I am extremely honored and humbled to have won First Place in the Haiku Society of America’s 2018 Haibun Awards Competition with my haibun “That Summer.”
The genre of haibun consists of the juxtaposition of prose and haiku in ways that allow the two genres to resonate uniquely with each other, creating multiple layers of meaning. Here is “A Brief History of English-Language Haibun” by Jim Kacian, founder and board chairperson of The Haiku Foundation and one of the leading exponents of English-language haiku and related genres. This essay was compiled from Kacian’s introductions, and with Kacian’s permission, by Ray Rasmussen, the present editor of the major haibun journal Haibun Today.
Go create haiga – artworks that join visual image with haiku – inspired by trees.
That was the essentially challenge the wonderful journal Haigaonline issued last fall to all practitioners of the ancient genre of haiga. And is there anyone who wouldn’t want to spend time gazing at, photographing, and writing about trees?
Here is Papanicolaou’s commentary about my haiga in this featured portfolio, and below are the haiga themselves:
Each of the tree haiga in the present portfolio approaches the interaction of text and image differently. In the first, the image of a maple tree in fall colors mirrors line 3 of the poem. In the second, there’s a wider shift as the deep red, not yet fallen leaves of the image serve as visual metaphor for the text. In the third, the image of the tree is a structural support for a concrete poem, bot linked by the revelation of line 3. The text of the fourth is dependent on the image and may not work as a stand-alone poem, but it has the bite that I’ve come to know as characteristic of Jennifer’s senryu haiga. It’s a commentary on the disposability of trees in our consumerist culture.
About eight years ago our beautiful ash tree, pictured in the haiga above (“you would never have guessed”), was diagnosed with the emerald ash borer. I wept for a week as we considered our options, but destroying and removing the tree was simply not one of them. So, we signed up for tree health care, contracting with a tree service to give the ash biennial treatments of a substance that drives away the borer. The tree is still with us and is still glorious, though its thin canopy and brittle branches remain telltale signs of its illness.
I took this photo standing under the ash tree and looking up into the canopy, which was thinning as much from autumn leaf droppage as from the borer. The haiku our fragile tree inspired comments on the ephemerality of all life and our common human delusion that all there is to any life – tree, human, or otherwise – is what meets the eye.
One day last fall, the sun was pouring through the yellow leaves of our maple tree that, from the second story of our home, I felt absolutely wrapped in a warm, golden glow. The image in this haiga relates something of that glow, and whatever emotional warmth the camera could not capture, the haiku, hopefully, helps to convey.
My friend the violinist Siwoo Kim took this photograph while traveling in South Korea and posted an unedited version of it on Facebook. When I saw the picture, the contrast between the vibrancy of the red leaves and the autumnal feel of the setting sun took my breath away. Siwoo gave me his blessing to turn his photo into a haiga, so I edited the image, bringing out more of the drama of the lighting and adding a border and the text of my poem, which the image inspired.
On the day after Christmas 2017, a sadly large number of pine trees were lying at curbs all around our neighborhood. They had been put out just in time for the recycling collectors.
Congratulations to my fellow haiga artists whose work also appears in this issue of Haigonline.
After months and months of preparation, dozens of conversations, a bevy of emails, and a whirlwind of ideas catalyzed by an inspiring and fruitful creative collaboration, the orchestral song setting of my poem “Thorn Tree” was given its world premiere along with those of two other new orchestral songs yesterday afternoon at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington.
The song settings were composed by Columbus composer Jacob Reed as part of “The Poet’s Song,” a project Reed created to unite poems and music in new art songs.
On a concert program entitled “The Words Beneath the Sound,” featuring musical works with sung or spoken texts, McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra artistic and music director Antoine Clark conducted the world premieres of Reed’s songs, the world premiere of Christopher Weait’s orchestral song settings of Emily Dickinson poems Emily’s Bees and Bells, Walton’s Façade Suite No. 2 – with poetry by Edith Sitwell, and, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its world premiere, Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat, with a text adaptation I wrote specially for this performance. Soprano Chelsea Hart Melcher was featured as soloist in the Reed and Weait songs, and, in my role as midday host of WOSU Public Media’s Classical 101, I narrated the Walton and the Stravinsky.
