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Messages - light pilgrim

New to Haiku: Free Discussion Area / Re: tanka
April 21, 2018, 03:51:44 PM
Hi flowerfox,

It's wonderful that you are thinking of exploring tanka. Here are some journals that currently publish tanka:

American Tanka:






A Hundred Gourds has a great archive. The journal closed in June 2016.

I wish you the very best on your tanka journey.

light pilgrim
Other Haiku News / Re: Johnny Baranski passed away
April 21, 2018, 03:31:54 PM
The April 2018 issue of cattails carries a special tribute to Johnny Baranski, showcasing his haiku published in the journal.

Dream Alchemy

DREAMS HAVE BEEN WIDELY LINKED TO INSPIRATION. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it is believed that there are six intermediate stages in living and dying. Each of these 'in-between' phases is called the bar-do and it is viewed as a powerful stage for awakening and discovering the heart of enlightenment.

The si-pai bar-do, which is the liminal state between death and a new rebirth, is widely known due to treatises like the Bar-do Tho-dol (Book of the Dead). However, the mi-lam or dream bar-do too has great mystical significance.  For example, one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist texts, The Sealed and Secret Biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, also known as the Great Fifth (1617-1682) contains his visionary writings and paintings, which came to him in a series of mystical dreams. Similarly, the founder of the Bhutanese state, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (1594-1651) instituted the tradition of ritual performances and mask dances, which were inspired by visitations of the tutelary deities in his dreams. These rituals and mask dances are still performed today.

In a much-quoted incident about Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), it is said that he wrote his well-known poem, Kubla Khan, on waking up from a dream. His other poem, The Ancient Mariner, also has this dream-like quality.

The short story, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1883–1924) opens with this passage:
'When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect.'

In Isabel Allende's novel, The House of the Spirits, the main character, Clara, has the faculty of dreaming of events before they occur.

Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca begins with another allusion to dreams. :
'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter for the way was barred to me.  . . .  Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me . . .'

Alice, the protagonist of Lewis Carroll's novel encounters a world peopled with characters that plays on the logic of dream and fantasy.

Finally, the Argentine novelist and short story writer, Julio Cortazar (1914–1984) said:
'Only in dreams, in poetry, in play do we sometimes arrive at what we were before we were this thing that, who knows, we are.' 

Are dreams important to your writing?
Do you use dreams in your writing?

Dream Alchemy will be published as a Special Feature of 25 tanka on the Atlas Poetica website at: The general guidelines for Atlas Poetica apply. Dream Alchemy will publish summer, 2018.

Please submit five of your best dream-inspired tanka to us. Only one tanka per individual poet will be selected, so please send us your best poems. The poems must be original, previously unpublished and not under consideration by any other journal. Poems posted on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or personal blogs will be considered.

Send submissions to Sonam Chhoki with the subject line: "Submission–Dream Alchemy". Please send your tanka in the body of the email. Do not send attachments, which will be deleted. Please include a brief  (not more than 5 lines) bio-note about your writing.

Submission period: 30th November 2017–31st January 2018.

Acceptance or non-acceptance of submissions will be notified as soon as possible after the deadline.
Hi Flower,

Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1828) often used wrote about crows and in the English language translations of his haiku, by David G. Lanoue, it is given as "little crow".

A couple of examples:

Quotethe little crow
slips so cleverly...
spring rain

the little crow
is snubbed...
rice field geese

Alternatives : hatchling or fledgling?

light pilgrim

Hi Lorin,

It does seem that the onus is on the poet whose work has been used without any acknowledgement.  A message of acknowledgement from the poet who has used the line from you haiku would dispel so much grief and sense of unfairness.

"Borrowing" or using another person's work is not uncommon. For instance, there is a whole line of haiku about "Wanderer's Willow" from Saigyo to Basho to Buson. But in this instance, there is a recognisable allusion to the previous poet's haiku. The American novelist and essayist, Henry James (1843 - 1916) openly acknowledged that he often "used" people from real life as characters in his work. His sister Alice and a close family friend, Grace Norton, were templates for his heroines in "The Portrait of a Lady" and "Daisy Miller."

I do hope that this issue is resolved for you.

light pilgrim

Hello Meg,

Welcome to the forum :).

