Haibun Wins First Place in Haiku Society of America Competition

JD Hancock - Down with Rainbows
Photo: JD Hancock/Creative Commons/Flickr

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.

“That Summer” is published on the Haiku Society of America’s Website. My haibun will also be published in the Haiku Society of America’s journal, Frogpond, one of the finest publications of English-language haiku and related genres.

Sincere thanks to competition judge John Stevenson, and hearty congratulations to my fellow poets who also won awards in this contest.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Marion Clarke

Greg Lobinski - clock
Photo: Greg Lobinski/Creative Commons/Flickr

Concluding the 2018 international Women’s Haiku Festival is a haiku by Northern Irish poet Marion Clarke.

ticking clock . . .
so many things to tell
my daughter

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.”

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Michelle Hyatt

Chris Isherwood - Near
Photo: Chris Isherwood/Creative Commons/Flickr

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.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Haiku by David He

yowlong - Chestnut Hill Reservoir at Dusk
Photo: yowlong/Creative Commons/Flickr

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.

***

Mum’s story
in her grey hair…
early dusk

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.  

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: Two Poems by dl mattila

pslim - alien cocoon!
Photo: pslim/Creative Commons/Flickr

The private self meets advancing age in two poems by dl mattila.

cocoon . . .
it’s what you don’t see
that defines me

In an age of endless social media confessions, it is important to remember that our selves were not meant to be always – or even ever – broadcast to the world. So often the cocoon is viewed only as a symbol of the butterfly that is to emerge from it. But there is essential beauty in what is inside the cocoon, not just in what is about to come out of it. It commands our respect. If only we’d stop tweeting and blogging long enough to notice.

***

advancing age
in my blind-spot
changing lanes

This sharp little poem leaves us on a cliff-hanger ending, even though Mother Nature has already spoiled the ending for us all. We don’t see age creeping up on ourselves until we try to shift our lives and run smack into it. But even though the younger driver may (really?) have the better reflexes, the older one has potentially more experience, more skill, and, as the character Evelyn Couch noted in the now classic film Fried Green Tomatoes, more insurance.

dl mattila is a lot of things.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Three Haiku by Sandra Simpson

Susanne Nilsson - Blowing in the Wind
Photo: Susanne Nilsson/Creative Commons/Flickr

New Zealand poet Sandra Simpson packs the inner heat wave of menopause, the piquant flavor of a fourth marriage, and the beautiful death of big dreams into three lovely haiku.

heat wave –
holding the soft part of my wrist
under the tap

The term “heat wave” has a wonderful double resonance as the natural phenomenon of a period of scorching outdoor temperatures and as a metaphor for the hot flashes that often come with the equally natural process of menopause. Either way, one can imagine seeking relief from the external or internal heat by holding the sensitive flesh of the underside of the wrist beneath a trickle of cool water, a common remedy for the discomfort of hot flashes.

***

the water jug
stuffed with mint & lemon –
her fourth husband

Far richer than the purity of the first marriage, the water jug in the first line, which I read as representing the fourth marriage, is packed with stuff – natural, earthy, fragrant, and tasty stuff, but stuff nonetheless. The stuff of a life full of experience – the astringency of previous marital loss, the minty coolness of taking it all in stride. Far from plain old spring water, the water in the jug is infused with the perfume of many lifetimes.

***

blossom wind –
too late now to be
who I wanted to be

The moment when you realize you’ll never play professional baseball. Or become a great chef. Or become a parent. This wistful poem represents that moment as the part of the self that dreams our dreams – which is to say, the deepest part of the self – dying, drifting away like flower petals on a spring breeze. And that breeze – that “blossom wind” – is historically especially good at blowing women in every direction – into and out of marriages, from location to location as trailing spouses, into motherhood, out of careers. At the same time, this poem also transforms that deep and dreamy part of each of us into something it never dared to imagine it could become: the simple, perfect petal of a flower.

Sandra Simpson co-organised the 2012 Haiku Festival Aotearoa (New Zealand) and in 2018 is co-editing the Fourth NZ Haiku Anthology. Sandra is the founding editor of the online Haiku NewZ (2004), has been secretary of the Katikati Haiku Pathway Committee since 2006, and South Pacific editor for the annual Red Moon anthology since 2012. She has won several awards for her haiku and judged international competitions. Sandra published a collection of her haiku, breath, in 2012 and from the same year has had her own haiku blog, also called breath. She grows orchids as a hobby.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Senryu by Stella Pierides

Picturepest - Vienna - high heels
Photo: Picturepest/Creative Commons/Flickr

Two laser-sharp senryu by poet Stella Pierides explore women’s age dynamics and the eternal question of women’s dress and sexuality.

dressed to kill
she asks
if I’m retired

Well. Why not just ask about her final wishes? The picture is this senryu is crystal clear: a younger woman, in full heat of professional and/or personal ambition and wearing the clothes to prove it, asks the poetic speaker, whom I read to be an older woman, if she’s retired – read: no longer competition, no longer someone to be concerned with. To be charitable, maybe it’s just an observation: the older woman looks older, looks perhaps comfortable in her own skin, and the younger woman just doesn’t get a) that retired doesn’t equal out to pasture, and b) that remarking, even obliquely, on someone’s age is at best insensitive. And what if the poetic speaker actually is retired? Picasso said it best: “It takes a very long time to become young.”

