A haiku club in Bulgaria’s second-largest city, Plovdiv, was established in 2003 through the efforts of Ivanka Yankova, Todor Bikov, and Dimitar Stefanov. The Haiku Club Plovdiv currently has 20 members, primarily from Plovdiv province and including the city of Asenovgrad. Members meet about six times a year to read and discuss their own work and classical Japanese haiku as well as study other aspects of Japanese culture and literature and learn about developments in haiku elsewhere in the world.
On December 3, 2003, a group of poetry lovers, inspired by poet and literary figure Ivanka Yankova and supported by Todor Bikov, chairman of the Club of Cultural Figures, and Dimitar Stefanov, chairman of the Bulgarian Haiku Club, gathered in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s cultural capital and second-largest city, to found the Haiku Club Plovdiv. Among the charter members were Lidia Sirakova, Stoyan Terziev, and Anastasia Kovacheva. Later they were joined by Tsvetanka Georgieva, Minko Tanev, Kiril Dimitrov, Velichka Nastradinova, Vangelia Atanasova, and Stoianka Boianova. Most HCP members reside in Plovdiv, although several regulars come from Asenovgrad and other nearby Bulgarian cites. Yankova was the first chairperson of the HCP and remained in that role for more than 15 years. In June 2019 she was named Honorary Chairwoman, while Boianova took over as the acting chairwoman.
Meetings and events
The core activities of the Haiku Club Plovdiv are the thematic meetings held about every two months throughout each year. Members gather to discuss issues related to the nature and specifics of haiku composition, analyze award-winning poems, and read and reread the Japanese haiku classics, Bashō, Buson, Issa, and Shiki, as well as their own work. Over the years, the members have discussed topics as diverse as Chinese poetry, Bulgarian Japan scholar Bratislav Ivanov’s translations and culture studies; Spanish haiku master Vicente Haya’s classification of haiku; Americans James Hackett’s prescriptions for writing haiku and Jane Reichhold’s lessons; and the international phenomenon of gendai (modern) haiku.
HCP meetings frequently include prominent guest poets and scholars. Invited speakers and readers have included Ginka Biliarska, chair of the Bulgarian Haiku Club (2004); Sofia Filipova, who later founded the journal Haiku Svyat (Haiku World) (2009); Prof. Hristo Ke Pella, BHU chairman from 2008 to 2012; Dr. Ludmila Balabanova, professor at the Technical University, Sofia (2013); and Dr. Lilyana Raycheva, prominent poet and playwright (2014).
Club members actively participate in the annual nationwide cultural festival Days of Japanese Culture, sponsoring literary readings at the opening ceremonies. Festival topics in Plovdiv have included samurai weaponry and Japanese decorative art (2009) and Japanese dolls (2010). Club members are also involved in other celebrations of Japanese culture such as the Ohanami Spring Festival in Sofia (2016, 2017), an evening dedicated to writer Harumi Murakami (2017), and participation in various Bulgarian Haiku Club / Bulgarian Haiku Union, and Union of Bulgarian Writers events.
Haiku Club Plovdiv is active in educational activities as well. The club regularly donates books and teaching aids to community centers, libraries, and schools. HCP conducts joint activities with the Ivanka and Georgi Yankovi Foundation to encourage talented children who write haiku; for example in 2020 Golden Autumn, a national haiku competition, was held for children aged 5–13. The Yankovi Foundation also facilitates the participation of Bulgarian children in the annual Japan Air Lines haiku competitions; verses by 25 young people from Bulgaria, including 3 from Asenovgrad, were included in the 2020 JAL Foundation’s children’s haiku anthology on the topic of sports.
Members of the club Svetla Pacheva-Karabova, Stoianka Boianova, and Minko Tanev were also delegates to two international meetings: the 2nd International Haiku Conference in Kraków, Poland (May 15–17, 2015) and the British Haiku Society International Haiku Conference in St Albans, U.K. (May 31–June 2, 2019). In 2015 at an international conference organized by the Color Group Bulgaria (Група „Цвят“, България), Boianova and Tanev presented their paper “Light—Protuberance and Reflections in Some Haiku Projections in the Bulgarian Word” on the use of light and color in haiku.
