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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Seeing Beyond Seeing – Photo Two

Seeing beyond Seeing: Mood, Memory and Metaphor

Like haiku, photography is about seeing and experiencing. Haiku, meditation and photography have much in common: all are based in the present moment, all require complete focus, and all are most successful when the mind is free from distracting thoughts. An image and a haiku are both a ‘moment in time’. Both are viewed objectively yet often experienced subjectively through our own experiences and interpretations. Mood, memory, and/or metaphor all play a part in our writing and in our interpretation of other poets’ writings.

To start off the New Year, I’d like to share some of my favorite photographs in hopes the images will inspire a haiku. This is not a haiga exercise. I’d like you to free yourself up and allow the image to speak to you as to mood, memory, metaphor, either one, two or all three. Reflect on the mood evoked by the image, or the mood you are currently in. Does the image spark a memory? Do you sense an interconnectedness to the image or the object within that might offer a subtle metaphor to deepen your experience or interpretation of the image? There is no need to speak directly to the object or image unless you want to. Let your mind ‘link’ to the image through your own unique sense of connection.

For the sake of this exercise let’s keep to a simplistic meaning of metaphor. “A metaphor is a figure of speech in which the qualities of one thing are carried over to another”. A good example would be Nick Virgilio’s famous haiku, ‘lily out of the water out of itself’ which resonates beyond the image of a lily into a state of being we can relate to. Some have said haiku is metaphor. Let the images speak to your world and your associations.

For the month of January, each poet may send one or two haiku/senryu on the week’s image. Please submit your poems by clicking here:  Contact Form. Please put Haiku Dialogue in the Subject box.

There will be a selection process in which I will briefly comment on a few of the selected pieces.

The haiku appear in the order in which we receive them.

next week’s theme: Photo Three

The current city of Seattle resides atop an underground city that can be explored. This chair spoke to me. I hope it speaks to you. Years of sitting are reflected in the worn arms, the stained fabric, the compressed cushions. Can you relate to this image in a way that reflects your own life? Perhaps there is a piece of furniture or an antique in your personal history that means a lot to you.

The deadline is midnight Pacific Time, Saturday January 25, 2020.

Below is my commentary for Photo Two:

Haiku Dialogue received another great response to the second photo prompt of a blue cup. It was a real pleasure to read your poems and see how and where your mind went with this prompt. I did receive many poems that were similar so was only able to select a few I felt were the best to include in my long list. By similar, I mean poems that contained the words blue cup and spoke to fullness or emptiness in some way. There were also a lot of light and shadow poems. I realize how tempting it is to write to the image itself. However, I was pleased to see many other poems that went beyond the image of a blue cup to blue tea, blue moon, blue notes, to pottery, to sumi-e and so much more. Please enjoy picking your favorites from the list below.

I choses to highlight the following four poems for their crafting, freshness and use of juxtaposition. The latter is where we discover unspoken associations, allusions, metaphor. It was interesting to see how the image inspired these poems and how the poets made it their own through mood, memory and metaphor.

distant stories-
a full cup
of solitude

vincenzo Adamo

This was one of my favorites of the cup poems, of which I mentioned there were quite a few. This quote by Matthew M. Cariello says it all to me. “Metaphor is central to all poetry, including haiku. In haiku, metaphors are juxtaposed in a way that reveals previously unarticulated associations. A reader is able to understand these associations via certain innate linguistic processes that all people possess”. Between the distant stories and the here and now of a full cup of solitude, is the space where we discover associations or meaning. For me, I sense contentment in this full cup of solitude, and perhaps this solitude offers time to reflect on distant stories, or perhaps it’s about setting aside those distant stories and appreciate just being in the moment, feeling the fullness of solitude. Others might interpret this differently. I find this an effective juxtaposition that opens this poem up to deeper meaning.

pottery class
giving a new shape
to my dreams

Vandana Parashar

One of the most original of the poems where the poet literally took that blue cup image and reshaped it to reflect their world. Here, the haiku becomes a subtle metaphor for life through the simple act of shaping something out of clay at a pottery class. So much is implied by the last two lines, the sensory feel of one’s hands on cool clay, perhaps even the spin of a potter’s wheel, the newness of the class, the newness of creating, and the deep association of how shaping clay is also shaping, perhaps renewing one’s dreams.

