The Twilight Hesitates

Art Gallery

Kusum’s illustrations for haikus written by her father, Jan Guichelaar.

My father has been writing haikus for a few years, and recently he invited me to illustrate some of them. We had the idea to in this way create a book. His invitation helped me re-ignite my creative flame (working as a teacher, the source of inspiration had gone a bit dry lately…) From his haikus I picked the ones which inspired me the most.

For the title of the book, which we designed together, we chose De schemering aarzelt (The Twilight Hesitates), which is the first line of one of the haikus. My father writes in Dutch, but for this occasion he translated them into English. Because of the translation from Dutch, the haikus have lost the strict 5-7-5 syllable structure. In the modern Western approach of haiku writing it is accepted that expression can outvalue this rule.

In Japanese poetry, haikus are ordered according to the seasons – and so did we. Nature is always the main topic! My father has always felt a strong connection with everything that lives, grows and flourishes. Attention to a small change in an everlasting law – a glimpse of the smallest natural detail – brings him closer to the unity of the universe. The writing begins with an observation of an event, a ‘simple’ snapshot, that suddenly becomes full of meaning.

To do as much justice as possible to the poetic power of the haikus, the illustrations are often a one-on-one depiction of the haiku, a literal translation from words into an image.


blackbird’s evening song
let the sun go down gratefully –
welcomes the moon

merel avondzang
laat de zon dankbaar dalen –
verwelkomt de maan


our apple tree
has one singing apple:
a robin

onze appelboom
heeft één zingende appel:
een roodborstje

umbrellas in bin

after the rain
a wind blown umbrella
in a litter bin

na de regenbui
een verwaaide paraplu
in een prullenbak

ginger cat

the young kitten
frolics around my broom
lots of leaves remain

het jonge katje
dartelt rondom mijn bezem
veel blad blijft liggen


the rhythmic ticking
of the hammering woodpecker,
attracts a melody
spring birds don’t sing anymore –
now their nest is empty

het ritmische getik
van de hamerende specht,
lokt een melodie
lentevogels zingen niet –
niet meer, nu hun nest leeg is


on a lamppost
cormorants drying
their wet coats

op een lantaarnpal
drogen de aalsholvers
hun natte jassen


the kestrel prays
above the abandoned church
for a wandering mouse

de torenvalk bidt
boven de verlaten kerk
voor een dolende muis


twilight hesitates –
rustling leaves
the hedgehog awakes

schemering aarzelt –
ritselende bladeren;
de egel ontwaakt


oh little foal
you can only graze

ach klein veulentje,
je kan alleen maar grazen
wijdbeens in de wei


Anand Kusum is an artist who also teaches education at the University of the Arts in Arnhem (Netherlands), and art at a high school.

Jan Guichelaar

Jan is a musician, composer, poet and graphic designer. He teaches at University of the Arts in the eastern Netherlands.

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