In July 2005, the 3rd World Haiku Association Conference convened in Sofia, the first time Bulgaria had hosted an international haiku event. Three WHA dignitaries, Ban’ya Natsuishi of Japan, Alain Kervern of France, and David G. Lanoue of the U.S.A., as well as delegates from 40 countries, were in attendance. After the close of sessions in Sofia, participants traveled to Plovdiv and were welcomed at the Ethnographic Museum by HCP leaders Bikov and Yankova as well as civic and business luminaries. The festivities concluded with a haiku reading by the international visitors, including Natsuishi, Kervern, Lanoue, Casamiro de Brito of Portugal, Dragan J. Ristić of Serbia, Dmitry Kudrya of Russia, and others.
HCP members have been responsive to tragedies and crises around the world. A special Prayer for Japan meeting was held in 2011: four club members presented their work in the One Hundred Works of World Art for Fukushima initiative. Plovdiv poets have composed haiku in support of the victims of the flooding in Serbia and Bosnia. They have submitted works in recognition of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day in Japan. At the 2015 conference dedicated to Czesław Miłosz in Kraków, Poland, 2015, HCP representatives joined in signing in a petition to register haiku with the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage project.
Publishing collections of their haiku and introducing them to the public at book launches and public readings are important activities for HCP members. From 2004 to 2019, eleven haiku books, six collections of poems with haiku and tercets, and five books with haiku cycles were published by members. The first book of haiku to be published by the Haiku Club Plovdiv itself was Прагове / Thresholds (2005), inaugurated by Ivanka Yankova and edited Todor Bikov; it contains work by 16 poets in Bulgarian with English translations.
In 2014 Dilyana Georgieva, Darina Deneva and Vessislava Savova launched their trilingual book Кибритени лодки / Matchbox Boats / Лодки из спичечных коробков at the Petnoto na Rorshah club in Plovdiv with haiku reading and a lively discussion. In October 2016 Plovdiv haiku fans and writers participated in a haiku workshop and the book presentation of Островитянско хайку (Shimajin Haiku) by Iliyana Stoyanova. Other book launches by poets from the club include: Lidia Sirakova in 2004, Maria Ribarova, and Maria Bolgurova as well as the rengay book Капризи / Whimsies by BHU members Georgieva and Savova in 2018. In 2017 a special poetry gathering marked Ivanka Yankova’s 80th birthday as well as the launch of her book Лотосът на безкрая: цикъл хайку (Lotosat na bezkraya: tsikal haiku; The Lotus of Infinity: Haiku Cycle). In 2019 several literary events took place: the launch of Ribarova’s bilingual tanka book Споделени въздишки: японски петстишия (Spodeleni vazdishki: yaponski petstishiya; Shared Sighs: Japanese Quintains); haiku readings from Bolgurova’s book Сияние отвътре (Siyanie otvatre) and a discussion focused on writing modern, in particular two-line, haiku; the launch of the bilingual collection Върхове под звездите / Tops under the Stars (2019) by Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev; and an evening reading in memory of Vangelia Atanasova led by her husband, Atanas Rashkov. In 2021 Tanev and Boianova presented Път през светове / Road Through Worlds and introduced the gogyōshi and ukiah / reversed haiku forms to club members.
A list of books and chapbooks published by members of Haiku Club Plovdiv appears at the end of this article.
Participation in haiku competitions
Over the years, the Bulgarian Haiku Union has awarded and honored: Atanas Rashkov, Vangelia Atanasova, Svetla Pacheva–Karabova; and First prize from Haiku Club Sofia, 2019 for Tsvetanka Georgieva.
Haiku Club Plovdiv poets have regularly won recognition in national contests sponsored by the Sofia-based Bulgarian Haiku Union. Laureates have included Ivanka Yankova (1st–7th BHU contests, 2013–2020), Minko Tanev (2nd, 2014, and 5th–7th, 2017–2020); Tsvetanka Georgieva (3rd, 2015, and 6th, 2019); Stoianka Boianova (4th, 2016, and 5th, 2017); and Svetla Pacheva (6th, 2019).
Plovdiv poets have also won distinction in the annual BHU-sponsored International Cherry Blossom Haiku Contest—Boianova in the first and fourth competitions (2015 and 2019), and Tanev, Ribarova, and Polizov in the fourth.
