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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Ekphrasti-ku…Tree of Hope, Remain Strong

Ekphrasti-ku with Guest Editor Pippa Phillips

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: “Nunavut, Our Land”

The link to “Nunavut, Our Land,” from Resilience Project, (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art), which houses Kenojuak Ashevak’s lithograph is here.

Kenojuak Ashevak is probably the most well-known Inuit artist. She worked in Kinngait, formerly known as Cape Dorset, Nunavut, which is the epicenter of Inuit art, before her death in 2013.

Nunavut was created in 1999, carved out of the Eastern part of the Northwest Territories, to be the first Canadian territory effectively governed by its indigenous population. Prior to this was the creation of a homeland for the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic, per the 1993 Tungavik Federation of Nunavut Settlement Agreement.

Ashevak’s piece, “Nunavut, Our Land,” is a lithograph commemorating this initial step. It is a portrait of Nunavut as seen through the eyes of the artist. Mountains border the edge – ‘Kinngait’ means “where the hills are” in Inuktitut. In the landscape you can see native fish, mammals, and birds (the artist famously loved owls), dogsleds, and iglu – the depiction is of traditional life, before snowmobiles and permanent settlements, before the malign effects of colonization. Within this work of art is a cornucopia of potential kigo words specific to Nunavut. Let your inspiration take you North this week, where winter rules the seasons.

Kinngait is full of artists who use traditional techniques in sculpting stone, etching, and printmaking. If you are interested in exploring more Inuit art or purchasing it from the artists, you can visit here.

The deadline is midnight Central Time, Saturday February 5, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Tree of Hope, Remain Strong:



Middletown, DE

This is a poem you need to climb up to understand – much like the experience of living with chronic pain. The structure of this poem contributes a lot to its meaning, forcing the reader into an uncomfortable situation so that they share the poet’s perspective. The monoku works on a figurative level – a strong burst of pain can distort your vision, making things brighter – but it also refers to the universal pain assessment tool, which color-codes one’s pain – the poet faces no relief, the poem suggests.

in her body
covered with snow

Chittaluri Satyanarayana
Hyderabad, India

Even if I didn’t know this poem was written in response to a painting, the cracks the poet refers to conjure up an aged painting immediately – as well as the fissures and wrinkles that come with age, or the cracked lips that occur in winter. Relief comes here not in the form of blooming flowers or images of spring, but winter snow, an unusual but resonant choice. Rest must come before restoration – after the snow cools the fever, it’s time to hibernate.

enduring pain(t)

Barrie Levine
Massachusetts, United States

This two-word monoku folds a number of meanings into its brevity – first we contrast enduring pain with enduring paint, the former negative, the latter positive. The fact that the ‘t’ of paint is hidden in parenthesis suggests that the artist is attempting to assuage their pain through art, but failing – but when one returns to the question of what endures longest, pain or paint, there is relief in recognizing that the beauty the artist transmits to the canvas will last longer than their suffering.

rift valley –
how painting shifts

her pain

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

Another concrete poem whose composition underscores and informs its meaning, Burrows describes the effect of using art to address pain – it doesn’t get rid of it, but it tends to move the pain to a more manageable location. Despite the subject, the tone of the haiku is light, allowing the fragment to be ambiguous between a reading in which it is the subject of the artist’s painting or serves as a counterpoint to her observation.

winter equinox
finding the axis
of my shadow

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

There is no such thing as a winter equinox, and setting up this seasonal impossibility creates an immediate tension in this poem that will not be remedied. If seasons exist due to the tilt in the global axis, then the poet looks inward, to the seasons that compose herself, her contradictions and impossibilities – her shadow self.

& here are the rest of the selections:

mothering tree
growing hope
from a stump

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


botched phlebotomy touching a thorn of the rose

Kat Lehmann
Connecticut, USA


all the waiting
magnolia buds

Maurice Nevile


day into night into day her buzz in the venus trap a song

Eric Lohman


groom’s home . . .
she takes the shape
of her childhood doll

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India


buckling, this body
of water where my fingers
touch my fingers

Ash Evan Lippert
South Carolina, USA


me mantengo derecho
aun sin ayuda tuya

i hold myself upright
even without your help

Peggy Hale Bilbro


Mother’s faint smile
at my lullaby

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia


cold snap…
again the shadow
on his lungs

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


under covers
into another

Paul Millar
United Kingdom


she hides her scars
in a song
ascending lark

Eva Limbach


in a gloomy sky
the sun and the moon…
the blue painted blue

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania (Italy)


