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Messages - light pilgrim

Journal Announcements / October cattails
October 12, 2021, 11:40:13 PM

Greeting to all our contributors and readers!

The October 2021 issue of cattails has now been posted on the cattails website at

We hope you enjoy reading the issue.

Sonam Chhoki and Mike Montreuil
UHTS 2021 Haibun Contest

Please use this new contest-specific email only:

The website has been closed for now

Sonam Chhoki
Principal editor UHTS/ cattails


Dear all,


Please note this new email for your submissions:

Do "not" use the cattails submissions guidelines for contests.

RESULTS: The names of winners (only) will be notified by email and the winning poems will be published with the Judge's commentary in an upcoming issue of Seedpods, our e-newsletter.

Marianna Monaco


Contests and Awards / UHTS TANKA RESULTS
August 05, 2021, 04:03:23 PM
UHTS Fleeting Words 2021 RESULTS

There were 419 tanka, from the following 17 countries:

The Netherlands
The Philippines

The contest was judged by Marilyn Humbert, the well-known Australian tanka poet, who leads the Bottlebrush tanka group in Sydney.

First Place: an'ya, USA
Second Place  - Daniela Misso, Italy
Third Place  -  Barbara A. Taylor, Australia

Honourable Mention - Debbie Strange, Canada

The full results with the judge's commentary and UHTS President, Alan Summers's statement can be found in the e-newsletter, Seedpods, which will be sent out to all UHTS poets by Erin Castaldi, Editor of Seedpods and UHTS Secretary.

Marianna Monaco, the Contest Coordinator has been inspirational and brilliant!

Sonam Chhoki
on behalf of the UHTS team
Thank you Sandra for returning with some very pertinent points.

You're absolutely right. Most editors of journals are volunteers as are organizers of contests, judges,  presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, treasurers of haikai societies. Not to forget the web masters and technical support. All give their time freely with no thought of any return other than to keep the journals and societies going. A tremendous gesture of good will and kindness.
QuoteI genuinely believe that almost everyone in the haiku community (99.9%) operates from a place of goodwill, which makes it such a nice, welcoming and accepting place to be.

Your perceptive observations here remind me of George Steiner's argument in No Passion Spent that not since Gutenberg's invention of printing, has our world known such a radical and comprehensive change in the dissemination of the written word. The internet and electronic communications have made possible an "instantaneous and open-communication between the text and the recipient". The access to haikai poetry online is easy with the few strokes of the keyboard. Thus, underlining the 'easy way into publication or becoming a 'big fish' as you so well put it.

To borrow Steiner's words again, "human speech" or "writing" can be used "both to love, to build, to forgive, and also to torture, to hate, to destroy and to annihilate." He is of course taking about the horrendous historical instances, when propaganda was used to annihilate groups of people. But the point that the "written word" or "text" can be a powerful tool to "build, to forgive"  is a thought worth keeping in mind when we "accidentally" use the works of others to further our own reputation. It does not need to be a confrontation but a reaching out and acknowledging another's presence.

QuoteBut it would be naive to not 'see' the odd one who uses haiku as an easy way into publication o. In the past decade I can think of 4 people, some better known than others, who deliberately took the work of others and passed it off as their own. In some cases it could be forgiven as misguided and/or ill-advised. In others, it was what it seemed to be.

I think you have hit the nail on the head regarding how the "brevity" of the haikai forms could lend to some similarities. But when it is more than such inadvertent similarities then, I hope in the post-pandemic haikai writing, there is some humility and compassion in acknowledging the presence of another poet in our work.
QuoteBecause of their brevity, there will always be haiku written that could be considered 'the same' even when the poets have observed and written independently, each ignorant of the other(s). I believe these should  be accepted for what they are and, if good enough, any or all published. But when there's a suspicion, or pattern, of deliberate 'lifting' authors should be challenged to 'please explain'. Turning a blind eye helps no one.

We talk so much in haikai aesthetics about letting go of the ego and being more humble and compassionate. Why not put this into actual practice in our reading, writing and connecting with other poets? If we continue to ignore this issue , we are left with what Steiner calls "the burden of the weight of omission". Not spoken of, not acknowledged but nonetheless very much present.

I appreciate this exchange and hope we, the haikai poets, will some day become kinder, more engaging, more honest and less confrontational in how we write and read.

light pilgrim

Hi Lorraine,

Can I just say how decent it is of you to acknowledge another poet's work and seek their permission to allude to what inspires you in their work. In a forum like this, where we post work for feedback, it is inevitable that something triggers an idea or memory or a moment. That your haibun, "Cheap Thrills" was one such instance is great. 😊
Quotei like your idea that we become less precious about our work. here on this forum, i will occasionally read someone's piece offered for critique and it creates a veritable lava flow of related ideas to surface. at that moment, i am very forward in asking if i can riff on their verse. if i can't ask because the poet is away for some time from the forum, in my subject title i indicate that it's a riff on so-and-so's verse. the riff is usually based on a word or perhaps two. that's how my published haibun "cheap thrills " came to be written. no problem.