soaking cup
my sorrows fall
to the bottom

wendy c. Bialek

What captures me immediately with this poem is the music of the language. The sibilance and the assonance of “soaking/sorrows”. I felt there was a lot to plumb between the first line and the final two lines once I got beyond how great it sounds reading aloud. At first read I felt an association between soaking cup and sorrows falling. It made sense purely on an emotional level. It created a visual I could relate to if I thought of how the image might have inspired the poet. A blue cup, a soaking cup, what is being soaked? Does it allude to soaking our sorrows? This of course would be more subjective than objective. However, the poem deepens further if one views the first line in a more objective way and relates a soaking cup to a medical device/test or even a menstrual device. Then the final two lines suggest or imply one’s emotional reaction to a test or test results.

gone to earth…
the lingering whisper
of family spoons

Pris Campbell

This is a perfect example of how one can be inspired by an image and take it into their own vault of memories. The silence of a sunlit bowl becomes a memory of family gatherings around a table, perhaps a look back at one’s youth, when parents were still alive. I can visualize a family around the table, spoons scraping against bowls. It’s true that sound and scents often trigger our most heartfelt memories. But for this to happen, one needs to be present, be in the moment, be aware as this poet obviously was simply gazing at an image of a bowl. The juxtaposition pays homage to family members gone to earth, dust to dust, but it offers so much more by suggesting the rituals surrounding our deaths, the gravesite service, the tombstone, flowers on the grave. It’s organic. It’s real. I can’t get that lingering sound out of my own head as it brought back my own childhood. Juxtaposition is everything and the poet has left a beautiful space between the two parts of the haiku for readers to find themselves.

Two excellent essays for those interested in learning more about metaphor in haiku.

“The Contiguous Image: Mapping Metaphor in Haiku” by Matthew M. Cariello, published Modern Haiku, Summer 2010, Volume 41.2

http://www.modernhaiku.org/essays/CarielloEssay-MetaphorHaiku.html

“Meaning in Haiku” by Charles Trumbull, Santa Fe, New Mexico, published Frogpond, 2012, Issue 35

http://www.hsa-haiku.org/frogpond/2012-issue35-3/Trumbull-Meaning-In-Haiku-Frogpond-2012.pdf

Here are the rest of my selections:

