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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Paradigm Shift – the discourse of birds

Paradigm Shift with Guest Editor Craig Kittner

“Learn about pines from the pine,” Bashō advised.

Why do you think he said that?

Animism is a birthright of haiku.

However, western culture, despite all its scientific knowledge, tends to put human experience on some rarefied plane, separate and above all the other beings and forces of the universe. An ego-laden, anthropocentric attitude that would write off learning from the pine as anthropomorphism and personification.

How does this impact your writing?

Can you shift your perspective away from the human and dress yourself in the consciousness of another form?

next week’s theme: the persistence of weeds

The crack in the sidewalk, the roof of the abandoned factory, the scorched hillside after a fire. What drives the weed to colonize even the most inhospitable of places?

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday June 19, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Craig’s commentary for the discourse of birds:

setting sun –
song of a bird
measures the sky

Vijay Prasad
Patna, India

I love haiku’s ability to put a word in a new context and make it resonate with fresh possibilities. Here, the word “measures,” applied to birdsong, hints at the seemingly infinite depth of that sound. The sky is vast and the song of a bird is equally vast.

before dusk . . .
a gull croons
to the sinking sun

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA

Gulls are often maligned, because people find it hard to resist imposing human values on non-human beings. It’s nice to see a gull portrayed in an endearing way. Choosing the word “croon” maintains and respects the bird’s naturally atonal voice.

mango orchard —
the planter sings back
to the cuckoo

Teji Sethi

A person, out in the air and able to relate to another creature through voice. Truly a paradigm shift and a reminder that we once were much closer to our non-human cousins.

scugnizzi sparrows powder the street cacophonic


Aside from the meaning of these words (one of which I had to Google, but fair play to the poet), the giddy rhythm they produce joyously captures the manic activity of a foraging flock of urban sparrows.

adding a beat
to the skylark’s song…
busy woodpecker

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

To know birds you must know their sounds. It’s another kind of paradigm shift to rely on your ears to know them. With eyes closed, you can explore the rich soundscape, woven by all the species around you. You may be surprised by who adds what to the jam session.

winter blowdowns
the dense tangle
of wrensong

Kristen Lindquist
Camden, ME, USA

Another haiku reflective of how important sound is with birds, particularly with species that spend their time secreted in woody enclaves. A paradigm shift here, too, with these blowdowns, which humans tend to treat like trash, but birds rely on for shelter.

in the grass under
an old plum

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia

No sound here, but this surely could be something birds sing about. The blossoms have fallen, the chicks have hatched, and it’s time to get on with the business of rearing them. The measured passage of time.

morning has broken
chirping birds on branches
the voice of mama

Lisbeth Ho
Salatiga, Indonesia

A little ambiguity works well in this haiku. “Mama” could be the mama bird, calling out to her brood of fledglings. But if so, the sound of birds is used twice, which is pretty much a haiku no-no. So one is led to think the voice is the poet’s mama’s, but is it being heard or merely remembered? Regardless, the focus on birds leads to a small hint of the human, all of it wrapped in the flow of time.

the song summons blood,
bright globes that darken, breaking
into songs yet to be

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

This is right at the boundary of what I consider haiku. Longer than the norm and a little heavy on the narrative. However, it stands out, with unusual imagery that hints at all the nuances of bird life that we may imagine, but cannot truly know. The birdness of being a bird and how song passes to the next generation.

& here are the rest of the selections:

crow caws
stretching its neck
social learning

Amrutha Prabhu
Bengaluru, India


muezzin’s call
I chirp to match
the note

Surashree Joshi


a lone

Helen Buckingham
United Kingdom


unseen noises
on a moonless night
the hooting owl

Jeff Leong
Kuala Lumpur


harried sparrow—
your children tell you
it’s never enough

Skaidrite Stelzer
United States


spring thaw
the Jenny wren
warms up her song

Terri L. French
full time Rver!


