International Women’s Haiku Festival: It’s a Wrap

Thank You

Photo: Free for Commercial Use/www.gratisography.com/Creative Commons/Flickr

31 days. 27 poets. 48 poems.

The first International Women’s Haiku Festival on Inner Voices was a big success.  You sent me an overwhelming number of submissions from every corner of the English-speaking world.  With deep sensitivity, humor, and skill, your poems covered a broad swathe of women’s experience – the horrors of breast cancer, the nuanced relationships of mothers and daughters, marriage, divorce, domestic violence, singlehood and solitude, the glass ceiling, children, childbirth and motherhood, dementia, body image, age discrimination, cougars, and even the politics of lingerie.

Some of your poems tugged at the proverbial heart strings.  Some of them made me giggle.  All of them made me think and, I hope, will continue to make others think about the richness that women bring to the world, and about the ways in which the world does – and, in many instances, still does not – appreciate it.

In addition to your submissions, your support for the festival also came in the form of the comments you wrote on the festival’s featured posts, and in the many lovely comments you sent me privately.  I appreciate them all.

Thank you for entrusting me to curate your work in this festival.  I was an honor.

The poets of the 2017 International Women’s Haiku Festival:

Agnes Eva Savich (USA)
Anna Cates (USA)
Roberta Beary (USA/Ireland)
John Hawkhead (UK)
Terri L. French (USA)
Willie R. Bongcaron (Philippines)
Shloka Shankar (India)
Michael Dylan Welch (USA)
Martha Magenta (UK)
Stella Pierides (Germany/UK)
Lee Nash (France)
Eufemia Griffo (Italy)
Marietta McGregor (Australia)
Joshua Gage (USA)
Christina Sng (Singapore)
Julie Thorndyke (Australia)
Mary Stevens (USA)
Debbie Strange (Canada)
Amy Losak (USA)
Debbi Antebi (UK)
Michelle Schaefer (USA)
David Oates (USA)
Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)
Louise Hopewell  (Australia)
Tim Gardiner (UK)
Angela Leuck (Canada)
Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff (USA)

‘Zucchini’ Haiku Named a ‘Judge’s Favorite’ in the 2017 Golden Haiku Contest, Washington, D.C.

Hambrick_zucchini_haikuI was delighted to learn that one of my haiku has been named a “Judge’s Favorite” among the six winners of this year’s Golden Haiku Contest, Washington, D.C.

This year’s contest garnered more than 1,000 entries, among them poems from the authors of the other six winning haiku – Terri L. French, Marek Kozubek, Trish Bright, Mark E. Brager, Sandip Chauhan, and Michele L. Harvey.

Aside from the numbers game, the judges of this year’s contest are some real haiku heavies, so I am quite honored that they found merit in my little poem.  My sincere thanks to the contest judges, Abigail Friedman, author of The Haiku Apprentice; John Stevenson, managing editor of the haiku journal The Heron’s Nest and author of several haiku collection; and NHK World’s Kit Pancoast Nagamura.

The other two haiku in my submission were also named runners-up in the contest.  Here they are:

my_haiku_runners_up
My haiku will be displayed on placards as in the image at top with the other contest winners and runners-up around Washington, D.C.’s Golden Triangle neighborhood, near the White House.

Public art exists to inspire others and bring meaning to people’s everyday lives.  I hope my “zucchini” haiku will bring lots of people joy.

Claudia Radmore’s Commentary on My ‘Flickering Thoughts’

photo_from-_creative_commons
Photo: Johanleijon/Creative Commons/Flickr

When you send art out into the world, it’s always fascinating to see how folks respond to it.

I had a lovely experience along these lines recently when the Canadian poet Claudia Radmore wrote to tell me that she had blogged about some poems, including one of mine, published in the most recent issue of Haiku Canada Review. In her post, “Enter the Frog, or Haiku from the Haiku Canada Review,” Radmore holds up three poems from the February 2017 issue of Haiku Canada Review as good examples of very short haiku.

Sandwiched between Radmore’s commentary on haiku by Charlotte Digregorio and Edward Cody Huddleston is her commentary on my haiku, and my haiku itself:

evening fire
thoughts flicker
in his words

(© Jennifer Hambrick)

In her commentary, Radmore notes:

This poem is a quiet one and brings to mind the times when people are together trying to share thoughts, when those people might wonder about what a person’s words might mean. It’s a poem of uncertainty. Flickering thoughts could indicate doubt, or hesitation. They could be very important in any kind of relationship and are sometimes hard to pin down. These flickering thoughts, and the image of the person’s face in the flickering light…even that image is strong enough to be frightening, or calming, or loving, or simply an exchange of philosophical ideas. This little poem is packed if you take time with it.

