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. [Update, 2-29-20: “That Summer” was published on the Haiku Society of America’s website and in Frogpond.]

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: Poems by Anna Cates


Photo: Rojer/Creative Commons/Flickr

Today the International Women’s Haiku Festival features poet Anna Cates. Two of her haiku are alive with flowers and sunlight, smooth pastels and mother of pearl.

lady’s mantle
the sunlight
on my shoulders

This poem renders a haiku moment in the most gracious and vivid terms.  You can almost see an impressionist painting: A woman sits next to a window or en plein air, summer sun warming her shoulders as he admires clusters of dainty lady’s mantle.  The woman enjoys sitting in the sun, while the lady’s mantle is content to wear its golden glow in the shade.  The woman and the flowers are twin sisters.


mother of pearl
still inside her shell
smooth pastels

How does the mollusk do it, create that iridescent, otherworldly mother of pearl?  All of that is going on inside the shell’s hard, creviced exterior.  It’s as though the sea creature, wary of leaving its shell and rendering itself unprotected, makes its own comfortable satin sheets.  This poem acknowledges the vulnerability that haunts every girl or woman who, at whatever stage of life, longs to leave her shell and put her mark on a man’s world.  But it also slyly suggests that maybe staying in the shell that she has, by her own talents, made so exquisite is okay, too.  The choice is hers.

Anna Cates lives in Ohio (USA) with her two cats and teaches English and education online. One hundred of her short form poems appear in the Living Haiku Anthology.

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

“Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie” Featured on WYSO Public Radio Program and Podcast “Conrad’s Corner”

Photo: Patrick Breitenbach/Creative Commons/Flickr

Reading a poem is one thing, hearing a poet read his or her poetry can be quite another.

We live in an exciting time, when audio recording technology, radio, and the Internet allow our voices to be in many different places at once. Although poetry as a performance art has been around since cavemen acted poems out to their families. Now, radio and podcasting allow poetry to be everywhere at the touch of a button.

I was thrilled to have my poem “Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie (Homage to Piet Modrian)” featured recently on Conrad’s Corner, a production of the NPR affiliate WYSO, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Thank you, host Conrad Balliet, for featuring my poetry on your program.  And thank you, Third Wednesday magazine, for first publishing the poem last spring in Vol. IX, No. 2 of your journal. Listen here to my reading of “Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie” on the Conrad’s Corner podcast.

As the poem’s title suggests, I took inspiration for “Baby Buggy Boogie-Woogie (Homage to Piet Mondrian)” from Mondrian’s famous 1942 painting Broadway Boogie-Woogie, which shows red, yellow, and blue squares bebopping along in a New York City street grid pattern.

I thought it could be nifty to juxtapose the jazzy urban energy of Mondrian’s painting to the realm of suburban busy-ness. The more specific image of a suburban mom pushing her baby in a buggy while taking her power walk came to mind. I wanted to capture the jazzy feel of Mondrian’s painting and so relied on my ear to create syncopations in the rhythm of the language and to make the surface sound of the language crackle with alliteration and assonance. I also coined a couple new words (“mothersome,” “babyescent”) to give the poem a whimsical feel. The result is a poem whose music lends itself well to being heard read aloud.

I hope you enjoy the poem and the podcast. Drop me a line and let me know.

Meet My Inner Voices

Photo: Jennifer Hambrick

There are a lot of voices out there. The voices of Madison Avenue hucksters hawking the Next Big Thing. The voices of politicians doling out demagoguery left, right, and (rarely) center. The voice of your mother. Your father. Your older brother, who once shaved your eyebrows off while you were asleep. Sister Mary Margaret, your fourth grade math teacher, who, because of your lousy recitation of the multiplication tables, told you you’d never amount to much. Your boss. Your yoga instructor. Your spouse.

Some of these voices are for the helpful (imagine the vocal effervescence of Glenda the Good witch), but some are not. The sum total of all of them is a certain cacophony that threatens to paint over your own voice, to mow down what you think you need to say.

As a musician, poet, and broadcaster, my own voice – metaphorically and literally understood – has found many ways to make its presence known. Like all writers, I am sensitive to the figurative notion of authorial “voice,” the special way a writer makes words foxtrot across the page or screen. As a singer and broadcaster, I pay great attention to the voice as a literal thing – a body part to take care of an instrument to master – in my daily work.

In naming this blog Inner Voices, I am honoring the special resonance of voice broadly construed and borrowing from musical lingo, which is so beguilingly expressive. In musical parlance, an inner voice is a line of music that is neither the melody line nor the bass line, but rather a line buried, as it were, in the middle of the texture.

Far from serving as merely a supporting actor, an inner voice gives a musical work depth, richness, and texture. Good performers will always know when and how much to bring an inner voice to the fore. And when an inner voice has its moment in the sun, magic can happen.

Here, on this website, I bring forth the inner voices of my own life as a poet, writer, singer, broadcaster, and voice talent to share with you. I hope you will feel free to make your voice heard, too, and drop me a line now and then. But please be sure to speak up, so we all can hear you above the din.