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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Seeing Beyond Seeing – Photo One

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 Two

An empty blue bowl or cup shining through shadows. A leftover paper pamphlet on a wooden shelf. To expand your associations, I will tell you this photo was taken in an abandoned garden shed that contained nothing but this blue bowl. What does this singular and quiet scene suggest to you?

The deadline is midnight Pacific Time, Saturday January 18, 2020.

Below is my commentary for Photo One:

Thank you, everyone, for contributing to Haiku Dialogue and my first post of the month. It was an honor to read your poems. I had hopes that you would use this first image to explore your own inner worlds utilizing mood, memory and metaphor, and not simply write to the image. As you will see by the diverse selections below, most of you did just that. I was not surprised to see a fair number of haiku written to the Australian bushfires as the brilliance of a setting sun burns with the colors of a forest fire, and we all recognize the horrifying beauty of nature even as it destroys. You’ll also see how broken window glass becomes a metaphor for war memories, while to others it opens one’s heart-view to the horizon, to whale song, to the yin/yang of all existence. From the simple to the profound, from masking tape to mythology, have fun choosing your own favorites from the selections below. If your poem wasn’t chosen this time, please try again with the next image.

Here are a few examples I felt employed the haiku aesthetics important to me: precise language, surprising associations, and in some cases, implied metaphor. I felt all four spoke well to the exercise of “Seeing beyond Seeing: Mood, Memory and Metaphor”. I purposely selected poems to showcase the diversity found within this prompt. May you discover your own connections and associations to these four poems, and to the many other finely crafted haiku that follow.

evenfall all your broken promises

Olivier Schopfer
Switzerland

I am impressed with the brevity of this haiku and the poet’s careful selection of words. The sound of ‘evenfall’ is like music in my mouth and I find it an evocative word choice. It suggests movement; evening falls, dusk falls, relationships fail. I admire this poet’s ability to evoke mood and memory through the image of a broken window. Isn’t it true sometimes our biggest truths come to light as darkness falls.

kintsugi
how the sun breaks
through my world

Kath Abela Wilson
Pasadena, California

Kintsugi becomes a metaphor for life in this lovely haiku. As some of you will already know kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken poetry by filling any crack with gold lacquer. It doesn’t disguise cracks it honors the history of the pottery. Much the way we might learn to appreciate our own signs of aging. The last two lines offer an association that is unmistakable to me, that nothing is perfect, we too are nothing but clay and as Leonard Cohen said so succinctly: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”.

edge of the multiverse
broken windows
at the border

Charles Harmon
Los Angeles, California, USA

At first reading I enjoyed the way this haiku moved from the vast (universes) to the focused (broken windows). But then I noticed other connections, ‘at the edge’, ‘at the border’ and what lay between and here is where the haiku began to open for me. Don’t we always speculate about the universe, parallel universes, multiple universes even as our global borders tighten over mass migration, political disturbances, ongoing wars, natural disasters, all the earthly concerns that make us ponder and look hopefully to the sky from our precarious perch on what seems a shrinking, volatile world. This is a poem with space to ponder physics, philosophy, the unknown, yet is grounded in the reality of the final two lines. It’s worth reading up on multiverses to further enhance and deepen the reading of this haiku. The concept goes way back through literature, science and philosophy.

broken window
a grasshopper jumping
into the sun

Aljoša Vuković
Šibenik, Croatia

My final choice brings me back to earth, to nature, the space wherein we so often find ourselves. Again, much is to be felt between the lines as I tune in to the image of a broken window, and a grasshopper jumping into the sun. Here is where I sense the Japanese term ‘yugen’, a word that values the power to evoke, rather than state directly. I sense a subtle metaphor between the juxtaposition of the opening line and the phrase. The use of figurative language doesn’t distract, as we know the grasshopper isn’t really jumping into the sun but only appears to be as we imagine its tiny leap across the bright light of a setting sun. In the end, I felt a sense of freedom and heightened awareness because the scene was unfolding through a broken window. I appreciate the fact the action is caught mid jump, with the use of jumping. Some may prefer ‘jumps’, but not me in this case. This is a multi-layered haiku with a clear image and evocative juxtaposition that could be interpreted more than one way. I’ll leave it to you, the readers to discover your own associations.

