International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Mary Stevens

The Beach

Photo: Nicki Mannix/Creative Commons/Flickr

Beach bodies, goth girls, and Mom make their way into haiku by Mary Stevens in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

selecting poems
at the beach
I edit the bodies

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.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Julie Thorndyke

Quince fur :-)

Photo: Storebukkebruse/Creative Commons/Flickr

Julie Thorndyke writes about plump quinces and an overloaded bookshelf in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

plump quinces
the velvet skin
of your memory

Like a plump quince itself, Thorndyke’s haiku changes texture the more you linger with it.  There’s a fleshiness, an implied juiciness to the “plump quinces” in the first line.  Then the second line unites the “velvet skin” of a quince with the fuzziness of the memory and takes us into a relational No Man’s Land.  What began as a seemingly luscious fruit poem ends on a dark note, or at least with a question mark: Did the fuzzy memory forget something of monumental significance to the poetic speaker?  Does it suggest the beginnings of dementia?  After this final turn, the tartness of even a plump quince continues to resonate in our experience – and to linger on our tongues.


overloaded bookshelf no gaps in my diary

The bookshelf and the calendar are so overcrowded that this poem has to be squeezed into a single line.  This poem is a deft reflection of lives crammed full of material goods and busy-ness, leaving no time to reflect and no empty space in which to do it.  If we find ourselves asking how we ended up in this hand basket, Thorndyke’s senryu at least hints at an answer.

Australian writer Julie Anne Thorndyke graduated with merit from the Master of Creative Writing program at the University of Sydney.  She has published poems and stories in many literary journals.  A winner in the U.S.-based Tanka Splendor competition in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, she was also awarded an honorable mention in 6th International Tanka Festival Competition 2009 (Japan).  She facilitates a local tanka writers’ group, participates in collaborative poetry presentations and leads creative writing workshops.  Julie won the 2011, 2015 and 2017 FAW Pauline Walsh short story competitions.  Two collections of her tanka poetry are available from Ginninderra Press.  Her first picture book for children will be published by IP in 2018.  In 2017, Julie was appointed editor of  Eucalypt: a tanka journal by founding editor Beverley George.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Christina Sng

Marcus Spiske Pasta Machine, Creative Commons (2)

Photo: Markus Sipske/Creative Commons/Flickr

Christina Sng writes of princesses, pasta machines, and all of our baggage in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

pasta machine
braiding her hair
like Elsa’s again

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

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Joshua Gage


Photo: Liz West/Creative Commons/Flickr

Joshua Gage talks lingerie and oatmeal in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

Valentine’s Day
last year’s lingerie

One possible reading here is that last year’s lingerie remains unworn because the interested parties skipped the skivvies and went straight to …  But the alarming candor of the text and the bluntness of the final line – “unworn” – suggest a far less rosy force at work in this senryu: The prospective wearer of the lingerie opted for a less romantic scenario.  And imagine that the lingerie was a gift.  One must then ask: When a man gives a woman lingerie, is the gift really for her?  Gage’s senryu tiptoes stoically through this treacherous terrain.  If we are to read a haiku as the expression of an observed moment in time – as, in essence, a wee snippet of autobiography – then Gage’s poem becomes as much confession as caveat emptor.


morning oatmeal
my daughter’s gloves warm
from the heat vent

Oatmeal, a child’s woolly gloves, a heat vent – this poem exudes coziness.  The gloves on the heat vent suggest winter and that the gloves and their wearer have been tumbling about in the snow.  Through three crisply drawn images, Gage at once implies the frightful winter weather outside and paints a picture of a family’s home and a father’s heart aglow.

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland.  His first full-length collection, breaths, is available from VanZeno Press.  Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was published by Sam’s Dot Publishing.  His most recent collection, Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, is available on Poet’s Haven Press.  He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University.  He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Marietta McGregor

moods of a rose-luminous

Photo: Leslie Main-Johnson/Creative Commons/Flickr

Marietta McGregor’s haiku are full of unfolding roses and spidery script in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

unfolding rose…
i stroke her hand
around the cannula

The paradox of the unfolding rose is that, as vibrant and beautiful as it is, it is also in the process of dying.  This haiku is full of life and death, of the frailty of the flesh and of the love that sustains us through all trials, connecting us even across the divide.


attic spring-clean…
her spidery script
a brittle scorecard

The spiders that we imagine are uncovered in the “attic spring-clean” and the “spidery script” on old items convey a masterfully subtle relational discomfort.  And all of it packed away in the attic, hidden in the remote recesses of the private realm, suspended in a web of unease.

Marietta McGregor is a Tasmanian botanist and journalist who lives in Canberra.  Her haiku, haibun, and haiga appear in international journals and anthologies, and have been featured on Japanese television.  She has gained poetry awards in Japan, the UK, the US, and Australia.  She belongs to the Australian Haiku Society, the Haiku Society of America, and the British Haiku Society.

