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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Paradigm Shift – the intelligence of trees

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 artifacts of wind

As events shape and sometimes twist personalities, all things exposed to the wind are altered by its touch.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday July 10, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 intelligence of trees:

Perhaps as a child you were taught, as I was, that trees have brown trunks and green leaves and that this is the way they should be drawn. So that became your mental image for trees, and you stopped seeing them, truly.

And it took poetry to reopen your eyes.

a tree becomes
The Shagbark Hickory

Tom Bierovic
DeLand, Florida

What was the tree before? The name is irrelevant to the tree’s existence, but how does naming it sway us? Does it add or subtract from our experience of the tree?

pine bonsai
the negotiation
of shape

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA

Ah, shape! We humans are so enamored with shape – with form – are we not? When we lay our hands on a tree, we become one more force impacting its growth. We can work in opposition to its nature or in collaboration with it.

the love words
of a birch and a fir…
light breeze

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania (Italy)

Can trees love? Well, how do you define it? I see love as a universal force that moves a being to perform acts of nurturance. So yes, I believe trees can love. Science is still discovering new ways in which they nurture.

watching this tree
since my childhood
practicing kintsugi

Ram Chandran 

Kintsugi: an act of repair that highlights the flaws and makes them beautiful. The flaws – the knots, and splits, and hollows of a tree. Run your hands over them, are they not lovely? And aren’t your scars the same?

the charred gum
sprouts again

Madhuri Pillai

If trees can love, can they not also forgive? Again, what definition will we bring to bear? Forgiveness can be seen as moving past a harm that’s been done to a being and flourishing in the process. Could be that trees are experts at forgiving.

a longing
strays skyward
tree canopy

Richa Sharma

Standing in the midst of a forest, you can feel the trees’ yearning for the sun, can’t you? And do you not have a similar desire: to be nurtured and to grow? To fully express your being in the sunlight?

sculpture garden
every tree
a work in progress

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

So we return to form and what we share with trees.

The drive to be and to make something concrete out of our being – expressed simply by a tree, perhaps, but perhaps with more complexity than we humans yet realize.

The drive to grow, surely, and humanity has so much more growth ahead of it. At least, I hope it does.

& here are the rest of the selections:

