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.”
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
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
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.
Because it happens so often, a woman’s setting her dreams aside to nurture other people has become almost a cliché. The ethereal image of the night-blooming moonflower imbues the mother’s inner awakening – under cover of darkness – with hope. Maybe it’s not too late for her to rekindle those old passions, to tap into her unique potential, and to nurture the pars of herself that have for so long been eclipsed.
Debbi Antebi (@debbisland) lives in London, UK, with her beloved husband and books. Her work has been featured in magazines and journals around the world. An award winning poet and a member of the British Haiku Society, she exhales oxygen while writing poems.
And, if we’re honest without ourselves, wouldn’t we have to admit that we do the same? This senryu backs into the issues of our obsession with appearances and our pathological need to throw stones, even when we know we all live in glass houses. That the poem comes close to being a campy ars poetica takes some of the sting out of its commentary about human nature.
sun in my eyes
my mother will never see
all of me
The relational ground between a daughter and her mother is sometimes almost too treacherous to navigate. My guess is that Stevens is right – no mother will ever see all of her daughter. The mother’s expectations of and dreams for her daughter might blind her to the more valid reality of her daughter’s own self-realization. And the daughter’s striving to show her mother what she has become, implied so effectively in this haiku with the image of “sun in my eyes,” takes on a tone of desperate futility.
a little too loud
the goth girl’s laughter
at her boyfriend’s joke
The desire to be desired shows up here in the form of, I imagine, an adolescent girl who’s trying a bit too hard. She may grow out of it or, if she doesn’t find the genuine love she really seeks, she may not.
Mary Stevens lives in the Hudson Valley, New York, among much wildlife. A member of the Haiku Society of America since 2003, she presented “The Cicada’s Voice: How Wabi Sabi Can Teach Us How to Live” at the 2015 Haiku North America, Schenectady, New York. She aspires to get out of her own way when writing haiku.
For whatever reason, maybe as an expression of a latent desire to be desired, it seems little girls go through a princess phase. When there’s a trusted guide, like a Princess Elsa doll, a girl’s journey into imaginary princesshood can be important child’s play, no doubt best conducted while wearing diaphanous dresses and dime-store tiaras. Sng’s senryu cleverly connects this picture of youthful innocence nourished through play with the kitchen through the parallel imagery of an emerging hair braid and emerging stands of pasta. Even more, the poem transforms an implied mother figure into the handmaid charged with fussing over the princess’s hair, a fascinating role reversal that foreshadows different relational dynamics down the road.
crystal clear lake
no one sees the debris
at the bottom
This poem speaks to the reality that, in this messy life, things are not always as they seem. Experiences accrete onto our souls like barnacles glomming onto ships. Yet we are expected not to reveal any of that baggage to the world. For all our calm comportment, there’s just so much stuff way down deep.
Christina Sng (Singapore) is a poet, writer, and artist. She is the author of two haiku collections, A Constellation of Songs (Origami Poems Project, 2016) and Catku (Allegra Press, 2016). In the moments in between, she finds joy in tending to her herb and bonsai garden. Visit her at christinasng.com.
mother doesn’t remember
the colour of the sea
(For my mother)
Maybe the mother in the poem doesn’t remember the color of the sea because she has been blind from an early age. Or maybe her memory is being devoured by dementia. Whatever the cause, forgetting the color of the sea is a loss with profound metaphorical resonance. The poetic speaker experiences that loss as her own, perhaps through tears in her own “misty morning.” Griffo’s haiku touches the wound that another person’s loss opens in us.
Eufemia Griffo is an Italian writer and poet in Milan, Italy. She has published books of poetry and fiction, including L’ereditá di Dracula (The Legacy of Dracula), which she co-authored with Davide Benincasa, and has won many awards for her writing. She blogs at The River Still Flows. Website: http://ilsussurrodellaluna.eu/.
Find more information about the International Women’s Haiku Festival and submit your work at this link.