please be patient as we move forward with our new presentation of a prompt every third week… thanks, kj
Facial Expressions & Introduction to All the World’s a Stage
Welcome poets to a New Year & a new format for Haiku Dialogue! First, thanks to Co-Guest Editors Hifsa Ashraf & Arvinder Kaur for an interesting look at our facial expressions in haiku. Welcome back Guest Editor Alex Fyffe – we are in for a treat, & a wonderful start to the year with a theatrical theme – happy writing! kj
All the World’s a Stage with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe
Welcome to this month’s performance of Haiku Dialogue! Tonight’s program will begin shortly. There will be a brief intermission between acts, and we ask that you stick around until the final curtain call to support the performers. We hope you enjoy the show!
That’s right: The inspiration for the next few weeks is going to come from theatrical terms. Although one might not associate haiku with theatricality, I think that terms like “intermission,” for example, can inspire a whole folio of ideas for haiku poets to explore.
Our first prompt will be centered around the word “intermission.” During a lengthy play, it is common to pause the performance about halfway through in order to give the audience a fifteen-minute break to use the facilities and/or purchase some concessions – or to attend to any personal drama – before returning to the onstage drama.
The intermission is a temporary reprieve from the emotional endurance run of a powerful performance, the calm before catharsis. It is a return to the self after the ego-death of the dark theater where all the huddled bodies temporarily lose themselves in the actors, a reminder that the world of the stage is not the whole world, that we are neither Hamlet nor Ophelia, only observers adrift in the lobby. The intermission is a time for us to attend to our physical needs after having momentarily forgotten that we had them at all. For some, it is a smoke break, or a bar with their name on it. In life, intermissions can be those five-minute passing periods between classes, a coffee break, the gap between different lovers, or any number of “pauses,” of intervals that separate the big acts in our lives.
Write a haiku or senryu with the idea of “intermission” in mind, however you interpret the word. You could, of course, write about a literal theatrical intermission experience, or you could refer to other types of intermission, those moments between the scenes of life.
The deadline is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday January 06, 2024.
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 & residence as you would like it to appear in the column. 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 Hifsa’s & Arvinder’s commentary for surprise:
in my eyes
Apart from an inherent and vivid image of a surprised expression on the face, the poem also surprises us with a twist in the tail. Having stars in the eyes has many connotations but the play here is between the literal and the figurative. It also stood out for the fact that it creates an extraordinary connection between the fragment and the phrase.
the toddler’s eyes widen
with each fold
Cary, North Carolina
The poem took us to the world of innocence. The playful image comes as a relief given the fact that we live in a war-ridden world. It seems like a reminder that humanity is capable of lighter moments and that life goes on whatever may happen. Someone seems to have engaged the toddler as the shape of a dog emerges from a balloon. This is an extremely positive image.
laughter lines stuck
This is something all of us discuss as we grow old. The lines on the face stand for how we have marveled at the magic of life. Somehow the image takes us to what a famous actor has said about lines and wrinkles. They are a sign of a life lived intensely, how deeply we have felt each emotion that life has brought us. So it is great that the wrinkles remain on the face in a world where aesthetic clinics offer plenty of freebies to get them removed. A very interesting and relevant image.
all the gaps
in granny’s teeth
An interesting poem reflecting some fun and amusement. Unplanned events sometimes become the most memorable ones. Elderly people enjoy them the most as they always look forward to gatherings where they are able to spend some time with their loved ones. The gaps in granny’s teeth symbolize declining health or ageing but even that doesn’t stop her from sharing her expressions of surprise. An unplanned party may not fill those gaps but it may have brought much needed fun into her life.
dropping my jaws
on all that was unsaid
There is a sense of mystery here. Is the narrator going through the diary after dad’s death? Or is the father away? In any case, the element of surprise is inherent in the dropping of jaws. Universally, dads are known to keep things to themselves. The poem gives a peek into the inner world of all fathers. The secrets that they bury inside and the likes and dislikes that they do not convey. The tenderness of a father’s love has been so well-captured.
baby’s first sight
The surprise when a baby girl discovers her own beauty. The poem oozes with innocence and tender beauty. What a refreshing image in a world where people are busy running a rat race at breakneck speed. ‘Saucer eyes’ is a rarely used expression and as L1 it proves impactful. One can imagine what a beautiful doll this little girl must be.
home for Christmas
… mum’s eyes brimming
An extremely relatable image. The surprised delight when children come home to be with parents on festivals and landmark days is so well-conveyed here. Seniors find it difficult to hold back tears of joy. The ellipsis at the beginning of L2 provides a lot of scope for the reader’s interpretation.
when I see an old woman
in the mirror
Watching one’s own transition in the mirror always has surprises in store. Women, in particular, find it hard to negotiate when it comes to the change from youth to old age. Again a universal sentiment well-conveyed through wide eyes.
Join us next week for Alex’s selection of poems on the topic of intermission…
Guest Editor Hifsa Ashraf is an award-winning poet, author, editor, and social activist from Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Her work has been widely published. Hifsa is the author of six micropoetry books on gender-based taboos, mental health, socio-cultural, and socio-political issues. She has won The Touchstone Award for Individual Poems 2021 from The Haiku Foundation. She received special mention for her book, Her Fading Henna Tattoo, in the Touchstone Distinguished Books Award 2020 and in the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award 2021. Her most recent micropoetry collection, hazy crescent moon, is about Islamophobia and is published by Alba Publishing, UK.
Guest Editor Arvinder Kaur, author, translator and an award-winning poet, specializes in English literature and Media Studies. Her haiku have appeared in several international journals. She is the author of four books of micropoetry, two of which are bilingual where she has translated her own work into vernacular. Her books have been very well received in India and abroad. She lives in Chandigarh, India with her family.
Guest Editor Alex Fyffe teaches high school English in the Houston area. His haiku and senryu have been published in various journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, and the Asahi Haikuist Network. Some of his favorite short form poets include Issa, whose work he discovered in the intermediate Japanese textbook he used while studying in Hikone, Japan, and Santoka, whose writing introduced him to the liberating concept of “freeform haiku.” Currently, Alex uses haiku in the classroom to ease students into poetry and build their confidence as readers and writers. Alex also posts haiku, including translations of contemporary Japanese haiku, on Twitter @AsurasHaiku.
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.
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