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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Ekphrasti-ku… Sunflower Seeds

Ekphrasti-ku with Guest Editor Pippa Phillips

I have been involved in a number of discussions lately about our code of conduct. We encourage considerate, diplomatic, respectful discussion here. Also, a friendly reminder that we accept previously unpublished work that we receive before the deadline… thanks, kj

Once upon a time, under the dubious influence of Nietzsche, I grew despairing of the undeniable fact that I wasn’t a cool Dionysian at all, but a nerdy and visually fixated Apollinian. Once I got over myself, I leaned into it. There’s nothing I like more than taking a sketchbook to a museum on one of its free days. This time, I’d like to take you with me, to visit some of my favorite paintings, and the stories behind them, on a kind of digital ginko walk. These paintings are rich with detail and all are open to metatextual rumination. I look forward to seeing how they inspire you.

next week’s theme“In the Realms of the Unreal”

The link to “At Jennie Richee At shore of Aronburg Run River…” at MoMA from Henry Darger’s work “In the Realms of the Unreal” is here.

Henry Darger is one of the most well-known of the outsider artists – a self-taught artist who operated outside of the mainstream art world. A hospital custodian in Chicago, he gained posthumous fame after a 15,145 page illustrated fantasy manuscript was discovered in his apartment. It was titled “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion;” most simply refer to the work as “In the Realms of the Unreal.”

It is a sprawling adventure story of seven princesses who engage in a rebellion against child slavery. Perhaps due to his childhood, much of which he spent at the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children, Darger spent much of his life obsessed with the idea of protecting children. The work veers between naivete (Darger was unaware that women anatomically differ from men, and often illustrates them with male genitalia), the picaresque, and the grotesque.

The picture I have chosen is titled “At Jennie Richee At shore of Aronburg Run River…” We find ourselves in the strange Eden conjured up by a lonely man whose main form of socialization was attending Catholic Mass. The panorama abounds with palm trees and tree-sized sunflowers. The Vivian Girls can be found in the center, surrounded by a more animalistic brand of girl. Sporting horns and tails, and despite their appendages – which might seem demonic to a devout Catholic – the girls are all innocence. One girl eats a gigantic red fruit. Another is on a swing, carefree. The background is blue with mountains and clouds. It is a respite from an often gruesome war.

Explore the images Darger left behind, much of his writing, as well as documentaries on the artist at the official Henry Darger website here.

Although he spent so much of his life alone, Darger led a richer inner life than most. I invite you to turn inward to your own unreal landscapes. Remember the child that you were. What does that child have to say?

The deadline is midnight Central Time, Saturday February 19, 2022.

Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry. (The Submit button will not be available until the Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in.) With your poem, please include any special formatting requirements & your name as you would like it to appear in the column. 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 Pippa’s commentary for “Sunflower Seeds”:

one window
a field of sunflowers
in the distance

Pat Davis
NH USA

A deceptively simple piece, Davis employs a masterful shasei-style sketch with only a few strokes – for me, the image popped full-colored into my mind’s eye in a way that is rare. Looking closer, we see a frame within a frame – a window, drawing our attention to the sunflowers. After all, in shasei, choosing what to leave out of your sketch is as important as what to leave in – the art is in the framing, the poem implies. Yet, what is framed remains distant, and this distance is underscored by the poet’s implied place indoors, creating an almost agoraphobic feel. Our perceptions are fallible; the true nature of things is just out of reach – yet our focus remains fixed on the transcendental object, no matter how distant it may be.

sunflower hulls–
what little remains
when we are gone

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

I’m a sucker for a noun phrase in a haiku. When I first started to study haiku, I analyzed a few hundred poems that appeared in various journals, and discovered that the most common form of a haiku was a juxtaposition of two nominals. Nominals can take many forms – they can be modified by front-loading adjectives and back-loading phrases, but one of their most interesting forms is the noun phrase, in which a question word heads the structure to serve as an open variable. Such structures I rarely see – those poems in which they occur stand out as grammatically distinct. Noun phrases are always a little abstract, and here, the poet’s mournful rumination serves as a counterpoint to the resonant and well-chosen image. Bedi balances the promise of life with the long shadow of mortality, the smallness of a seed with the largeness of a lived life, and the concrete and the abstract.

