A Short Walk Inside a Haiga: “synapse” Before and After

Hambrick - synapse ACCEPTED FOR PUB IN DAILY HAIGA
“synapse” first published in DailyHaiga 27 Oct. 2017  http://www.dailyhaiga.org/haiga-archives/2165/synapse-by-jennifer-hambrick-usa.  “synapse” poem & image © Jennifer Hambrick 2017. All rights reserved.

Anyone who creates on a regular basis knows that the process that leads to a creation is almost always as original as the creation itself. In the case of my haiga “synapse,” published recently in the beautiful online journal DailyHaiga, I thought a before-and-after might be of interest.

It was actually the edited version of the photograph in “synapse” that inspired the haiku that now accompanies it. The edited image is above; here is the unedited photograph:

DSCF2029
© Jennifer Hambrick 2017. All rights reserved.

In the unedited, photo it’s a bit more clear that the light yellow network of fibrous tentacles is actually a meandering aquatic plant floating in water – in this case, a pond – just beneath the surface.

In editing the photo, I wanted to bring out the contrast between the yellow plant and the greenish hue of the water. So I moved briskly to the electric end of the color spectrum and also applied some other filters to add a retro urban feel.

I sat quietly for a while looking at the edited photo and exploring my inner landscape in relation to it, asking myself how the colors made me feel, what, in the abstract, that yellow thing kind of looked like, and so on.

Then I listened to my intuition, which told me that the yellow tentacles looked like either a subway map or a medical image of a nerve cell ganglion – no, they looked like both at once!

The two contrasting interpretations of the photo’s subject practically handed me the two components of the haiku on a platter: “synapse,” as in a nerve cell synapse, and “the distant rumble / of the outbound train,” referring to the subway map interpretation of the yellow vine.

My deep thanks to DailyHaiga editor Linda Pilarski for again publishing my work.

“Gloaming” Named a Winner in World Haiku Association Haiga Contest

Hambrick - gloaming UNDER REVIEW WITH OCT 2017 WORKLD HAIKU ASSOCIATION HAIGA CONTEST
gloaming was first published by the World Haiku Association http://www.worldhaiku.net/wha_haiga/157/jennifer_hambrick_us.html. © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick. All rights reserved.

Everyone I’ve ever met has, metaphorically speaking, carved his or her initials into my soul.

This idea is the message at the heart of my haiga “gloaming,” above, which recently was selected as a winner in the World Haiku Association’s 157th Haiga Contest.

I have never carved my initials into a tree. Here’s why: Imagine what it would feel like if someone were to gouge some random etching into your flesh with a sharp – or worse, a strong but more or less blunt-edged – instrument.

Every word I’ve heard has left its mark on me on a cellular level. Such is the nature of who we are as human beings interconnected in a web of emotions. More to the point, the scars of those I love, and of those I once loved, are still with me and may always be.

I am most grateful to contest judge Kuniharu Shimizu for selecting my work for this honor.

Haiga Celebrates the Slow Trickle of Summer

Hambrick - summer
Summer first published in DailyHaiga, 1 Oct. 2017.  Text and image © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.

I was delighted to have another haiga published recently in the journal DailyHaiga.

Pictured in this haiga is a detail of the bottom of a water chain surrounded by pebbles, a wooden border and fronds of a plant. I took the photo during summer in the Japanese Garden at the phenomenal Schnormeier Gardens in Gambier, Ohio.

The tranquil elegance of this distinctly Japanese scene gave rise to thoughts of a lazy summer day and to the haiku that I included with the image.

And even though summer’s over and we’re deep into a glorious autumn, we can take that summer feeling – warm, lazy days when everything seems to move at a slow trickle – wherever we go.

I am extremely grateful to DailyHaiga editor Linda Pilarski for again publishing my work in this major haiga journal.

Three Water-Inspired Haiga Published in Haiga Online

Hambrick - the drift
Image and poem © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.  First published in Haiga Online, Vol. 18-2, Autumn 2017.

Three of my haiga, all on the theme of water, were published recently in the journal Haiga Online.

The issue, “Borrowed Water,” features water-themed haiga by poets and artists around the world.

Hambrick - the cool slide
Image and poem © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.  First published in Haiga Online, Vol. 18-2, Autumn 2017.

I shot the photographs in all of these haiga in June 2017 at the stunning Schnor-meier Gardens, in Gambier, Ohio, then used various digital photo editing techniques to add borders and other effects.

In “the drift,” shown at the top of this post, and in “the cool slide,” each of the visual images in its edited form inspired the haiku that accompanies it.

In “the drift,” water becomes one with the sky reflected in it.  together, they take on the role of a fluid, boundless medium through which thoughts can flow as freely as a summer breeze.

The photo in “the drift” is of one of the garden’s amazingly beautiful lily ponds, which were coming into full bloom during my visit. I decided on the particular combination of editing filters because of the effect they created on the clouds, which swirl in that lazy summer afternoon kind of way.