wind bent tree
in its shadow
a flock of crows

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


nectar rewards
for their mercenary ants
acacia trees

John Hawkhead


an oak sun-shaped
by forest canopy—
the plunge pool

Richard Matta
San Diego, CA


this year too . . .
the old tree with a few
budding leaves

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India


a lifetime in its womb
an old banyan

Teji Sethi


hectic traffic…
roadside trees
stand still

Jagajit Salam
Imphal, India


morning sun
on an old tree stump
a new shoot

Jeff Leong


hemlock sprouts
reaching out
spruceless space

Pam Joy
Dyea, Alaska


apricot harvest
the branches return
to the sky

Nazarena Rampini


a deer —
underground, trees
pass it on

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom


green distances –
in deep soil
tree roots meet

Neera Kashyap


silence before the storm
in the shade of great oak
tiny birches

Wiesław Karliński
Namysłów, Poland


on the cherry tree
a single leaf moves
the caterpillar sleeps

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India


raging wind…
the weeping willow
bows its own way

Neena Singh
Chandigarh, India


dead wood –
still oak feeds
its forest

Dorothy Burrows
United Kingdom


ground zero
my walnut seedling
showing leaves



a fruit
for the stone thrower
the speaking tree

Ravi Kiran
Hyderabad, India


pest control
the forest-wide net
of trees

Helga Stania


red squirrel alarm
what I learn
about the pine

Sarah Metzler
United States


drought year
the red buds
self prune

Susan Farmer
United States


the language between
leaves and wind

Xiaoou Chen
Kunming, China


age-old relationships
the ways a forest

Pat Davis
Pembroke, NH USA


receding ice
an empty oak
rearranges itself

Meera Rehm


fragrances for danger
between the trees

Tsanka Shishkova


maple tree
of summer rain

Dan Campbell


winter storm
the snow-laden plum tree
leans into itself

Mark Meyer
Mercer Island WA USA


aspen hillside
we are many we are one
we are sunlight

Ann K. Schwader
Westminster, CO


shedding leaves…
all the sunshine
that I give away

ਝੜਦੇ ਪੱਤੇ
ਉਹ ਸਾਰੀ ਧੁੱਪ
ਜੋ ਮੈਂ ਵੰਡਦਾ ਹਾਂ

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India


easy reach
for the royal palm
midnight moon

Barrie Levine
Wenham MA USA


parijat tree –
leaning over the fence
where flowers fall

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India


heavy ascension –
the shadow of leaves
is casting light

Nicole Pottier


toward the sun
a crooked limb of dogwood
winds its way

Agus Maulana Sunjaya
Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia


dry riverbank …
the moan of trees
from afar

Priti Aisola
Hyderabad, India


fire season
the yellow pines thicken
their bark

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California


in the shade of the beech-
folds to the side
a rosebush

all’ombra del faggio-
si piega di lato
un cespuglio di rose

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna ( Italia )


sharing roots and sky
two old hickories

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Huntsville, Alabama


a tree
repeats itself . . .
empty sky

Vijay Prasad
Patna, India


extended family
the hickory hangs onto
its last leaf

Lorraine Padden
San Diego, CA


from a yew branch
new moon

Pippa Phillips
United States


body shaped
by what’s in its way
bent sapling

Kath Abela Wilson
United States


children wander
on the forest floor
shimmering sunlight

John Green
Bellingham, WA


the spiraling armor
of pinecones

C.R. Harper


old stump in the woods
kept alive by the sweet roots
of its family

Greer Woodward
Waimea, HI

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 8 Comments

  1. whispering
    the language between
    leaves and wind
    Xiaoou Chen
    Kunming, China

    I was delighted to see this lovely poem from Xiaoou because we seem to be sharing a secret message. This is one I wrote: ‘the wind and the aspen whisper their secrets’. Kudos to all the poets here and special thanks for including mine. I am enjoying these prompts.

  2. Congratulations to all the poets in this thought-provoking and very enjoyable selection! Many thanks to Craig for an inspiring prompt and a really helpful commentary. I am delighted to have a poem in ‘Haiku Dialogue’ this week. Thank you also to KJ and Lori for the administration.

    Two of the many poems that will linger in my mind are…

    hectic traffic…
    roadside trees
    stand still

    Jagajit Salam
    Imphal, India

    I loved this reminder of the importance of nature within a noisy and fast-paced urban environment, and how soothing it can be to stop and look up at a tree.

    the language between
    leaves and wind

    Xiaoou Chen
    Kunming, China

    I could both see and hear this lovely poem. For me, trees are particularly magical and alive on a blustery day.

    I look forward to reading next week’s selection.

  3. shedding leaves…
    all the sunshine
    that I give away

    Arvinder Kaur

    I just like thinking about this one, as it exists somewhere between literal absurdity and metaphorical beauty.

  4. Amazing haiku and early commentaries, CRAIG! I enjoyed the variety of imaginative and creative responses to the prompt. Very interesting collection Craig! It’s fascinating to know and read how poets respond to a prompt. Each one of us has an odd picture tucked away somewhere. I always like learning something new as in this haiku, with commentary, where I learned Basho’s line. Haiku is truly a window onto the universe! Loved them all!

  5. I love Bryan Rickert’s poem and Craig’s commentary on it. I would like to add that it’s a well-crafted poem. I also love the way Cynthia Anderson’s and Dorothy Burrows’ poems show the ways trees know how to take care of themselves. I am happy that my poem passed muster this week, as I love trees!

    1. Many thanks, Pat, for your appreciation of my poem. I enjoyed yours greatly too and definitely agree with you about trees!

  6. Well done to all, channeling the dryad and hemi-dryad in your soul. Such thoughtful haiku from the perspective of the trees. Congratulations to the poets and to Craig and KJ for the commentary on a few of them.

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