EU's "Haiku Herman" launches first poetry book

Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:19pm EDT
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By Sangeeta Shastry

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The president of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy, set aside politics to launch his first anthology of Japanese-style poetry on Thursday.

Dubbed "Haiku Herman" for his love of the 17-syllable Japanese verse form, the normally quiet and serious Van Rompuy smiled and cracked jokes as he read several of his recent compositions to a packed audience at the book launch.

"A poet remains best away from politics, at least in political action," the grey and bespectacled former Belgian prime minister said of his poet-politician double life.

"In that sense I am a politician. A haiku poet rather than a haiku poet-politician."

The 40 or so poems in the anthology, written over the past six years, are collated under chapter headings such as "seasons," "moments" and "on the road," with the tight verses focused intensely on nature and the passage of time.

"In a nearby ditch

Toads mating passionately

Inaugurate spring," reads one poem.   Continued...

<p>The European Union's President Herman Van Rompuy signs a book collecting haiku - three-line Japanese poems of just 17 syllables - he wrote, during a ceremony in Brussels April 15, 2010. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>