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: Poems by Roberta Beary

Lucky Strike

Photo: Scott Hudson/Creative Commons/Flickr

Roberta Beary gets real about marriage, divorce, and domestic violence in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

relentless rain
the lengthening arc
of his fist

In this harrowing poem, Beary juxtaposes the relentless pounding of rain with an unthinkable, yet all too common, act of violence.


mother of the bride
dressed head to toe
in black

Beary’s poem recasts a wedding as a funeral and, in the poem’s gut-wrenching final line, enshrouds the mother of the bride – and by implication the bride herself – in the permanent darkness of the loss of life.


moving day
the kids pack up
my first marriage

Here, the home doesn’t just turn into an empty nest; it all but vanishes as material belongings, the absent spouse, and grown children pack up and move on.

Roberta Beary (USA and Ireland) is the 2017 Roving Ambassador for The Haiku Foundation and the haibun editor for Modern Haiku. She identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. Her haiku collection The Unworn Necklace, named a William Carlos Williams finalist by the Poetry Society of America, is in its fourth printing. Her work is featured in A Companion to Poetic Genre (John Wiley & Sons, 2011) and Haiku In English: The First Hundred Years (W.W. Norton, 2013). Her book Deflection (Accents Publishing, 2015), a collection of haibun and haiku sequences on loss and grief, named an Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist, received a Touchstone Award Honorable Mention and won a Haiku Society of America prize. Poet and playwright Grace Cavalieri says, “In Deflection she extends her reach with some of the most searingly truthful work I’ve seen this year.” Beary tweets her photoku on Twitter @shortpoemz.

Find more information about the International Women’s Haiku Festival and submit your work at this link.