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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Finding peace and contemplation… in the great outdoors… among mountains

Finding peace and contemplation… in the great outdoors with Guest Editor Marietta McGregor

At times in our lives, fast-moving events of our day-to-day existence may become overwhelming. Between work and family responsibilities, daily needs and doomscrolling, days rush by in a breakneck blur and we sometimes end the week with a sense of ‘where did that go?’ We’re surrounded by the wonders of our shared universe. Maybe it’s time to become immersed in the enjoyment of one aspect of this spectacular world which amazes, delights and refreshes us. We can marvel at the night sky or clouds by day, cheer a ladybug as it climbs a twig and opens its wings, dangle our feet in a cool river, rest in a tree’s benevolent shade, stroke velvety green moss, smell ozone freshness at the coast, crunch through frosty grass, listen to morning birdsong, taste a last autumn apple. Small pauses in quotidian life may be devoted to living slower, using every sense, and sharing our pleasure through poetry. Simple gifts.

Each week for the next few weeks there will be a photographic prompt on the theme of ‘Finding peace and contemplation. . .’ with images capturing moments when we might seek inspiration if the going gets tough. I look forward to reading your personal response to the moments you’ve discovered.

next week’s themein the great outdoors in a forest

This photograph was taken in old-growth eucalyptus bushland in New South Wales, Australia, before the fires of early 2020. This area fortunately survived the blaze. The Japanese practise of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, opens every sense to the forest. Walking or just sitting in the woods is a way not only to feel better, but also to be healthier. Scientists have shown that certain essential oils given off by trees can benefit our immune system. How do you feel among plants, in your garden, in a park, or in the woods? Please enjoy sharing your haiku inspired by the photograph, or by your own forest bathing experiences through the seasons.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday August 21, 2021.

Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Marietta’s commentary for in the great outdoors among mountains:

My great gratitude to everyone who sent in haiku inspired by being among mountains. Travelling with you all around the world this week has been a joy, and, as I’ve noted before as guest editor, I love the way haiku, and Haiku Dialogue, bring us together. A number of your poems this week included place names. Esteemed haijin the late David Cobb argued that place names in haiku have their own special resonance. Japanese poets used familiar place names to evoke feelings. They could be places of great beauty, or sites where historic events occurred. Outside of Japan, we have our own iconic places. If we use them in our haiku we can bring them to others. However, sometimes the generic word may be best because it’s more accessible. David Cobb argues it’s ultimately a matter for the poet to decide. You’ll find his essay in The Haiku Foundation’s Digital Library, along with a wealth of other resources on writing haiku, and many downloadable chapbooks by noted haiku poets. https://thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/files/original/9228b7cabb6637a1396da93fe17afbe3.pdf
Please send in up to two haiku next week ‒ I’ll be looking forward to reading your work.

a deep breath
before the climb
sagebrush

Kristen Lindquist
Camden, ME, USA

This haiku made me take a deep breath, too. The juxtaposition conveys an anticipatory pause before striding upwards, with a sense of what lies ahead. We breathe in the sharp, clean and bracing scent of sagebrush. Simple, but in seven short words hugely evocative of time and place.

mountain breeze
I become
the smell of pines

Tomislav Sjekloća
Cetinje, Montenegro

Another ‛scent’ haiku. It’s been postulated that trees may give off certain aromatic chemicals which act as a form of protective communication, including ethylene gas as a warning. The scent of resin is so deeply associated in our minds with coniferous forests that we can be transported when we sharpen a cedar pencil. Here the poet is enveloped in the pervasive fragrance of trees. Can you become a tree, or its scent? The poet Issa wrote of becoming a dewdrop. Haiku does not always have to be a realistic description of a moment. This haiku to me has the meditative quality of moving into a new reality.

skiddaw
I leave the summit
a little higher

simonj
UK

I had to look up Skiddaw. It’s a mountain in the Lake District National Park near Keswick, in Cumbria, Britain. The 6.5 kilometre walk to the summit is described as challenging at first. I read the haiku, perhaps more accurately called a senryu, as a humorous double-entendre. On the one hand, the poet could be exalted by the climb to a superb panorama, and still be enjoying that feeling of uplift while on the descent. On the other hand, the poet could be slyly referring to a particular call of nature that had to be answered on the mountaintop after an arduous climb. Classical haiku poets did not shy away from gritty subjects, or basic needs. It was all a part of the human condition.