I create a new

Ana Drobot


my wounded self
……my free self
………two skies

Hannah Mahoney
Cambridge, MA, USA


Gut knifed- eye to fin,
devices: spine- tree
mother, rip them out

Sarah Davies
Bedford, UK


cracked earth
the moon softens
my shadow

Alex Fyffe
Texas, USA


burning the anodyne inscape of faith



playing with the wind
on the tree branches
thousand wishes

Bakhtiyar Amini


the sun
the moon
our DNA

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa, USA


wolf moon
the white light over
my gurney

James Gaskin
Fukushima, Japan


cracked earth….
clouds festoon
the full moon

Geetha Ravichandran


haiku –
the here and now
of a scar

Maria Teresa Piras


heavenly beings
i exchange bodies
day and night

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India


Tree of Hope…
my diary of

Ana Drobot


creating my own rhythm five stressed with One unstressed a big score

Melanie Vance


on edge crack pain her shadow

Marcie Wessels
San Diego, CA, USA


Fissure borne and bound—
she stares glassy eyed
at sunbeams

Sonika Jaiganesh
United Kingdom


chilly dawn finally i sat on the colder bed

Devoshruti Mandal


no more than a step
from moon to sun
old self to new

Amanda White
Morvah, Cornwall, UK


red velvet curtains
her hidden scars

Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec


listening to the song echo from a hospice ceiling

Dan Campbell


granite wings of the ash bird

Mircea Moldovan


walking a familiar path
his muddy shoes
at the doorstep

Deborah Beachboard
Adna WA


what I named it
what she named it
aborted child

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA


i cross
oceans of tears…
I sing

Neena Singh


full moon . . .
the ghost of me then me
sings esperanza

Alfred Booth
Colombes, France


finding peace
not finding peace

Margaret Mahony


the play of sun and shadow
on the coast range

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California


blurred boundaries the constancy of pain

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA


duality . . .
this world of darkness
and light

Bill Waters
Pennington, New Jersey, U.S.A.


