The banner image above is from Tōeizan Temple at Ueno, 1835-38 by Utagawa Hiroshige I (1797-1858) © Bristol Culture. Many thanks to Bristol Museums for permission to reproduce the Japanese print images on these webpages.
We were delighted to be asked by Bristol Museum & Art Gallery to help with a Haiku event around their exhibition Masters of Japanese Prints: Nature and seasons.
The event, called Haiku: the one breath poetry took place on Thursday 5th September 2019. It was really well attended. Under the direction of emcee Bertel Martin, we split into two groups. Alan gave a talk on haiku downstairs, whilst upstairs in the exhibition, Karen, and Senior Curator Kate Newnham, gave short talks to the other group, who started to take notes prompted by the Japanese Prints. The groups then swapped over, before a workshopping session all together. There was much sucking of pen ends, gazing and thinking. It was incredible to see everyone so immersed into their thoughts of haiku! We then had short performances from those plucky enough to read their verses.
Prior to the event, we had invited poets worldwide to also offer poems linked to the prints. We had a printed file of these in circulation on the evening - some 600 poems! The breadth of nationalities taking part remotely like this was really inspiring. After the event, the online "poem portal" stayed open for several more days. We're not sure of the absolute total yet, but we appear to have received over 800 poems! In due course, we look forward to announcing how some of them will further be displayed, possibly on the Museum's website.
Finally, thanks to all those who came along. And to all the international poets who added to the occasion enormously by being present poetically.
We look forward to announcing further news about the hundreds of poems collected in connection with this event in due course!
The prints at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery are a wonderful resource, and one of the leading regional collections in the UK. Since the end of the 2018-2019 exhibition, they are not currently on public display, but the entire three-part exhibition Masters of Japanese Prints has been made available online. Conservation work has taken place on these pieces, in tandem with preparations for the recent exhibitions, so it really is a very special online resource. Our international poets used this resource when writing poems to submit in connection with this event through our "poem portal".