metamorphosis . . .
how this granite body
became shale

Richard Matta
San Diego

Haiku beginners are often warned to avoid metaphor. While overt metaphor may work better in tanka, haiku pundits consider there is room for implied metaphor in writing haiku or senryu. This poem could be read as being about the natural forces that shape mountains and valleys, as in Yosemite National Park. Or it could be a more personal senryu about inexorable changes in the poet’s physical (or spiritual) self. Granite is a hard igneous rock. Before it transforms into shale, it must break down into its component minerals through weathering and erosion. After destruction comes change and transformation into something perhaps not as hard, but resilient, nonetheless.

mountain afternoon
a hummingbird’s
bright silence

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO, US

If I took a deep breath after reading the first poem in the commentary, this haiku made me hold my breath. I’ve not been fortunate enough to see a hummingbird in real life, only in images or video. But this haiku sets me right in the moment when a tiny bird hovers into view. Line 1 helps me picture clear light, poet sitting quietly, a sense of calm. The bird comes as a change in the light itself rather than as a sound. ‛bright silence’ is a beautiful example of synesthesia, where one sense is transformed into another. Very enjoyable haiku.

& here are the rest of the selections:

Nilgiri hills . . .
the echo of purple
in the air

(Kurinji flowers are purple-blue flowers that cover the hills with a sublime purple haze when they bloom. A rarest of the rare sight, which happens once in a blue moon literally! People from all over the world come to Nilgiri Hills to see this phenomenon.)

Teji Sethi
India

 

thin air
on the mountain top . . .
barely hanging on

Kathleen Vasek Trocmet
New Braunfels, TX USA

 

imagining the mountain
where the mountain was
wildfire haze

Terri French
RV

 

daily routine
a view of the mountains
on the calendar

Vincenzo Adamo
Sicily, Italy

 

mountain aul
the first star
within reach

(aul – a tent of Central Asia made of felt or skins fastened over a circular wooden framework)

Bakhtiyar Amini
Germany

 

fold mountain—
last week’s creases
ironed out

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

 

climbing the peak—
thousands of years
behind me

Ram Chandran
India

 

out of the wind
everything about this rock
stops

Tony Williams
Scotland, UK

 

mountain view—
touching the new moon
in my selfie’s reflection

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada

 

unspoken words
the Matterhorn
covered with fog

Olivier Schopfer
Geneva, Switzerland

 

origami mountain . . .
the sunrise
at suicide point

R. Suresh Babu
India

 

adjacent mountains
I ponder the span
of eternity

Jackie Chou
Pico Rivera, CA USA

 

dyeing
the distant hill . . .
blue sky

Jagajit Salam
Imphal, India

 

silence
on the dead volcano
first snow

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

snow-capped peaks—
different perspectives
of cranes in flight

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy

 

between
the mountains
a nameless fragrance

Ravi Kiran
India

 

mountain view
the wasp attracted to
my gin and tonic

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK

 

summer night—
my brother among the stars
and mountains

Aljoša Vuković
Šibenik, Croatia

 

to the top—
an edelweiss,
an edelweiss

Paola Trevisson
Italy

 

bald eagle preening the snow capped mountain

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

 

climbing Mt Fuji
with the sun rising . . .
next lifetime

Natalia Kuznetsova
Russia

 

my thoughts—
creating mountains,
melting mountains

ನನ್ನ ಆಲೋಚನೆಗಳು —
ಪರ್ವತಗಳನ್ನು ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಸುವುದು,
ಪರ್ವತಗಳನ್ನು ಕರಗಿಸುವುದು

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India

 

summer evening
smells like fresh milk
alpine valley

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland

 

bluff line trail
the petroglyph hand
of my ancestors

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

 

snow-capped
the best mountain view
from grandpa’s shoulders

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

climbing
words become
silence

Nazarena Rampini
Italy

 

mountain monastery
nothing moves
not even the wind

ꯆꯤꯡꯒꯤ ꯂꯥꯏꯅꯤꯡꯐꯝ
ꯀꯔꯤꯒꯨꯝꯕ ꯑꯃꯠꯇ ꯂꯦꯡꯗꯔꯦ
ꯅꯨꯡꯁꯤꯠ ꯐꯥꯎꯕ

(The above script is known as meitei mayek, my native script. The language is known as ’meiteilon’. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meitei_language)