The challenge not only to write "something new and fresh" but to continue to do so over a period of time, so as to avoid repetition, is something that is particularly relevant in the contemporary explosion of writing and publishing in the various fora and venues, that flourish online and in print. There's a compulsion of sorts to write and be published almost instantaneously which perhaps lends to the unfortunate effect of poets churning "average" and more of the same kind of poems.

The pitfall for the editor is not only to avoid repetitive and "average" work but also how to embrace new voices, that somehow do not conform to their expectations or experiences of haiku and other related short form poetry.

TS Eliot in his essay, "Tradition and the Individual Talent" warned about both these aspects.

"... if the only form of tradition, of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes, "tradition" should positively be discouraged."

The other side of the coin, as it were are these cautious words.:

"No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. . . . What happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it...The poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities."

Thank you for raising this thought-provoking issue.

light pilgrim
Journal Announcements / cattails: April 2017 issue
April 08, 2017, 04:00:41 PM
The April 2017 issue of cattails is now online:


cattails, the haikai journal of the United Haiku and Tanka Society is now open for submissions.

There will be 2 issues of cattails in 2017:

Spring: (mid-April) and Autumn/Fall: (mid-September).
Submissions for Spring/April issue open: 1st January Midnight GMT and close: 15 February Midnight GMT.

Submission details for autumn issue will be given in the April issue.

The first Issue of cattails will appear: mid-April 2017.

More details on 'How to submit page':

Hi Anna,

A very interesting theme and I hope more will respond. :)

An internet search of poets across the globe invariably brings up the names of male poets. For example, the position of the Poet Laureate in Canada, UK and US are dominated by male poets.  UK's first female Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy (b.1955) was only appointed in 2009. This is note worthy given that the roots of the Poet Laureate go back to 12th century and the English Royal House of Plantagenet.

The Japanese haiku tradition too is dominated by the male masters,  (Basho, Buson, Issa etc) But there are some outstanding women poets like Chiyo-ni and also the 11th century Lady Murasaki, whose novel  'Tale of Genji' is the first and possibly greatest novel in Japanese. For the topic in hand, Lady Murasaki started the practice of using prose and poetry in this work. So we could say, that the haibun (prose and poetry) has its roots here. :)

There are contemporary women haijjin who write about themes, which touch their lives and those of others. I quote an example of an Indian poet who wrote this haibun, which was picked as Editor's choice in May 2015 issue of cattails.:

Shobhana Kumar

For twelve days she tottered between excruciating pain and confused identity. Nothing had changed to the world: she was just a man who was possibly rabidly insane, and was best left to die. Inside, her severed hormones raged like a monsoon. She no longer knew hunger from pain; sorrow from thirst; the loss of belonging from sheer abandonment.

Finally, discarding the life like the shirt she had worn all along she emerged in a sequined sari, rapped her knuckles on the kiosk and demanded money.

half moon—
the unwritten pages
of my diary

This haibun explores the twilight world of transgender in India, which has recently become a legal and constitutional issue in the country.

When I first started to submit haiku and related poems, many editors assumed I was male. This was both liberating and amusing. ;D

I don't know if I am a feminist voice, but I do write about issues which impact on the lives of women and children - war, sexual abuse, exploitation and atrocities.

Here is haibun about childhood violence and abuse. Published in the first issue of cattails 2013.

QuoteCold Fire of Memory

Can you dream for someone who is terrified to sleep? Night oppresses her with its layer by layer of thickening silence. Even the full moon glints with insinuation.

She's too young to hold such sorrow within.

deep blue iris ...
the swollen smoothness
of her broken face

A tanka about how denial of abuse can be more complex than just a male/female situation, where the women too can create barriers which adds to the victim's suffering.:

whose husband fingers
young girls
lectures trainee teachers
in child psychology

(Ribbons Fall 2011 Issue)

A tanka about violence against women trying to flee atrocities:

QuoteChinese guns track
Tibetans on the ridge
in a trail of blood
one by one the nuns fall
fleeing their occupied home

Atlas Poetica 11 , 2012

This was inspired by the case of women in a village in Rajasthan, who were forcibly operated to remove their wombs by unscrupulous doctors.