***

knee-length skirt
the extent
of her rebellion

This little senryu is situated perfectly between the rock and the hard place that, eventually, every woman encounters. Look sexy, be sexy, the world instructs. But not too sexy. In this poem, rebellion against the social expectations that a girl or woman be prim and proper results in a shorter skirt. But rebellion against social expectations doesn’t necessarily eliminate the expectations. There is potentially a price to pay – the demise of one’s reputation – for breaking the rules, hence the “extent of her rebellion” is defined by the knees. It could be fear from social pressure that keeps everything north of the knees covered, or it could just be the poem subject’s authentic assessment of her own comfort.

Stella Pierides was born in Athens, Greece, and now divides her time between Neusäss, Germany, and London, England. She is the author of Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017); In the Garden of Absence (Fruit Dove Press, 2012), for which she received a Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award; and Feeding the Doves (Fruit Dove Press, 2013), among others. Stella serves on The Haiku Foundation board of directors and project manages the Per Diem: Daily Haiku feature for the Foundation. She enjoys reading, gardening, film, music, food, and working long hours.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Haiku by Claire Vogel Camargo

Kin Lane - Cemetery
Photo: Kin Lane/Creative Commons/Flickr

A disenvoiced woman screams on the inside, and a widow explores new-found freedom in two lovely haiku by U.S. poet Claire Vogel Camargo.

the silence
of her acquiescence
a scream

Whatever the subject of the poem is acquiescing to, with whatever wrong or misdeed she is rendered voiceless, a scream resounds inside her. You will likely not hear it – not yet, anyway – but it is there. It is the scream that says this is horribly wrong, you don’t deserve this, no one deserves this, this must stop. “This” could be any number of things – rape, abuse, harassment, discrimination, mansplaining, a good old-fashioned scolding by a male co-worker or spouse. The list goes on. And because personal safety and livelihood may well be at stake, “the silence / of her acquiescence” often goes on, too, despite all the screaming inside.

***

just widowed
all she accomplishes
without him

It’s not necessarily the case that he was a demanding husband. He might have been wonderful and supportive, as many husbands are. But before his death, she shared her space, her time, her life with him. She made his interests hers. She flexed with his schedule. Like Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, she may have washed his clothes, cooked his meals, cleaned his house. It was her house, too, of course. But still. Now, after his death, she is her own woman and, seemingly, well at ease.

Claire Vogel Camargo, author of IRIS OPENING, an ekphrastic collection, wrote her first haiku in 2010, which won 1st place. Her poems appear in journals and anthologies – including Cattails, Hedgerow, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, Presence, and World Haiku Review. Her 1st place haiku (My Haiku Pond Academy 2017) was the prompt for Carpe Diem Troiku Kukai “in the herb garden” January 2018. She holds degrees in nursing (BSN, MSN) and belongs to the Austin Poetry Society board, British Haiku Society, and Haiku Society of America. She lives with her husband and Great Dane in Texas.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Two Haiku by Lee Nash

Joe Shlabotnik - Red Carpet
Photo: Joe Shlabotnik/Creative Commons/Flickr

A kept woman and a white wedding dress find their way into two insightful haiku by Lee Nash.

sugar daddy
the acrid sting
of his tobacco

The kept woman. Wouldn’t it be nice, the idea goes, if a man could provide a woman everything she needs, or – better yet – could spoil her outright, just like her father did when she was a little girl, only with bigger, blingier, costlier gifts? Of course, whatever sum the sugar daddy spends, the woman’s emotional price – her sense of her own inner strength and resourcefulness, her self-respect – is far costlier. The “acrid sting” lands in her soul, while material stuff builds up around her like prison walls.

***

white wedding dress
the intensity
of a sugar rose

Are many weddings these days, euphemistically speaking, white? Sure, the bride’s dress may gleam like the cliffs of Albion, but does the dress still convey virginity, as it did in past eras? One can still “read” a white wedding dress that way, though I suspect most would also consider doing so to be old-fashioned and, frankly, none of their business. Yet, the white dress persists as a bride’s default wedding attire, maybe because of or despite the symbol it once clearly was, or maybe – dare I say it? – just for show. So now compare, as Nash does in her poem, the white wedding dress with not a real rose, but a sickly sweet one made of sugar. And it’s only fair to ask: Which article of the groom’s attire still, even if only in the margins, satisfies social expectations of his sexual status at the altar?

Lee Nash lives in France and works as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals, including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Heron’s Nest, and The Lake. Her first poetry chapbook, Ash Keys, is available from Flutter Press. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website: leenashpoetry.com.