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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Rain ! Rain ? – Flood – commentary

Rain ! Rain ? with Co-Guest Editors Arvinder Kaur & Vandana Parashar

India is a country of diverse geographical features. In the northeast we have Cherrapunji, which receives 11,777 mm rainfall each year, making it one of the wettest places on the Earth, and in the northwest we have the Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, which is the world’s 18th largest desert. Every year we see nature’s bounty as well as its fury.

Floods, droughts, snowstorms, cyclones, earthquakes – we see it all. For the next prompts we’ll ponder over the two extremes which make us question – “How much is enough?”

Below is Arvinder’s & Vandana’s commentary for Flood:

flood of condolences–
all the different people
my father was

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

This poem, though simple and straightforward, tugs at the heart. L1 sets the scene with ‘flood of condolences’ and the reader knows what to expect in L2, which is inevitably something related to death. It’s L3 which takes this poem from impersonal to personal. All our life, we see our parents as just parents. To us, they are strict, mature, practical adults who are always trying to teach us things and who are overly protective of us. We don’t pause to think that they were once kids, too. They were also teenagers with dreams who wanted different things from life and who made mistakes along the way.

This poem makes us view our parents in a different light. The stories and anecdotes which their friends, uncles, aunts, cousins, colleagues and acquaintances tell give us a totally different picture and we wonder if we completely knew the person whom we called our father or mother. How can one person be so many different things to so many different people? The honesty and rawness of this poem makes us feel the speaker’s loss as if it were our own.

floodgates the language slips away from me

Pippa Phillips
Kansas City, MO

This ten-syllable haiku gets 10/10 for the masterful use of words and the evocative imagery it paints. ‘Floodgates’ can be interpreted in the literal sense as well as in a figurative one. When taken in the literal sense, the mere sight of the opening of floodgates can evoke awe and fear. The potent, brutal force of uncontrollably rushing water is something that can send a chill down the spine. By ‘the language slips away’, does the speaker mean that they have been rendered speechless in awe at such a sight or in fear of what that force might bring down on nearby areas? When confronted with such a sight, anyone can forget the use of words.

However, ‘floodgates’ can mean emotional floodgates too. Many people keep on bottling up emotions inside themselves and take this as a sign of strength, until the pressure is too much to bear. Then, one fine day, without any warning, the latch gives up and the floodgates burst open. Can any language in the world do justice to this overwhelming feeling? To conclude, I’ll say that the poet hasn’t let language slip away when writing this haiku.

all the colours of tulips overflowing rain

Daniela Misso
Italy

The beauty of a monoku lies in framing it in such a way that makes the reader pause at different points leading to different interpretations. In this lovely monoku, there are two such cuts.

all the colours of tulips / overflowing rain
all the colours of tulips overflowing / rain

In both cases, there is a strong sensory image. This time of the year, tulips are in full bloom and tulip gardens are a sight to behold. The rain adds to this already heavenly visual with its soothing sound and cleansing effect. Whether it’s the overpowering beauty of the vibrant colours of tulips or the relief from early summer by overflowing rain, this is the place I would like to stay in for a few days for a natural detox. God knows we all need this every now and then.

his wife’s hormones raging urban floodwaters

Alvin Cruz
Philippines

This poem offers a very interesting take on the flood. A woman’s life is a roller coaster of hormones. One is reminded of a one-word haiku by Julie Schwerin, “horrormones”, which complements this monoku by Cruz. What makes this ku unique is the use of ‘urban’. The word urban immediately makes us think of concrete pavements and very few green spaces. The flood water in urban areas has no way of going underground and that makes the situation worse. The uncontrolled floodwater has nowhere to go and it makes its way by destroying anything which hinders its path. Juxtaposing this with the wife’s hormones makes for a unique perspective. Of course, the wife is having a difficult time with raging hormones. We, women, know how our whole life turns topsy-turvy because of hormonal upheaval. But this ku highlights the confusion and helplessness of the husband. He understands what she is going through but doesn’t know what to do to mitigate the effects, just like the concrete city doesn’t know what to do with floodwaters.

