‘beefsteak’ Haiga Wins Honors in Jane Reichhold Memorial Haiga Contest

Hambrick - beefsteak
“beefsteak” first published in Prune Juice and Failed Haiku, Nov. 2017.  Poem and photo © Jennifer Hambrick 2017. All rights reserved.

I am deeply honored that my haiga ‘beefsteak,’ above, received first Honorable Mention in the Second Annual Jane Reichhold Memorial Haiga Contest, photographic haiga division.

This particular beefsteak tomato came from my garden, so creating this haiga was a labor of love right from the beginning – from planting the tomato seeds which bore the fruit, to photographing the tomato, to editing the image, to letting the edited image inspire the senryu that now accompanies it.

Here are photographic division judge Linda Papanicolaou’s comments on my haiga:

A salad of self-deprecation and a dash of bawdiness, this is a wonderful example of how good text-image linking can create a synergy that makes a whole that is more than its parts. The poem is all wordplay, from Shakespearean idiom to twentieth century Americanisms, in which tomato referred [to] a sexy woman. It brings an aura of ineffable mystery and sacrament to the whole. The named variety hints punningly at “beefcake,” slang for a well-muscled man. The image, illustrating not the meaning of the poem but just the literal meaning of the first line–a tomato on a chopping block–layers the poem by framing the reminiscence as a conversation during food preparation.

My deep gratitude to Linda Papanicolaou, editor of Haiga Online, for selecting my haiga from among the 132 entries in her division, and for her kind and insightful words about my work. Deep thanks also to editors Steve Hodge and Mike Rehling, whose journals Prune Juice and Failed Haiku, respectively, sponsored the contest, and who have published my honored haiga in the most recent issues of their journals.

A Short Walk Inside a Haiga: “synapse” Before and After

Hambrick - synapse ACCEPTED FOR PUB IN DAILY HAIGA
“synapse” first published in DailyHaiga 27 Oct. 2017  http://www.dailyhaiga.org/haiga-archives/2165/synapse-by-jennifer-hambrick-usa.  “synapse” poem & image © Jennifer Hambrick 2017. All rights reserved.

Anyone who creates on a regular basis knows that the process that leads to a creation is almost always as original as the creation itself. In the case of my haiga “synapse,” published recently in the beautiful online journal DailyHaiga, I thought a before-and-after might be of interest.

It was actually the edited version of the photograph in “synapse” that inspired the haiku that now accompanies it. The edited image is above; here is the unedited photograph:

DSCF2029
© Jennifer Hambrick 2017. All rights reserved.

In the unedited, photo it’s a bit more clear that the light yellow network of fibrous tentacles is actually a meandering aquatic plant floating in water – in this case, a pond – just beneath the surface.

In editing the photo, I wanted to bring out the contrast between the yellow plant and the greenish hue of the water. So I moved briskly to the electric end of the color spectrum and also applied some other filters to add a retro urban feel.

I sat quietly for a while looking at the edited photo and exploring my inner landscape in relation to it, asking myself how the colors made me feel, what, in the abstract, that yellow thing kind of looked like, and so on.

Then I listened to my intuition, which told me that the yellow tentacles looked like either a subway map or a medical image of a nerve cell ganglion – no, they looked like both at once!

The two contrasting interpretations of the photo’s subject practically handed me the two components of the haiku on a platter: “synapse,” as in a nerve cell synapse, and “the distant rumble / of the outbound train,” referring to the subway map interpretation of the yellow vine.

My deep thanks to DailyHaiga editor Linda Pilarski for again publishing my work.

“Gloaming” Named a Winner in World Haiku Association Haiga Contest

Hambrick - gloaming UNDER REVIEW WITH OCT 2017 WORKLD HAIKU ASSOCIATION HAIGA CONTEST
gloaming was first published by the World Haiku Association http://www.worldhaiku.net/wha_haiga/157/jennifer_hambrick_us.html. © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick. All rights reserved.

Everyone I’ve ever met has, metaphorically speaking, carved his or her initials into my soul.