What I find fascinating is the range of emotional possibilities Radmore sees in my poem.  I wrote this haiku on a wintry Saturday evening, after a fun and lively conversation.  To me, the flickering thoughts warmed my spirit and stoked the flames of my imagination.  The conversation wrapped me in feelings of contentment, like an “evening fire” on a cold night, and left me with a certain emotional warmth and with a vista of new and promising possibilities.

In the moment that inspired the poem, I felt no uncertainty, doubt or hesitation, though I love that Radmore pulled those other levels of experience out of the text, and specifically out of my image of “flickering thoughts.”  Even though I wrote my haiku on the inspiration of one particular emotional experience, I also hoped that the poem would resonate universally from reader to reader.  But I hadn’t anticipated that it would resonate more universally across the boundaries among types of emotional experiences.

And this is one of the things that’s so great about art: When my thoughts and your thoughts find each other in a work of art, they can flicker away to new and unexpected ends.  And that makes life rich and endlessly fascinating.

Nicholas Klacsanzky’s Commentary on My ‘Deployment’ Haiku

16095659712_457b6bd3f8_z
Photo: Bobistraveling/Creative Commons/Flickr

I am extremely honored and delighted that poet, editor, and blogger Nicholas Klacsanzky has selected my ‘deployment’ haiku (which was first published in Modern Haiku, 47.3, and which I blogged about in December) for his thoughtful commentary on his Haiku Commentary blog today. You can read his post and my original poem here.

The son of the pioneering American haikuist George Klacsanzky, Nicholas Klacsanzky follows in his father’s footsteps with his own esteemed poetry in the Japanese short forms and through Haiku Commentary, where he uncovers the inner workings of present-day examples of what he calls “perhaps the smallest style of poetry.”

Of my ‘deployment’ haiku Klacsansky writes, “This haiku has a lot of energy to it. It has an immediacy and freshness that most haiku do not have.” His insights into the “energy” of the em dash, the “immediacy” of not naming the type of tree that so quickly drops its leaves in the poem, and the “melancholy” and “stark” effects of the vowels are fascinating to me as the poet.

But I am most struck by what Klacsanzky has to say about the last line of the poem: “The pacing of the haiku is powerful, especially with how the last line comes. Not only is the punctuation used for a significant emotional end, but also the last line (without tricks) is palpable and alarming.”

Of course, I planned none of these effects, per se.  But I’m glad the poem has them, and that Klacsanzky’s extremely thoughtful commentary has laid them bare. And I’m glad the poem is, in its own way, “alarming.” The finality of the end of a single human life, much less of the legions who perish at war, should stop us cold.  The tree in my poem will likely grow new leaves come spring.  The souls lost in battle are gone forever.

If a poet writes a poem and no one reads it, does the poem have meaning?  This question is one for the philosophers.  As a poet, though, I find I reassuring that a reader with Nicholas Klacsanzky’s deep insights into poetry is so committed to sharing them respectfully and unpretentiously for everyone to experience.  Klacsanzky’s Haiku Commentary helps make the world of English-language haiku one of wonder and discovery for all.

‘Deployment’ Haiku in Autumn 2016 Issue of Modern Haiku and Online

modern_haiku_47-3_heading
Modern Haiku journal, issue 47.3

In one sense, poems are very much like children: When you put them out into the world, you have no idea where they’ll go, what they’ll do, or whom they’ll meet.

I was surprised when, recently, I was notified by a fellow Ohio poet of the online goings-on of one of my haiku.

I knew some time ago that Paul Miller, editor of the beautiful print journal Modern Haiku, had accepted one of my haiku for publication in the journal’s autumn 2016 issue (47.3). And when that issue rolled off the presses and found its way to me, I was thrilled to read a phenomenal issue jam packed with inspiration.

But what I did not know until fellow Ohio haikuist Elliot Nicely pointed it out is that my haiku has also been published online in the Web Sampler of the Autumn 2016 (47.3) issue of Modern Haiku.

I consider this a great honor. Modern Haiku is arguably the Rolls Royce of English-language haiku journals. It is competitive to get into, it is rich in high-caliber creative content – haiku, senryu, haibun, haiga, essays, and so forth, it regularly publishes the most prominent haiku poets writing in English today, and it is beautifully produced. To have one’s work published in Modern Haiku is in itself a signal event.

But the poems published on Modern Haiku’s Web Sampler comprise a sort of “editor’s choice” for each issue of the journal, a representative sample of the quality and type of poems the journal publishes and encourages writers to submit.

