A couple of weeks ago, I created my very first haiga – haiku plus visual art in symbiotic relationship. Today, it became a media celebrity.
This morning, I was named Haiku Master of the Week on the NHK WORLD TV (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) series Haiku Masters for my haiga “alone,” shown above. You can watch the mini-episode of Haiku Masters which aired on NHK TV this morning at this link.
Two of the hosts and judges of Haiku Masters wrote some thoughtful comments about my haiga, which was selected in a process of blind judging.
“One of the most important points of this piece is how although the narrator may be looking outside, he or see seems to be more focused on an inner dialogue. […] Furthermore, the word placement on the photo is wonderful, as isolating the word ‘alone’ increases the sentiment of loneliness,” wrote Japanese haiku poet Kazuko Nishimura.
“What exactly is the space between raindrops, we wonder, and imagine what thoughts slip in between,” wrote the American-born poet and photographer Kit Pancoast Nagamura. Read the judges’ full comments here.
I wish to congratulate this week’s runners-up – Joelle Ginoux-Duvivier (France) and Kanchan Chatterjee (India) and to thank Ms. Nishimura and Ms. Pancoast Nagamura for seeing something meaningful in my work amidst a pool of thousands of submissions worldwide. I am delighted and humbled by this honor.
Doing something you love is its own reward. But that reward is always sweeter when others recognize the value of your contribution.
I was notified recently that a poetry reading and roundtable conversation radio program I produced and hosted in April 2016 received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) Awards. This project combined two things I love: the power of poetry to move and inspire, and the power of radio to reach people where and when they least expect it.
For the program, which I produced for broadcast on the “Morning Exchange” program on VOICEcorps, the audio reading service for the vision impaired community in Columbus, Ohio, I invited three other poets from around Ohio to share a few of their poems and talk about how they were bitten by the poetry bug. I and fellow Ohio poets Sayuri Ayers, Mark Sebastian Jordan and Kathleen Burgess recorded the one-hour program at the VOICEcorps studios for broadcast during April 2016 – National Poetry Month.
Here is the audio (unedited) of the April 2016 poetry program. I am grateful to Sayuri, Mark and Kathleen for granting me permission to share their poetry on this platform.
Some of you have asked when I will be compiling a full-length collection of haiku for publication. I have decided that the time is now. Imagine: a big book of little poems.
I pulled together into a Word document all of my haiku, published and otherwise, that are strong contenders for membership in a full-length collection. That’s the stack of papers in the center of the ginormous desk – which I inherited from a dear friend when she downsized her dwelling a few years ago – in my poetry studio, shown in the photo above.
I then cut the document so that each poem would occupy its own little piece of paper. Here is the resulting heap o’ ku:
Then I laid each of the poem “pieces” on my desk and moved them around, noting the themes that emerged. I gave each theme a “name,” which will become the headings for each section of the book. Here is the “draft” of my entire haiku collection, all laid out poem by poem, and with section headings written on yellow Post-It Notes:
Once I’ve slid and scooted the poems into a satisfying order, the fun and games will end. On the rest of the book publication journey, I will submit the manuscript, wait for acceptance, and eventually, at the advice of the formidable editor I am asking the Universe to send to curate my poems, likely murder at least some of my proverbial darlings.
Ah, the romance of poetry.
But in the end, there will be a book of poems that, I hope, will bring some reader somewhere feelings of wonder, joy, connection, and hope.
It was announced recently that one of my haiku received a merit award in the first Montenegrin Haiku Festival Competition – Nature in My Eye.
My poem was one of 20 haiku named among the winners in the competition, in which 167 authors from 31 countries entered a total of 835 poems. I am honored and humbled to be in the company of some great haikuists, whose work I look forward to reading in the festival anthology.
The festival will take place August 25-27 in beautiful Montenegro.
Congratulations to all of the winners, and my sincere gratitude to the contest judges.
It’s always exciting to get in on the ground of floor of a new enterprise. Today, one of my poems did just that.
I am thrilled and humbled that one of my poems was published today in the inaugural issue of the international poetry journal The Cherita.
The Malayan poet ai li created the poetic form of the cherita in 1997. The word “cherita” means “story” in Malay. ai li’s three-line cherita form encourages the telling of tales in deft, imagistic language that guides the reader through narratives that gain momentum with each stanza.
This month, the cherita form turns 20, and to celebrate, it gets its own journal, co-edited by ai li and American poet Larry Kimmel. The inaugural issue showcases each cherita on its own page, and illustrates each poem with a vivid photograph related to the poem’s story. The final product is a feast of written and visual images.
ai li and Larry Kimmel have selected a number of my cheritas for publication in the next several issues of their journal. I am honored, and I’m eager to read more moving and inspiring stories in the issues to come.
We were happy. And at the same time, we were wrecked.
Fifteen years ago, my then brand-new husband and I were walking around beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, on our honeymoon hot and wilted. All the hype and hoopla of our wedding the day before had taken the starch out of us, so we just thought we were dragging from plain old exhaustion.
But we learned later that day the we had actually been walking around Charleston in 104-degree heat. And, given that this was June in Charleston, heaven only knows what the humidity was.
But though we were wrecked, we were happy.
