From Hototogisu To Kokil, With Love—DalvirGill

Kokil Amb(i) Suhavi Bole (The Sweet Song of Koel Bird From the Mango Tree) is mainly a book on haiku, with an added bonus of 363 haiku/senryu by 18 haiku-poets including those by editor Sandip Chauhan and Harvinder Dhaliwal, Co-Editor. This is the second haiku anthology edited by Dr. Chauhan. (Previously she co-edited In One Breath –– a Haiku moment with Elaine Andre in which Andre wrote a pithy, condensed and concentrated introductory essay on the genre.)

The book is divided into two major parts: A collection of haiku/senryu and an essay by Dr. Chauhan. The 43-page essay is further divided into three major parts, along with a small note on senryu and the very important Concluding Remarks.

  1. Haiku: The Form and Function –– deals with the form of the genre, it’s history; the haiku vision, haiku mind-set, haiku moment; its relation to and the importance of kigo, the place and position of kigo in haiku that is written outside of Japan.

  2. Haiku: It’s Structure & Creative Tools –– deals with the form or structural elements of haiku, namely kireji (cutting word); its what, how and why, and paying special attention to Ma (gap, pause, or negative space), explaining that it is not only the structural value of cutting a poem into much expounded-on ‘phrase and fragment’ but how these two parts juxtaposed have psychological and philosophical affects on the reader and invite one to enter into the poem, participate, and complete it for oneself. All this is discussed in the same manner as was done with the kigo, that is, that kigo is important not only to the form but also adds a certain emotional value to the poem in enabling a reader to relate to it by entering into it through this door and to re-create it by interpreting, traveling across time and space.

In this sub-chapter while discussing the Language of Haiku, metaphor (overt, unresolved, absolute), simile, and allegory are discussed. It is suggested that these shouldn’t be used in the same sense as in the other genres of poetry/literature, for they appear, when they do, in a haiku with a widely different value and in a nature that’s unique to haiku. And, even though haiku may have a certain internal rhythm, but end-rhyme or a conscious effort to create rhyme, while dulling the elements of haiku, can almost eliminate the effect created by kire (cut marker) and turn it into a three-line free-verse.

  1. Haiku: Aesthetic Principles –– deals with often ignored and omitted, less discussed aspects of Japanese aesthetics in reference to haiku, vis-à-vis yugen, wabi, sabi, and mono no aware. Here too, these elements/principles are discussed as to why they are important, and how these are used in haiku.

The Concluding Remarks portion is very important. Using the analogy of “A River and Its Banks” to ‘creative process and creation/technical rules’, offered by a prominent Indian scholar Kala Ramesh (an aesthete who is an expert on Indian classical dance & music and haiku), Dr. Chauhan not only talks about the importance of the one to the other but suggests that because the kigo is always local, Punjabi haiku lovers and all other communities of haiku writers in their respective native languages and/or in their particular geographical spheres shall work towards creating their own Saijiki. It does make sense. For example, we associate frog with monsoon but in classical Japanese saijiki frog is a kigo for spring. And most importantly, we have six seasons while the Japanese have four.

It should be pointed out that this is the third book in Punjabi that’s not merely a collection of haiku by one or more poets, but deals with the genre at length. The first book was Japanese Haiku Shyeri (Japanese Poetry: Haiku) by Parminder Sodhi, who was a Punjabi poet residing in Japan for over two decades, to whom this book is dedicated. Until its publication, no one in Punjabi literary circles had really heard of haiku, so the book was more an introduction to the genre. Then a reader of that book, Mr. Amarjit Sathi, after forming the Punjabi Haiku Forum and Haiku Group on Facebook, c. 2008, watching the growing popularity of haiku among Punjabi poets and upon a unanimous demand from them, put together the second book Haiku Bodh (The Haiku Primer), in which he borrows heavily from the Haiku Society of America and Western scholars, and for the most part, translates their views/definitions for those Punjabi poets who weren’t that well-versed or fluent in the English language. Mr. Sodhi’s book was leaning more toward classical form when Punjabi poets were almost oblivious to the genre. Mr. Sathi’s book came when a number of Punjabi poets were creating haiku/senryu, and he does make use of those poems to exemplify different aspects of the genre, but does so within the periphery defined by English language scholars, and consequently, doesn’t show any attempt to start a dialogue with the original Japanese form from the Punjabi perspective.