Ai Weiwei seeds…
choosing a name brand
over a generic

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

Proper names are presumed to be linguistically interesting due to their status as rigid designators – rather than referring to a class of things, like most nominals, they designate a unique individual. The poet performs a very striking act here. By abstracting the artist’s name into a brand, the poet takes away its referential status. Now what? What does a brand refer to – all of its expired, existing, and future products? What governs its reference, in light of all the people who produce the products, whose labor is organized by a smaller group whose membership is open to flux? What distinguishes its reference from that of a generic? All of these considerations serve to parallel the questions I have about the relation of Ai Weiwei the artist to those who executed his vision, and who counts as the ultimate creator of the art piece.

half of you
already a seed inside a mother
inside her mother

Elizabeth Tibbetts
Hope, Maine USA

It is unclear whether Tibbetts is speaking to a developing fetus, or half of mankind, ready to bear their mitochondrial DNA to the next generation. Despite the ambiguity, this Matroyshka doll of a poem uses repetition to establish a maternal lineage – we are formed by our mothers, and by the mothers who formed them – who we are is also and always a matter of who we come from.

empty seeds sleeping in separate rooms

Alex Fyffe
Texas, USA

On one reading, this monoku would be a charmingly accurate description of an arrangement of sunflower seeds in their seed coats, were it not for the description of them as empty. The word saps the initial playfulness of the poem, drawing our attention to the empty seeds, juxtaposed with the implied impression of marital distance caused by strife. Reconsidering the coined kigo, we speculate that the couple is beset by fertility struggles. This sad situation is underlined by the first image of the poem: the plentiful seeds that comprise the face of a sunflower.

see(d)ing change

Sharon Martina
United States

The argument of this monoku contends that seeing change is inextricably bound up in creating, or “seeding” it – I quite like this way of describing political action. After all, as individuals, our actions are small, and limited – but they can grow into all kinds of things, things that last longer than the actor. And if we plant seeds collectively, we can sow a crop for future generations. Martina’s poem recalls the old proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.”

her curls
the wind whirls fine sand
from the pile

Dejan Ivanovic
Lazarevac, Serbia

Ivanovic’s poem calls to mind the Sorites paradox. If one removes a grain of sand from a pile, it doesn’t cease to be a heap; if one removes a strand of hair from a hirsute head, its bearer is not bald. At one point does a pile of sand, or a head of hair, cease to be a collective unit? It is never the grain or the strand that does it, but the collectivity of the individual elements. The poet invites us to contemplate and compare the plentitude of strands of hair with grains of sand. Notice also the delightful euphony governing this reflection – there is the alliterative rhyme of its middle lines, and the sussuration of the initial aspirate and light procession of sibilants. Ivanovic delivers a breezy poem substantial enough to disturb the plentitudes he conjures.

………Narcissus

taking a photo
of the man taking a photo
of the photo

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

If you turn a video camera on itself, something interesting starts to happen. The image that is produced feeds on itself and distorts until it is rendered into an abstraction – it looks a little like a flower. This is what fascinates me about the myth of Narcissus – the idea that looking at yourself distorts your perception. The poet turns the idea to art – one can make the argument that starting with Impressionism, artists began to turn their perceptions on perception itself, rendering the objects they were depicting less true to life, but perhaps truer to something else. Perhaps when we turn our perspective from the outer to the inner, we see landscapes that would otherwise elude our sensibilities.

………n
………e
………i… .w… ….. ..h
………g.. .h… .. …..o
………h. ..y. …i… . w
………b.. .d c.. . t
………o.. .o a.. . h
m….u. ..n r.. . e…… . ….l i
y…….r. …t…. e.. .y….. .. ….ve

(an homage to Basho’s famous haiku with a, sadly, modern twist)

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

Fischer’s poem takes the guise of scattered sunflower seeds, building an image out of his words, rather than using his words to build an image (although his poem also does that). These seed letters juxtapose with the content of his poem, with its themes of neighborly coexistence. The poem is an allusion to the following, by Basho:

Deep autumn;
My neighbor, —
……..How does he live?

Basho (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 3: Summer-Autumn (Hokuseido Press 1952)

The words trickling down the page invert the curiosity of Basho into modern disaffection – it is an irony of cities in particular, that we live so much closer to our neighbors but live so apart from them. We have lost Basho’s seasonal reference in Fischer’s poem, residing in windowless spaces blocked off from nature, negotiating with and opposing each other. And life – or living, represented by the word ‘live’ is entirely separated from the entire enterprise, stuffed into a box to be opened later. The poet suggests our common human bond is to be found in nature. Only by looking outside of ourselves and into the world, can we understand our place in it. In a way, Fischer’s poem is a counterpoint to Peat’s – this is the barren result of narcissistic navel-gazing.

