Amarjit Tiwana learned of the haiku form in Punjabi through Parminder Sodhi who, living in Japan, made a book of translations entitled Japani Haiku Shairi. He was introduced to this book by his mentor Angelee Deodhar in 2003. Since then Amarjit has taken the promotion of haiku as his life work.
In his online project, Haiku Punjabi, he introduces contemporary and classic haiku to speakers of Punjabi daily. There are 3 editors and over 40 contributors. The audience for haiku is large. There are 120 million Punjabi speakers, 80 million in Pakistan, 20-25 million in India and the rest spread around the world. In Canada there is a concentration in Toronto and Vancouver and there are 8 Punjabi Members of Parliament.
In print, his book Nimakh, released in India in 2008 has received attention for haiku. He sent the book to 500 authors, critics, university professors and poets and it is being widely read. Nimakh is from the Sanskrit word which means the time it takes to blink an eye. It is a collection of haiku by him which translates to Moment.
He is working on a new book, translation of Basho and Issa and contemporary poets to make a collection of 135 haiku for school children. He plans to place a copy in each of 5000 Punjab schools and distribute them for free to introduce children to these classics.
H09 asked about the difficulty of translating. In Punjabi the syllables are not counted the same way. Each letter is a sound unit but “this is the way of intercultural translation. Something is kept, something is left, something is added.”