Dr. Chauhan’s book, being the third book on the chronological chart, can be rightly called The First Book on Haiku in Punjabi. Even in the Preface by Dr. Jaswinder Singh –Dean, Academic Affairs and Professor, Punjabi Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, India, Dr. Singh points out the matters which are central to and burning among Punjabi haiku enthusiasts and currently are not central to the international haiku scene.

Other than the dozen or so collections of Punjabi haiku that have been published, and even though this is the third chronological book on haiku in Punjabi, this is the first comprehensive volume. It not only suggests bypassing the English Language Haiku (ELH) experience, it wants us to connect directly to Japanese masters & Japanese aesthetics and fairly does so itself. Dr. Chauhan has her finger on the pulse through her colleagues; Dr. Gabi Greve, a professional translator who has a direct experience of Japan and haiku, and Elaine Andre, who shared research and made this haiku journey with her. The abundant footnotes indicate that while trying to understand the major concepts of Japanese aesthetics, Dr. Chauhan didn’t restrict her research to English language scholars but approached them through different channels – painting, architecture, Noh theatre. And there’s a conscious effort to avoid all the Western misconceptions about haiku. This kind of research is quite scarce in the English world and utterly non-existent in Punjabi or in the other Indian languages.

  1. Harvinder Dhaliwal says:

    Thanks Dalvir Gill veer

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ਸਾਥੀ ਟਿਵਾਣਾ says:

    Dalvir Gill ji thanks for views about promotion of haiku in Punjabi. I would like to add a few lines to it. I did not know much about haiku till 2003 when I read Japanese Haiku Shyeri (Japanese Poetry Haiku) by Parminder Sodhi. It inspired me to read and write haiku. Punjabi Haiku blog was started in 2007 and Punjabi Haiku Group on Facebook in 2008. Punjabi Haiku Forum (an open group with no fixed number of members) was organized to coordinate and promote haiku in Punjabi. Forum has organized two International Punjabi Haiku Conferences (2010 and 2013) in collaboration with Punjabi Department of Punjabi University and two Punjabi Haiku Utsav at Press Club, Chandigarh and Agriculture University, Ludhiana so far.

    The aim blog and Facebook group has been to spread the word about haiku in Punjabi literary environment. The result of which is that at present there are more than 4000 members of the group on Facebook. All of them are not haiku poets but they do want to read haiku.

    With a very fast growing number of readers and writers of haiku in Punjabi there was a need to have a book explaining the basics of haiku. As such I wrote ‘Haiku Bodh’ (Haiku Primer) which is designed to introduce basic concepts of haiku genre in Punjabi. It is not an in depth study of haiku genre nor “a dialogue with the original Japanese form from the Punjabi perspective”. Those are next steps for Punjabi haiku thinkers and writers to take.
    Dr. Sandip Chauhan’s book “Kokil Amb(i) Suhavi Bole (The Sweet Song of Koel Bird From the Mango Tree) is an inspiring example in this direction. Congratulation Sandip ji.
    Thanks once again Dalvir Gill ji. You are also doing a wonderful job in promoting Punjabi haiku. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dalvirgill says:


    Elaine Andre :
    Dalvir Gill’s review of Sandip and Harvinder’s book on haiku is excellent!

    Seen by 15
    Charan Gill, Gurmukh Bhandohal Raiawal, Harvinder Dhaliwal Bilaspur and 10 others like this.
    Susan Diridoni :

    Is there an English version of this book and/or from where is it available?
    20 hrs · Like · 1
    Elaine Andre :
    It is written in Punjabi language, introducing the true form of haiku. I think it is only being sold in India though, but the review shows the kind of work that is being done to revitalize haiku from its origins rather than through secondary Western filters.
    20 hrs · Like · 2
    Susan Diridoni :
    thanks, Elaine. A great review indeed & wish it was in English.
    20 hrs · Like · 2
    Elaine Andre :
    Maybe we’ll have to tackle an English version in the future?
    20 hrs · Unlike · 3
    Harvinder Dhaliwal Bilaspur :
    Thanks Elaine and Dalvir Gill veer
    19 hrs · Unlike · 3
    Sarbjot Singh Behl :
    @ Dalvir Gill…the review does full justice to the book-labor of love put together by Sandip Chauhan & Harvinder Dhaliwal Bilaspur….and thanks for making me a part of this endeavor…
    18 hrs · Like · 5


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