& here are the rest of the selections:

haiku community
taking the shape
that holds it

Kat Lehmann
USA

 

ant tribe
every one
a little different

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton, UK

 

dandelion seeds
I question
my beginning

Jackie Chou
United States

 

they shoot rubber bullets, don’t they?
sponsorship tag

Alan Summers
England

 

restless gene
in all the clones –
family photo

Daya Bhat
Bangalore, India

 

Helios’s betrayal
the quincunx
of sunflower seeds

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

infiorata –
along with the petals
sunflower seeds

infiorata –
insieme ai petali
semi di girasole

(Infiorata is an Italian flower festival)

Daniela Misso
Italia

 

the bitter part
of winter is over
sunflower seeds

C.X. Turner
United Kingdom

 

homemade limeade
the volunteer citrus tree
in our backyard

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

 

fields in bloom
the chirping sounds
of the pluckers

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany

 

fog not smog another way of living

Pris Campbell
USA

 

detasseling corn
teens traverse rows of green stalks
summer currency

Christina Baumis
South Carolina

 

caressing the seeds unable to germinate winter wind

Eva Limbach
Germany

 

labor
of laborers
the handful

Yasir Farooq
Pakistan

 

stillborn
the haiku I almost write
unopened seeds

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles

 

scattered lives
we recreate our future
with porcelain

Marilyn Ward
Scunthorpe UK

 

North wind of winter –
eating sunflower seeds
I dream of your return

Maria Teresa Sisti
Italy

 

the origin!
a seed
a tree

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India

 

row after row
of bent backs –
migrant laborers

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

one, four, one hundred
sowing the unviable seeds—
production line

Sonika Jaiganesh
Scotland

 

seeded in a seed revolution

Teji Sethi
India

 

ikebana-
how beautifully
the sunflower arranges its seeds

Ram Chandran
India

 

sunflower’s seeds
taste of
a close battle

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

the last remnant of the view towards the sunflower seeds

Pere Risteski
North Macedonia

 

frozen
millions of sweat drops
seeds

Chittaluri Satyanarayana
Hyderabad, India

 

endless field
a man a seed
a man a seed

Mircea Moldovan
Romania

 

scattered seeds
who knows where
our words will fall

John Hawkhead
UK

 

one seed among many
not the first time
I feel crushed

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

this seed
blown across continents
settles here

Amanda White
Morvah, Cornwall, UK

 

Where is my face?
And where is the face
of my mother?

Mark Roper
Tobernabrone, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland

 

sea of misinformation
hard to distinguish
a kernel of truth

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY, USA

 

breaking down
minute details
molecules

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA

 

willingness
crafting a vision
of future

Luciana Moretto
Treviso, Italy

 

sunflower seeds…
farandola
in F minor

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna (Italia)

 

daily bread the crunch of sunflower seeds

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand

 

placing myself
carefully among others
sunflower seed

zichzelf plaatsen
voorzichtig tussen anders
zonnebloem zaad

Christopher Calvin
Kota Mojokerto, Indonesia

 

dream of a seed
to be a flower, or at least
to be useful

Margie Gustafson
Lombard, IL USA

 

not temple bells
ringing–
frozen pond

Paul Engel
Chicagoland

 

MADE IN CHINA
unnamed
masses

Susan Farner
USA

 

empty bowl
the child spoons
a daisy

Robert Kingston
Chelmsford United Kingdom

 

not a drop of oil
from a million seeds
made of pottery

陶瓷葵花子
未可榨得半钱油
纵有万千颗

tao ci kui hua zi
wei ke zha de ban qian you
zong you wan qian ke

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China

 

outsourcing. . .
when every flower seed
turns into sunlight

Alfred Booth
Colombes, France

 

biological clock ticking I unfreeze the seeds

Vandana Parashar
India

 

sunflowers…
a million different ways
to bloom

Wendy Gent
Bristol, UK

 

sunflower seeds
all over the floor…
no hamartia

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

 

her garden blooms again –
ultrasound
shows triplets

Daniela-Lacramioara Capota
Romania

 