So, on June 2, the fifteenth anniversary of that sweltering day, it was a delight to see my haiku inspired by our honeymoon published in Japan’s leading daily newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun, in a special column devoted to honeymoons. My sincere thanks to editor David McMurray. Here is my haiku:
If you tried to access online my review of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra concert last Saturday, May 21, 2017 anytime before 11:45 this morning, you were not successful.
I, too, tried to access my review – which I had submitted at 11:24 p.m. Saturday – online and could not find it. When I inquired, I was told, in writing, that the review had been published last Sunday, 22 May, on page B2 of the print edition of TheColumbus Dispatch, but that it appeared “that it did not get to the web,” possibly because of “merely an oversight at a late hour with much going on.”
I am happy to report that my review of the final concert of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s 2016-17 season – also the orchestra’s only performance this season of Mahler’s phenomenal Third Symphony and the ensemble’s special concert dedicated to the memory of one of Columbus’ great philanthropists, the avid classical music supporter Anne Melvin – has now been published in the Web edition of The Columbus Dispatch.
I love it when a project of unassuming origins takes on a life of its own.
My “paper roses” haiku, which the Italian haiku poet Elisa Allo recently featured and translated into Italian on her blog, Ama no gawa, recently found itself in the middle of such a project. Little did I know that my haiku contains a pun that is impossible to translate into Italian. Elisa presented the haiku with a beautiful graphic and an explanatory note about the translation:
My “paper roses” haiku might not have come about in the first place had it not been for the phenomenal artwork a group of Columbus-area elementary school students and a recent event of the Ohio Poetry Association.
In April, the Ohio Poetry Association published a statewide anthology of ekphrastic poems (poems inspired by other works of art), A Rustling and Waking Within. The anthology was a project many years in the making and was guided into the world with selfless love and generosity by editor Sharon Fish Mooney.
The anthology launch party last month at Columbus’ Wexner Center for the Arts (“the Wex”) featured poets, including myself, from all around Ohio reading aloud poems in the anthology.
In the run-up to the event, I volunteered to acquire flowers to adorn the small reception tables where poets would gather to nosh and sip before and after the readings. Unable to secure a donation of real flowers, I turned to Plan B: paper flowers.
I asked one of my co-workers if her husband, an elementary school art teacher, might think it a good project for some of his art students to make a few dozen paper flowers for the anthology launch party. It just so happened that one of his classes of third graders loves to do origami – so much so that their teacher often has to collect any artwork they create on paper right after they finish it, lest they fold it into something else!
Moreover, my colleague’s husband knew just the right pattern for paper flowers, one which he himself made many times and sold at modest cost. Over the next few weeks, Jon Juravich, the art teacher at Liberty Tree Elementary School in Powell, Ohio, led his students in making three dozen paper flowers, which they then donated to the Ohio Poetry Association for use at the anthology launch party. As you can see from the photo Jon took, the students’ work is simply gorgeous.
But the final presentation was stunning. Jon hot glued the paper “blooms” onto tree twigs he had painted black. I placed one or two stems into each of several tall bud vases and placed a vase on each of the small tables at the Wex. Quite simply, the students’ flowers were a hit.
At the anthology launch, I asked OPA president Chuck Salmons and other organizers of the event to sign a thank-you card for Jon and his students. For my part, I wrote an original haiku – my “paper roses” haiku, which Elisa Allo later featured and translated into Italian – inspired by the students’ phenomenal paper flowers. Jon shared the thank-yous, kudos, and haiku to his students.
On the cover of Beverly’s chapbook, in the center of a swirl of gardenia blossoms, is a picture of one of the vases of the Powell students’ paper roses sitting on one of the tables at the OPA anthology launch party.
So, finding flowers (or rather failing to find flowers) for a major poetry event inspired a creative project for some talented third-graders, which both turned into a haiku inspired by the paper flowers they made and which is now translated into a foreign language on a blog an ocean away, and became cover art for a poet’s chapbook published right here in Ohio.
Somewhere in this story is a lesson about synchronicity. But here’s the most powerful lesson: positive energy begets positive energy, and the creative spirit, when embraced, nurtured, and loved, cannot be stopped.
I thank Elisa Allo for welcoming my “paper roses” so beautifully into the world, and I thank Jon Juravich and the third grade art students at Liberty Tree Elementary School for their talent, generosity, and inspiration.
A paragraph containing the name of the composer and the title of the final work on the program was edited out in its entirety and, it seems, left on the cutting room floor. That paragraph also gave a nod to some lovely solo playing by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s acting concertmaster.
In case you’d like to read the part of the review that was edited out, below in boldface is the missing paragraph as I submitted it and in its original context – that is, between its preceding and following paragraphs as intended:
Ruan (Chinese lute) soloist Sun Li opened the fifth movement, Rhythm, with a spirited solo set to a funky beat. In the final movement, The Grand Canal, the orchestra reprised music from earlier movements with conviction and flair, which the audience rewarded with a standing ovation.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade opened with stentorian flourish. A lovely solo by acting concertmaster Joanna Frankel led to the full orchestra’s rhapsodic undulations in the first movement, The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship.
Wonderful solos in the woodwinds decorated the second movement, The Story of the Kalendar Prince, though the tempo throughout seemed a bit stodgy and the ensemble could have been crisper.