In “the cool slide,” water becomes the pathway for a kind of experience with dementia that differs from the horrifying response this traumatic condition usually evokes. The eye slides from a rocky shore into gentle sky-blue water, metaphorically away from the harsh ugliness of the world and into peaceful depths. Maybe there can be spiritual benefits to forgetting.

The image in “the cool slide” is of the edge of one of the lakes in the Schnormeier Gardens’ Serenity Garden, which also features trickling streams, two waterfalls, a young forest of more than 200 rare conifers, and a Japanese garden house.

Hambrick - spring tide
Image and poem © 2017 Jennifer Hambrick.  All rights reserved.  First published in Haiga Online, Vol. 18-2, Autumn 2017.

In “spring tide,” the rough edges of the piece of sea glass became the idea that guided me to create a poem about the wabi-sabi kind of beauty in one’s own rough edges, and the special compassion of the people who choose to accept them and, indeed, even see beauty in them.

Many sincere thanks to Haiga Online editor Linda Papanicolaou for selecting my work for this special “Borrowed Water” issue.

 

Poem Wins Sakura Award in 2017 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival International Haiku Invitational

Cherry Blossoms - Susanne Nilsson
Photo: Susanne Nilsson (Creative Commons/Flickr)

I was surprised and delighted to learn from a fellow haikuist that one of my poems recently received a Sakura Award in the 2017 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival International Haiku Invitational.

My haiku was one of 15 by U.S. authors recognized with Sakura Awards in this year’s competition. In addition, a single poem was named Top Winner in the U.S. category, and another 25 U.S. poems were given Honourable Mentions.

Of the 41 U.S. poems granted awards, fully six – close to 15 percent – are by poets living and working in my home state of Ohio.

The theme of this year’s Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational was “freedom.” My poem speaks to the world of possibilities that await people of all ages and from all corners of the globe who seek to build their lives in freedom and peace:

an old man
learns two new words
cherry blossom

My heartfelt congratulations to the winning poets in all divisions of this year’s competition, and my sincere gratitude to the competition judges, Angelee Deodhar, Billie Wilson, and DeVar Dahl.

“Words and Music” Talk Launches National League of American Pen Women, Central Ohio Branch Guest Speaker Series

NLAPW talk 12 Sept 2017
Guest speaker Jennifer Hambrick with members of the Central Ohio Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, L to R: branch president Darlene Yeager-Torre, Hambrick, Mary Hoffman, Deborah Anderson, vice president Margaret Hanna and membership chair Rosalie Ungar.

I am greatly honored to have been invited to kick off the 2017-18 speaker series of the Central Ohio Branch of the National League of American Pen Women Tuesday evening. This amazing group of women artists put on a classy event at the Upper Arlington Public Library and could not have been more welcoming or more gracious.

Based in Washington, D.C., the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW, or “Pen Women,” for short) is a venerable organization comprised of women artists in all mediums working throughout the U.S.

I was asked to talk about my multiple careers in music and letters, including my work as midday host and music director for WOSU Public Media’s Classical 101 radio station; my work writing about classical music for print, broadcast and online media; my career as a poet and my work as a performing singer.

For me, the highlights of the evening were meeting some of the chapter members in the “preception” before my talk, and having a chance to chat a bit more and enjoy some photo ops with them afterwards.

It was especially wonderful to see Mary Hoffman (pictured to my right in the photo above), one of my predecessors in my role as Classical 101 music director.  Mary was music director of WOSU Public Media’s classical music radio station when I was a teenager in Columbus and listening to that station every day.  Her work inspired me in innumerable ways, and I feel a special honor to carry her torch forward.

These talented and generous ladies sent me home with vase of gorgeous roses (!) and an invitation to join their group. But most importantly, they reminded me what a tremendous privilege it is to work in creative careers and to be inspired by the gifted artists who make Columbus’ vibrant arts scene what it is.

My thanks to branch president Darlene Yeager-Torre, Deborah Anderson and all of the members of the Central Ohio Branch of the National League of American Pen Women for the great honor to share my work and my story with you.

Newly Commissioned Poem Finds a Home

Jennifer Hambrick reads her commissioned poem at VIVO Music Festival Columbus Museum of Art
Poet Jennifer Hambrick reads her poem “on a cold sea we travel,” commissioned by the VIVO Music Festival, at the Columbus Museum of Art, Aug. 31, 2017.  Pictured L to R: VIVO Music Festival co-artistic director and violist John Stulz, violist Matthew Lipman, Jennifer Hambrick, VIVO Music Festival executive director Ted Ou-Yang. (Photo courtesy of VIVO Music Festival)

Last Thursday, I had the unique honor to read my poem “on a cold sea we travel,” commissioned by the VIVO Music Festival, as a preface to a performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s pivotal chamber music work Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) in the festival’s concert “VIVO Transfigured” at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Receiving the commission to write the poem and having the opportunity to read it aloud in a resplendent venue were incredibly special. But beyond that? I tend to think of my poems as my children and, like any good literary parent, to want them to thrive and eventually settle down in the pages of a nice literary journal. So I found myself wondering, what next? for this poem, which was invited and welcomed so warmly into the world.

