Masters of Sabi


till the last lamppost
rhythm of temple bells

Arvinder Kaur

fireplace smoke
we breathe in
the moon’s aura

Arvinder Kaur

  Arvinder Kaur specializes in English literature and Media Studies. As a poet of the Japanese short forms she has been published in many haiku journals of national and international repute. Her first book of haiku ‘Nimolian ‘written in her mother tongue Punjabi was published in 2013. Subsequently’ dandelion seeds’, a bilingual presentation was published in 2015. She introduced cherita to the readers of Hindi and Punjabi when she translated ai li’s cherita from English to the chosen vernacular and the book is entitled ‘under raintrees’. ‘Fireflies in the rubble’, a collection of haiku/ senryu came out in 2022 and has been published by Red River Press, Delhi. Arvinder Kaur lives in Chandigarh with her family.


Arvinder Kaur provides a true treat with these two verses, transporting, translating sabi powerfully into the dominions of the senses, demonstrating spectacularly with finesse and brevity how this idea may be variously felt (from the hard ground with one’s weary feet), heard (in the bells’ plaintive chime), seen (with the moon’s lonely halo), smelled (through the dense smoke), tasted (on the night air). A sumptuous banquet of impressions meticulously cataloguing the complex feelings, some less pleasant, endured while inhabiting our frail and fragile, fallible mortal forms. As we see elsewhere in this showcase flame and immolation are an effective source of sabi, reminder of transitory configurations which is lent additional consequences being harnessed by an Indian author in a milieu where cremation is a popular final disposition method, and the funeral pyre a familiar and time-honored sight with far reaching associations. The motifs of the fireplace and lampposts present a sort of trajectory and direction, leading in the first composition to music, in the other toward the heavens, two sides of a parallel coin which one could conceivably relate to ascension, epiphany, sartori, or moksha potentially. A phenomenally polished and classical set of pieces which pack an almost astonishing quantity of diverse information into a few words, this work makes a resounding testament to Arvinder Kaur as poet and wordsmith, whose writings could equally charm the haikuists of earlier halcyon eras. We’re very lucky to be cohabiting this flourishing period for English haikai, and a digital age where missives can travel from the Midwestern united states to Chandigarh instantaneously! One should also note the sometimes fatal suggestions of bells tolling, most famously immortalized in a certain proverb, and reiterated through a Hemingway novel it informed and inspired. Still, a harmonious sound... 

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