Boianova also received recognition in a haiku and senryu contest held in conjunction with the conference titled Wind Bearers—Aesthetics and Philosophy of Haiku Poetry. Tanev had a winning haiku in the 10th national competition of the Haiku Club Sofia (2017). Ani Staykova-Ivanova won first prize in the Melnik Poetry Evening in Melnik, Bulgaria, in 2012.
Since 2005 Haiku Club Plovdiv members have successfully competed in haiku contests in eastern and southeastern European countries, notably Kiril Dimitrov (Croatia, 2005); Stoianka Boianova (Poland, 2015 and 2018); Ani Staykova-Ivanova (Montenegro, 2017, and Serbia, 2019); Ivanka Yankova (Russia and Serbia, 2018; Romania, 2019). Two Plovdiv poets have won awards in the Japanese Yamadera Bashō Memorial Museum English Haiku Contest: Yankova (10th contest, 2018) and Staykova-Ivanova (11th contest, 2019). Tanev won a Gold Star and Boianova won a Silver Star in the 18th competition (2020) of the Literature Lovers Association, a global society based in India. Besides their contest wins, Boianova (2018, 2019, and 2020) and Tanev (2020) were listed among the European Top 100 Most Creative Haiku Authors. Both poets have also been recognized for their work in other Asian short-verse forms such as the Japanese five-line gogyōshi and the Korean sijo.
Looking to the future, Haiku Club Plovdiv hoped to organize more events to attract young people. After a suspension of club activities in 2020 because of the Covid restrictions, the HCP had resumed in-person meetings by mid-2021, and and was planning discussions about recent work of British Haiku Society members Frank Williams and Iliyana Stoyanova and Serbian haikuist Dejan Bogojević as well as the latest issues of haiku journals: Haiku Svyat (Bulgaria), Haiku Novine (Serbia), and Albatros (Romania).
SOURCES / FURTHER READING
Books and chapbooks by members of Haiku Club Plovdiv and others
- Atanasova, Vangelia. Препрочитайки себе си: цикъл хайку (Preprochitaiki sebe si: tsikal haiku; Rereading Myself: Haiku Cycle). Sofia: Izdatelsko atelie Ab, 2018.
- Atanasova, Vangelia. Животът, който ни е подарен (Zhivotat, koyto ni e podaren; The Life Given to Us). Sofia: Izdatelsko atelie Ab, 2008.
- Bikov, Todor, ed. Прагове (Pragove) / Thresholds. Plovdiv, Bulgaria: Klub na deyshtite na kulturata / Plovdiv: Haiku Club Plovdiv, 2005. Anthology of the work of 16 members of the Haiku Club Plovdiv, in Bulgarian and English.
- Bikov, Todor. Стихосложения: цикъл хайку (Stihoslozheniya: tsikal haiku; Poems: Haiku Cycle). Sofia: Bulgarski pisatel, 2012.
- Boianova, Stoianka, and Minko Tanev. Върхове под звездите / Tops Under the Stars. Allahabad, India: Cyberwit.net, 2019. In Bulgarian and English.
- Boianova, Stoianka. Невидим благослов (Nevidim blagoslov; An Invisible Blessing). Atanas Seikov Foundation, Sofia, 2015.
- Boianova, Stoianka, and Minko Tanev. Път през светове / Road through worlds. Allahabad, India: Cyberwit.net, 2021. In Bulgarian and English.
- Bolgurova, Maria Nikolova. Сияние отвътре (Siyanie otvatre). Intelexpert-94, Plovdiv, 2019.
- Georgieva, Dilyana, Darina Deneva, and Vessislava Savova. Кибритени лодки / Matchbox Boats / Лодки из спичечных коробков. 33 haiku in Bulgarian, English, and Russian.
- Kireva-Popova, Aleksandra. На крилете на мъдростта: хайку, поезия, афоризми (Na krilete na madrostta: haiku, poeziya, aforizmi; On the Wings of Wisdom: Haiku, Poetry, Aphorisms). Plovdiv: FastPrintBooks, 2013.