a cup and a poem …
what’s left of your passage

una tazza e una poesia…
quel che resta del tuo passaggio

Angela Giordano, Italy

blue notes
the cursive
of bamboo

Marilyn Ashbaugh, Gulfstream, Florida

morning shadows
the art of reading
the future in tea leaves

Olivier Schopfer, Switzerland

daily news
flies
swarming my soup

Babs McGrory

the cup
suddenly empty
his passing

Jackie Chou, Pico Rivera CA USA

fingerprints
at the crime scene
all that is left of you

nancy liddle

blue moon
the time to leave
has come and gone

Barbara Kaufmann, New York

years later…
mom’s blue bowl
is just a bowl

Tsanka Shishkova

emptying out
the last of me
spring diaspora

Michael Henry Lee

blue planet–
no stars better than
the globe

Teiichi Suzuki, Japan

waiting for
the stray cat’s return
afternoon shadows

Christina Sng, Singapore

emptiness
inside as much outside
the bowl

Vishnu Kapoor

Serata estiva –
la rosa assorbe il suono
delle campane

Summer evening –
the rose absorbs the sound
of the bells

Olivero Amandola

all alone
a shred of the moon
in her mug

Vali Gholami

blue planet
rounds of climate talks
coming up empty

Laurie Greer, Washington DC

dear bamboo,
how even your silhouette
supports the fragile

Pratima Balabhadrapathruni

summer breeze
the shadow of leaves
in and out of my tea

Joanne van Helvoort

empty bowl –
the weight of shadows
in fragile hands

arvinder kaur, Chandigarh, India

what we cling to the infinite shades of blue

Eva Limbach, Germany

chiaroscuro
this sudden desire
to learn sumi-e

Marion Clarke, Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

sundry things
he used to leave around …
still miss him

Natalia Kuznetsova

gone so soon
her empty teabowl
now a shrine

Christopher Seep

lost in the crowd
the emptiness
in a beggar’s bowl

john hawkhead

afternoon meditation
the dust is settling
in an empty bowl

Hifsa Ashraf, Pakistan

scribbled blue circles …
a baby girl has no more words

Elisabetta Castagnoli

leaf shadows
my cup
half full

Ann K. Schwader, Westminster, CO

living rent free
with a garden view
a family of mice

Roberta Beach Jacobson, USA

wolf moon
a cacophony all round
the chicken shed

Robert Kingston

pencil drawing –
the light and the dark
of my memories

disegno a matita –
il chiaro e lo scuro
dei miei ricordi

Maria Teresa Piras

yard sale over
an orphaned pot
heavy with change

Helen Buckingham

lone bowl
tracks of an ant
in and out

Steve Tabb

leaves
paint sumi-e shadows
blue tea

Peggy Hale Bilbro, Alabama USA

stolen moments
morning paints me
with a soft brush

Sandi Pray

the bowl she’d thrown
heavy enough
to kill a man

Autumn Noelle Hall

empty bowl
I rewrite our story
from beginning

Eufemia Griffo

rain clouds
my story
darkens

Rich Schilling, Webster Groves, MO

abandoned attic –
someone’s destiny left
in the cup of coffee

Tomislav Maretić

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Guest Editor Carole MacRury resides in Point Roberts, Washington, a unique peninsula and border town that inspires her work. Her poems have won awards and been published worldwide, and her photographs have been featured on the covers of numerous poetry journals and anthologies. She is the author of In the Company of Crows: Haiku and Tanka Between the Tides (Black Cat Press, 2008, 2nd Printing, 2018) and The Tang of Nasturtiums, an award-winning e-chapbook (Snapshot Press, 2012).

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).

This Post Has 55 Comments

  1. soaking cup
    my sorrows fall
    to the bottom

    wendy c. Bialek
    *

    carole’s photo # two. must have inspired at least twenty different poems on my pad. the first ones that came had themes that would fit more as haiga and description…but i wanted to peel the onion layers and get to what it personally resonated in me.
    on the next layer i was reminded of the importance of a certain cup i use. this same cup is used for two purposes. every year i plant more morning glories. but first i soak the seeds overnight to soften them and then they will grow sooner. here is where the “soaking” cup came to be.
    *
    i also use the cup to “test” (carole picked up on this) the viability of seeds….i sprinkle about ten seeds (of each kind….) in water the ones that fall to the bottom are most likely to sprout. then i plan my garden from there.
    *
    i love gardening and attracting/feeding/and viewing the insects and birds…(especially the hummingbirds ) and after a winter and not seeing the colours of blossoms and other life…. just the rituals of filling this cup….links the feeling i get from looking at my growing garden.
    *
    the poems i wrote about that were specific….just didn’t convey this associated feeling.
    *
    i wanted to leave the cup empty as it is in the picture and by studying it further….saw that the cup was soaking up sun….as much sun as it could…..at that moment…i felt an “aha” moment…and became one with the cup.
    *
    being the cup….i saw how my life becomes meaningful to me as i soak up the stimulation of nature/and surrounding myself with creative thoughts/vibrations from the universe.
    *
    so….i wanted to share that with you….and hope that you could place what you felt was meaningful for you…and give you your own “aha” moment.

    1. Wonderful!
      I didn’t expect this, your interpretation of ‘an empty cup’, but know exactly what you mean, as others will too.
      Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm.

        1. Thanks for sharing the background of your lovely poem Wendy. The green thumb in my family is my partner, so I didn’t see seeds germinating but as you said, I felt my own aha anyway. Loved reading your thoughts…thanks so much.

  2. Thank you Carole for another helpful discussion on metaphor.
    *
    soaking cup
    my sorrows fall
    to the bottom
    .
    wendy c. bialek
    .
    Loved the sound of “my sorrows fall” and how “bottom” could be either sad or hopeful, depending on the read.