lighting the dark —
the ancient chants
of my ancestors

Madhuri Pillai


holding firmly
what’s left of me
in these hands

menggenggam erat
apa yang tersisa dariku
di kedua tangan ini

Christopher Calvin
Kota Mojokerto, Indonesia


the lilies
bruised pink –
hard rains

Kaushal Suvarna


how bright
the colour of this dawn
bleeding sutures

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India


red silk skirt
my little sister dances
with prosthetics

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


something unknown
keeps you
going and going

Bittor Duce Zubillaga
Basque Country


recovery center
unable to hide
the cracks in my façade

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY


darkening sky
a blackbird flies under
a rose bush

Sue Courtney
Orewa, New Zealand


lonely night just the cry of a cicada

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India


‘you have your songs too’
—shadows don’t lie

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India


autumn rain
shaping ideas
from oblivion

Florin C. Ciobica


pain pill
all the edges
blend into one



the long suns and moons
of recovery
cielitio valiente

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI


flesh subdued
a shoot rising
off the cross

Mona Iordan


absorbing all
her attention
pine resin balm

Clysta Seney
California, USA


cracked earth –
the wound

Pamela Jeanne
Yukon, Canada


after the earthquake a song of bees

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles


hat flowers
the growing wispiness
of my chemo hair

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, CA


shoganai –
from my wounds
I start painting a new me

Cristina Povero


a song drips
from its body

Tim Cremin


desert moon her backstory

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada


exorcising pain
with each stroke
of her brush

Sharon Martina
Illinois, US


halflight closing in her best dress

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK


bridging each abyss my flower crown

Richa Sharma


birth room –
instead of anesthesia
wisteria perfume

Daniela Lăcrămioara Capotă


dressing in red
her permanent scar
cut by the moon

john hawkhead
Bradford on Avon, UK


emotional scars the bandage of your words

Jackie Chou
United States


from the teeth
to the eye of it
maybe a breath’s length

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom


carry my bruises
to the silver heel
of mother moon

Kelli Lage


it keeps growing
behind the dark
there is light

Nani Mariani


tree scars songs I can’t sing

Anette Chaney
Harrison, Arkansas


dove’s coos…
constant from the window
of my cancer ward

Neera Kashyap


flicked farthing
caught in moonlight
bares a scar

Robert Kingston
Chelmsford, United Kingdom


dark sun
the orange core
of my pain

Suraja Roychowdhury
Lexington, MA, USA


i sing myself green songs

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India


chemo session-
a ladybug slowly moves
across the croton

Ram Chandran


vertical horizon
tilting the world
my way

Firdaus Parvez


holding the song
that rises from a scar
metal brace

Ravi Kiran


sickbed –
behind the curtains
a birdsong

letto di malattia –
dietro le tendine
un canto di uccelli

Daniela Misso


beside herself
with pain

Ann Smith
United Kingdom


graffitti mural –
a billy goat
licks the ivy green

R. Suresh babu


tree planting
my son’s tiny hands
trim the roots

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada


learning the language
of hope


xue xi shi jie yu
qi yuan ge he bu fu cun
xi wang zai ren jian

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China


softly singing Cohen’s

Helga Stania


tilled soil…
a lark spirals

Randall Herman
Victoria, Texas


decoding metaphors
there’s just pain

Vandana Parashar


fossilized wood
a black widow feeding
on its venom

Teji Sethi


La Campanella—
standing ovation
for the blind pianist

Keiko Izawa
Yokohama, Japan


starless sky…
I fill the blank canvas
with my heartbreaks

Kavya Janani. U


day and night
these pangs of hope
palomas mexicanas

Billie Dee
San Miguel, New Mexico


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:

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 31 Comments

  1. Many thanks, Pippa, for including my poem in your commentary this week. I was thrilled to see it there and indeed learnt more about my own poem from your analysis than I had seen in it myself. Congratulations to all the poets in this week’s dialogue. There are so many thought-provoking and moving responses and I have loved reading them all. I am so enjoying this series of prompts and commentaries as I am not only learning more about haiku but also about art. Thank you also to Kj and Lori for all your work.

  2. Thanks Pippa for the very educative and interesting challenges. Learning so much, and all the poems have been outstanding. 🙂

  3. Dear Pippa, I am grateful to see my poem selected for your special commentary this morning. I am in awe of the community of haiku poets and the perspectives they bring to your prompts, to be included in this group is an honor. Thank you for your support of my haiku practice, I am a babe in the woods, only two years, but reading and writing haiku has brought joy into my life that I had no idea existed . . . .

  4. Thank you for another week Pippa! I’m really enjoying this challenge and discovering amazing new art because of it!

    I especially enjoyed Xiaoou Chen’s poem: as someone who is (trying) to learn Mandarin, it was very exciting to (attempt) to compare the differences/intricacies between both the translated and untranslated poems.

    1. Thanks Sonika– I always love it when a poem comes in multiple languages. Can’t wait to see what you come up with this week!

  5. Thank you Pippa for leading us in the close inspection of these wonderful artists’ works. The amazing responses show how deep they take us. Thanks for including my haiku.

    1. Thank you Pamela– the topic I think, was pretty deep, I think the poets really rose to the occasion.

  6. I loved this poem and your commentary on it, Pippa.

    enduring pain(t)
    — Barrie Levine

    And thanks for selecting one of mine.

    1. Sue, I feel so honored by your comment and by Pippa’s affirmation of my work. Thank you for letting me know, and in return I want to tell you how much I loved the imagery in your poem and the feeling it evokes. Best wishes from USA!

  7. Thank you so much, Pippa, for selecting my haiku… I am very happy… congratulations to all featured poets!

  8. Thank you Pippa for including my haiku in this week’s dialogue. Congratulations to all the poets here! Such a variety of interpretations and Frida Kahlo is a favorite of mine. I really appreciated this one:

    learning the language
    of hope


    xue xi shi jie yu
    qi yuan ge he bu fu cun
    xi wang zai ren jian

    Xiaoou Chen
    Kunming, China

      1. Thank you so much Mr. Pippa for selecting my poem this week. You have given a wonderful review on it. I really appreciate the style of your narration. I also congratulate all my fellow poets for their contribution this time.
        Yours sincerely,
        Chittaluri satyanarayana
        Hyderabad, India

  9. I am really enjoying these ekphrastic challenges and the amazing collection of poems written in response to the art. Your commentary on some of the poems always gives me a new a deeper appreciation of what I am reading. Thanks for the challenge and sharing your thoughts.

    1. That means a lot– it’s very intimidating to put my thoughts on poetry in public, since I’m quite new to this. I’m glad to hear they resonate.

  10. thanks to Pippa for selecting my work again. Such a fine selection. …really enjoyed reading them all! Thanks.

  11. I’m really thankful to Pippa for featuring this painting this week and for featuring my work as well. It is a topic very close to me. So many thoughtful responses here…really enjoyed reading them all!

    1. I think the topic resonated with a lot of this week’s poets– so much art is created and consumed in the search for a remedy for some kind of pain. I really appreciate your contribution.

      1. “This is a poem you need to climb up to understand – ” Yes, now I get it. Read bottom to top. And now it makes sense. Like solving a cryptic crossword puzzle. Thank you Robin for the feelings you evoke and Pippa for your commentary and clues.

  12. Quite amazing When you read through all these poems, noting they all relate to the same image. Congratulations to all!
    Thank you Pippa for including mine. Thank you to KJ and Lori as always for the behind the scenes work.

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