- Kireva-Popova, Aleksandra. Пътуване през сезоните (Patuvane prez sezonite; Journey Through the Seasons). Plovdiv: University Publishing Paisii Hilendarski, 2012.
- Kireva-Popova, Aleksandra. Равновесие (Ravnovesie; Equilibrium). Asenovgrad: Ecobelan, 2006.
- Kireva-Popova, Aleksandra. Сенки от есента (Senki ot esenta; Autumn Shadows). Plovdiv: University Publishing Paisii Hilendarski, 2015.
- Kireva-Popova, Aleksandra. Хайбуни, хайку, тристишия (Haibuni, haiku, tristishiya; Haibun, Haiku, Tercets). Plovdiv: FastPrintBooks, 2015.
- Ribarova, Maria. Споделени въздишки: японски петстишия (Spodeleni vazdishki: yaponski petstishiya; Shared Sighs: Japanese Quintains). Plovdiv: Intelectexpert-94, 2019. Tanka.
- Sirakova, Lidiya. Горещ йероглиф / A hot hieroglyph / Горячий иероглиф (Goresht yeroglif: haiku/ A Hot Hieroglyph / Goryachiy ieroglif). Plovdiv: no publisher [Khorizonti]; digital edition Plovdiv: Letera, 2004. Haiku in Bulgarian, English, and Russian.
- Stavreva, Slavka. Прошката на ириса (Proshkata na irisa; The Forgiveness of the Iris). Asenovgrad: Ecobelan, 2015.
- Stoyanova, Iliyana. Островитянско хайку (Ostrovityansko haiku) (Shimajin haiku). Sofia: Maria Arabadjieva Ltd., 2010. Photo haiga.
- Tanev, Minko. Небесен блян: цикъл хайку (Nebesen blyan: tsikal haiku; Heavenly Dream: Haiku Cycle). Sofia: Bulgarska knizhnitsa, 2013.
- Yankova, Ivanka, Aleksandra Ivoylova, and Zornitza Harizanova, eds. Отвъд думите: Хайку антология (Otvad dumite: haiku antologiya) / Beyond Words: Haiku Anthology. Sofia: Farago, 2018. Haiku by 37 members of the British Haiku Society and 83 poets from the Bulgarian Haiku Union and the Haiku Club—Plovdiv.
- Yankova, Ivanka. Лотосът на безкрая: цикъл хайку (Lotosat na bezkraya: tsikal haiku; The Lotus of Infinity: Haiku Cycle). Plovdiv: Imeon, 2017.
- Yankova, Ivanka. Утре пак ще бъдем пак будни: хайку (Utre shte badem pak budni: haiku; Tomorrow We’ll Be Awake Again). Plovdiv: IMI, 2004. In Bulgarian; illustrations.
HCP poets’ work in anthologies
- Aizu, Taro, chief editor, and Nilandri Mahajan, editor. The Second Anthology of World Gogyoshi. Poetry Planet Publishing House, 2019. Gogyōshi by Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Aizu, Taro, chief editor, and Sigma Sathish and Nilandri Mahajan, editors. The First Anthology of World Gogyoshi. Published privately, 2019. Gogyōshi by Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Aizu, Taro. The Third Anthology of World Gogyoshi. Published privately, 2020. Gogyōshi by Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Bashō Memorial Museum Competition anthologies, 10th and 11th editions. Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Bilyarska, Ginka, compiler. Пътят: антология на съвременното световно хайку (Patyat: antologiya na savremennoto svetovno haiku; The Road: World Haiku Anthology). Sofia: Bulgarian Haiku Club, 2004. Lidia Sirakova and Ivanka Yankova.
- Bingham, David, and Iliyana Stoyanova, eds. Where Silence Becomes Song: International Haiku Conference Anthology. St Albans, U.K.: British Haiku Society, 2019. Svetla Pacheva-Karabova, Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Epstein, Robert, ed.All the Way Home: Aging in Haiku. West Union, W.Va.: Middle Island Press, 2019. Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Kania, Robert, Krzysztof Kokot, Lidia Rozmus, and Charles Trumbull, eds. Antologia Haiku: Druga Międznarodowa Konferencja Haiku / Haiku Anthology: Second International Haiku Conference. Kraków, Poland: Museum Manggha, 2015. Svetla Pacheva-Karabova, Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Kloštranski haiku zbornik / The Kloštar Ivanić Haiku Miscellany, Kloštar Ivanić, Croatia, 2004 and 2005. Svetla Pacheva-Karabova, Kiril Dimitrov, and Ivanka Yankova.