This idea is the message at the heart of my haiga “gloaming,” above, which recently was selected as a winner in the World Haiku Association’s 157th Haiga Contest.

I have never carved my initials into a tree. Here’s why: Imagine what it would feel like if someone were to gouge some random etching into your flesh with a sharp – or worse, a strong but more or less blunt-edged – instrument.

Every word I’ve heard has left its mark on me on a cellular level. Such is the nature of who we are as human beings interconnected in a web of emotions. More to the point, the scars of those I love, and of those I once loved, are still with me and may always be.

I am most grateful to contest judge Kuniharu Shimizu for selecting my work for this honor.

Haiga Celebrates the Slow Trickle of Summer

Hambrick - summer
Summer first published in DailyHaiga, 1 Oct. 2017.  Text and image © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.

I was delighted to have another haiga published recently in the journal DailyHaiga.

Pictured in this haiga is a detail of the bottom of a water chain surrounded by pebbles, a wooden border and fronds of a plant. I took the photo during summer in the Japanese Garden at the phenomenal Schnormeier Gardens in Gambier, Ohio.

The tranquil elegance of this distinctly Japanese scene gave rise to thoughts of a lazy summer day and to the haiku that I included with the image.

And even though summer’s over and we’re deep into a glorious autumn, we can take that summer feeling – warm, lazy days when everything seems to move at a slow trickle – wherever we go.

I am extremely grateful to DailyHaiga editor Linda Pilarski for again publishing my work in this major haiga journal.

Three Water-Inspired Haiga Published in Haiga Online

Hambrick - the drift
Image and poem © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.  First published in Haiga Online, Vol. 18-2, Autumn 2017.

Three of my haiga, all on the theme of water, were published recently in the journal Haiga Online.

The issue, “Borrowed Water,” features water-themed haiga by poets and artists around the world.

Hambrick - the cool slide
Image and poem © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.  First published in Haiga Online, Vol. 18-2, Autumn 2017.

I shot the photographs in all of these haiga in June 2017 at the stunning Schnor-meier Gardens, in Gambier, Ohio, then used various digital photo editing techniques to add borders and other effects.

In “the drift,” shown at the top of this post, and in “the cool slide,” each of the visual images in its edited form inspired the haiku that accompanies it.

In “the drift,” water becomes one with the sky reflected in it.  together, they take on the role of a fluid, boundless medium through which thoughts can flow as freely as a summer breeze.

The photo in “the drift” is of one of the garden’s amazingly beautiful lily ponds, which were coming into full bloom during my visit. I decided on the particular combination of editing filters because of the effect they created on the clouds, which swirl in that lazy summer afternoon kind of way.

In “the cool slide,” water becomes the pathway for a kind of experience with dementia that differs from the horrifying response this traumatic condition usually evokes. The eye slides from a rocky shore into gentle sky-blue water, metaphorically away from the harsh ugliness of the world and into peaceful depths. Maybe there can be spiritual benefits to forgetting.

The image in “the cool slide” is of the edge of one of the lakes in the Schnormeier Gardens’ Serenity Garden, which also features trickling streams, two waterfalls, a young forest of more than 200 rare conifers, and a Japanese garden house.

Hambrick - spring tide
Image and poem © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.  First published in Haiga Online, Vol. 18-2, Autumn 2017.

In “spring tide,” the rough edges of the piece of sea glass became the idea that guided me to create a poem about the wabi-sabi kind of beauty in one’s own rough edges, and the special compassion of the people who choose to accept them and, indeed, even see beauty in them.

Many sincere thanks to Haiga Online editor Linda Papanicolaou for selecting my work for this special “Borrowed Water” issue.

 

‘street baptism’ Haiga Published in DailyHaiga

Hambrick - street baptism
street baptism             photo and poem © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.

My whimsical poetic take on a weed on my beaten path in Columbus was recently published in the journal DailyHaiga.

Haiga – haiku + visual art – is a venerable art form. Centuries ago, some Japanese poets would scribble their haiku, then amplify them with traditional brush paintings. A new genre was born.