And something I find especially fun about the Web Sampler for Modern Haiku issue 47.3: Of the 10 poets whose haiku/senryu were selected, fully three (myself included) live and work in Ohio.

Congratulations to editor Paul Miller and to all of the poets who make each issue of Modern Haiku a joy to read and an honor to be part of.

Two Haiku Published ‘auf deutsch’ in the German Journal ‘Chrysanthemum’

1024px-fallen-ice_cream-cone
Photo: Tamorlan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Translations are like lovers: the faithful ones aren’t beautiful, and the beautiful ones aren’t faithful.

This expression, which I picked up in graduate school from one of the musicologists on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, pretty accurately sums up the general state of translation. When it comes to translations, we don’t live in glass houses; we live in the Tower of Babel, hearing each others’ languages, but  not understanding them – even when, in a literal sense, we speak the same language.  We are always, it seems, playing a game of Telephone, mired in human imperfection as we are, and so prone as we are to hearing what we want to hear. Misunderstanding is all but inevitable.

Given the generally sluttish state of translations, I consider myself extremely fortunate that the first translations of some of my poems into a language other than English were exceptionally brilliantly executed. Big thanks to editor Beate Conrad for publishing two of my haiku in English and in German translation in the most recent issue of the German journal Chrysanthemum.

Here are my haiku as published in Chrysanthemum 20 (October 2016), in the original English and in Beate Conrad’s German translations:

full moon glow                                                        Vollmondschein
blankets eggs                                                           deckt Eier zu
in the abandoned bird’s nest                                in dem verlassnen Nest

dropping from the cone                                         aus dem Hörnchen tropft
the ice cream melts                                                 das Eis, zerschmilzt
into a frown                                                              in ein Stirnrunzeln

I love that German allows “full moon glow” to appear as “Vollmondschein,” speeding up into a single word the ephemeral haiku moment the poem conveys. In the second haiku, I love that German syntax allows the ice cream – “das Eis” – to drop from the verb “drops” at the end of the first line to the beginning of the second line. In English, such a construction would come across as stilted:

out of the cone drops
the ice cream …

But as good as Conrad’s translations are, her editing is at least as compelling. I have long thought that there should be an editor’s Hippocratic Oath, paraphrased something like this: I will use treatment (read: I will edit) to help the sick (read: to help the writing) according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing.

Why is it that so many editors perpetrate bloody murder on writing and get off scot-free?  Why are good editors so few and far between?

I despair.

But Beate Conrad suggested a brilliant edit to my ice cream haiku. My original text read:

dropping from the cone
the ice cream melts
her face into a frown

Isn’t it so much more vivid that not the face, but the ice cream itself melts into a frown, as in Conrad’s edited version?

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

This one edit – so subtle and yet so great – says so much about the essence of poetry, about showing not telling, about using fewer words to say more.

Thank you, Beate Conrad, for making my words better – in English and in German. And thank you for your beautiful journal.

Big Thanks to Boston’s Muddy River Poetry Review

tim-dorr-atlanta-airport
Photo: Tim Dorr/Creative Commons/Flickr

I am extremely grateful to editor Zvi Sesling for publishing two of my poems in the Fall 2016 issue of Boston’s Muddy River Poetry Review.

Both of my poems in this issue explore themes and situations from domestic life.  The inspiration for “Our Father of the Airport” actually did unfold at Gate A18 of the Atlanta Airport, while I waited for a connecting flight on a visit with my in-laws.  I really did look up from my pleasure reading to see a young father smiling down at the tiny boy on his lap, looking for all the world like the Virgin Mary in all those Renaissance paintings of the Madonna and Child.  I let my imagination play with this idea of a “male Madonna and Child,” and the result is “Our Father of the Airport.”

In “Privacy, Suburban Style” I wrestle with the surreal and unnatural hush that social decorum and respect for the boundaries of others dictate must surround a tragic event.  The poem holds everything at a distance, and I still lament that many preset-day communities in American society, at least, often have no universally accepted rituals and even no language and for simply offering help and love to those who suffer in deeply personal situations.

Be sure to check out all the other great poems in this issue.

“Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie” Featured on WYSO Public Radio Program and Podcast “Conrad’s Corner”

my_podcast_set_i_patrick_breitenbach
Photo: Patrick Breitenbach/Creative Commons/Flickr

Reading a poem is one thing, hearing a poet read his or her poetry can be quite another.

We live in an exciting time, when audio recording technology, radio, and the Internet allow our voices to be in many different places at once. Although poetry as a performance art has been around since cavemen acted poems out to their families. Now, radio and podcasting allow poetry to be everywhere at the touch of a button.