- Kumar, Santosh, ed. Haiku: A Concise Anthology. Allahabad, India: Cyberwit.net, 2018. 5 haiku by each of 40 poets from more than 20 countries.
- Kumar, Santosh, ed. Horizon: The Haiku Anthology. Allahabad, India: Cyberwit.net, 2018. Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Oda / Ort der Angeu (Germany, 2007) incl. Biser Damyanov, Ivan Roydov, Ivan Yanev, Ivanka Yankova, Minko Tanev.
- Poletan, Goran, et al. Na kraju dana / На края на деня / At the End of the Day. Novi Sad, Serbia: Sfera—The Centre of Ecology, Ethnology and Culture and CEP, 2005. Kiril Dimitrov and Ivanka Yankova.
- Tchouhov, Petar. Прегръдки за непознати (Pregradki za nepoznati) / Free Hugs to Strangers. Sofia: Stolichna Biblioteka, 2016. Minko Tanev and Stoianka Boianova.
Print periodicals that have published the work of HCP poets
- Albatros: Revista Societatii de haiku din Constanța—România / Albatross: Magazine of the Constantza Haiku Society—Romania (journal).
- World Haiku (Japan, edited by Ban’ya Natsuishi and the World Haiku Association, annual). Lidia Sirakova and Ivanka Yankova in 2004; and Ivanka Yankova, Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev in 2006, 2007, and 2016–2020).
- Haiku Novine (Niš, Serbia). Ivanka Yankova, Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- en un éclair: la Lettre de Haïkouest (Josselin, France). Minko Tanev.
- Хайку свят/ Haiku Svyat (Bulgarian Haiku Union, Sofia)
- Вестител (Vestitel; Asenovgrad, newspaper).
- Марица (Maritsa; Plovdiv, newspaper, 2014).
- Нов вечерник (Nov Vechernik; Asenovgrad, magazine).
- Osvit (Serbia). Stoianka Boianova.
- Приятелство (Priyatelstvo; newspaper, Plovdiv, 2009, 2012–2014).
- Родово имение (Rodovo Imenie; Sofia, newspaper, 2019).
- Taj Mahal Review (Santosh Kumar, editor, Allahabad, India; journal). Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
- Time Haiku (U.K., Diana Webb, editor; journal). Stoianka Boianova and Minko Tanev.
Digital publications, websites, blogs, and online kukai that have published the work of HCP poets
- Akita—Land of Poetry (Hidenori Hiruta, editor, Akita International Haiku Network, Akita, Japan: https://akitahaiku.com/tag/akita-the-land-of-poetry/). Minko Tanev and Stoianka Boianova.
- Daily Haiku – USA Charlotte Digregorio’s Writer’s Blog—Daily Haiku: https://charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com . Stoianka Boianova.
- European Kukai (Robert Kania and Krzysztof Kokot, editors, Poznan, Poland: http://europeankukai.blogspot.com). Vangelia Atanasova, Nastya Bayraktarova, Stoianka Boianova, Aleksandra Kireva, Svetla Pacheva-Karabova, Atanas Rashkov, Slavka Ilieva Stavreva, Minko Tanev, Ivanka Yankova.
- Indian Kukai from IN Haiku (Kala Ramesh, editor, Pune, India: https://indiankukai.blogspot.com). Stoianka Boianova, Minko Tanev, Ivanka Yankova.
- The Mamba (Adjei Agyei-Baah, editor, Africa Haiku Network, Ghana: https://africahaikunetwork.wordpress.com/contact/). Minko Tanev.
- !Ploc¡ La lettre du haïku (Dominique Chipot, editor, Association pour la Promotion du Haïku, Seichamps, France: http://www.100pour100haiku.fr/toutploc_revue.html).
- World Haiku Review (Susumu Takiguchi, editor, World Haiku Club, London and Oxford, U.K.; journal: https://sites.google.com/site/worldhaikureview2/)