Haiku Poetry Lovers Association Santoka is named after Taneda Santōka, one of the most famous and influential Japanese haiku poets of twentieth century.

Santoka is a voluntary, non-governmental and non-profit association, established and based in Belgrade, Serbia. The association deals with publishing activity and the organization of poetic meetings, promotions, workshops, exhibitions, seminars and festivals of haiku poetry.

The aim is to affirm haiku poetry and encourage young artists to write poetic miniatures in the form of haiku. The president of the association is haiku poet Damir Janjalija (Damir Damir), whose work has been published in most of the major contemporary haiku anthologies.

Taneda Santōka is considered a unique proponent of free verse haiku poetry. A wandering poet and ascetic Zen priest for the last fifteen years of his life, Santōka emphasized many of the essential qualities of Zen Buddhism in his verse including mujo (impermanence), the necessity of sabi (solitude), the importance of wabi (simplicity) in life, and the pervasive sadness that accompanies all human affairs.

Many of his poems point toward the Zen goal of overcoming this ubiquitous melancholy by achieving spiritual enlightenment and serenity.

“Real haiku is the soul of poetry. Anything that is not actually present in one’s heart is not haiku. The moon glows, flowers bloom, insects cry, water flows. There is no place we cannot find flowers or think of the moon. This is the essence of haiku. Go beyond the restrictions of your era, forget about purpose or meaning, separate yourself from historical limitations – there you will find the essence of true art, religion and science.”

– Santōka Taneda

Santōka’s back, a photo taken by 近木圭之介 Chikaki Keinosuke (Shimonoseki, 1933)