rumbling rain
the crows have so much
to caw about

Lakshmi Iyer


laughing mountain —
birdsong needing
no translation

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom


eastern phoebe
a lesson in being

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH USA


storm’s end
crows calling out
damage reports

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA


where do I begin
where do I end…
the weaver bird’s nest

Mohammad Azim Khan


departing spring
a shift in tone
in the sparrow’s song

Jackie Chou
Pico Rivera, CA USA


gloaming notes
echo the woods
a mate affirms

JL Huffman
Blue Ridge Mountains of NC, USA


soft breeze a willow warbler’s ride-along

Alan Summers
Wiltshire, England


less birdsong now the receding shoreline

Pippa Phillips
United States


flying kite
reed warblers

Teiichi Suzuki


settling matters
a fluster
of seagulls

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton UK


cracked eggs –
in the bird’s song
tender notes

Mirela Brăilean


morning walk…
conversation of birds
blurs the traffic

Margaret Mahony


snow squall juncos chasing juncos

Myron Arnold


in it together
in it alone
dawn chorus

Vandana Parashar


and response
tree to tree

Peggy Bilbro
Huntsville, Alabama


rising dark
the storm-bird’s
endless song

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India


monsoon clouds…
a passerine searches
for a roof

Jagajit Salam
Imphal, India


becomes the chainsaw
trembling trees

Carole Harrison
Jamberoo, NSW, Australia


a light
rippling over the river
buddha’s swan

Zeenat Khan
Delhi, India


robin’s song
at the hem of two worlds

Richa Sharma


silence of snow –
the chirping of a sparrow
on the windowsill

Maria Teresa Piras


cusp of dawn
roadrunner’s drum roll
raises the sun

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California


Spring robin
the ebb and flow
of brood-song

Bill Fay
Fox Island, WA, USA


raven’s cry
the sky before
and after

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO


the silent exchanges
of starlings

Mike Gallagher
Lyreacrompaane, Ireland


backyard mango tree . . .
the sour screeches
and sweet screams

R . Suresh Babu


cold evening
a lone scarlet macaw
loses its warmth

Devoshruti Mandal
Varanasi, India


cat or catbird
only the mother
knows for sure

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, IA, USA


at the birdbath
call to call

Joe Sebastian


blackbird nest
yesterday evening
it was loud in here

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland


stork on one leg
speaking to the child
about flying

Mircea Moldovan


summer weeping willows –
the call of a kingfisher
to another

Julia Guzmán
Córdoba Argentina


morning alarm …
the peacock’s shrill call
in a temple town

Priti Aisola
Hyderabad, India


street musical
a cardinal

Susan Farner
United States


withered branch-
the chirping of a sparrow
on the swing

Angiola Inglese


April twilight
birds winding down
as frogs gear up

Tim Cremin


beggar bird
we break bread
in the parking lot

Alex Fyffe
United States


4 am cacophony
who is conducting?

Pam Joy
Dyea, Alaska


cries of swallows show the way

ritorno a casa…
grida di rondini indicano la via

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna ( Italia )


I am five tight tseets
from the black hooded chickadee
so I hear

Ron Scully
Manchester NH


empty bird feeder
much ado
about nothing

Florin C. Ciobica


empty playground
blue jays squabble
over the see-saw

Lorraine Padden
San Diego, CA


my mating call
only a mockingbird

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, CA


last call
a goose tugs
at the dawn

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada


full moon
my wings shiver
its lonely shadow

Anna Yin
Ontario, Canada


midnight mockingbirds
as if to say still here
they answer

Susan Rogers


Craig Kittner has lived a lot of places. Fourteen at last count. He was reared, for a while, in Illinois. Then North Carolina. Providence saw the start of some interesting things that DC helped solidify. Now he lives kind of near the sea and is compelled to ramble and write.

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 34 Comments

  1. Thank you Alan and Kathabela for your thoughtful commentary! I just came across them now, two months after they were posted. I will definitely look into submitting to your brilliant journal, Alan.

  2. I love Jackie Chou”s subtle beauty of a haiku, featuring the change in a bird’s inflection! And also Alan Summers comment and blackbird example. Wonderful! And Alan’s reminder about Blloos

    1. Yep, Jackie Chou’s haiku is a beauty. I also hadn’t realised that tone in a bird’s song might vary throughout the year depending on pre-nest and post-nest etc… as mentioned by a haiku poet who works on a farm.

