HAIKU DIALOGUE – Connection with Self
Welcome to Connection, with Guest Editors Tanya McDonald & Kelly Sauvage Angel
The challenges of 2020 have taught us many things, perhaps most significantly the importance of connection—connection with others, connection with one’s self, connection with the natural world. For those who lack a strong support network, the isolation of the past several months (amid job loss, political unrest, violent crime, etc.) has proven traumatic. For others, re-crafting relationships as virtual has been to a lesser or greater degree fulfilling. Only time will reveal how successful we’ve been in nurturing our most treasured connections. We invite you to contemplate what connection means to you, how you’ve come to navigate feelings of isolation, and ways in which you might more fully tend to your relationships (including the one with yourself!) going forward.
next week’s theme: Connection with Natural World
During this unsettling and uncertain year, many people have been turning to nature for solace, for escape, for rejuvenation, for joy. Whether watching nature through one’s window, enjoying it in one’s backyard, or going on a walk, people are reconnecting with something that many have been too busy or otherwise occupied to appreciate. This week, please send us your haiku/senryu about how you’ve been connecting with the natural world. How do you see yourself reflected within the turning leaves?
The deadline is midnight Pacific Standard Time, Saturday December 05, 2020.
Please submit one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme by clicking here: Contact Form. Please put Haiku Dialogue in the Subject box, & include your name as you would like it to appear, & your place of residence, with your poem.
A few haiku will be selected for commentary each week.
Please note that by submitting, you agree that your work may appear in the column – neither acknowledgment nor acceptance emails will be sent. All communication about the poems that are posted in the column will be added as blog comments.
below is Tanya’s commentary:
letter to myself—
the slow change
of a river’s course
A letter to oneself serves as a connection to a different part of one’s life. It may be written as an exercise addressing one’s younger self, containing advice and wisdom that one wished their younger self knew, or it may be written to a self in the future as a reminder of what life was like at the time of composition. This haiku doesn’t specify whether the letter is being written, or whether it’s being read, which opens the poem for multiple interpretations. In either case, “the slow change/ of a river’s course” is a skillful example of objectivity in haiku. It encourages readers to consider what the first part of the haiku has to do with the second part and allows readers to draw their own conclusions. In addition, it invites readers to reflect upon their own lives and the ways in which they have or have not changed over the years.
sparkling field frost—
finding I love
This haiku begins with a concrete image, immediately drawing the reader into the poem, not just with the image itself, but with what is left unsaid. For there to be frost, it must be cold. For the frost to sparkle, there must be light, possibly sunlight, though it would sparkle in the beam of a flashlight as well. Whether the poet is experiencing the field frost as viewed from a window or while walking through the field is not specified, nor does it need to be. The image is sharp and inviting, and sets up the juxtaposition, which comes in the form of the revelation or confession of the poet: “finding I love/ solitude.” A simple enough statement, yet when taken in context of the pandemic, when isolation has been a hardship for many people, it reveals a keen self-acknowledgement. It’s okay to enjoy being alone. Perhaps the poet has been sheltering-in-place by herself. Or perhaps she’s been in close quarters with one or more people—even people she loves—and has recognized that she values her solitude. The reader is invited to interpret it in whichever way is most meaningful to them. This idea of being comfortable with one’s own self resonates with the image of “sparkling field frost” in a unique and pleasing manner.
below is Kelly’s commentary:
making up the rules
Over the course of our lives, many of us have put immeasurable effort into making choices that we have come to understand will lead to a desirable outcome. We treat our lovers well, show up for work on time, even tidy up the dishes before we turn in for the night. Yet, if nothing else, this year has shown us that the crow of good karma knows no direct path. Whether we’ve found ourselves without an income or grieving the absence of someone we thought would be by our side forever, we may have begun questioning what all of that effort was worth.
A tea ceremony has prescribed rules for the way it is to be carried out. They are not to be questioned. However, Greer’s senryu posits the revolutionary notion that, in fact, we can conduct our lives as we wish. After all, these days, no one watching.
pacing from illusion
In isolation, without the stimuli to which we’ve grown accustomed, many have described the sensation of walking through a fog, navigating a cognitive state that leaves us feeling dull, not as astute as we previously knew ourselves to be. At the same time, we’re faced with the knowledge that what we knew to be is no more—that is, if it ever was.
What Amini gives us here with his masterful use of metaphor is a vivid image of one doing all he can to navigate an (internal or external) environment void of clarity and direction. Our “pacing” only takes us “from illusion to illusion,” which may very well leave us disheartened.