    1. debbie, thanks for your time and comments on my poem….and i agree with you…how it is open for how you want to receive it.

  3. Thanks to the Haiku Forum. What a great way to escape the endless noise of political pundits. Appreciation for haiku does so much to bring the world’s people together.

  4. Thanks for including my haiku in this collection too. Every haiku has moved me. Congratulations to all the authors and to Carole for the valuable work of analysis and comments. Reading this page is an enrichment. Thank you!

  5. emptying out
    the last of me
    spring diaspora

    Michael Henry Lee

    I find that this poem wanders right into my thoughts, at the odd moments, because I do nothing to recall it at all. And it speaks up, the world is a global village, and somehow the medley of cultures is musical joy, but it is also making us float away from our roots, our cultures, …
    Michael Henry Lee uses – spring diaspora – and it almost reads like spring cleaning. It may be my own way of reading the poem.

    However, as long as we do not over-obsess about our roots and get terribly closed-circled ( my inglish is forever re-inventing) about our ethni-cities ( again coining the Inglish word) , we merge as a world but we have to preserve our own windows for the sake of generations to come. , Diaspora, is a good thing, exposure is a good thing. world exposure is necessary to understand our own cultures. I have to emphasise that I am not speaking about the past, …India too has had its diaspora eras, still continues to, but for other reasons. Thankfully…

    So spring diaspora it is, the first generations to seek asylum or migrate or settle down in another habitat. I like the poem

    Michael, for some reason, I always find myself writing a retort to your poems, here is one, and not being impertinent at all …

    a new me
    in an old me
    enzo-matic …

    Peace
    PB

  6. empty bowl
    I rewrite our story
    from beginning

    Eufemia Griffo

    there is a saying: emptying the cups before refilling them. I see it in your poem. And I like the promise that the new beginning holds, never mind the past. Thank you for sharing

  7. Vandana,

    I like your poem, because I like the positive vibes in there, there is a promise and hope, and that is somehow self-fulfilling.

  8. Hello Carole,

    … thank you for the links. I have just finished reading the essay: The Contiguous Image: Mapping Metaphor in Haiku by Matthew M. Cariello

    After reading the essay and revisiting the thread, the title caught my attention. I am perplexed or to sound more contemporary, I am flummoxed 🙂

    I see what you mean by similar poems. The image is evocative, it sets a certain mood, it dominates the thoughts… it is visually captivating.

    Thank you for including mine, when I wrote this poem, I was wondering if it would break more rules with its form and format and therefore be disqualified. I feel encouraged to be myself now… it has not been easy…but it is getting easier with every little encouragement …I feel more confident as a poet and a writer

    thank you

    1. Your poem Pratima…

      dear bamboo,
      how even your silhouette
      supports the fragile

      First, I’m happy to hear you ploughed through the metaphor links. It can be heady stuff, but parsing it down is possible as it might relate to your own work. We all have to find our own voice in haiku. Your haiku had an unusual expression…addressing the bamboo. Well, if Issa can address a fly, so you can address bamboo! But of course, the thing to remember is not overdo this technique. What I enjoyed about your haiku is I am reminded of the speedy growth, strength and straightness of bamboo…and when one might be feeling fragile, then perhaps there is comfort in being around the bamboo…gaining a bit of strength from the grove. 🙂 That’s just one interpretation…sure others would read the poem in their own way. I yes…a lovely poem.

      1. Thank you for your feedback. It was a surprise to find it here as I came back to click on the C. Trumbull essay, it is looooong, and interesting learning.

    1. Thank you Sheila. I’m grateful to have so many poems to choose from and only wish I could add more commentary, but happy to see others do so.