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India

 

mountain hut
I cut a cloud to
patch my roof

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

what next
the mountain answers
with silence

Tim Cremin
Massachusetts

 

the depth
of a mountain lake . . .
blue gentian

la profondità
di un lago di montagna . . .
genziana blu

Daniela Misso
Italia

 

a little sky
on the mountains . . .
cornflowers

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania (Italy)

 

blue haze spreads
scent of eucalypts
mountain valley

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

Verde Mesa
hiking through the click and clap
of Putnam’s cicadas

John Zheng
Itta Bena, Mississippi, USA

 

mountain top
my voice reaches
an octave higher

Christine Villa
California

 

home isolation . . .
a mini monastery
in the mountain’s lap

Manoj Sharma
Kathmandu, Nepal

 

folded
body becomes stone
becomes mountain

Shalini Pattabiraman
United Kingdom

 

alpine lookout
beyond the mountains
mountains

Louise Hopewell
Australia

 

cliff edge
with nothing to hold
i grab at the sky

Vijay Prasad
Patna, India

 

rolling hills
the wobbly sun slips
from this tree to that

Vandana Parashar
India

 

loosing myself
among old pines
mountain wind

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

spring rain
the rush of water
down the mountainside

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

 

wild bluebells . . .
the mountain sings
wind song

Meera Rehm
UK

 

mountain guide—
hewing close
to that chiseled profile

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

fatigue
suddenly
abyss

Zdenka Mlinar
Hrvatska

 

moonlight on mountains
a lone wolf howls up
a renegade wind

John Hawkhead
UK

 

mountain trail
the prayer beads
she left me

Xenia Tran
Nairn, Scotland

 

magic meadow—
the old mountain hippies
following the Perseids

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, NY, USA

 

on the mountaintop
a spark of a memory—
on my dad’s shoulders

Mirela Brăilean
Romania

 

mountain lake
from end to end
the milky way

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

mountain hue
remembering Kyoto shop
selling only indigo

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ

 

mountain ascent
white guide posts
change to red

Carol Reynolds
Australia

 

golden hour
the Parbat
flaunts a halo

(Parbat here refers to Nanga Parbat which is one of the highest peaks in Pakistan, 9th in the world.)

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan

 

on the mountain
the wind is pink too—
cherry blossoms

Maria Teresa Piras
Serrenti, Italia

 

high above
the shepherd’s call
a squirrel climbs

Mike Gallagher
Lyreacrompaane, Ireland

 

stream crossing
a splash of glacier water on
little elephant’s head

(little elephant’s head is an alpine wildflower, Pedicularis genus)

Wakako Miya Rollinger
Topanga, CA

 

passing clouds
yet the mountain
stays

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand

 

mountain picnic
as breathless as
the trees

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

snow capped peaks
I warm up
to stepdad

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

moonrise—
inverted in the lake
a mountain

Joe Sebastian
Chennai

 

pine scent becoming fog becoming scent

Sanjuktaa A
India

 

mountain pastures
nomads’ goat-hair tents
in the midst of tulips

(After the snow has gone from Iran’s Elborz Mountains, the sound of tinkling bells heralds the arrival of nomadic families, their goats and fierce dogs up from the plains.)

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

Dhauladhar ranges…
when the mist unveils
my insignificance

Madhuri Pillai
Australia

 

dawn drizzle
the green road brims with
mountain scent

Richa Sharma
India

 

mountain rainstorm
giving me more time
to dream

Maya Daneva
The Nederland

 

on Mount Fuji
this summer or never
i won’t get there

Mircea Moldovan
Romania

 

climbing
Mount Fuji—
a scarecrow’s daydream

Dan Campbell
Virginia

 

lifting my eyes up—
the flight of condors
returning to their nests

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba, Argentina

 

head in the clouds
forgetting the climb
down

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom

 

mountain trek
under the circling shadow
of a lammergeier

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India

 

rooted to my spot . . .
the multiple leaps
of limestone karsts

Priti Khullar
India

 

through the mist
over this mountain
a sparrow’s song

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

 

winterfest
flakes of cheese fall
on a mountain of pasta

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
USA

 

Pinkham Notch
the slate rockwall’s detritus
black crow’s scree

Ronald Scully
Manchester NH

 

midsummer night
dreams of how the snow tastes
on Fuji-san

Ed Bremson
North Carolina

 

Transverse Ranges
exposing their faults—
a lot like mine

(The Transverse Ranges are fault block mountains in Southern California thrust upward by intense seismic stresses. They run east-west unlike other California mountains that run north-south.)