sunflower seeds –
watching sons
forcing the city gates

Paul Millar
United Kingdom

 

outside the range of dilated sun unborn dreams

Richa Sharma
India

 

it is
all black and white
sunflower seeds

Kristen Lindquist
Maine, USA

 

in the iris
of your eyes
sunflower

Jason Freeman
Camden Maine USA

 

divine proportion –
the sunflower seeds
leave their mark

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India

 

leaf blowing
disturbed dandelions
let go of seeds

John Zheng
Mississippi

 

stepping forward
the path behind
fills in

Richard Matta
San Diego, California

 

morning coffee
four continents
in one cup

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

as the millions
are crushed underfoot…
erhu music

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA

 

sunflower
the longevity
of porcelain seeds

Marianne Sahlin
Sweden

 

kuí huā zĭ
the street vendor’s bag
bursting at the seams

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

 

china doll
the lips of the bisque
a black gloss

simonj
UK

 

at the apex
of the pile
someone with clout

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

out of the earth
all of the gold
sunflowers

Barrie Levine
Massachusetts, United States

 

burlap bag
heavy with sunflowers
this unbearable heat

Maxianne Berger
Montreal, Quebec

 

ossuary
the false seeds
we have wrought

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

little fish
in the seeds
salty in my mouth

Genie Nakano
Gardena, CA

 

new morning
the sunflowers
on my ceramic mug

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

cracked hulls
her monthly request
for grandkids

Mariel Herbert
California, USA

 

critical mass seed by seed by seed…

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

from molecules
to mass
mutual affinity

Geetha Ravichandran
India

 

each season
millions of seeds
wuwei

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India

 

seeds separated
threshing floor reveals the
thousand- fold promise

Joe Sebastian
Bangalore, India

 

the dark light surface of sunflower seeds

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

sunflower seeds …
a new message
in my mail

semi di girasole …
un nuovo messaggio
nella mia posta

Lucia Cardillo
Italia

 

sunflower harvest
granddaughter’s first meeting
with the mouse family

zbiory słonecznika
pierwsze spotkanie wnuczki
z mysią rodziną

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland

 

sounding the air—
I walk through a field of bone

Adele Evershed
Wilton, USA

 

made in china
the cashier asks my girl
if she was

James Gaskin
Fukushima, Japan

 

facing
another day . . .
sunflowers

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

 

free admission
acquiring a taste
for porcelain seeds

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

seeds
in the Fibonacci sequence
Sunflowers

Tsanka Shishkova
Bulgaria

 

millions of seeds-
a way to nurture
protest

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

the longing for longevity
why sunflowers pray sunwards

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India

 

sunflowers’
heavy heads droop—
politics

John S. Green
Bellingham, WA USA

 

sunflower seeds exhibition
charcoal-grey
into my dream

Anna Yin
Canada

 

sunflower seeds…
a flock of starlings
blurring the edges

Florin C. Ciobica
Romania

 

scraping against
the pericarp
this endless hunger

Andy McLellan
Canterbury, UK

 

sweatshop sweat $15 per kilo

Mark Gilbert
UK

 

lest we forget
in this land
e pluribus unum

Didimay D. Dimacali
USA

 

among countless shops on a narrow road
a white cup

Ash Lippert
South Carolina, USA

 

tiny seeds
the poppy field
still in my dream

Mona Iordan
Romania

 

winter snacks
the seeds in my mouth
bearing summer

Hege A. Jakobsen Lepri
Oslo/Toronto

 

aging sunflower
not quite ready to release
the last of her seeds

Dana Clark-Millar
Bend, OR USA

 

spiral staircase
returning to where
I’ve been before

Lafcadio
USA

 

sun warmed bench
a titmouse snatches
our sunflower seed

Keiko Izawa
Yokohama, Japan

 

sunflower shell
the words still
on my lips

James Lindley
USA

 

bird feeder
sparrows kick seeds
into art

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio, USA

 

dancing
while mother paints
stripes on sunflower seeds

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, California

 

where it all
begins —
a seed

Lorelyn Arevalo
Philippines

 

síolta lus na gréine
bradaíl á déanamh acu
ar a chéile

sunflower seeds
plagiarising
one another

Gabriel Rosenstock
Éire (Ireland)

 

Guest Editor Pippa Phillips is a recovering academic who hails from Cape Cod. Her micropoetry has been published in a variety of publications, including Cold Moon Journal, Frogpond, Failed Haiku, Modern Haiku, and The Asahi Shimbun. She also writes long and short-form fiction. She is interested in the intersection of ethics and aesthetics and walking the line between the populist and the experimental. You can find her on Twitter @IpsaHerself and Instagram @pheaganesque.