  9. Thanks for including mine! I enjoyed the comments. Great work!
    I was especially moved by this one.

    empty bowl
    I rewrite our story
    from beginning
    –Eufemia Griffo

  10. Dear Carole,
    Greetings. Going through blog, an innovative experience. This week, my favorite one. Congratulations to Barbara Kaufmann.

    blue moon
    the time to leave
    has come and gone

    Barbara Kaufmann, New York

  11. thanks for including mine – i greatly appreciate your curating such a top “happening” – thanks for providing the space for us creatives 🙂

    1. You are so welcome Nancy. I thought you offered a very unusual take on the photo! I only wish I could comment on more of them…but always look forward to reading comments by the poets too.

      1. actually it’s a reference to the fact that my second husband died in 2016 – the love of my life but we failed – I only found out a few weeks ago that he’d died. your photo event lets me express some of my feelings as it does for all of us – many thanks again <3

  12. This is a lovely selection! Thank you for including mine, Carole.

    I was taken by

    lost in the crowd
    the emptiness
    in a beggar’s bowl

    by john hawkhead.

    The plight of the poor …captured in each line…haunting.

    1. Thanks Barbara…yes, isn’t the juxtaposition in John’s haiku wonderful? That space between a crowd and one empty bowl….speaks volumes as to how the poor are invisible to so many. .

      blue moon
      the time to leave
      has come and gone

      Barbara Kaufmann, New York

      I found yours an original and definitive moment! We all know in an instant, don’t we, when the time for action has passed….when that window closes…Lovely juxtaposition with the blue moon to set the tone.

  13. Thank you, Pat and Robert, for commenting on my poem–I’m glad the crisis is on our minds, if not on those of the world’s policy makers!
    And thanks, Carole, for this exquisite selection and expert commentary! I can only echo Wendy and others in appreciating your attention, thoughtulness, and eagerness not just to direct the conversation, but to dive into the thick of it.
    I also echo others in admiring the resonance of nearly all the poems. But here are a few I can point to for particular reasons:
    *
    waiting for
    the stray cat’s return
    afternoon shadows

    Christina Sng, Singapore
    **
    I know these shadows! For the two years I was catless (decades ago now) I was startled that every shadow wasn’t a cat–an experience repeated after several more recent losses, where shadows were truly painful to behold.
    *
    yard sale over
    an orphaned pot
    heavy with change

    Helen Buckingham
    **
    love the variety of meanings with “change” and all the possible stories there. “Change” as in proceeds from the sale, but also “change” as in altered circumstances; could the pot’s owner be similarly “orphaned,” by loss of home, partner, or any number of other things? Could the yard sale have been prompted by more than a wish to de-clutter? That “heavy, ” too–much goind unsaid here.
    *
    thanks, everyone, for contributing and commenting.

    1. Thanks Laurie, for your lovely comments, and I hope they encourage our poets to write beyond the image as these three favorites you point out do so well. The images are meant to inspire….take you places….the images themselves can act as a metaphor for something going on in our own lives. I am hoping that the next image of an armchair does just that…..it’s not about the chair, it’s about how you feel looking at the chair….what memory does it drum up, how does its wabi-sabi effect you…. Sorry but I’ve used your post to encourage the next round of poems! 🙂

    2. Really appreciated, Laurie…..I likewise enjoyed your (all too apposite) ku. Congratulations everyone on yet another thought-provoking set, and many thanks, Carole, for selecting my poem.

  14. Lots of variety and favorites in this week’s selection. The two that struck me:
    years later…
    mom’s blue bowl
    is just a bowl
    By Tsanka Shiskova This made me think of how sad it is when family collectibles or treasures have no hold on the children. Surely there can be a space or a use for a small bowl!
    blue planet
    rounds of climate talks
    coming up empty
    By Laurie Greer A very creative way to incorporate the blue color with Planet Earth, and the emptiness of the cup to the lack of results in climate talks. Even the word “rounds” coincides nicely with the shape of the empty bowl. I love this little poem with its carefully chosen words.

  15. Carole, what an adventure this series is! So many ways poets were touched by this image. I had tears when I read your commentary on mine since you hit so directly on the feelings this image drew out of me. Thank you for your good and hard work here.

  16. Congratulations to all.
    A fine selection Carole!
    Thank you for including mine!
    .
    This one among many others stood out.
    .
    blue planet
    rounds of climate talks
    coming up empty

    Laurie Greer, Washington DC
    .
    A poignant poem of the moment.
    All the leaders gathered at Davos and we know how little they listen.

