Chesapeake Bay

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Chesapeake Bay Saijiki

As a poet living and writing in the ‘Chesapeake Country’, the area in and around the Chesapeake Bay (and I do mean ‘in’, I sail!), my poetry is deeply steeped in the place where I live. I write for myself and my friends and I am not concerned about being ‘world famous,’ what matters most to me is that those I share my poetry with find a truthfulness and sincerity in it as well as artistic merit. All my poems are written out of real experience.

Unfortunately, when I began to submit my poems to public perusal, I had some editors and others complain that my poems were ‘too specific’ and that ‘nobody’ would understand them. I did not care to make my poems more generic because they weren't ‘universal’ poems, they were local poems.

I think we need local poems to express and recognize our own local cultures and to communicate amongst ourselves. If outsiders never understand them, that’s okay. On the other hand, I do think that some people genuinely want to understand places and cultures different from their own, and that therefore local poetry will have universal appeal to people who are willing to open their hearts to difference.

The saijiki, or seasonal haiku almanac, seems an excellent way both to gather a body of poetry rooted in a particular time and place, and to present it in a way that visitors can understand it without depriving it of what makes it unique.

The Chesapeake Bay is on the East Coast of North America.
The cities of Baltimore and Washington, DC, are located on its shores. It is completely surrounded by the states of Maryland and Virginia. Its largest tributary is the Susquehanna River, which rises in upstate New York and runs across three states to empty into the Chesapeake, it is the longest river on the East Coast. It supplies about half the water for the bay. Other large rivers, such as the Potomac and Patapsco also flow into it, and innumerable small waterways.

Thus the Chesapeake Bay watershed is actually quite large. However, when we speak of 'Chesapeake Country', we actually mean the counties that cluster around it and whose economies in the old days were directly tied to the bay. This spawned the waterman's culture. While the waterman's culture is not the only culture in the area, other cultures, such as those of the European-American farmers, are amply represented in other regions as well as here. Thus the Chesapeake brings together many diverse peoples, each of which makes their contribution.

If you have seen the paintings of Andrew Wyeth, he lives and paints right on the edge of this region. He lives in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, which is a hop, skip, and a jump from here, but there is a subtle dividing line -- which we locals instinctively grasp -- so he cannot be called a 'Chesapeake painter.' The distinction is a cultural one as well as geographic. When I have crossed the state line into Pennsylvania, I can tell, even when there is no sign posted. Pennsylvania just feels different. It looks different. Even the land looks different.

I hope others who love this region as much as I do will join me in composing a haiku almanac for the Chesapeake Country.

M. Kei, April 2006
Editor of the Chesapeake Bay Saijiki


List of Contributors, in alphabetical order

With grateful appreciation for those who have contributed poems, stories, kigo entries, information, images, editing, formatting, encouragement, publication, and all the myriad details that go into making a work of this nature. Without the generous help of volunteers, none of this would be possible.
~ M. Kei, Editor

Harry Armstead, US -- ornithologist, poet
Paul Cassidy, US -- poet
Susan Delphine Delaney, US -- poet
Denis Garrison, US -- poet
Gail Greene, US -- poet
Gabi Greve, JP -- webmaster
maXine caRey harKer, US -- poet
Captain Byshe Hicks, US -- waterman, poet
Amora Johnson, US -- student, poet
Jim Kacian, US -- poet
M. Kei, US -- saijiki editor, poet
Tei Matsushita, US -- painter, poet
Carol Raisfeld, US -- poet
US Fish and Wildlife -- images copyright free
WikiCommons -- images used in accordance with copyright and licensing agreement(s) accompanying each image.
World Kigo Database -- host site

All works used with permission of the authors or in accordance with publically posted license/copyright agreements. All rights reserved to the respective copyright holders. If you desire to reprint or republish, please contact the copyright holder directly to obtain the necessary permissions.

Last Updated May 2006


Some LINKs to the Area

Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Save the Bay !
The Bay region is losing farms and a way of life.

Environmental Problems
Find out how March's record low river flow could impact Bay ecosystem conditions this summer. http://www.chesapeakebay.net/


Ellen Compton, Chesapeake Haijin

fifth of july
the wavelets shifting …
… shifting
.................the jellyfish


ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

MDOsprey Archives, including Chesapeake haiku

Bloodsworth, Holland, Smith,
Spring, Pone, Tangier, James, South Marsh,
the Foxes, and Watts.