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Haiku by Eufemia Griffo


Photo: Jared Eberhardt/Creative Commons/Flickr

Eufemia Griffo writes a poignant haiku about mothers, daughters, and loss in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

misty morning
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:

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

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Lee Nash


Photo: Moyan Brenn/Creative Commons/Flickr

Two haiku by Lee Nash wear tight jeans and grandmother’s shawl in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

under the folds
of my grandmother’s shawl
Northern Lights

I love the image of a grandchild, whether still young or grown up, burrowed beneath her grandmother’s crocheted or knitted shawl.  The child sees light – maybe even the light of a fire in the fireplace – refracted through the natural holes in the yarn’s colorful weave, thus her own personal Northern Lights display in the warmth and safety of the little world her grandmother created.  Such coziness across the generations.


bumble bee
in a flower tube
my jeans feel tight

The quirky image of a bumble bee trapped in a flower tube gives the familiar image of tight jeans an offbeat twist.  Nash puts herself into the poem with the first person possessive pronoun “my,” giving us the sense that she’s talking right to us, just as a girlfriend would after an ice cream binge.

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader.  Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US, and France, including Ambit; Angle; Ink, Sweat and Tears; Mezzo Cammin; Orbis; Poetry Salzburg Review; Sentinel Literary Quarterly; The French Literary Review; The Interpreter’s House; The Lake; and World Haiku Review. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website:

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

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Stella Pierides

land hermit crab

Photo: Vanessa Pike-Russell/Creative Commons/Flickr

Laughing babies meet hermit crabs in two haiku by Stella Pierides in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

a pen and a feeding spoon –
the baby’s laughter

This senryu captures a moment of the happy chaos babies bring with them everywhere.  The baby is probably laughing because he or she feels secure and happy in the presence of a familiar care taker.  But what about this whimsical possibility: The baby laughs along with us at the humorous image of the parent “juggling” pen and feeding spoon?  In any event, this laughing baby, like all laughing babies, gets the last laugh – from us.


hermit crab –
while ironing she dreams
of other lives

Confined to its shell, the hermit crab rarely, if ever, leaves its home.  What if the woman in this haiku could leave her shell and leave behind her domestic chores?  Would the “other lives” of which she dreams live up to her fantasies and justify sacrificing the security of her status quo?  Maybe what the woman really wishes for is simply to know she has the freedom to choose a different path and define herself anew.

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.

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

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Martha Magenta


Photo: Mo Barger/Creative Commons/Flickr

Martha Magenta turns mammogram shadows upside down and sees dignity in dementia in today’s feature of the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

my shadow
leads the way

Shadows usually follow us, not lead us.  Magenta’s turning that truth on its head is wonderfully playful – or would be, if the shadow in question weren’t the shadow on the mammogram image that every woman dreads.


knitting a shawl
grandmother folds
into the fog

This poem is a rich and dignified picture of generational role reversal.  The verb “folds” so gently unites the knitting work-in-progress with the grandmother who is fading into the fog of sleepiness or dementia – or both.  Was it perhaps the grandmother who taught the poetic speaker to knit?  If so, then those stitches weave the speaker and the grandmother together through the DNA of a beautiful handicraft passed down through generations.

Martha Magenta lives in England, UK. Her poetry has appeared in The Reverie Journal, Cafe Aphra, and Beaux Cooper; her haiku and senryu have been published in Modern Haiku, Presence, and Chrysanthemum, among others; her tanka in The Bamboo Hut, and Ribbons. She is owner of POETS community on G+. She collects her published work on a blog:

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

International Women’s Haiku Festival: Poems by Michael Dylan Welch

Cedar Forest

Photo: Jerry Meaden/Creative Commons/Flickr

Michael Dylan Welch writes of cedars and doilies in today’s feature in the International Women’s Haiku Festival.

rust in the cedars –
we gather again
at her favourite spot

Whose favorite spot?  A grandmother’s?  A sister’s?  A friend’s?  We don’t know, but the “rust in the cedars” and the ritual (“again”) gathering suggest the remembrance of someone now gone.  This poem rings with music: The musical sibilants in the first line – “rust in the cedars” – open the poem with a reverential whispering.  The assonance of the hard G’s on both accented syllables in the second line – “we gather again” – is a gently percussive counterbalance to the hushed first line.  There seems to be a stillness at this gathering, a moment in which to contemplate the imponderable realities of interconnection and the cycle of life.


lazy day at granny’s –
the doily imprint
on my daughter’s cheek

There’s an entire world in the 11 words of this senryu.  This granny with her doilies – you can see her furniture, you can hear the creak of her floors.  And the filigreed imprint of the doily on the girl’s cheek connects the girl with that family home, a sanctuary of complete and total safety.  The assonance and swung rhythm of “lazy day” intertwines seamlessly with the alliteration of “day,” “doily,” and “daughter,” uniting musically the people, time, place, and mood of a moment of simple yet profound family joy.

Michael Dylan Welch recently served two terms as poet laureate for Redmond, Washington, where he also curates two poetry reading series and directs the annual Poets in the Park festival. He runs National Haiku Writing Month (, and is a director of the biennial Haiku North America conference. Michael’s haiku, tanka, longer poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, and one of his translations appeared on the back of 150,000,000 U.S. postage stamps. His personal website is Michael lives with his wife and two children in Sammamish, Washington.

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