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

Annapurna—
taking the long path
to enlightenment

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, CA

 

spring mountain
markhors
lock their horns

Mohammad Azim Khan
Peshawar Pakistan

 

the curvy lines
of a belly dancer . . .
Blue Mountains belt

Melanie Vance
USA

 

waterfall hike
the sound rushes us
up the trail

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, California

 

mountain trek
the daughter keeps
texting

Roberta Beary
Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland

 

mountain rim
the bright line
between here
and there

Barrie Levine
Wenham, MA, USA

 

mountain lake
a lifebuoy between
two Milky Ways

Florin C. Ciobica
Romania

 

nightfall . . .
all my mountains
molehills again

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

 

mountain glacier
I still ski down your slopes
in my dreams

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA

 

skyscraper city
how I always call them
my mountains

Kath Abela Wilson
United States

Guest editor Marietta McGregor is a fourth-generation Tasmanian who has made her home between Australia’s national capital Canberra and the scenic south coast of New South Wales for over four decades. A lover of the natural world since childhood, she went on to study botany and zoology, and has worked as palynologist, garden designer, science journalist, editor, university tutor, education manager, and grants developer for the national wildlife collection. A photography and travel enthusiast since retiring, she enjoys capturing fine detail of fleeting moments. She came late to haiku, which appealed for its close observation and poetic expression of ephemeral experience. Her haiku, haibun and haiga have been widely published, have won awards and appear in anthologies.

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 19 Comments

  1. Marietta, thanks for selecting my haiku.
    I think that it is hard work to edit the haiku issue ever week.
    Challenging theme of every week would inspire the haiku mind of readers
    Kj, I received your jewelry anthology. Thank you very much.

  2. I really enjoyed all of these mountain poems. Thanks for the fun selection. Glad that mine inside as well.

  3. Congratulations to all the poets featured here. It’s such a lovely selection of poems with some vivid and memorable images. Re-reading them has been like going on a wonderful holiday! Thank you once again to Marietta for a very helpful commentary and an enjoyable prompt, and also for including my poem in the column. Thank you also to Kj and Lori.

  4. I really enjoyed all of these mountain poems. A bonus to that enjoyment is that I had to look up several words specific to a particular region. Thanks to all the poets and to Marietta and kj for your faithful efforts to bring us the collection.

  5. Thank you so much for curating this beautiful selection of mountain views, sounds and experiences Marietta and for including my contribution here too – it’s a joy to walk along with everyone here xxx

  6. Congratulations to all the poets. I feel a bit lightheaded from all of the peaks I have virtually scaled this week. I particularly enjoyed Valentina Ranaldi-Adams pasta and cheese peak, one that I could sink my teeth into. Well done to all especially Marietta who has to read and select from all the entries.

  7. These poems are a joy to read, along with comments, and show the respect and admiration we feel for mountains. I love the photos which go with each week’s challenge.
    An honour to be included again; thank you Marietta and the team.

  8. Thank you Marietta for including my mountain haiku in this week’s collection! I live in the mountains so the theme this week is special to me. So many favorites here. I am enjoying this column each week.

  9. Thanks for the commentary. Included in ‘skiddaw’ there is also the possible narrative of cairn building, but the Norse etymology ‘skidr haug’ does lend itself to double entendre.

    1. You’re welcome! And thanks for the other reading. Cairn building didn’t occur to me. I hiked in Tasmania’s southwest wilderness many decades ago. Only rangers with the job of rebuilding stone track markers built cairns. Visiting walkers did not. Re-arranging rocks was discouraged as leaving too big a footprint. Cairn-building is now illegal in US national parks I believe. The Norse link sounds interesting. Cheers, Marietta

  10. Marietta, thank you for this wonderful column! I’m happy to be part of this collection. Thank you very much! All the best!

  11. Thank you, Marietta McGregor, kjmunro, and Lori Zajkowski for another helpful discussion on metaphor. Appreciation for haiku does so much to bring the world’s people together. Each one touched me to the core! I cannot pick up one or two but I must compliment the editor for her choice of the poems that are commented upon! Great work Thanks for including my haiku in this collection too. Every haiku has moved me. Congratulations to all the authors!

  12. Marietta, it is always pleasing when you publish one of mine. Thank-you for all your efforts on this column. Congrats to all the poets.

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