As visual arts mediums changed through time and new technologies have allowed for the creation of new mediums, like photography, the visual mediums that can accompany haiku have likewise expanded.

Good haiga show a dynamic balance between haiku and visual image. The visual image should do more than merely illustrate the details in the poem. The poem should do more than simply explain the photo. Some of the most effective haiga, the poem and the visual image keep the reader/viewer moving back and forth between them.

My street baptism haiga, above, was inspired by a weed that I pass every day on my commute to work. There was something outrageous and brassy about a two-foot-tall weed popping out of a concrete road and standing defiantly next to a sewer drain. The quirky urban scene inspired a quirky urban poem full of ideas that don’t usually go together and that, thus, keep bouncing off of each other in a playful way.

Many thanks to editor Linda Pilarski for publishing my work in DailyHaiga.

Poem Wins Sakura Award in 2017 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival International Haiku Invitational

Cherry Blossoms - Susanne Nilsson
Photo: Susanne Nilsson (Creative Commons/Flickr)

I was surprised and delighted to learn from a fellow haikuist that one of my poems recently received a Sakura Award in the 2017 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival International Haiku Invitational.

My haiku was one of 15 by U.S. authors recognized with Sakura Awards in this year’s competition. In addition, a single poem was named Top Winner in the U.S. category, and another 25 U.S. poems were given Honourable Mentions.

Of the 41 U.S. poems granted awards, fully six – close to 15 percent – are by poets living and working in my home state of Ohio.

The theme of this year’s Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational was “freedom.” My poem speaks to the world of possibilities that await people of all ages and from all corners of the globe who seek to build their lives in freedom and peace:

an old man
learns two new words
cherry blossom

My heartfelt congratulations to the winning poets in all divisions of this year’s competition, and my sincere gratitude to the competition judges, Angelee Deodhar, Billie Wilson, and DeVar Dahl.

“Words and Music” Talk Launches National League of American Pen Women, Central Ohio Branch Guest Speaker Series

NLAPW talk 12 Sept 2017
Guest speaker Jennifer Hambrick with members of the Central Ohio Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, L to R: branch president Darlene Yeager-Torre, Hambrick, Mary Hoffman, Deborah Anderson, vice president Margaret Hanna and membership chair Rosalie Ungar.

I am greatly honored to have been invited to kick off the 2017-18 speaker series of the Central Ohio Branch of the National League of American Pen Women Tuesday evening. This amazing group of women artists put on a classy event at the Upper Arlington Public Library and could not have been more welcoming or more gracious.

Based in Washington, D.C., the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW, or “Pen Women,” for short) is a venerable organization comprised of women artists in all mediums working throughout the U.S.

I was asked to talk about my multiple careers in music and letters, including my work as midday host and music director for WOSU Public Media’s Classical 101 radio station; my work writing about classical music for print, broadcast and online media; my career as a poet and my work as a performing singer.

For me, the highlights of the evening were meeting some of the chapter members in the “preception” before my talk, and having a chance to chat a bit more and enjoy some photo ops with them afterwards.

It was especially wonderful to see Mary Hoffman (pictured to my right in the photo above), one of my predecessors in my role as Classical 101 music director.  Mary was music director of WOSU Public Media’s classical music radio station when I was a teenager in Columbus and listening to that station every day.  Her work inspired me in innumerable ways, and I feel a special honor to carry her torch forward.

These talented and generous ladies sent me home with vase of gorgeous roses (!) and an invitation to join their group. But most importantly, they reminded me what a tremendous privilege it is to work in creative careers and to be inspired by the gifted artists who make Columbus’ vibrant arts scene what it is.

My thanks to branch president Darlene Yeager-Torre, Deborah Anderson and all of the members of the Central Ohio Branch of the National League of American Pen Women for the great honor to share my work and my story with you.