      Yes, Blo͞o Outlier Journal issue #2 should be out in July, and is all about haibun, tanka story, and zuihitsu! The call out for issue #3 in the Autumn is about wildlife haiku aka natural history, so do start keeping back one or two that are spare! 🙂

      warm regards,

  3. Two wonderful haiku with a hint of sadness:

    departing spring
    a shift in tone
    in the sparrow’s song

    Jackie Chou
    Pico Rivera, CA USA

    It’s a wonderful treat when we can detect a change in the song delivery of a bird. I’ve had that with both a blackbird one year and in the following year with a (European) Robin.

    Thank you Jackie, so much resonance in your haiku. I hope you consider submitting to issue #3 of The Blo͞o Outlier Journal which is going to make an Autumn call out for wildlife/natural history haiku, so if you have a new one, keep it safe maybe. 😉


    Here’s the blackbird haiku:

    the names of rain
    a blackbird’s subsong
    into dusk

    Alan Summers
    Publication credit: Haiku News Vol. 1 No. 35 (September 2012) ed. Laurence Stacey and Dick Whyte
    Cornell University USA (Cornell University, Mann Library haiku showcase March 2013)
    Brass Bell: Alan Summers curated by Zee Zahava Wednesday, July 1, 2015

    blackbird subsong:


    cracked eggs –
    in the bird’s song
    tender notes

    Mirela Brăilean

    This is a very interesting haiku because, with the dash [–] could suggest someone is cracking eggs for breakfast perhaps.

    Whenever I read haiku I regularly do a ‘correct’ reading and simultaneously a ‘misreading’ so I try to get the writer’s intent, but also my own ‘intent’ so there is a wonderful duet happening.

    The haiku without the dash:

    cracked eggs
    in the bird’s song
    tender notes


    cracked eggs
    in the bird’s song –
    tender notes


    cracked eggs
    in the bird’s song…
    tender notes

    Or even other punctuation mark choices or no ‘visible’ punctuation

    Why did I see this phrase?



    cracked eggs in the bird’s song


    Some of us have experienced the sight of cracked/damaged eggs, perhaps more so in our childhood, perhaps?

    Bereavement is not unique to the human species.


    But if we go back to the original haiku:


    cracked eggs –
    in the bird’s song
    tender notes

    Mirela Brăilean


    Are the tender notes because it already has a “sweet” song? Or is the tenderness made more tender by a sense of loss?

    Are the eggs being cracked for breakfast just a coincidence, or that the author witnessed a bird’s song, and made a connection, while they are preparing another type of bird’s eggs in order to consume them.

    The cycle of life, with or without the dash, is evident in this sublimely crafted haiku.

    warm regards,

    Alan Summers
    founder, Call of the Page

    1. Dear Mirela Brăilean,

      I hope you might send some wildlife/natural history haiku when Blo͞o Outlier Journal sends out a call in Autumn! 🙂

      Other poets here, look forward to these types of haiku for Blo͞o Outlier Journal in the Autumn too! 🙂

    2. Oh gosh…dear Alan, I use to open the comments from time to time to see another point of view from other poets. I’m really impressed by your comm. What can I say? There are a lot of reasons and memories in such a few words, indeed…I’m so thrilled you’re finding this is a good haiku; I can’t tell you…and I’ve been following your work since we met on FB. You’re a mentor for me, too. You’re so talented that l don’t dare to submit my work… there are a lot of very talented poets and I’m just a beginner in this wonderful world.
      I thank you for your kind words.
      Sincerely yours,

  4. Thank you Craig for including my haiku this week. I enjoyed them all.

    I especially liked the call and response evoked by this prompt:


    and response
    tree to tree
    ….Peggy Bilbro

    and how my haiku unintentionally was an answer or response to Kathabela Wilson’s call:

    my mating call
    only a mockingbird

    and mine:

    midnight mockingbirds
    as if to say still here
    they answer

  5. Congratulations to all the poets featured in ‘Haiku Dialogue’ this week. I enjoyed reading all the poems in the column and appreciated Craig’s commentary. I have learnt more about haiku and birds! One poem I particularly enjoyed because it reminded me of watching gulls following the plough across fields is…

    settling matters
    a fluster
    of seagulls

    Keith Evetts
    Thames Ditton UK

    I think ‘fluster’ describes a conversation of gulls beautifully!