Terrapin Sand Point
and Okahanikan Cove -
names alone are good.

Harry Armistead


Write a Chesapeake Bay Haiku

Tap your inner poet by constructing a Bay haiku. Since the 17th century, this traditional Japanese poetry has become popular for its brevity and richness. Haiku usually focuses on the present and implies deeper meaning or truth hidden in surface observations.

For optimum haiku conditions, grab your pencil and notebook and head to a quiet spot. For poetic muse, retreat to a favorite natural setting and absorb all the sights, smells, textures and sounds around you. Pay close attention to a frog waiting by the pond, a heron deliberately stepping through shoreline water, lightning illuminating lavender clouds, sunlight shifting through late afternoon leaves or the first firefly of the season.

Algae — graceful in
Swiftly flowing waters but
Quite treacherous

While haiku traditionally gathers inspiration from nature, let your poetic license guide you. Get haiku-inspired from anywhere: children playing, sailboats sliding through the water or sparkling dinner-party laughter at dusk.

Stoplight turns yellow
Nail it through intersection
Immense relief

You can even dive into memory and pull images that had special meaning, such as star-gazing from the back porch of your favorite aunt's Bayside house.

Ice cold hose water
Jets through backyard sprinkler
Children shriek with delight

Use details of these observations to shape your haiku.
Challenge yourself to put a quirky spin on a common object or thing, like the way a pigeon's head bobs like a sewing machine needle. Create a haiku that evokes a feeling or mood by the imagery, like the cool breeze before a storm.

Temperature shifts
Wind shows underside of leaves
Faint thunder rumbles

Even if no one sees your haiku, revel in the pleasure of writing one just for yourself.
© The Bay Weekly


Chesapeake Bay Saijiki

The Category "Earth" has been renamed "Earth and Sea". This may require a bit of explanation.

The sea, rivers, and lakes are traditionally placed in the category of ‘earth’ in saijiki, but since the Chesapeake Bay is the defining characteristic of this saijiki, the thing that makes it different from all other saijiki, ‘earth’ seemed a bit of a misnomer. The land and water interpenetrate one another, with innumerable points and rivers lacing together thousands of miles of shoreline for a sea that is only about two hundred and fifty miles from north to south.

In the old days, the boat, not the horse was the preferred method of transportation because a boat was (and still is) the most direct route between almost any two destinations. Alas, with the rise of the automobile, the old ferries and passenger ships have mostly (but not completely) disappeared

Chesapeake Bay Saijiki: Spring

Chesapeake Bay Saijiki: Summer

Chesapeake Bay Saijiki: Autumn

Chesapeake Bay Saijiki: Winter / New Year

Chesapeake Bay Saijiki: Non-seasonal topics, miscellaneous

Related words

***** World Kigo Database : North American Saijiki LIST


Back to the Worldkigo Index



Anonymous said...

Royal greetings!

Majestic, magical site.

I portray Princess Elizabeth, daughter to King James for whom the Elizabeth River was named in the early 1600's by Capt. John Smith. The river runs through the four cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach of the royal state of Virginia. I am the river's key spokesperson and educator.

The Captain, sailed down from Jamestown, Virginia noting,"the pines are tall, wetlands are lush and the wildlife spectacular" and the Elizabeth won his heart. Unfortunately, she is noted as the most polluted river on the Bay today although her surface sparkles like diamonds on a princess's tiara.

The river is highly degraded and has toxic hot spots of heavy metals etc. that have settled to the bottom, while other areas are healthy and very much alive with dolphin, fish, crabs and oysters that have adapted to her current state. With most of the toxins at the bottom, we have a fun slogan about the river. "Help clean Elizabeth River's bottom, the GOO MUST GO!"

I discovered your site while doing a bit of research and thought I would send you a royal quick thought about my royal home river.

There is a river
Royal and regal is she
In search of a knight
To slay the toxic dragon
at her golden feet.

Princess Elizabeth

A Journal of Poetry of Place in Contemporary Tanka said...


BayWeekly Magazine has posted its Summer 2007 Supplement, and 'Pen a Poem' is #5 on the list of 'How to Have Fun on the Bay.' This summer's list features Chesapeake Bay themed TANKA, the five line poem that is the ancestor of the haiku.


M. Kei
Editor, Chesapeake Bay Saijiki

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