those eyes
of a missing soldier’s wife …
monsoon flood

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India

A very vivid and haunting image of our times. The poem is wrapped in mystery. To some readers it can appear as a war poem, while to others it might be a poem dedicated to someone who might be fighting a natural calamity, another war of sorts. It raises many uncomfortable questions in a very suggestive and subtle manner. What exactly are the eyes saying? Is it something about injustice or is it grief pure and simple? Everything is implicit in ‘those eyes’. Is the soldier dead or is he just missing? What appears in the eyes of his wife is something far greater than just this predicament. The image of the haunting eyes remains with the reader and maybe continues to haunt.

just above the
danger mark —
brimming eyes

Teji Sethi
Bangalore, India

This is clearly a narrative of loss, something that we all experience and go through at different stages of life. This poem stood out for the fact that it says so much and also contains so much that is left unsaid. Is the poet anticipating a loss or has it happened already and the flood of tears has reached the danger mark? A simple yet powerfully evocative image.

drowning
…the sorrow of losing you

Margaret Mahony
Australia

This poem has a music of its own. Although it has two “-ing” words, it has an appeal, and the gerunds seem to stand for the speaker’s effort (or lack of it) to stay afloat. Totally imbued with melancholy it depends heavily on the way the ellipses are placed. Perhaps that is what enhances the grief. The metaphor of an ocean or something unfathomable remains implied. ‘Flood’ is dealt with at both levels, the one of grief and that of drowning.

rain puddle
my reflection shatters
under my feet

Jackie Chou
United States

Though we have been inundated with what may be called “puddle poems”, this one stood out for the fact that it takes the reader to a space of self-questioning or self-realization. At the end of the day we are all image-conscious one way or the other, but it takes a whole lot of strength when that image is shattered. That feeling is vividly conveyed in this poem.

 

Join us next week for our next prompt…

 

Guest Editor Arvinder Kaur, author, translator and an award-winning poet, specializes in English literature and Media Studies. She was one of the founding editors of the bilingual haiku journal Wah. She has been a guest editor at Triveni, Failed Haiku and recently at The Haiku Foundation’s Haiku Dialogue. Her haiku have appeared in several national and 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 Vandana Parashar is a postgraduate in Microbiology, an educator and a haiku poet. Her haiku, senryu and tanka have been published in many national and international journals of repute and have won her many prizes and accolades. Her haiku was also shortlisted for the prestigious Touchstone Award 2020. She is an associate editor of haikuKATHA and one of the editors of Poetry Pea and #FemkuMag. Her debut e-chapbook, I Am, was published by Title IX Press (now Moth Orchid Press) in 2019 and her second chapbook, Alone, I Am Not, was published by Velvet Dusk Publishing in 2022.

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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Photo Credits:

Banner photo credit: Unsplash

Prompt photo credit:  prompt photo one – Flood – Ravi Singh

Haiku Dialogue offers a triweekly prompt for practicing your haiku. Posts appear each Wednesday with a prompt or a selection of poems from a previous week.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Thank you all haiku artists I am ill and also caring for my 94 year old mother who was severely mauled by a Rottweiler it was horrid but reading these little gems of word gave me joy bless all the haiku poets and thanks beyond joy 😊 😃

  2. 1.
    In search of light
    Freedom or Solitaire?
    Surprised loner!

    2.
    In debt
    Nature offsprings
    Maturity!!

    3.
    Flood!
    Hungry for sunshine,
    Mellow Glacier!

    4.
    Malnourished
    Amidst misty forest
    Full moon!

    5.
    Forests bowed
    In search of civilization
    Concrete jungle barred!

    6.
    Rain forest
    Ego echoed
    Sounds of silence!!!

    Nuga:Sa: (Echoes of my heart)
    NS Era 1144, May 6, 2024 Monday

  3. Thank you so much Arvinder and Vandana for selecting and commenting on my haiku. It was very touching. Congratulations to all poets, their haiku were wonderful.

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