Newly Commissioned Poem Finds a Home

Jennifer Hambrick reads her commissioned poem at VIVO Music Festival Columbus Museum of Art
Poet Jennifer Hambrick reads her poem “on a cold sea we travel,” commissioned by the VIVO Music Festival, at the Columbus Museum of Art, Aug. 31, 2017.  Pictured L to R: VIVO Music Festival co-artistic director and violist John Stulz, violist Matthew Lipman, Jennifer Hambrick, VIVO Music Festival executive director Ted Ou-Yang. (Photo courtesy of VIVO Music Festival)

Last Thursday, I had the unique honor to read my poem “on a cold sea we travel,” commissioned by the VIVO Music Festival, as a preface to a performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s pivotal chamber music work Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) in the festival’s concert “VIVO Transfigured” at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Receiving the commission to write the poem and having the opportunity to read it aloud in a resplendent venue were incredibly special. But beyond that? I tend to think of my poems as my children and, like any good literary parent, to want them to thrive and eventually settle down in the pages of a nice literary journal. So I found myself wondering, what next? for this poem, which was invited and welcomed so warmly into the world.

I am delighted that “on a cold sea we travel” has been accepted for publication in the fabulous literary journal The Main Street Rag, where it will eventually take up residence among poems by other serious writers. My poem has found a home. A good one.

And now I can’t help but dream that “on a cold sea we travel” might be read aloud as the preface to other performances of Verklärte Nacht, once the poem has been published.

My undying thanks to VIVO Music Festival co-artistic directors John Stulz and Siwoo Kim for coming up with the brilliant idea to ask a poet to transfigure Transfigured Night. I’m humbled that they chose me for the task. They share top billing for the success of “on a cold sea we travel.”

Newly Commissioned Poem Transfigures Arnold Schoenberg’s Pivotal Chamber Music Work “Transfigured Night”

VIVO photo Derby Court CMA
VIVO Music Festival 2016 at the Columbus Museum of Art, Derby Court (Photo: Courtesy of the VIVO Music Festival)

I am greatly honored to have received a commission from the VIVO Music Festival to write a poem in response to Arnold Schoenberg’s pivotal string sextet Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), and to present my new poem in its world-premiere reading Thursday evening at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Under the creative leadership of its founders and co-artistic directors Siwoo Kim and John Stulz, the VIVO Music Festival brings world-class musicians to Columbus, Ohio, for one week each summer for performances of great chamber music repertory in venues all around the city. In its third season, the 2017 festival will feature Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht Thurs., Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Columbus Museum of Art’s Derby Court.

In keeping with the theme of Thursday’s concert – “VIVO Transfigured” – Stulz asked me to write a poem that would respond to Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and also update the poem of the same title by German poet Richard Dehmel that inspired Schoenberg’s work – in short, to transfigure Transfigured Night.

The task of composing my new poem was exciting and daunting. Delving into and gleaning inspiration from the rich philosophical and cultural contexts in which Dehmel and Schoenberg worked was exhilarating. At the same time, in fulfilling the commission, I was fully aware that my new poem would become, if only in a small way, still nothing less than a part of the history of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht.

I will present my new poem “on a cold sea we travel” in its world-premiere reading at Thursday’s concert, as an introduction to the musicians’ performance of Schoenberg’s work. The reading and the performance will be live streamed on Facebook.

My hope is that, when heard before Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, “on a cold sea we travel” will set the stage for experiencing the philosophical and sonic richness of Schoenberg’s music in a uniquely musical way. I took the idea of traveling on a cold sea as much from my experience of hearing Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, with its dramatic waves of sound in continuous ebb and flow, as from the particular line in Dehmel’s poem that the title of my poem paraphrases. In an effort to preserve the essential philosophical resonances of Dehmel’s poem, in “on a cold sea we travel” I have aimed to convey an apotheosis that is truly universal – shared by poet and all who experience the poem. I’ve also conceived the surface music of the poem – the alliteration, assonance, and rhythms of the words – to serve as a special kind of gateway into listeners’ experience of Schoenberg’s work.

My extreme gratitude to John Stulz, Siwoo Kim, and the VIVO Music Festival for this singular honor, and to the Ohio Arts Council for funding in support of the commission.