Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was
campfire sparks a galaxy between us — Rajan Garg, 2nd Place, World Haiku Contest (2016)
Carol Prost senses universal harmony:
As I have an affinity to galaxies and campfires, this haiku sparks joy and connection in me.
I feel the memory within my body of sitting in the black and starry night with the hint of faces and bodies across the fire circle, or for that matter across the country or the world, or perhaps even the universe, and yet we are all viscerally connected in heart and soul.
The crackling of the fire is the only word spoken or needed.
I remember that the mapping of the creation of the galaxies is as to the creation of a child in the body of a pregnant woman; reminding me that despite so much conflict in the outer world there is harmony in the larger existence.
Radhamani Sarma envisions a world beyond:
At a time when we are locked down and ire and corona fire are raging globally, I’m delighted to read and comment on this senryu that sparks a jubilant note as visualized by Rajan Garg.
In the first line, “campfire” tells us that the narrator is going to detail glowing fires. In this setting, the fire maintains heat and warmth, even enabling campers to cook. The atmosphere depicted here is an aura of sparks, brightness and illumination.
The campfire continues in the second and third lines. “campfire/ sparks a galaxy/ between us,” takes those in the assemblage to a congregation of stars, implying that they are shining with sparks and in stellar counts. “Camps” could also be construed as consisting of tents, perhaps war camps, with a hint of a hostile atmosphere. In contrast, the fire emanating from enemy camps converts the assemblage into a bright spark, hence the sense of a galaxy. How much of a change this might be in the imagination of either the persona or the congregation, the fire and sparks. From unpleasant to pleasant, the members of this group are transported to the world of a galaxy.
Another potential inference is the unsettling atmosphere of a camp where darkness prevails when the fire emits flames only in intermittent gaps, where cooking goes on nearby or far off, and a star of hope or a spark shines on the faces of people all around. It is all a word game, converting the thought or experience or happening of the poet’s mind into his own idiom, and also allowing us as readers into this world in our own way.
As this week’s winner, Radhamani gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
in the cathedral a lost soul asks me the way to the gift shop — Mark Gilbert, Shortlisted, H. Gene Murtha Memorial Senryu Contest (2017)