As a guest artist, I worked with Thomas Worthington High School students on reading and writing poetry in two class visits. Students were also encouraged to participate in a poetry contest, which was judged by other members of the Worthington community, and the winner of which had his poem set to music by Reed and performed in yesterday’s concert. Poems by all of the entrants in the school poetry contest were displayed along with musical sketches by Reed and Weait, on a “Wall for Sharing” in the lobby at the MAC. The project’s culminating performance, “The Words Beneath the Sound,” yesterday at the McConnell Arts Center brought a rich program of poetry and music before the Worthington community.
This project hit home deeply with me. I grew up in Worthington and attended the Worthington Schools, and I know how committed this community is to quality in education and cultural enrichment. Yesterday’s concert brought a rich offering of poetry and music before the Worthington community in combinations that had never before been experienced in that way. I left the performance with the feeling that we all had experienced something unique and exciting.
From its dissonant opening “thorn” chord to its intentionally unsettled conclusion, Reed’s setting of my poem “Thorn Tree,” like his settings of the poems by the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi and Worthington student poet Nat Hickman he selected for “The Poet’s Song,” explores the text’s emotional depth in rich, dramatic harmonies and sparkling orchestral color.
My deep gratitude to composer Jacob Reed for believing in my poem “Thorn Tree” enough to give it this sumptuous orchestral setting, to Antoine Clark for bringing me into “The Poet’s Song” project, and to the staff of the McConnell Arts Center for making the center an inspiring locus of creativity.
It was a great honor to sing the Ohio premiere of Philadelphia-based composer Melissa Dunphy’s song set Hervararkviða – The Incantation of Hervor – with harpist Jeanne Norton and violinist Laura Koh Sunday afternoon at Capital University’s Huntington Recital Hall, Columbus.
Commissioned by mezzo-soprano Maren Montalbano for her recording Sea Tangle: Songs from the North, the three songs in Hervararkviða tell the story of Hervor, a young Viking woman who dresses up like a man, changes her name to its male equivalent – Hervarth, and leaves her village to journey to the burial mound where her father was laid to rest after dying in battle and claim his sword as her birthright.
Scored for Montalbano’s specified instrumentation, Dunphy’s songs treat the voice and each of the instruments in unconventional ways to stunning dramatic effect. They are an extraordinary contribution to the art song repertory.
Yesterday’s performance of Hervararkviða was presented by Women in Music Columbus and was the conclusion of a concert consisting of works selected from among those submitted in response to Women in Music Columbus’ biennial Call for Scores from women composers.
I was greatly touched by yesterday’s generous audience, which gave our performance of these incredible songs a standing ovation.
Concluding the 2018 international Women’s Haiku Festival is a haiku by Northern Irish poet Marion Clarke.
ticking clock . . .
so many things to tell
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.”
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.
Polish poet Marta Chociłowska paints a picture of the happy hustle and bustle of a market flower stand in a delightful haiku.
a woman at the market
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.
With sensitivity and grace, Malintha Perera paints a tender portrait to a mother without children in a wistfully lovely haiku.
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.
Poet Terri L. French talks middle age and damselflies in two beautiful haiku.
shifts to the right
As the earth and neighboring planets shuffle around the Milky Way, the seasons emerge, according to which parts of the earth are nearest to or farthest from the sun. Read a number line from left to right and notice where the “middle age” years fall. With each moment, each day, each year – and with some wishful thinking – they slouch farther down the line, into the winter of your life, whether or not you’re ready for it.
damselfly . . .
our own heroes
Outside of storybooks and movies, how many damsels in distress have been rescued by fathers, brothers, or celebrity athletes? With a touch as delicate as a damselfly’s wing, this poem warns us not to wait for the fiercely named dragonfly to bring us securely into our lives. It is a call to action, an invitation to us all to become the people we want to be.
Terri L. French is a writer, editor, and poet. She is a former SE Coordinator of The Haiku Society of American, past editor of Prune Juice Journal of Senryu and Kyoka, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Haiku Foundation.
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.
in her grey hair…
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.