Saturday, November 8, 2008

Masoka Shiki and the Cosmic Baseball Association

Following Thursday's post, I got an email from the intrepid Ed Baker, pointing out that Masoka Shiki was such a great fan of baseball that he was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Here's the link Ed sent along.

Which got me to thinking about a great site that's been around quite sometime: the Cosmic Baseball Association. I've linked here to the All-Time rosters page as the homepage has a little political flavor right now that might be confusing (though it is non-partisan) to start out with.

In fact, the whole site may seem a bit confusing, but I urge you to feel it first and think about it later. I recommend you just choose a team in the right hand column and follow the links try (try "Beats" first - actual team name: Dharma Beats). Once you get the flavor (and your mind starts drifting away like you were playing right field on a bright August afternoon with your ace on the mound), click back to the homepage and check out the links along the left hand side.

Finally, to put all this in proper perspective, Ed also sent along a link to an archive of Shiki's work from the University of Virginia that is well worth checking out.

Thanks, Ed, for stoking the cerebral furnace early on a Saturday morning ...



Deborah P Kolodji said...

Did you notice that on the link Ed sent, they list Shiki's date of death as September 19, 2002 instead of 1902?

Just think of how much he would have written if he really lived that long!

Greg Schwartz said...

Shiki did so much for haiku, it's a shame a lot of people don't think he was as important as the other three masters. Maybe he's still too "new."

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Ha! No I missed that - they seem to have retyped the date for his induction in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame! Considering he only lived to 35, I have to say I can't even imagine what he would have written.


I would agree except this thing about him being the 4th of the great 4 haiku masters - it makes me wonder. I did some investigating and there are not very many volumes devoted to his work alone, which frankly surprised me. And I don't mean currently in print, I mean ever published in English translation. What I've read this week in anthologies seems to assert that he wrote a number of the best haiku ever written - that number is relatively small and evidently he was a master technician, but maybe that was enough.


Ed Baker said...

maybe he jused "pissed off" the Poetry Community with an "off-the-wall" posture and prefered to produce beyond the pale?

art/poems...jeeze he (seems to have been) "in it for the poetry" defining "poetry" in it s larger sense of the word..

seems to me the WHS Club does something that they call a "shiki" but, I cld be wrong

Ed Baker said...

well, read that terebess link..

shiki was it seems throughout his life bedridden due to tuberculosis

his greates pleasures: writing little poems and eating fruit.

and, seems he did walk about when he could with his friends and wrote about what they came-across thus "shiki" is what they do at present day haiku club meetings they walk around seeking "haiku moments"

Masaoka thought that Buson was THE Greatest haiku poet... and a bit of wine added to the humor of... etc.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Yes, especially bed-ridden in the last years of his life - spinal tuberculosis - they said he was a cranky bastard, no wonder. There is one haiku about a gardener removing a tree limb to allow more light into the room from which he viewed the outside while lying in bed, others about trying to determine how deep the snow was and seeing various foliage poking out of new snow from the same spot.

There is a place online entitled "Shiki's Internet Haiku Salon" which has a haiku contest - you sent me a link that is from their site.


Ed Baker said...

speaking/seeing/of "flower" and "snow":
(this out of Wild Orchid)

these so many things you mention since my stroke (july 15,2003) just 'willy-nilly' come in and go out of my brain where I assume my mind resides... AND I can rediscover things that I have forgotten/let go of just an instant ago!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


That is very akin to the Shiki poem, I'll find it and maybe in the next Shiki post, which I'm thinking is going to happen when I take in some more of his work. Been reading the Higginson, some Blyth, a Dover collection that assembles various translators and a British collection called "Classic Haiku" that is beautiful looking but not so good translation wise (think I got it at the British Museum store) -

We all need to keep our heads poking out of the snow ...