Book of the Week: sunlit jar

by Jim Kacian on July 28, 2014

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sterba_sunlitjarcover

Carmen Sterba was honored by having her work published in the distinguished Radish series of books by Wim Lofvers. This tiny volume, from 2002, features haiku from 4 season and especially flowers, birds and people.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.





winter doldrums addiing lavender sachets to each drawer
cold wind his name no longer in the inbox
cherry blossoms a child asks for a cloud of cotton candy
childhood home the pussy willow just as it was
sunlit jar the beekeeper's gift on the doorstep
rainy day rummaging through grandma's button drawer

{ 3 comments }

The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 21

by John Stevenson on July 24, 2014

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renkuchainWelcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku go here.

I’m John Stevenson, and I will serve as your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I have supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week I will select an additional verse from among those submitted prior to the Tuesday deadline.

We had fifty-nine offers, from eighteen poets during the past week. My commentary will be brief this time because I will be traveling during the period normally set aside for composing and setting my text.

As you read this, I will be engaged in a live renku writing experience. This is an annual event, at Paul MacNeil’s camp on Onawa Lake in Maine. Paul and I will be collaborating with Yu Chang, Tom Clausen, and Hilary Tann. These sessions have taken place every year since 1999. Onawa is in mountainous country, far from any urban centers. Web access is inconsistent and I am not certain how well I will be able to monitor activity on this site while I am there. If you don’t hear from me until next Monday, this will be the reason.

Poets who have already contributed to our renku continue to offer many really inspiring links. I’ll just mention that Alice Frampton’s eight current offers contained four or five that I would have given strong consideration.

Among potential new contributors, I found myself choosing between two verses offered this time by Betty Shropshire. In addition to the pleasures of creative collaboration, the wide ranging images that are offered sometimes provide surprising new information. An example, for me, was the mention of “Chladni figures.” For anyone who was also unaware of this phenomenon, it is well worth looking into. I am passing on this verse in favor of another because I have a sense that this acoustical image may relate too closely to the skylark song in the leap-over verse.

Our twenty-first verse comes from Betty Shropshire. This is the first three line offer we have included that is written in a 5-7-5 format. I feel that this formal quality complements the image of “the old ways” contained in the verse itself, which in turn links nicely with the discipline of yoga. I acknowledge that there are potential concerns: an earlier cooking image (seven verses ago), earlier color name (eleven verses ago, or more recent if one counts “milky”). But there is much in this verse that adds nuance and savor to our renku.

Here is the verse you must link to:

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

The next verse, the twenty-second, is the last in this series of three non-seasonal verses. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-two:

  • Non-seasonal image (should not contain words or phrases from our season word list)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twenty-first verse, and only the twenty-first verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. You may submit as many verses as you like, but please use a new comment box for each one. I will announce my selection for the next link on Thursday, July 31 here on the blog, and provide information and instructions for submitting the next link.

What We’ll Be Looking For — Throughout the Session

There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We will be using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku. It will not be necessary for you to have a copy of this book since instructions will be offered before each verse is solicited.

It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intend no judgment of their relative value. For purposes of this session I am suggesting the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.

Pilgrims’ Stride to Date

comparing maps
to the mountain pass–
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

a sonata
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon

    –Lorin Ford

dragonflies hover
by the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”

    –Paul MacNeil

thinking of a red wig
during chemo

    –Asni Amin

the woodland
of silent stories
and shadow

    –Alan Summers

he makes a wish
to become real

    –Marion Clarke

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
rising

    –kris moon

freshly-caught fish
sizzles in the pan

    –Aalix Roake

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

sugar plum fairy came
and hit the streets…

    –Jennifer Sutherland

a milky nimbus
at dusk
beneath the cherry tree

    –Scott Mason

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

plain truth
of a skylark’s
song

    –Stella Pierides

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

{ 62 comments }

Survey says . . . THF Planned Projects

by Jim Kacian on July 23, 2014

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Every September the Board of Directors and Associates of The Haiku Foundation are sent a survey. Their responses help to guide our growth and direction. We’d like to broaden our input, and so we’ll be asking you to respond to a series of questions, one per week, over the next half-year. Your replies will be weighed in our assessment of our performance.

Today’s question: The Haiku Foundation World of Haiku

In addition to the many projects currently underway with the Foundation, we have many others in the planning stages, including

    U-21 Website/Anthology: a site and annual book just for/designed by poets under 21 years of age; in collaboration with Millikin University
    Assignment of Copyright: a way to guarantee that your poems are made available for future use in anthologies and haiku histories
    Grantwriter Hire: our single greatest need is to expand our resource pool, and the hiring of a professional to guide us is essential to meeting it
    Video Archive Additions: we would like to do more with this resource than our current manpower and expertise allow
    National Haiku Poetry Day Organization: do we expand this project, which is costly in terms of man-hours, or streamline it, perhaps bringing it online for greater outreach but with less personal contact?
    Introductory Video: a welcome to haiku for newcomers to THF, its website and its programs

We welcome your input as to what seems most important to you, as well as which you would be willing to lend your energies and resources toward.

Please assess how well The Haiku Foundation is delivering on this topic. Indicate your assessment of our performance to date by choosing one of the options:

Excellent

Good

Fair

Poor

Abandon

Please feel free to add additional comments. This is the last installment in our survey for 2014. Thank you for your thoughtful responses, which will help us make the Foundation a better resource for all of us.