I was thrilled to have my poem “Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie (Homage to Piet Modrian)” featured recently on Conrad’s Corner, a production of the NPR affiliate WYSO, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Thank you, host Conrad Balliet, for featuring my poetry on your program.  And thank you, Third Wednesday magazine, for first publishing the poem last spring in Vol. IX, No. 2 of your journal. Listen here to my reading of “Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie” on the Conrad’s Corner podcast.

As the poem’s title suggests, I took inspiration for “Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie (Homage to Piet Mondrian)” from Mondrian’s famous 1942 painting Broadway Boogie-Woogie, which shows red, yellow, and blue squares bebopping along in a New York City street grid pattern.

I thought it could be nifty to juxtapose the jazzy urban energy of Mondrian’s painting to the realm of suburban busy-ness. The more specific image of a suburban mom pushing her baby in a buggy while taking her power walk came to mind. I wanted to capture the jazzy feel of Mondrian’s painting and so relied on my ear to create syncopations in the rhythm of the language and to make the surface sound of the language crackle with alliteration and assonance. I also coined a couple new words (“mothersome,” “babyescent”) to give the poem a whimsical feel. The result is a poem whose music lends itself well to being heard read aloud.

I hope you enjoy the poem and the podcast. Drop me a line and let me know.

Haiku Don Oxford Gowns

haiku
Photo: Jennifer Hambrick

It’s interesting, the stuff you find online.

Just the other day, I logged on to do a simple search for something on the Web. I ended up getting sucked in, clicking my way from link to link as through tripping along a stepping stone path that made Homer’s Odyssey seem like the travelogue of a summer road trip.

But, much as I did online the other day, I digress.

While tooling around in that virtual rabbit hole, I discovered quite by accident that two of my haiku had been published in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of the Oxford, England-based World Haiku Review. And not only that – one of those haiku had actually won Third Place in the “Vanguard” category, and the other was published as a “Haiku of Merit” in the “Neo-Classical” category.

World Haiku Review describes Vanguard haiku as “the most radical” treatments of the haiku genre. Here’s my haiku in that category. I don’t stick to the traditional 5-7-5 syllable count, and there’s an uncomfortable tension between nature and human nature that complicates how the relationship between humans and the natural world is portrayed in traditional haiku.

World Haiku Review uses the term “Neo-Classical” to designate what they describe as “the most traditional” haiku they publish. Scroll down a bit to see my Neo-Classical “Haiku of Merit.”

Enjoy all of the haiku in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of World Haiku Review.

Thank you, editors Susumu Takiguchi, Kala Ramesh, and Rohini Gupta, for publishing my work in your journal. I am honored.

Beautifully Broken

Jack
Photo: Jennifer Hambrick

Many thanks to editor Miriam C. Jacobs for publishing my poem “One-eyed” in the July 2016 issue of Eyedrum Periodically, the literary journal of Atlanta’s Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery. This issue of Eyedrum Periodically is on the theme “Broken,” a true goldmine for poets, who don’t miss a beat when it comes to the wrongness of the world.

“One-eyed” explores both the desperate reality and the exquisite beauty of our human brokenness. The poem was inspired by our dog, Jack, a one-eyed rescue pug who was starved to skin and bones during his first year of life, before we adopted him. We’re not certain what happened during that first year, but Jack might have been born in a puppy mill and, because of his noticeably defective left eye at birth (and since removed), shunted aside for the “reject” pile.

Whatever the reasons, Jack early on grew to fear strangers. But he is a pug and, by nature, a love muffin, and fell in love with us not long after we adopted him. He is extraordinarily protective. I am convinced that he would fight to the death were he to perceive any threat to us.

I am convinced of this because Jack has taken it upon himself to look out our front window now and then each day on what we call “neighborhood watch.” At most, he sees our neighbors across the street going into and out of their homes, working – or in the case of the kids, playing – in their yards, and just generally, as poet James Agee put it, “standing up into their sphere of possession.” And, as I wrote in “One-eyed,” Jack “barks and barks and barks” at our neighbors being neighbors because he’s afraid.

And because he’s broken.

But lest I leave you on a down note, I must also say that, as broken as Jack’s little soul might remain, there is no creature more joyous, more beautiful, more fully himself than One-Eyed Jack. Daily he teaches me that it is possible to live and love through one’s brokenness, that, in fact, one’s brokenness is where we are who we really are, under the wrappers we try to hide behind. Jack’s brokenness reminds me of the world’s need for love.

In that sense, we are all one-eyed. We are all beautifully broken.