International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Marion Clarke

Greg Lobinski - clock
Photo: Greg Lobinski/Creative Commons/Flickr

Concluding the 2018 international Women’s Haiku Festival is a haiku by Northern Irish poet Marion Clarke.

ticking clock . . .
so many things to tell
my daughter

There is the ticking biological clock that, along with other factors, dictates the reproductive fate of every woman. But there is also the ceaseless march of time more generally, the grandfather clock that ticks in tandem with the heartbeat of all humankind. Both clocks are ticking away in this haiku, which points to the special kind of relationship many mothers and daughters share, while reminding us how little time we all have. So many things to tell, more than a lifetime, more than two lifetimes, can hold.

Marion Clarke is from the east coast of Northern Ireland, about which she writes,“The scenery where I live is amazing as the sea, mountains and forest are all within walking distance, so I feel I was destined to become a haiku poet! My poems are inspired by those I’ve loved and lost.”

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Michelle Hyatt

Chris Isherwood - Near
Photo: Chris Isherwood/Creative Commons/Flickr

Demons inner and outer haunt a haiku by Canadian poet Michelle Hyatt.

so much makeup
hiding her face
dark side of the moon

Is this a poem about a woman so desperate for beauty that she goes overboard trying to paint it on, or about a woman who is hiding evidence of physical violence beneath mounds of cream and powder? Each interpretation speaks to a different type of darkness – the inner darkness that cannot let her see and accept her own beauty, or the darkness of abuse. And all of these layers of darkness are set in contrast to the chalky white light of that serene goddess, the ever-watching moon.

Michelle Hyatt enjoys wandering anywhere that takes her to trees, mountains, water, and moonlit forests. It is in these places where her heart feels most at home and finds creative inspiration, which sometimes develops into tiny poems. Some of her other work can be found in Yanty’s Butterfly – Haiku Nook: An Anthology. Michelle lives in Canada.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Marta Chociłowska

stanze - Spring
Photo: stanze/Creative Commons/Flickr

Polish poet Marta Chociłowska paints a picture of the happy hustle and bustle of a market flower stand in a delightful haiku.

shopping list
a woman at the market
sells catkins

Imagine a bustling market with a stall where a woman, Eliza Doolittle-like, sells fresh-cut flowers and bundles of long, beautiful willow branches dotted up and down with soft, fuzzy catkins. Isn’t that just like your shopping list? Long and bulleted with comfort-food coziness? This clever haiku is bursting at the seams with the kind of upbeat hustle and bustle that makes you feel fully alive.

Marta Chocilowska, of Warsaw, Poland, is a fan of cats and poetry, co-author of Polish and foreign haiku anthologies, winner of Polish and international haiku contests, and a juror in Polish and foreign haiku contests. She has publications in many international haiku and haiga magazines. She is a founding Member of the Polish Haiku Association.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: A Haiku by Malintha Perera

cherry tree
Photo: Glen Bowman/Creative Commons/Flickr

With sensitivity and grace, Malintha Perera paints a tender portrait to a mother without children in a wistfully lovely haiku.

mountain cherries
the children
she longs to have

The world abounds in haiku about pregnancy, childbirth, one’s children, one’s grandchildren, motherhood, fatherhood, and grandparenthood. Haiku about infertility and childlessness, however, are less common. Is it too painful to speak in public? Or is there a certain perceived shame in even suggesting, much less admitting, publicly to that pain? This particular poem paints with heartrending beauty and delicacy both the bright and shiny fecundity of a mountain cherry tree and the almost incomprehensible kind of love a mother-at-heart feels for her unborn children. If only Mother Nature’s heart were always so big.

Malintha Perera is an established poet whose work is featured in numerous journals. She writes haiku, tanka, micropoetry as well as longer poems that are mainly centered on Zen Buddhism. Her first published haiku book, An Unswept Path (2015), is a collection of monastery haiku. She resides in Sri Lanka with her family.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Haiku by David He

yowlong - Chestnut Hill Reservoir at Dusk
Photo: yowlong/Creative Commons/Flickr

Poet David He gives voice to a young girl’s sweet song and an older woman’s early dusk in two beautiful haiku.

a green leaf
between the girl’s lips
her sweet song

I envision a little girl holding a green leaf between her lips and humming a happy tune – maybe that of a nursery song, or maybe a tune she’s making up on the spot. This poem a tight shot on a moment of complete innocence. Maybe the girl doesn’t know anyone sees her with the leaf between her lips or hears her “sweet song.” Or maybe she does know and doesn’t even think to care. The poet’s language is as simple and unburdened as the haiku moment it captures.

