)
and "World Haiku 2015 No.11" yearbook by WHA