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.

Please note that all poems & images appearing in Haiku Dialogue may not be used elsewhere without express permission – copyright is retained by the creators. Please see our Copyright Policies.

This Post Has 67 Comments

  1. Thank-you for your kind comments, Dorothy Burrows and Amanda White. Special thanks to Pippa, kj, and Lori for all your efforts with this series.

    Once again your commentary is exceptional, Pippa. I really appreciate your insightful interpretation of my poem!

    In addition to the haiku already highlighted in the comments, I love these two by Richard Matta and John Green for their simple wisdom and brilliance:

    stepping forward
    the path behind
    fills in

    Richard Matta
    San Diego, California

    sunflowers’
    heavy heads droop—
    politics

    John S. Green
    Bellingham, WA USA

    Congrats to all the poets!
    Peter

  2. To Pippa whose prompts and commentary are unbelievably awesome, to Lori and Kath, and to all great poets, for sharing your amazing gifts of written words, short but powerful…
    Maraming salamat! 😊 It’s an honor to be included. I’m kilig. 😄

  3. Thank you once again, Pippa, for a great prompt and commentary. I have enjoyed reading and thinking about all the poems in this week’s column and have learnt a great deal by doing so. Congratulations to all the poets featured. Thank you, Pippa, for including my poem.

    I particularly enjoyed P. H. Fischer’s concrete poem for its visual impact and also Sue Courtney’s

    daily bread the crunch of sunflower seeds

    I loved the juxtaposition, the layered meanings and the use of sound in this one.

    1. Dear Dorothy, Thank you for your kind comments on my contribution. Your ‘million of seeds’ is very relevant to the current protests happening around the world, and particularly here in NZ!

      So many good haiku this week and excellent commentary from Pippa on her top selections and I’ve learnt something new with noun phrases.

      I particularly liked how the rest of the selections with Kat Lehman’s ‘haiku community’ and finished with Gabriel Rosenstock’s ‘sunflower seeds’ with John Hawkhead’s ‘scattered seeds’ in the middle. In between, those that spoke to me on several levels were Susan Rogers’s ‘stillborn’; Susan Farner’s ‘MADE IN CHINA’; James Gaskin’s ‘made in china’; Bona M. Santos’ ‘critical mass’; and Lorelyn Arevalo’s ‘where it all’. I could go on and on….

      Congrats to all whose poems were selected.

      1. Missing word above. Should be: “I particularly liked how the rest of the selections *started* with Kat Lehman’s ‘haiku community’ …..”

      2. Thank you for liking my haiku Sue. I resonated with yours too as I love sunflower butter and bread and while your haiku deliciously evoked those for me, in the use of “daily bread” it also brought to mind the idea of wages and labor suggested by the porcelain seeds created by workers in China for an art installation in another country.

        Thank you also to Pippa for her excellent commentary and to all the other wonderful poets included here.

  4. A very warm welcome to these two poets, with their first haikai verses on this wonderful ekphrastic feature!

    Both verses hold power in different ways.

    I feel that the phrase ‘restless gene in all the clones’ whether for agriculture and farming, or eventual human clones, is incredibly powerful, especially when the last line is ‘family photo’. Lots of layers here.

    restless gene
    in all the clones –
    family photo

    Daya Bhat
    Bangalore, India

    .

    winter snacks
    the seeds in my mouth
    bearing summer

    Hege A. Jakobsen Lepri
    Oslo/Toronto

    It is incredible that we forget how much goes into the plant life that we eat, and that we can devour a different season. Wonderful poem!

  5. Thank you Pippa for including mine, and for your commentaries. I thought we would have problems with this example of art, but the results have been inspired. I feel Pat Davis and Gabriel Rosenstock produced possibly perfect responses (luckily some of us like writing imperfect haiku…)

    1. Hege! You’re one of my faves, so I was delighted to find your submission, and hope to see more from you…

    2. I am very much thankful to Pippa for selecting my poem this round. Your review of poetry is extraordinary. Hats off to your sincerity and honesty in selection.