***

Mum’s story
in her grey hair…
early dusk

The vivid image of a woman’s grey hair tells only part of the woman’s story. But the “early dusk” in the poem’s third line says it all. This grey-haired woman isn’t exactly old; her hair makes her look older than she is, and – doubly tragic – this in the face of an “early dusk.”

David He has been working as an advanced English teacher for 35 years in a high school. He has had twenty English-language short stories published in anthologies. His haiku have been published in
Acorn, The Heron’s Nest, Presence, Rocket bottles, Frogpond, One Hundred Gourds, Shamrock, First Literary Review-East, Modern Haiku, Frozen Butterfly, and elsewhere. He has also had tanka published in Skylark, Ribbons, and Cattails.  

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Poems by Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff

Chris Staley
Photo: Chris Staley/Creative Commons/Flickr

Mama’s new pair of shoes and Daddy’s obituary star in two poems by U.S. poet Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff.

new stilettos
she announces
her divorce

And there she is with her new stilettos, with her new-found independence, with all the concomitant fears and regrets and scars and, unless she’s some kind of stiletto-wearing saint, resentments. The stiletto as the ultimate symbol of female autonomy, of female no-one-owns-me-ness. She’ll wear those shoes like badges of honor. She’s going to need them. I hope they’re flaming red.

***
how quickly
a skipped stone sinks
his obituary

All that life and liveliness that once glanced off the surface of the river of life – now all boiled down to the verbal arroyo of a death notice. Just the facts, just the skeleton of who he was and what he did, all rendered on such a tight deadline. And with his death, the death of a marriage, a siblinghood, a parent-child relationship. All gone in the time it takes not to breathe.

Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Loras College in English: Writing and Theology respectively. She is originally from Northern California, but has spent the last 30+ years in Dubuque, Iowa, USA. She has served over 30 years as a higher education professional, and has written poetry since childhood. Over 250 of her poems, including numerous haiku, senryu, and rengay, along with articles have been published in magazines, juried journals, and anthologies. She studied haiku with Bill Pauly, and has taught courses on publishing and judged writing contests at the local and national level. Her writing garnered a grant from the Iowa Arts Council and awards in local and national competition, including earning her River Arts Association Writer of the Year honors.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Poems by dl mattila

pslim - alien cocoon!
Photo: pslim/Creative Commons/Flickr

The private self meets advancing age in two poems by dl mattila.

cocoon . . .
it’s what you don’t see
that defines me

In an age of endless social media confessions, it is important to remember that our selves were not meant to be always – or even ever – broadcast to the world. So often the cocoon is viewed only as a symbol of the butterfly that is to emerge from it. But there is essential beauty in what is inside the cocoon, not just in what is about to come out of it. It commands our respect. If only we’d stop tweeting and blogging long enough to notice.

***

advancing age
in my blind-spot
changing lanes

This sharp little poem leaves us on a cliff-hanger ending, even though Mother Nature has already spoiled the ending for us all. We don’t see age creeping up on ourselves until we try to shift our lives and run smack into it. But even though the younger driver may (really?) have the better reflexes, the older one has potentially more experience, more skill, and, as the character Evelyn Couch noted in the now classic film Fried Green Tomatoes, more insurance.

dl mattila is a lot of things.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Three Haiku by Sandra Simpson

Susanne Nilsson - Blowing in the Wind
Photo: Susanne Nilsson/Creative Commons/Flickr

New Zealand poet Sandra Simpson packs the inner heat wave of menopause, the piquant flavor of a fourth marriage, and the beautiful death of big dreams into three lovely haiku.

heat wave –
holding the soft part of my wrist
under the tap

The term “heat wave” has a wonderful double resonance as the natural phenomenon of a period of scorching outdoor temperatures and as a metaphor for the hot flashes that often come with the equally natural process of menopause. Either way, one can imagine seeking relief from the external or internal heat by holding the sensitive flesh of the underside of the wrist beneath a trickle of cool water, a common remedy for the discomfort of hot flashes.

***

the water jug
stuffed with mint & lemon –
her fourth husband

Far richer than the purity of the first marriage, the water jug in the first line, which I read as representing the fourth marriage, is packed with stuff – natural, earthy, fragrant, and tasty stuff, but stuff nonetheless. The stuff of a life full of experience – the astringency of previous marital loss, the minty coolness of taking it all in stride. Far from plain old spring water, the water in the jug is infused with the perfume of many lifetimes.