Couldn't put it any better, Lorraine. Acknowledgement of another poet's work in our own writing does not diminish our work. We often allude to Shakespeare, Basho, Coleridge or Issa  openly and with some pride (if one could say that). So why not extend that courtesy to our peers and those whose writing we access online?
Quotei think asking in a forum setting or at least noting your new piece is a known riff on someone else's verse is only polite. at times i'll say as a comment "after so-and-so."

Now, this is an issue which will continue to affect many of us particularly if we are starting out . Your husband's fears are not unfounded. Editors of journals too are confronted with this occurrence. The alternative is to try out a new modeus operandi to reach out to the other poet, acknowledging their effect/influence/inspiration in our own writing. Avoidance of this issue will keep plaguing our interaction and writing eventually.

Quotefor the longest, my husband didn't want me to post here for fear of having work stolen. if it is, it is. i'm not trying to live off my writing. yet.


Thank you for returning with your thoughts, very pertinent indeed.

light pilgrim
Thank you Sandra for taking the time and trouble to comment here.

I agree with you about it not being a problem as there has been no contretemps between the poets of the two poems.

You're absolutely spot on about "cherry blossoms", "autumn leaves," "clouds" etc being almost a stock image and reference-point in haikai poetry and yes, poets write about "birds," "blinds" and "headaches."

In these two poems there are 3 main images common to both:

throbbing head L1 of the tanka

headache L1 of haiku

blinds L2 of the tanka

blind L3 of the haiku

birds L5 of the tanka

bird L2 of the haiku

These poems are not the same as you astutely observe but I have been rather taken with the similarities of the images in such short poems. I haven't read many poems with a recurrence of 3 similar images of "headache, bird, blind" and this could be my own ignorance. I was struck by how much in common the poets have across the seas to pen such poems.

Modernists have argued that once a text (in our case a poem) is disseminated the mono-causal grip of the original writer/poet expires. The truth of a text is the other texts, past and future of which it is made. Thus, it could be said that the tanka poet must not be precious about their work. However, there is another aspect to this as Pound and other poets of modernism argued - a text /work is in a woven web, where poets echo each other and earlier poets in a recognized ethos.

Just as the tanka poet should not be precious about their work so also the second poet's work would not be diminished in anyway by an acknowledgement of connection or allusion.

Lorraine asked in her post why is this an issue now? The pandemic has affected us in ways unimaginable. Many of us have lost friends, family members, neighbours, our jobs, spent months in isolation. This makes one realize how precious is connection and link with another person/poet.  I wondered if something positive and hopeful could be made in our writing community by dialogue and reaching out and openness to how we write, read and inspire, touch each other.

Celan, who lost his entire family in the Holocaust said that when all else is lost, we have only language left. This is a precious gift. He likened a poem to a message in a bottle sent out in the hope that someone somewhere would find it read it and connect.

light pilgrim

Hi Lorraine,

You make an excellent point here regarding the way honkadori was practised in 12the century Japan. The key point you've highlighted is the use of kigo - The poets had a compendium of kigo as a valuable resource.

The situation in the EHL is more complex as regional/continental kigos hugely vary. A wonderful thing too as it allows for local, regional, specific references to be used in poems and I have personally learned so much from reading poems from around the globe. 😊

Quoteit seems to me that the honkadori was an oral competition. the participants were expected to allude. part of the tradition of the haikai poets was thorough knowledge of the older poetry. that knowledge, linked with the kigo and kire words and the culture itself, made for the linked aspect so evident in japanese haikai.

Absolutely, and the allusion to a known poet's work was in itself considered to be an art: witty, well-crafted:
Quoteand. . .something that was striven for by a poet was to have created a haikai that was deemed worthy of being alluded to by other poets.  it was an honor.

For lesser mortals like myself having no Master/Masters to learn the craft from, the internet is a vast and open resource and whilst as you rightly note, not all poets' work are worthy of such literary allusions, it is nonetheless a phenomenon as more and more poets read and connect and write in an unspoken link with other poets.
Quotewhich brings us to today. as you mention, the internet stands as a possible huge repository for haikai poets worldwide to find the published poems to allude to. what i would suggest here that now, as in old japan, not all poetry is worthy of allusion.

Emulation is almost a given in any literary form as the very nature of writing and publishing makes the interaction and responding to another poet a 'normal' aspect of this whole experience:
Quotei pause here to think about how i allude to another poet whose poem i particularly admire. somehow, i think this is part of what Alan Summers is trying to point out in his Mahmight Journal:::that each of us, as poets, gravitate to something about someone's poem that we want to emulate in our own work. i know in my own submission to him, the way i described my poem being offered for consideration was similar to the reason i liked the poem i shared as my favorite. and. . .if you read the journal entries, we are all different. and no one is copying words.