{ 1 comment }

Book of the Week: over our heads

by Jim Kacian on July 21, 2014

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ketchek_overourheadscover

Michael Ketchek’s poignant 2010 chapbook from Swamp Press featured fine letterpress in a bronze rectangular yet hexagonal shape with a dark blue inset circle that shifts at the top of each page from the cover and throughout the collection, which was impossible to recreate in this format.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.





twilight the ash still in the shape of the cigarette
sometimes it's just better to Boop Boop de Boop
my hand too large a child reaches through the fence and plucks the raspberry
Bukowski is dead he always suspected he would be
dancing at the day care I'm the Maypole
midday sun all that chrome outside the biker bar

{ 1 comment }

The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 20

by John Stevenson on July 17, 2014

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renkuchainWelcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku go here.

I’m John Stevenson, and I will serve as your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I have supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week I will select an additional verse from among those submitted prior to the Tuesday deadline.

From twenty-one poets, we have sixty-one verses to consider this time. Quite a large portion of them would work very well in this twentieth verse position. I will discuss some that I found especially interesting (again, from poets not yet included in the renku). I’ll try to clarify what may have held me back from selecting each, though these will be very small concerns and generally do not amount to “flaws” in my estimation, just “factors” in my decision making.

One tempting offer was joel irusta’s socks cover / deformed feet. This provides an almost shocking contrast to the truth and beauty of the skylark’s song. We have had little of such sharp departure of tone in the linking we have done so far. Minor reservations: it is a very short verse, it has us looking down, we already have a verse relating to a medical condition (cancer – though there are nine intervening verses), and I personally try to reserve any specific mention of the body for the love verses. Some might also consider that “feet” may be too closely related to “stride” in the hokku (opening verse). None of these reservations amounts to a disqualification in itself but they are, cumulatively, my reasons for passing.

A very short verse; radio static / in the kitchen (dt.haase) is very much to my taste. It is as if, by moving to the next verse, we have tuned to a place on the radio dial that is between clear song and whatever the next station might have to offer. There is a sense that the kitchen is either deserted or that anyone present is too distracted to attend to the radio. Or perhaps the radio is tuned in but the signal has been interrupted. This verse also responds to my request that we look for an indoor image. Only its brevity causes me to keep looking for another selection. (And, as I have previously said, I personally consider brevity a virtue so long as it does not sacrifice resonance. But I am trying to make sure that my personal preferences do no result in a renku that seems to have a single voice.)

Both stashed in the cookie tin / assorted shoelaces (Marilyn Potter) and the newspaper / folded to the crossword puzzle (Tricia Knoll) are tempting. If we were doing a renku in which I was making more suggestions or doing some rewriting, either of these might have been my choice. Revisions that I would have sought: in the first I would have removed the cut between lines by reversing their order and in the second I would have sought to make it a more natural two line verse by altering the four and eight syllable structure. Again, neither is a disqualification, though I have listed “without a cut” as a requirement for every verse after the hokku.

Perhaps my personal favorite offer is Hansha Teki’s a sigh unattached / to the obvious. It plays beautifully off of the notion of “plain truth.” My reservation is that this would be a great lead in to a series of love verses, or a great exit after the love verses. Who knows; when we get to the next set of love verses (twenty-six and twenty-seven) this verse may be resubmitted!

Our twentieth verse comes from Priscilla Van Valkenburgh. This also plays nicely against the notion of “plain truth.” It seems ruefully factual that we humans have to be reminded to breathe at times. And this is just the smallest example of how we attempt to simplify our lives through received wisdom. The verse is somewhat ambivalent about an indoor or outdoor setting, so an indoor image would still work nicely in the next verse.

Here is the verse you must link to:

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

The next verse, the twenty-first, is the second in a series of three non-seasonal verses. Here are the formal requirements for verse twenty-one:

  • Non-seasonal image (should not contain words or phrases from our season word list)
  • Written in three lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the twentieth verse, and only the twentieth verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting

Add your suggested three-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. You may submit as many verses as you like, but please use a new comment box for each one. I will announce my selection for the next link on Thursday, July 24 here on the blog, and provide information and instructions for submitting the next link.

What We’ll Be Looking For — Throughout the Session

There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We will be using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku. It will not be necessary for you to have a copy of this book since instructions will be offered before each verse is solicited.

It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intend no judgment of their relative value. For purposes of this session I am suggesting the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.

Pilgrims’ Stride to Date

comparing maps
to the mountain pass–
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

a sonata
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon

    –Lorin Ford

dragonflies hover
by the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”

    –Paul MacNeil

thinking of a red wig
during chemo

    –Asni Amin

the woodland
of silent stories
and shadow

    –Alan Summers

he makes a wish
to become real

    –Marion Clarke

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
rising

    –kris moon

freshly-caught fish
sizzles in the pan

    –Aalix Roake

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

sugar plum fairy came
and hit the streets…

    –Jennifer Sutherland

a milky nimbus
at dusk
beneath the cherry tree

    –Scott Mason

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

plain truth
of a skylark’s
song

    –Stella Pierides

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

{ 64 comments }