  6. Thank you for including my poem in your commentary, Craig! As an avid birder, I especially loved the responses to this particular prompt. My favorites included this one, which struck me as a wonderful example of how repetition can enhance a poem (as presented at the HSA Conference this past weekend by Brad Bennett and Jeannie Martin), as well as being very appropriate to the pandemic:

    in it together
    in it alone
    dawn chorus

    Vandana Parashar

    And this one, which has an environmental message that appealed to me:

    becomes the chainsaw
    trembling trees

    Carole Harrison
    Jamberoo, NSW, Australia

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments, Kristen.
      I had submitted this two days before the HSA conference and when I saw the presentation on Repetition in Haiku, I was pleasantly surprised. This is the first one I have written using repetition.

  7. old garden-
    pale tufts of grass
    under the leaves
    what remains
    of the men in the trenches ..
    wild flowers

    a honkadori of a Basho haiku, remembering the men who died on the Karst in the First World War

  8. Picking two haiku, for the moment, that stood out for me, I realised how one is about ‘less birdsong’ and the other is thankfully “too much birdsong”!

    When I first moved to my current town of Chippenham, once headquarters to King Alfred the Great, and also to Danish Vikings, traffic noise was swallowed by sparrows, which was amazing. Now as bramble is destroyed to create pointless expensive housing, ignoring those in need, there is less birdsong.

    Two wonderfully crafted haiku, both deeply thoughtful.

    less birdsong now the receding shoreline

    Pippa Phillips


    morning walk…
    conversation of birds
    blurs the traffic

    Margaret Mahony


      1. Thanks Pippa!

        I enjoyed seeing you at the HSA zoom conference which was quite a whirlwind of emotions and approaches! 🙂

        warm regards,

        1. Absolutely! It’s still intimidating seeing my favorite poets face to face. Grix’s presentation was one for the ages.

    1. morning has broken
      chirping birds on branches
      the voice of mama


      I wrote this haiku based on my experience with my natural surrounding and my son. I usually wake my son along with the sound of chirping birds since he was a little boy until now he is in college.

      My home is embraced by trees and birds both the ones on the branches and those of my neighbours in the cages.

      Fortunately, my son had also painted “some birds on the branch” in crayon pastel when he was in his 4th year-elementary. That adds my zeal to share it both in haiku and haiga.

      Off course, readers are most welcomed to interpret differently as they enjoy this haiku.

      Thankyou so much to Craig Kittner for the selection and your interesting, brilliant comment. I really enjoy and amazed at reading it.
      It really brightens my days. Bless you…

      1. Thanks, Lisbeth. It’s interesting to hear how the poem evolved. Also speaks to the fact that if you start from an authentic place, your haiku will reflect a rich engagement with the world, and readers will empathize with it.

  9. I am honored to have my gull haiku selected for Haiku Dialogue, the highlight of every week. Thanks to Lori and kj for maintaining it with loving care and thank you Craig for your commentary. I live on the New England Coast and the sounds on the beach year round became an important source of inspiration once I started to write haiku.

  10. Thanks for including mine, Craig, kj and Lori. Congratulations all whose work appears here, especially Slobodan Pupovac for his:
    in the grass under
    an old plum

    It’s the contrast between the fragility of the ‘eggshell’, the quasi-soft landing in the ‘grass’ (might the contents of the shell have survived?) and the thumping sounds of ‘under / an old plum’ that bring this variation on a relatively common image to life. There may be nothing new under the sun, but it’s the way you tell ’em!
    I’ve just read Craig’s commentary, which has a decidedly more hopeful feel to it ….. every great ku contains a number of truths!

  11. Elated to have a haiku of mine included in Haiku Dialogue from The Haiku Foundation and Craig Kittner. My deepest thanks to Lori, kj, and any other genie behind the scenes. I am always amazed at the variety of responses to the prompts…

  12. eastern phoebe
    a lesson in being

    Pat Davis

    Explaining my like for this would take too many words.

    1. Thanks, Simonj. The eastern phoebe’s call is brief and to the point: chip chip. One has made a nest high up in my garage , so I hear it a lot lately. I think all birds have mastered the art of being concise with their limited calls – they don’t waste any sounds!

  13. Thanks to editor Craig Kittner for pointing out my verses too. Congratulations to all the authors, always surprising with their observations.

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