Bashō mentions the term “haibun” for the first time in 1690 as defining a new literary genre in the form of the traditional Japanese diary, but which would borrow models from the Chinese poetic prose.
Judging the rustic and even the vulgar as being worthy from a poetic point of view, Bashō creates haibun in an everyday language. A certain nuance of the elliptic style can be referred to as a delicate sense of decency. Supreme beauty cannot be put into words; its utmost expression is to be found in the serenity of the mind.
One could classify them as short prose with an autobiographical tone, often descriptive, the principal aims being nature and introspection.
The West was introduced to haibun quite late, by the 1990s, following the emergence of translations made directly from Japanese, first in the Anglophone countries, then the Francophone countries.
American poet Bruce Ross published the first American haibun anthology in 1998, Journey to the Interior, American Versions of Haibun (Călătorie spre interior, versiuni americane de haibun), and together with Jim Kacian he edited the anthology Up Against the Window (Privind pe fereastră) in 1999. These works make a brief account of the genre, illustrated by texts differing in style, starting with earlier texts and ending with contemporary ones.
The French approached haibun later, this form of poetry is known only after magazines Ploc! or Gong published haibun in their pages. But in recent years the haibun took momentum in France, especially after 2011 when the Association of Francophone Haibun Authors (A.F.A.H.) was founded by Danièle Duteil and Gérard Dumon, especially to promote this kind of poem, in the electronic journal entitled L'Echo de l'étroit chemin. Then, in 2014, it was promoted by issuing the Haibun francophone Anthology entitled Cross-roads (Chemins croisés), edited by PIPPA Publishing House in Paris.
Romanian haibun was influenced by the appearance of the fran- cophone and anglophone haibun and it was first found in the pages of Haiku Magazine, founded in 1990. The length of the Romanian haibun is variable. Some are short, consisting of only a few sentences and a haiku, and others are long, reaching more pages and several haikus, but the most common are short haibun, under a page in length.
The idea of bringing together major authors of haibun of Romania and the United States in an anthology was supported by the American poet Bruce Ross. Therefore, in this book, we selected together 20 Romanian poets and 20 American poets of haibun. Each poet has been selected with 1-5 poems.
The 20 Romanian poets present in this book different subjects, resulting from personal experiences after visits or trips taken to exotic places abroad or across the country, some focusing on the beauty of nature, others exploring the twists and turns of the human soul.
Most haibun are written using present tense, generally adopted also in the haiku poem. The Romanian author’s haibun are short stories with autobiographical or descriptive character, nature and introspection being the main features.
It can be seen that some Romanian haibun poems are longer than those of the American poets, perhaps because English is manifestedly more concise than Romanian, both in prose and haiku.
In the selection of the title of the anthology, Călători prin anotimpuri / Travelers through Seasons, we were inspired by Bashō’s words: “The months, the days are eternal travelers; the years taking the place of one another, are also travelers ... “ As well we, humans, we travel through life, seasons and years completing them in our short stay on this planet which travels around the sun creating the four seasons.
I believe that by the outstanding literary qualities and by its diversity, the Romanian haibun and the American haibun are presented in this book as an original and attractive literature, not only for those who love Japanese poetry but also for classic literature readers. We invite you to read it!
President of Romanian Haiku Society