My “Paper Roses” Haiku and the Story of the Very Special Artwork That Inspired It

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:

Hambrick Paper roses haiku - 1

 

Hambrick Paper roses haiku - 2

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.

A Rustling and Waking Within cover

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.

Jon Juravich student paper flowers
Paper flowers made by the third grade art students of Jon Juravich at Liberty Tree Elementary School, Powell, Ohio.  Photo by Jon Juravich

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.

Fast-forward to April 30, when the Ohio poet Beverly Zeimer’s chapbook the Wildness of Flowers was published by the Cleveland-area publisher NightBallet Press.

Beverly Ziemer chapbook cover
Photo by Dianne Borsenik, with Photo Lab PRO

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.

“Stiletto heel” Haiku Published in The Mainichi (The Daily News – Japan)

The Mainichi imageWhat a pleasant surprise!

I  just discovered quite at random that one of my haiku was published recently in the major Japanese newspaper The Mainichi (The Daily News).

Here is my poem:

Hambrick stiletto heel haiku The Mainichi 18 April 2017

My thanks to editor Isamu Hashimoto for selecting my work. I am greatly honored.

 

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)

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

Before Sunrise

Photo: Christopher Crouzet/Creative Commons/Flickr

Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff explores the wonder of childbirth and the unique dynamic between mothers and daughters in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

around my neck
the tightness
of Mother’s scarf

What woman doesn’t know this “tightness of Mother’s scarf”?  The tightness of the scarf around the “neck,” specifically, suggests the restriction of the poetic speaker’s voice by way of the mother’s enduring influence.  Woerdehoff’s metaphor is a powerful one for that extraordinary dynamic, somewhere between too close and not close enough, that so often exists between mothers and daughters.

***

birthing at dawn
light on the lake
bending

Here, the image of “light on the lake / bending” suggests that the physical world shifts to accommodate the arrival of a new human being by way of refracting or diffracting light, just as the world awakens with the arrival of the sun at dawn.  In Woerdehoff’s haiku, all of nature, including the mystery of childbirth, is gathered in a profound expression of wonder and awe.

Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff (USA) 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.  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, journals, and anthologies.  She has taught courses on publishing and has 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 competitions, including earning her River Arts Association Writer of the Year honors.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Angela Leuck

Antipasto Salvadonica

Photo: Salvadonica Borgo del Chianti/Creative Commons/Flickr

Middle-aged women and younger men meet up in a haiku by Angela Leuck in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

antipasto –
middle-aged women
eyeing younger men

Here, cougars lick their chops on the veldt of sexual politics.  That Leuck’s “middle-aged women” only “eye” the “younger men” seems to toy with the transgressive notion of a woman of mothering age indulging her sexual appetite with someone possibly young enough to be her child.  But when you consider that the “antipasto” is the appetizer one indulges in before the main course, this senryu suggests that the women might do more than “eye” the men as the “meal” progresses.

Angela Leuck’s work has been published in journals and anthologies around the world.   An award-winning poet, she is the author of More Grows in a Crooked Row (inkling, 2016), Garden Meditations and A Cicada in the Cosmos (inkling, 2009), and Flower Heart (Blue Ginkgo, 2006).  She has also edited numerous anthologies, including Rose Haiku for Flower Lovers and Gardeners (Price-Patterson, 2005), Tulip Haiku (Shoreline, 2004), and, with Maxianne Berger, Sun Through the Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today (Shoreline, 2003). She lives in Hatley, Quebec.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Tim Gardiner

Joshua Tree National Park

Photo: Esther Lee/Creative Commons/Flickr

Tim Gardiner celebrates two noted American women environmental activists in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

Gardiner writes this introduction to the two haiku featured today:

“These haiku are in celebration of noted environmental activists and their major achievements: banning the use of egret plumes on hats and the campaign for the protection of (California’s) Joshua Tree National Park.”

tea party…
an egret feather
on the carpet

For Harriet Hemenway, Boston activist

***

Joshua tree…
the succulent set on fire
to guide their way

For Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, conservationist of desert plants in California

Dr. Tim Gardiner is an ecologist, poet and children’s author from the UK.  His first collection of poetry,
Wilderness, was published by Brambleby Books in 2015, and his debut children’s book, The Voyage of the Queen Bee, was published by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2016.  Tim’s haiku have appeared in literary magazines such as Frogpond, Modern Haiku, and The Heron’s Nest.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Louise Hopewell

The Glass Ceiling!