Quotestolen wombs -
the wind brings only dust
to the village well
Haiku News, 2013,  haiga, Chrysanthemum 14, October 2013

A cousin of mine volunteered to go in an UN team to Syria and came back with horrendous stories of death and destruction of homes and children's lives. The inspiration for this haibun.:

QuoteAleppo: Topography of Terror

clap of thunder —
ravens peel off a carcass
in the field

Through the glassless window a red balloon plays on the grass. Clock
hands have jammed at twelve. The shadow of an upturned cot spreads on
the bullet-splattered wall.  A faint breeze of orange blossoms.

Nothing moves in the abandoned street. The setting sun plays on broken
doors that hang off their hinges.

In the public park the fountain teems with blowflies filled with their
run of eyeless corpses. Street lamps with empty sockets rain darkness.

moonset --
glint of orion's sword
low in the east

Published cattail 2013

Infant mortality is still a problem in many countries. Echoing fears about this:

Quotecrossing the road
to avoid the butcher's slab -
my first trimester

A Hundred Gourds 2:1, December 2012

Miscarriage and loss:

QuoteObituary for Vanished Hope

Like the Snow Lotus in the mountain wind you've gone.

That dawn, unable to sleep, I tiptoed to the veranda stippled by gossamer rifts of the moon. I felt you for the first time. Your nascent warmth seeped to my cold fingers. No scan could have picked you then. My heart beat to a new rhythm.

Did the gods envy our un-shareable love? They sought their malicious revenge. You bled from my womb.

December rain—
a single acer leaf floats
to the heap below

A Hundred Gourds 3:2 March 2014

In recent years,  a growing number of women have become editors of major haiku and related forms' journals. In alphabetical order of journal's name.:

A Hundred Gourds : Founder and Haiku Editor: Lorin Ford
Haiga Editor: Sandi Pray
Tanka: Susan Constable

Cattails : Principal Editor, haiku and tanka Editor : An'ya
Haiga Editor: Elizabeth McFarland
Youth Corner: Kala Ramesh. She is also an editor of World Review and Under the Basho and LHA
haibun& senryu: Sonam Chhoki

Chrysanthemum: Beate Conrad, Managing Editor

Eucalypt : Beverley George: Founder Editor

Frogpond: Aubrie Cox

Haibun Today : Melissa Allen &Ruth Holzer

Modern Haiku (Haibun editor): Roberta Beary

Moon bathing: Pamela A. Babusci

Redlights: Marilyn Hazelton

Skylark : Claire Everett: Founder Editor

There are other journals too which have women editors.

light pilgrim

Submission for the May 2016 Issue of cattails:

Open: February 15

Deadline: Midnight GMT April 15

For more details:
Journal Announcements / cattails: January 2016 Issue
January 16, 2016, 11:45:16 PM
The January 2016 issue of cattails in now online:
No Writer is an Island

IN HIS SELECTED ESSAYS, T. S. ELIOT – THE POET WHO IS EQUALLY WELL-KNOWN AS A LITERARY CRITIC – argues that 'no writer is completely self-sufficient' and that the creative powers of a writer are enhanced by their participation in critical activity. Eliot, like Mathew Arnold, another literary critic of an earlier era (1822-88), links creation with criticism.

According to Eliot 'the literature of the world . . . the literature of Europe . . . the literature of a single country is not the collection of the writings of individuals but organic wholes.' He calls this the 'systems in relations'. It is only in relation to this that 'individual works of literary art have their significance.' Furthermore, Eliot points out that it is a fallacy to believe that, in subjecting one's work to criticism, one loses one's individual voice. It is, he contends, 'a second-rate' artist/writer who 'cannot afford to surrender himself for common action, for his chief task is the assertion of all the trifling differences that are his distinction.'

The writer-critic must 'practise and practise the art of which they write'. He identifies some vital qualities of the writer-critic, one of which is 'a highly developed sense of fact'. This involves expanding one's spheres of facts and knowledge in order to be able to articulate views beyond the individual's simple likes, dislikes and prejudices. Eliot is mindful that the task of the writer-critic is not without pitfalls. However, he holds that 'the objective of the writer-critic is merely to put the reader in possession of facts he might have otherwise missed.' In doing so, Eliot concludes, both the writer and the critic are able to arrive at something outside themselves.

Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing?

Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style?

Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing?

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?

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