  17. 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 Carole ! Thanks for putting together such wonderful poems ! love and regards

  18. Great image, poems, and commentary. Thank you, Carole and all those featured. Given where I am at in my life 8 years after my mother’s passing, I was especially moved by this one.
    .
    years later…
    mom’s blue bowl
    is just a bowl

    Tsanka Shishkova

    1. Thanks Liz…I have a ‘mother’s bowl’, too…a cracked pale yellow bread bowl. I never use it, but I can’t seem to dispose of it either! 🙂 Tsanka’s poem speaks to many of us…

  19. the bowl she’d thrown
    heavy enough
    to kill a man

    Autumn Noelle Hall

    like that the word “thrown” has double meanings!
    great ceramic piece of displaced anger/ comic relief/ and sublimation, autumn!

    1. So glad you picked up on that Wendy. I laughed when I read Autumn’s poem because my first attempt at pottery might well have been like this one.

      1. i appreciate that you get right in here and mingle with us! you are so dedicated to this, carole!

        your commentary is fantastic, your depth, and creative thoughts add so much enlightenment to this haiku dialogue.

        thank you, carole, for your wonderful choices….the ones with and without commentary.

        thank you, carole, for being attracted to my offering….enough to place your outstanding reflections upon it……

        would like to share—-the story behind my poem….but i want to allow any reader to fill in the cup with what ever they want….first!

        1. Good idea Wendy to hold back so that you can appreciate various interpretations. I know there is always a story behind the poem, but being human, we often insert our own story into a haiku. 🙂 And that can be interesting to the poet. I hope others share their thoughts. The perfect crafting of your haiku made me look at it twice, read it over and over, because at first read I simply empathized with it on some deep but wordless level. But I wanted more, so I shared my interpretation. I would love to know more about this one when and if you decide to share….

      2. Hoping to have time to come back and comment further on other wonderful haiku included here. But, time limited to puppy nap length as it currently is, I wanted to at least pop in and say thank you so much for including my tongue-in-cheek senryu here Carole! I especially appreciated your comments in response to Wendy’s astute observation–many thanks to both of you for catching what was “thrown”. I still have some of my earliest attempts at wheel work on display–on top of our cabinets and exposed ceiling beams, of all places!! When visitors express concern about them falling off, I explain that 1) they are stuck down with Quake Hold gum and 2) they weigh so much, they’d sooner fall THROUGH the beams than OFF of them. I was admittedly a bit timid about pressing too hard on the interiors as I was throwing. From the outside, the bowls and pitchers look beautiful. But they are less-than-functional, except for maybe weightlifting and home defense. Ah well, it was a centering experience nonetheless…:D
        *
        Congratulations, Wendy, on your front-and-center senryu this round! Very open to interpretation–I am so curious as to what type of “soaking cup” you are referring to here. So many possibilities–my sister’s pet tortoise had a soaking cup for rehydrating his shell; my ex-in-laws had soaking cups for their dentures; mani/pedicurists use soaking cups to soften their clients’ nails; and of course, there are cups-as-alternatives-to-pads for monthly cycles. Plus, no doubt, other alternatives I’ve not considered. I’ll be checking back as soon as I have more time to see whether you’ve revealed your original intention!
        *
        ~Autumn

        1. Autumn, your poem took me right back to my own experience with a pottery class. On the first day we were all handed a huge lump of wet Georgia clay….and while it did somewhat remind me of kneading bread, the sheer mass was intimidating and ultimately, magic didn’t happen and I threw out the pot I made. I didn’t have a particular person in mind, so mind ended up in the garbage. Loved the double-reading of ‘thrown’. 🙂

        2. thank you autumn for you kind and encouraging words. yes, i left it open on purpose. hoping the reader would fill the cup with their own experience. you mention many ways….of the ones you mentioned….which is the one that relates to you?

  20. Amazing haikus. Congratulations. I thank the Editors and the Poets. It’s really a great experience to learn from you poets. Thank you so much

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