***

blossom wind –
too late now to be
who I wanted to be

The moment when you realize you’ll never play professional baseball. Or become a great chef. Or become a parent. This wistful poem represents that moment as the part of the self that dreams our dreams – which is to say, the deepest part of the self – dying, drifting away like flower petals on a spring breeze. And that breeze – that “blossom wind” – is historically especially good at blowing women in every direction – into and out of marriages, from location to location as trailing spouses, into motherhood, out of careers. At the same time, this poem also transforms that deep and dreamy part of each of us into something it never dared to imagine it could become: the simple, perfect petal of a flower.

Sandra Simpson co-organised the 2012 Haiku Festival Aotearoa (New Zealand) and in 2018 is co-editing the Fourth NZ Haiku Anthology. Sandra is the founding editor of the online Haiku NewZ (2004), has been secretary of the Katikati Haiku Pathway Committee since 2006, and South Pacific editor for the annual Red Moon anthology since 2012. She has won several awards for her haiku and judged international competitions. Sandra published a collection of her haiku, breath, in 2012 and from the same year has had her own haiku blog, also called breath. She grows orchids as a hobby.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Senryu by kjmunro

Todd Dwyer - old dollhouse in travis heights
Photo: Todd Dwyer/Creative Commons/Flickr

Canadian poet kjmunro turns a dollhouse into a hall of mirrors and a scratch on a car into marital disruption in two senryu.

dollhouse window
all I can see
is her eye

Presumably, the poetic speaker is looking into the dollhouse through its window, though can we be sure? Imagine you are the human looking into the dollhouse and can see only one of the doll’s eyes. Or, roles reversed, imagine you are the doll inside the dollhouse and see at your window a giant human eye looking inside. Or imagine that you are a human woman and that in every structure you inhabit or pass through, be it physical (an office building, a board room, a car dealership, even your own house) or metaphorical (a male-dominated hierarchy, a code of conduct or communication), you are seen as somehow smaller than those around you. Or only part of you is seen at all, and the rest of you is cloistered, hidden. And then, because it feels so familiar, you start to believe that you actually are smaller than those around you, and that maybe it’s okay that the world doesn’t really see you. What a tragic pity for the world. And how unjust for you.

***

one scratch
on the car
marital abrasion

How quickly something like a scratch on a car can turn into a wound in a marriage. Of course, in such a scenario, the marriage is already much more deeply wounded long before the sharp edge scraped across the detailing on the Mustang. But the scratch certainly doesn’t help. It digs just below the surface of the paint, deeply enough to cause vexation and to spark a new argument – maybe even an ongoing grudge – but not deeply enough to dig to the root of the problem.

Originally from Vancouver, BC, Canada, Katherine J. Munro (kjmunro) now lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada and an Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets. She is active in the local organization Yukon Writers’ Collective Ink, and in 2014 founded ‘solstice haiku,’ a monthly haiku discussion group that she continues to facilitate. She has two leaflets with Leaf Press and co-edited Body of Evidence: a collection of killer ‘ku – an anthology of crime-related haiku. Her work has recently appeared in Vallum, Matrix, and the anthology Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food. She is currently facilitating a weekly blog feature called ‘Haiku Windows’ for The Haiku Foundation.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Haiku by Eleonore Nickolay

Christian Kadluba - Einblick
Photo: Christian Kadluba/Creative Commons/Flickr

German poet Eleonore Nickolay explores the end of cellulite and the sorrowful end of a pregnancy in two rich haiku.

early summer
an ad announces the end
of cellulite

Are we really that desperate for Photoshop bodies that we would believe an ad announcing the end of cellulite? The ad suggests both that we should be that desperate, and that we’re naïve enough to think some product can make our imperfections go away. And, of course, the timing – right at the start of bikini season – is impeccable.

***

miscarriage
in the empty room the play
of shadows

How those “shadows” haunt the final line of this poignant poem. All the possibilities the pregnancy built up in the mind, all the hopes, dashed by Mother Nature. The death of a human being and the death of a dream, of many dreams, all at once.

Eleonore Nickolay was born in Koblenz, Germany, in 1957 and lives in Vaires sur Marne, France,  east of Paris. She has written haiku since 2013 and is a member of the Deutsche Haiku Gesellschaft and the Association francophone de haïku. She is editor of the French haiku magazine GONG and the German one SOMMERGRAS.