Haiku For Syracuse

On Memorial Day, freedom is one of many blessings we celebrate.  As a special day of remembrance, Memorial Day is also a reminder of the costs of freedom–including the costs to those we continue to protect against tyranny.  As they make the oft-times wrenching decision to leave their homeland behind, people from around the globe who flee war, political oppression and poverty, hope that freedom, safety and a better life will one day be theirs.

One of the main themes of this year‘s Syracuse Poster Project Series was that of Syracuse as a City of Welcome–for the hundreds of refugees and immigrants who set sail for the United States, many land here in Central New York!  Two artists, Nicora Gangi and Nada Odeh, were commissioned by the Poster Project to illustrate this theme.  Local poets were given the opportunity to write and submit haiku inspired by the beautiful images displayed in the two posters.  As you can see below, the haiku chosen for these two posters–one by long time Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Vinh Dang and the other, by poet, Jean Fahey–were splendid.

At the April unveiling, which happened to fall as it always does during National Poetry Month, artist, Nada Odeh, spoke of what inspired her to create her illustration and why she chose Vinh Dang’s haiku: “…. The boat image in my poster represents the crisis of the refugees seeking hope and a safe place to stay. It portrays a strong visual and overwhelming emotions while questioning how these people had to go through such harsh living conditions in their native countries. They are seeking refuge in another country and hoping to be welcome regardless of their origin or political status. The reason why I chose this haiku is because it speaks for me in a simple way and reminds me of how I feel about living in Syracuse.”  

Poet, Vinh Dang, a quiet spoken gentleman, recalled his own journey from Vietnam to America and the challenges of  building a new home in Syracuse while still keeping memories of his homeland close to his heart.  2018Dang_OdehHis haiku was inspired by these memories, as he stated, “…But what most inspired me was the greyish blue smoke flowing out of each family’s thatched roof, where mothers and wives were cooking the evening meal, promising a sweet reunion of the whole family under an oil lamp.”

 

White clouds drifting where? Over ocean or dark wood. Homeland hearth–blue smoke

 

Artist, Nicora Gangi, was unable to attend the event’s festivities, but she writes about her work, “…. I envisioned a round table positioned at the center to illustrate symbolically a place where a culture meal is shared, one’s national stories can be told, and events past, present or future can be discussed. A variety of written languages decorated the borders of the image to refer to the nations. There is a Syracuse city skyline in the background to convey that the city is here to welcome all nations from around the globe.”  

Ms. Gangi’s illustration spoke to Jean Fahey’s pride in Syracuse as a Sanctuary City.  She writes, “…We are their beacon of hope, the promise for a better tomorrow. 2018Fahey_GangiOur city was named for a beautiful city in Sicily by people who fled there to start a new life; for freedom and a chance to be anything they want to become. Since then, other people from different countries have fled here for different reasons but seeking the same dream. We are their light in the darkness. We are their new home.”

 

A beacon of hope, city of welcoming arms–a place to call home

 

You can find photos from the April unveiling event, here.  Please be sure to check out the other beautiful and inspired posters from the 2018 Series, here, or in designated kiosks throughout downtown Syracuse.  And, don’t forget, if you love these posters, you can always purchase them at our online shop, here!

So, if you are new to these pages or to our fair city of Syracuse…Welcome!

This is your home,                                                                                                                                          you whisper in my ear.  Here is                                                                                                                      where your roots will grow.                                                                                                                                                              By Karen Krull Robart

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A Memorial Day Post

                 Run run Jerry run / freedom is at hand oh Lord / helpful hands stretch out                                                                                          by Pat Flowers (Columbus 2006)

Originally referred to in the late 1860’s as Decoration Day–a day of remembrance when mourners could grace the graves of the Civil War’s dead with flowers–Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971.  It remains a day of solemn observance; a day reserved to honor and remember all Americans who have died while serving in our country’s military service.

                    Heroes defended / Liberty and freedom rang / Stars and stripes rippled                                                                                              by Michelle Miles (Amman, Jordan 2016)

Memorial Day is also a day to celebrate our freedom, the unique cause that these American servicemen and servicewomen died for.

                   Souls of the soldiers / march and quiet names surround / Freedom’s arena                                                                                         by Mark Shevalier (Henderson 2007)

Over the last few decades, Memorial Day has also come to be known as the unofficial start of Summer.  Marked with patriotic parades, major sporting events, family gatherings and barbecues, Memorial Day is still a shared American tradition.

Our featured haiku poster this Memorial Day is from our 2004 Series.  It was written by frequent contributor, Jay Cox and illustrated by former Syracuse University student, Steve Kim.  We think you’ll agree, the poster exemplifies the beauty of our monuments to peace, freedom and remembrance.

The blue sky ripples / and clouds stream by in the water / fountain reflections2004Cox_Kim

However you observe this Memorial Day–whether it’s laying a wreath or raising a flag, marching along with a parade or gathering with family, watching a ballgame or enjoying the evening’s fireworks–safe travels!

Birds coax forth the dawn. / She smiles and all turns golden. / Our lake beams its thanks…                                                            by Patricia Ziemba (Syracuse 2010)

 

A Haiku Reflection on Memorial Day

A well-written Haiku can say a lot in only a few words and syllables–it can tell a story and even express deep emotions; it can also be political and make us pause to reflect upon the world around us. Like other forms of poetry, haiku can speak to war and peace, heroes and fallen soldiers, victory and defeat, freedom and sacrifice.

Among many things, this poster from our 2003 Syracuse Poster Project collection beautifully reflects the haunting memories of war. The haiku was written by poet, Bryan Wilbur, and illustrated by former Syracuse University illustration student, Robert Franceschini.

Emptiness echoes / around monuments. A man / remembers shadows.

16 Wilbur & Franceschini

Wherever you find yourself this Memorial Day–whether it’s laying a wreath or raising a flag, marching along with a parade or gathering with family for a barbecue, watching a ballgame or enjoying the evening’s fireworks–we wish you well!