All of the photographs in my haiga mini portfolio, “Ancient Days,” were shot in New Mexico, where earth is poetry in its own right. The haiga above, “waning summer,” shows a wall on a New Mexico pueblo crumbling “back to the earth.” The haiga below, “eroding hills,” depicts the skeletons of mountains that, eons ago, had been submerged in a vast inland sea, and that now stand, eroded and ghostlike, in the New Mexico desert.
In “dust devil,” an ant hill inspires a bit of word play.
It’s a visit to a car dealership and with The Golden Girls in two sparkling senryu by Amy Losak.
he assures me
there’s no pressure
… as he’s making the high-energy sales pitch. Is there a commercial venue more fraught with the tension of gender dynamics than the car dealership? Salespeople often need to be aggressive, which, in the wrong hands, becomes a close cousin to bullying. And what is the point of telling someone that there’s “no pressure” in the midst of a clearly aggressive sales pitch? Please. Give us some credit.
all the Golden Girls
I wonder if television could get away with it today, namely, centering a prime time TV series around four women in their sunset years living together as housemates in Miami. Would anyone in our youth-obsessed culture care? In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, the show was a hit. There is truth in this poem: those “older” ladies do seem to get younger with each passing year. And because there was nothing they could not help each other through, they also seem to grow tougher. They had each other. And cheesecake.
Amy Losak, of Teaneck, NJ, is an experienced publicist specializing in healthcare. She started writing haiku as a tribute to her mother, Sydell Rosenberg. Syd was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968 and also served as HSA secretary in the 1970’s. Her picture book, H Is For Haiku: A Treasury Of Haiku From A To Z, illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi, will be released on April 10 by Penny Candy Books.
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
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.”
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.
I am deeply honored that my haiga ‘beefsteak,’ above, received first Honorable Mention in the Second Annual Jane Reichhold Memorial Haiga Contest, photographic haiga division.
This particular beefsteak tomato came from my garden, so creating this haiga was a labor of love right from the beginning – from planting the tomato seeds which bore the fruit, to photographing the tomato, to editing the image, to letting the edited image inspire the senryu that now accompanies it.
Here are photographic division judge Linda Papanicolaou’s comments on my haiga:
A salad of self-deprecation and a dash of bawdiness, this is a wonderful example of how good text-image linking can create a synergy that makes a whole that is more than its parts. The poem is all wordplay, from Shakespearean idiom to twentieth century Americanisms, in which tomato referred [to] a sexy woman. It brings an aura of ineffable mystery and sacrament to the whole. The named variety hints punningly at “beefcake,” slang for a well-muscled man. The image, illustrating not the meaning of the poem but just the literal meaning of the first line–a tomato on a chopping block–layers the poem by framing the reminiscence as a conversation during food preparation.
My deep gratitude to Linda Papanicolaou, editor of Haiga Online, for selecting my haiga from among the 132 entries in her division, and for her kind and insightful words about my work. Deep thanks also to editors Steve Hodge and Mike Rehling, whose journals Prune Juice and Failed Haiku, respectively, sponsored the contest, and who have published my honored haiga in the most recent issues of their journals.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
an egret feather
on the carpet
For Harriet Hemenway, Boston activist
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.
rotting on the compost heap
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.
winter wind . . .
singing my little sister
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.