  6. In light of things past, I liked this tongue in cheek:

    sunflower seeds
    plagiarising
    one another

    Gabriel Rosenstock
    Éire (Ireland)
    ***
    What an extraordinary thing to do, to try to imitate nature when nature itself is so bountiful and generous. If the seeds were real and allowed to germinate, they could help to feed the very workers who were paid to realize Ai Weiwei’s concept. This falls in with Alex Fyffe’s perceptive comments on Barrie Levine’s and my own poems this week where he writes: “These [two] work together well to tell the story of stripping land of its resources so that someone can sit on top of the backs of those who toil in the dirt”. Thank you, Alex, for this comparison.

    I have a question, though: why is it, knowing how earth, like water, is essential to life, and therefore should be revered, that we do it the dishonour of calling it in derogatory terms such as ‘soil’ (e.g. as in ‘soiling’), and ‘dirt’? These terms have always bothered me because it is we humans who introduce dirt to soil our world . . . think landfill, oil spills, desecration through war, etc.

    1. Wonderful insights, Ingrid. To your point about imitating nature– I tend not to like realism in art for exactly the reasons you point out… To further your point about earth, even across cultures, earth tends to be regarded in a feminine light, and I wonder if that contributes to the casual disrespect we view it with…

    2. Ingrid,
      I, too, was taken with the art imitates nature plagiarism haiku, but didn’t want to invite controversy. I am so glad you dared to go there and braver than me because it was an awesome haiku in its own right.
      Thanks for being brave and addressing injustice in your ku, too

    3. That’s a good question, Ingrid. I would assume that it has to do with humanity’s tendency to admire cleanliness (“next to godliness,” as they say). For quite some time, society has looked down on “dirty work” as a lower class sort of thing, not for the “higher orders” to handle. We have internalized this classist thinking so much that oftentimes children who have to attend school in dirty clothes or otherwise appearing unkempt tend to suffer discrimination from other students who probably have it much easier at home. “Dirty” has come to be associated with “impure.” We criticize people as “pigs,” animals that roll around in mud, for living “unclean lives.” And pigs surely didn’t do anything to deserve such criticism, either. But language very rarely has to do with what’s fair or accurate. And so, we will continue to sing, “You got mud on your face, you big disgrace,” and “Another one bites the dust,” and “When I’m down in the dirt, that’s when I feel the pain.”

      But on the other hand, we do praise Mother Earth, or Gaia, as our caretaker, and we are frequently advised to plant good thoughts in the soil of our brains so that goodness will grow within us. And we praise our homeland, our motherland, our fatherland. It is a cliche to get down on one’s knees and kiss the ground upon returning home after a long or dangerous journey abroad. I think our relationship with earth/dirt/soil must be very complex. Depending on what we want to say, we can praise it one breath and demean it in the next. I suppose it’s much like any relationship that way…

      1. Thank you for your comments and insights, Pippa, Nancy and Alex.
        It’s so good to have positive discussion on HD and see other poets’ points of view.

          1. Here’s a good dirt thought. Among the many things I studied at college, I took an invertebrate zoology course and even spent the next couple years as a lab assistant helping out including making up lab practicals. Long story short, one of those oft-seen questions on a lab practical that included annelids (segmented), flat, and round worms was a slide showing a part of the anatomy of an earthworm and a question about a four-letter word for what this creature ate. The answer: soil or dirt. Earthworms are good for aerating the ground because of their eating of soil so dirt/soil does not always have a negative connotation, at least to me.

  7. Stunning collection prompted by Ai Weiwei’s arresting installation and brilliant commentary again Pippa, so rich and inspiring. Particularly enjoyed Fischer’s inventive response. Thank you.

  8. Thanks Pippa for another really stimulating prompt and incisive analysis. Contributors seem to be really pushing the boundaries so kudos all round!

  9. Thank you so very much for including my haiku amongst this week’s wonderful selection, Pippa. This series is truly eye opening – your commentary is a fantastic example of how to read haiku/senryu deeply, and the diversity each week’s selections really inspires me push my boundaries and experiment with new techniques. Thanks for your generosity in all the work you put into curating these features and picking prompts each week!

  10. Somehow this week’s prompt blew right past me. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of responses to the sunflowers. These ekphrastic prompts are pulling out wonderfully thoughtful haiku.