I am delighted that “on a cold sea we travel” has been accepted for publication in the fabulous literary journal The Main Street Rag, where it will eventually take up residence among poems by other serious writers. My poem has found a home. A good one.

And now I can’t help but dream that “on a cold sea we travel” might be read aloud as the preface to other performances of Verklärte Nacht, once the poem has been published.

My undying thanks to VIVO Music Festival co-artistic directors John Stulz and Siwoo Kim for coming up with the brilliant idea to ask a poet to transfigure Transfigured Night. I’m humbled that they chose me for the task. They share top billing for the success of “on a cold sea we travel.”

Haiga Wins “Haiku Master of the Week” Honor from Japan’s NHK WORLD TV

Jennifer Hambrick - alone
Photo and poem © Jennifer Hambrick. All rights reserved.

A couple of weeks ago, I created my very first haiga – haiku plus visual art in symbiotic relationship. Today, it became a media celebrity.

This morning, I was named Haiku Master of the Week on the NHK WORLD TV (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) series Haiku Masters for my haiga “alone,” shown above. You can watch the mini-episode of Haiku Masters which aired on NHK TV this morning at this link.

Two of the hosts and judges of Haiku Masters wrote some thoughtful comments about my haiga, which was selected in a process of blind judging.

“One of the most important points of this piece is how although the narrator may be looking outside, he or see seems to be more focused on an inner dialogue. […] Furthermore, the word placement on the photo is wonderful, as isolating the word ‘alone’ increases the sentiment of loneliness,” wrote Japanese haiku poet Kazuko Nishimura.

“What exactly is the space between raindrops, we wonder, and imagine what thoughts slip in between,” wrote the American-born poet and photographer Kit Pancoast Nagamura. Read the judges’ full comments here.

I wish to congratulate this week’s runners-up – Joelle Ginoux-Duvivier (France) and Kanchan Chatterjee (India) and to thank Ms. Nishimura and Ms. Pancoast Nagamura for seeing something meaningful in my work amidst a pool of thousands of submissions worldwide. I am delighted and humbled by this honor.

The Making of a Haiku Collection

deskwithhaikumanuscript-resized-edited
My desk, with haiku book manuscript in the center  (Photo: Jennifer Hambrick)

Some of you have asked when I will be compiling a full-length collection of haiku for publication. I have decided that the time is now. Imagine: a big book of little poems.

I pulled together into a Word document all of my haiku, published and otherwise, that are strong contenders for membership in a full-length collection.  That’s the stack of papers in the center of the ginormous desk – which I inherited from a dear friend when she downsized her dwelling a few years ago – in my poetry studio, shown in the photo above.

I then cut the document so that each poem would occupy its own little piece of paper.  Here is the resulting heap o’ ku:

pileofku-edited
My haiku book manuscript in bits and pieces. (Photo: Jennifer Hambrick)

Then I laid each of the poem “pieces” on my desk and moved them around, noting the themes that emerged.  I gave each theme a “name,” which will become the headings for each section of the book.  Here is the “draft” of my entire haiku collection, all laid out poem by poem, and with section headings written on yellow Post-It Notes:

haikumanuscriptdraft-edited
A ‘draft’ of my haiku collection. (Photo: Jennifer Hambrick)

Once I’ve slid and scooted the poems into a satisfying order, the fun and games will end.  On the rest of the book publication journey, I will submit the manuscript, wait for acceptance, and eventually, at the advice of the formidable editor I am asking the Universe to send to curate my poems, likely murder at least some of my proverbial darlings.

Ah, the romance of poetry.

But in the end, there will be a book of poems that, I hope, will bring some reader somewhere feelings of wonder, joy, connection, and hope.

Celebrating ‘The Cherita’ with a New Poetry Journal

The Cherita inaugural issue cover
Cover of the inaugural issue of The Cherita (June 2017)

It’s always exciting to get in on the ground of floor of a new enterprise.  Today, one of my poems did just that.

I am thrilled and humbled that one of my poems was published today in the inaugural issue of the international poetry journal The Cherita.

The Malayan poet ai li created the poetic form of the cherita in 1997.  The word “cherita” means “story” in Malay.  ai li’s three-line cherita form encourages the telling of tales in deft, imagistic language that guides the reader through narratives that gain momentum with each stanza.

This month, the cherita form turns 20, and to celebrate, it gets its own journal, co-edited by ai li and American poet Larry Kimmel.  The inaugural issue showcases each cherita on its own page, and illustrates each poem with a vivid photograph related to the poem’s story.  The final product is a feast of written and visual images.

View here the beautiful flipbook of the inaugural issue of The Cherita.

ai li and Larry Kimmel have selected a number of my cheritas for publication in the next several issues of their journal.  I am honored, and I’m eager to read more moving and inspiring stories in the issues to come.