Photo: Judy Dean/Creative Commons/Flickr

Louise Hopewell writes of rotting lettuce and the glass ceiling in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

crisp lettuce
rotting on the compost heap
glass ceiling

Words do not suffice to describe the injustice of the so-called glass ceiling.  A woman’s talents and abilities are stopped in their tracks for no reason other than her sex, which is to say for no reason whatsoever, while the talents of her male counterparts are given opportunity to flourish.  Unless she can create her own opportunities, all that ability lies fallow or, worse, is completely wasted, like the “crisp lettuce / rotting on the compost heap” in Hopewell’s poem.  While the juxtaposition of images in this haiku is quite overt, there sometimes comes a time and a place for directness.  Now is the time, and this festival is the place.

Louise Hopewell is an Australian poet, writer and songwriter whose haiku and senryu have been published in Failed Haiku, Hedgerow, and Creatrix.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Nicholas Klacsanzky

On a windy day 1

Photo: Randi Hausken/Creative Commons/Flickr

Enjoy Nicholas Klacsanzky’s heartwarming haiku about his younger sister in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

winter wind . . .
singing my little sister
to sleep

Klacsanzky captures a special sibling moment in all its beautiful simplicity.  The juxtaposition of the cold “winter wind” with the emotional warmth of the voice singing the lullaby is beyond delightful.  One can imagine this sweet moment to have been comforting for the little sister and life-changing for the older brother.  And the music of Klacsanzky’s words – the alliteration of “winter wind” and “singing my little sister to sleep” – turns the poem into a lullaby in its own right.

Nicholas Klacsanzky is a widely-published haiku, senryu, and tanka poet, and a technical editor by profession.  The editor of Haiku Commentary, he wants to promote haiku as an educational study.  He was conferred with a certificate for being one of the top 100 haiku poets in Europe in 2015 and 2016. In addition, he is a mentor for haiku, senryu, and tanka on the online group Poets on Google Plus.  He lives in Kyiv, Ukraine.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Senryu by David Oates

mother&child01

Photo: Dave Bleasdale/Creative Commons.Flickr

David Oates explores the happy chaos of family life in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

two young women
with three young children
try to visit

The scenario Oates describes in this delightful poem plays out (literally) in parks, on play dates, and at extended family gatherings everywhere: Two worlds – that of children and that of the adults charged with keeping them safe and teaching them how to behave – collide.  With the operative word “try,” Oates hints at the children’s mischief and the women’s frustration – in short, at the pandemonium of family life.

David Oates is the host of “Wordland,” a radio show of spoken word on wuga.org.  He is the author of three haiku collections: Shifting with My Sandwich Hand, Drunken Robins and, forthcoming, The Deer’s Bandanna.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Michelle Schaefer

why is the sky blue?

Photo: Optick/Creative Commons/Flickr

Michelle Schaefer writes of lace and sea glass in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

sea glass
I find myself
piece by piece

With its sharp edges worn smooth by the tumult of the ocean, “sea glass” is a beautiful metaphor for what, ideally, happens to us over the course of our lives.  The self-possessed older woman who embodies that special kind of ease in her own skin didn’t necessarily get there easily or overnight.  She likely had to comb a lot of beaches and pick up loads of flotsam and jetsam before finding the lovely sea-gems that sit well in her soul.  Schaefer’s poem gives us a road map – let the ocean of life smooth out our rough edges – and reveals the wabi-sabi kind of beauty of the works-in-progress that we are.

***

the edge of lace
no
still means no

The classic decoration for women’s undergarments, lace is a vivid signifier of feminine sexual intimacy.  Intriguingly, “the edge of lace” is serrated like a knife blade and, in Schaefer’s poem, suggests a protective boundary or even a weapon against sexual violence.  The lace metaphor here is an extraordinary symbol of a woman’s right to autonomy and a reminder of boundaries that are not to be transgressed.

Michelle Schaefer is a poet-in-progress.  She has spent many years learning and writing the art form of haiku.  She has been published in various haiku journals and anthologies.  Her poetry can be found in Acorn, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Mariposa and Heron’s Nest.  She is also featured in NY Seitkatsu’s online publication as a regular semifinalist in the Ito En Haiku Grand Prix.  She has recently won Frogpond‘s Museum of Haiku Literature Award in its most recent volume.  She hopes that poetry touches people in extraordinary ways.  She lives in Bothell, WA with her husband.