Though it is not explicitly stated, we know that in time the fog that has settled in the lowlands will lift. Positive case percentages will eventually decline. In the meantime, we wander as we must. There is no judgement within this poet’s words.
below are the rest of the selections:
supermom . . .
focusing on my essence morning light
San Gemini (Terni), Italy
I learn to parent
my shadow reduced
into the bubble bath
Count Mayo Ireland
a fallen parijat*
* Indian Night Jasmine
testing scented candles
under my nose
putting on a mask
on my mask
in a kingfisher’s silence
naked blue sky
stirring the soup
for its warmth
all the ways
I have never known myself . . .
a blind man touches
. . . this need to know
myself before God
thrush song in fog
all my anxieties
i quieten my trembling
waiting for the laptop
to boot up
guilty as charged
I blame it all
on my shadow
my beard reaffirmed
the alter egos I meet
along the way
out of work . . .
the only credit
and deep breathing . . .
a bird in flight
childhood dream . . .
at last a bamboo basket
with my own hands
my dead friends visit
leaf by leaf
staring at my shadow
flickering on the wall
no one else around
must be the mountain’s
voice I’m hearing
sheltered from the plague
enjoying perfect health
with such unpleasant strangers—
me, myself and I
the length of
at the flower market
flowers for me
al mercato dei fiori
fiori per me
Guest Editor Tanya McDonald (she/her) is known for her bright plumage and her love of birds. An active member of Haiku Northwest since 2008, her haiku, rengay, and haibun have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She has judged various contests, taught haiku workshops, and served as Regional Coordinator for the Washington State region of the HSA. In June 2020, she launched her new, biannual, print haiku journal, Kingfisher. A Touchstone Award winner and a New Resonance poet, she lives near Seattle.
When not penning ku, Guest Editor Kelly Sauvage Angel (she/her) can be found logging miles on the Ice Age Trail. She is the author of Scarlet Apples and Cream, a long out-of-print poetry collection, as well as the novella Om Namah, recognized as a finalist in the 2016 IPPY Awards. Prolific in nature, Kelly’s work has appeared most notably in the white spaces of discarded receipts and utility bills.
Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.
Managing Editor Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada, and her debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019). Find her at: kjmunro1560.wordpress.com.
The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.
This Post Has 18 Comments
Will the poetry from “connections with the natural world” will be posted on Dec. 16?
short answer – Yes!
thanks for your understanding! kj
So happy to see the connection haiku dialogue back!
I so much enjoy reading the selected haiku and writing on the prompts!
Just to clarify..the connection with nature prompt was already written on although not yet posted. Is there another thene for this week that should be submitted by December 12th?
thanks for asking, Susan – the missing post will go live next Wednesday, 16 December, & we will continue with the ‘Connection’ theme from there… thanks for your patience! kj
You are very welcome kj! A shining holiday to you and your family as well as the the family of all haiku poets who contribute to this wonderful dialogue!
Most often my written haiku are actual and physical in my immediate surroundings. Once I respond by making a successful haiku I am happy yet the haiku was already present. I only wrote from that presence.
Then, I think how often I have blundered through the world being oblivious to obvious inspirations. My perception, in these cases, is under-prepared. How would I know how much I have missed?
I am grateful for the haiku I have made. Perhaps that is enough.
Through the years I’ve heard so much about leaving the “I” out of poetry, unless of course it is “Confessional poetry.” These good haiku show us how the poet skillfully and naturally puts the “I” in.
Another wonderful ”Haiku Dialogue’ column! Many thanks to Lori for the administration and Tanya and Kelly for their editorial input and to all the poets for sharing their work . I am delighted and honoured to be in this selection and huge thanks to Tanya for her lovely commentary on my poem. I enjoyed reading every poem and look forward to next week’s selection.
Thanks Tanya and Kelly, many interesting and introspective haiku this week, but this one strikes a particular chord:
the alter egos I meet
along the way
We all have alter egos as we travel through life don’t we; some we share with others and some we keep to ourselves ..! Great stuff.
drifting into dusk
a blue butterfly dances
away with my dreams
Sorry – posted here accidentally!!
Thank you for yet another insightful collection of haiku. I found myself connecting with myself through the words of others. Always a learning experience to contribute and to ‘consume’ the poetry on Haiku Dialogue.
I relish these insightful moments
Wow! Loved every poem posted here. Congrats Poets.
Thank you, Tanya and Kelly,for the insightful comments and
selections. I enjoyed the soup, candles, notebook, and many other things. This is a beautiful and valuable record of the 2020 moment.
Beautiful selection, thank you for my contribution too, and congratulations to everyone.
Another delightful collection of verses, congratulations to all poets.
I have enjoyed reading them all.
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