  11. placing myself
    carefully among others
    sunflower seed

    Christopher Calvin

    This stood out for me. Linking the human condition, whether that of an expat, or the recently induced fear of the crowd, with the myriad sunflower seed.

  12. A million + seeds have produced excellent haiku this week from around the globe. Impressive, and I suspect there could as many haiku as there are ceramic seeds. Good choices all, Pippa. Thanks for including one of mine in this mix. So many to read and appreciate especially those upon which you commented.

    I especially liked Mark Gilbert’s addressing the sweatshop, but his wasn’t the only one that looked further into the cost of the production of these seeds. Susan Farner’s haiku certainly gives one pause.

    Another fantastic column Pippa, Lori, and KJ. Thanks for all you do.

  13. Wow! Another awesome collection. It certainly is an eye opener seeing the variety and respective connections.
    Thank you Pippa for once again including mine.

  14. Thank you Pippa for highlighting my monoku this week. There are so many poets each week that reflect a plethora of insight and talent for writing haiku. I especially enjoy your weekly Ekphrasti-ku prompts and subsequent commentary. Great learning experience week after week, not to mention broadening my exposure to art.

  15. Thank you Pippa for including my haiku in this sunflower seed dialogue! The whole concept behind this artwork was quite inspiring. Thank you for shepherding our haiku dialogue as guest editor with these wide-ranging art prompts.

  16. seeds
    in the Fibonacci sequence
    Sunflowers
    /
    Tsanka Shishkova
    Bulgaria
    /
    I applaud Tsanka for knowing what the Fibonacci sequence is and for knowing that sunflower seeds follow this pattern.

        1. I’d love it if you could point me to any relevant chapbooks or journals…

          across infinity aleph by aleph the cardinals

          Mine, originally written as a gift for Craig Kittner, published in Whiptail.

  17. Thank you, Pippa, for selecting my poem for commentary. It’s an honor. And your analysis is spot on.
    *
    I also enjoyed these two:
    *
    out of the earth
    all of the gold
    sunflowers
    *
    Barrie Levine
    Massachusetts, United States
    *
    at the apex
    of the pile
    someone with clout
    *
    Ingrid Baluchi
    North Macedonia
    *
    These work together well to tell the story of stripping land of its resources so that someone can sit on top of the backs of those who toil in the dirt.

    1. Alex, I just read your comment with its reference to my out of the earth poem. Thank you for placing it in context and pairing with Ingrid’s poem. I am honored that you were inspired to “dig deeper” to find this layer of meaning. This was a wonderful prompt giving so may poets including yourself the chance to shine!

  18. Hi Pippa, Thanks for your commentary on my poem. It certainly adds more depth to my initial idea for the poem! I wrote it while visualizing a one-window sweat shop, and workers of all ages wondering how long they will last with only their dreams of a better future. Also, I didn’t know that sunflowers represent longevity. Thanks for all the time you put into this column. Pat

    1. Thank you for expanding on my understanding… “one window” is such a really good choice that ends up implying all sorts of things– I did think we were in a one-window room, it felt dark, the window felt small– there’s an unspoken ‘only’ that precedes the phrase.

  19. Thank you Pippa for another creative challenge and it was great to read the contributions of poets from 20+ countries!

  20. Thanks Pippa for sharing my haiku here! Feels like a warm welcome, my first time here. Wonderful collection of interpretations.
    I particularly relished this one the most –

    winter snacks
    the seeds in my mouth
    bearing summer

    Hege A. Jakobsen Lepri
    Oslo/Toronto

    1. Welcome, Daya! I think your poem is in a really interesting conversation with Peat’s… Your ku is very striking, thank you for sharing it…

  21. Thanks, Pippa, for another inspiring prompt and thoughtful commentary! Interesting to see the responses too! Looking forward to next week.

    1. I was planning to comment on yours, given the richness of allusions (and I really enjoyed that Catherine Tate art parody sketch piece)– but I didn’t want to show favoritism, lol.

      1. No worries!

        Really wanted to find the hilarious French & Saunders sketch where they say where’s Lyle, while at Tate Modern.

        I will post a few links in the comments.

        Another fab feature, I don’t know how you do it, but I do know, from my own experience, it’s a lot of time and effort, so kudos to you! 🙂

        warm regards,
        Alan

  22. Another mind-blowing week, Pippa, with stimulating prompts, a gorgeous expansive array of haiku/senryu resulting, and fascinating educative commentaries.

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