Definitions of what haikai poetry forms are in the ELH have evolved to accommodate ELH poets'experiences of writing in a form that is "borrowed" from Japan (and China) and you're right that Welch notes how "styles" of writing catch on and are emulated.
Quoteit's not just about a particular word or group of words (fragment and phrase) that are borrowed. you've seen it: a particular way of repeating within a haikai is published and everybody's doing it.  i saw examples of that in welch's article. the short-long-short that has become typical of english language haiku has created another style for poets to jump on. and how short or long are those lines in relationship to each other within one verse? and the journal whose submission guidelines stated no 5-7-5 ? really?

Something in another poet's work that resonates and strikes a chord can be wonderfully energizing and inspiring both both the writer and the reader.
Quotei like the look of someone's poem on the page. words that open up rather than close down my imagination. that is what i emulate. that make me wonder "what's that all about?" that's where i feel the allusion should be.

This is the crux of the point, I am trying to make : acknowledging another poet's influence or inspiration does not diminish our own work and actually could open up dialogue and a sharing. Yet, we don't it and engage in spats about plagiarism whereas we could have a honkadori-kind of exchange and acknowledgement and expansion of our writing experiences.
Quotei have found myself accidentally posting a verse for critique here that i find almost the exact thing in a chapbook i later picked up randomly. immediately went to my post and gave the similar verse its due.

a newbie here posted a verse for critique. i'd been reading Cor's chapbooks and noted a great similarity between her verse and the one of Cor's i cited in her thread. she didn't even know who he was. and i got jumped with the question of whether i was accusing her of plagiarism. all i said was, this reminds me of.

and how many times when they critique do the mentors post their own published work as an example of how else that particular thought can be written about.

Sadly we seem reluctant to address this issue openly and without rancour:
Quotei wonder how these instances of deja-ku are discovered.  i know you can do a search for similar poems, similar key words, phrases. i guess i'm just not published enough yet to devote my time to checking.

There was no conflict between the poets about this and my point is that the original poet does not need to be offended and the second poet defensive as writing is inherently interactive.
Quotei ask again:::how was this found and do you know how sonam takes it? offense can be taken by the poet of origin and defense by the offending poet. without asking the two poets whose work is being scrutinized as to intent, it's difficult to make any kind of a case.

I believe that one does need to be precious about one's work but an openness on the part  of poets who of "found" writing poets would be so much enriching.
Quoteand again, i ask what about the use of found poetry?

Lorraine, you have been amazing in your engagement with this and I thank you 🙏🏽

light pilgrim
Hi Lorraine,

Apologies for the redundant link earlier to the Notes from the Gean. Here's the proper one from the THF :

You raise a very good question. The Japanese honkadori tradition was popular at the Uta-awase, poetry  gathering, usually a competition. Honkadori, the practice of alluding to an earlier poem was intended to be recognized by the readers.

Both these poems are in the public domain and I suppose the Uta-awase,  equivalent is the current publications online of haikai poetry. Can these not be used for an objective discussion of how allusions in haikai poetry occur these days?

Quote from: Lorraine Pester on June 27, 2021, 10:06:09 AM

mine question is this: why is this an issue now?

has o'sullivan been asked as to her intent?


light pilgrim
Hi All,

This is not a new issue but nonetheless, I imagine it still affects many poets. In haikai poetry there is a long tradition of recognizable allusion to previous poets as in the "Wanderer's Willow" haiku where Basho and Buson clearly refer to Saigyo's poem. Basho's haiku alludes to Saigyo's poem which describes Saigyo pausing before a stream beneath the willow by the roadside. In Buson's poem, he describes a scene where leaves fall from the willow and the stream has dried up, exposing the stones at the location.

In the current haikai scene here are two poets, two poems. Is this an instance of reference to an earlier poem or a coincidence of images and scenes or a deja-vu as in Michael Welch's article, Some Thoughts on Déjà-ku

throbbing headache
blinds drawn against the dawn
I picture
in the rise and fall of notes
birds flitting in the cold light

Published AHG September 2012

headache -
the shadow of a feeding bird
on the wooden blind

Published Notes From the Gean 17: March 2013

Do share your thoughts.

light pilgrim
Hi again,

Your post about Merton's photography and your own interest and trying out haiga reminded me of the black&white photos by Lavana Kray, who is also the Haiga Editor at cattails:

Perhaps you have some haiga to send😊

Lavana is helpful and inspiring.

Hi Lorraine,

cattails journal accepts haiga. Submissions open on 1st July. Do think of sending some of your haiga.

light pilgrim
Hi again,

Not at all, Lorraine. 😊

Mike is very good and helpful. I hope you enjoy the read.

light pilgrim
Hello again,

Thank you for returning about your haiga. What you say about the poem and the image standing on their own is absolutely right. The craft is in finding a nuanced link between the two. Me thinks you're well on your way into experimenting with haiga and getting to the nub of it.

Alan is brilliant and generous as a mentor.

Thanks to you l found Mark Doty's "mackerel" poem and love these lines:

"the rainbowed school
and its acres of brilliant classrooms,
in which no verb is singular, ..."

light pilgrim
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