Here are the rest of my selections:

splinter sun . . .
the cuts and cracks
of war memories

R.Suresh Babu
India

 

without obstacles-
the sun inside me
into the sunset

vincenzo adamo

 

through the broken window
where to start
with the masking tape

Stephen Peters

 

scorched earth
the gulf between
ragged breaths

– B Shropshire

 

acidic sea—
the fisherman’s shack
in shatters

—Corine Timmer

 

freedom just within reach
the nightingale remembers
how to fly

Christina Sng
Singapore

 

light
grouting brokenness
this mosaic life

Autumn Noelle Hall

 

broken window. . .
my view of the world
forever altered

Liz Ann Winkler

 

last year’s empty lot
hammering where
the sun also rises

wendy c. bialek
az, usa

 

casablanca
aglow from the outside
the dim light within

simonj UK

 

in each turn
tacking wind sheets
to the sun

Robert Kingston

 

the holy grail
in a bottle of wine…
our last moments

Isabel Caves
Auckland, New Zealand

 

broken again
I wonder about the price
of hope

Marion Clarke

 

the world’s beauty …
some need shock therapy
to look and see

Natalia Kuznetsova

 

setting sun–
in all existence
yin and yang

Teiichi Suzuki Japan

 

abandoned house
broken hearts scattered
throughout the world

Dubravka Šćukanec
Zagreb, Croatia

 

éist . . .
tús curtha leis an easparta
ag na míolta móra

listen . . .
whales have commenced
evensong

(Haiku in Irish and English)

Gabriel Rosenstock

 

where just one word
can spark a feud…
wildfire season

Michele L. Harvey

 

smash this darkness
into ten thousand lights of sun!
dreaming of faraway places

joel Irusta

 

aspirations
beyond the cracked window
a perfect horizon

Vandana Parashar

 

splinters of lights
something has cracked inside me

schegge di luci
qualcosa si è incrinato dentro di me

Angela Giordano – Italy

 

my late love –
in a broken window
rising sun

Tsanka Shishkova

 

after his passing
the harsh beauty
of the sunrise

Sari Grandstaff, Saugerties, NY

 

left behind
the kaleidoscope
of yesterday

Pat Davis NH

 

kept from seeing
the whole picture
my broken vision

Jackie Chou
Pico Rivera CA USA

 

sunset the shards of a broken affair

john hawkhead

 

sunset light-
the torn curtains hide
a family secret

Julia Guzmán

 

propolis
the honeyed tones
of a Stradivarius

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

the infinite
not enough photons
to hold it

Peggy Hale Bilbro
Alabama USA

 

broken by truth
the secret sacrificed
for light

Debbie Scheving

 

consolazione:
dialogo tra la luce
e i vetri rotti

consolation:
dialogue between light
and broken glass

Daniela Misso

 

cancer screening
the light
behind broken glass

Eva Limbach
Germany

 

sunset
one more bottle of rum
for the old sailor

Slobodan Pupovac
Zagreb, Croatia

 

under the sun’s glare
just on the horizon…
these fleeting hopes

Mark Meyer

 

shattered pieces
wreckage
or mosaic

Patricia Robert

 

below the horizon
another sunset mends
a broken ship

Peter Jastermsky

 

breaking through this broken day sunset

Ann K. Schwader

 

sunlight
fills her empty slippers –
another winter

arvinder kaur, Chandigarh, India

 

old photos
yellowed by time …
fragments of me

fotografie / ingiallite dal tempo … frammenti di me

Lucia Cardillo

 

dappled sunlight
reflection of mother’s smile
on a still pond

Agus Maulana Sunjaya

 

a blast from the past
she remembers her wedding
and forgets his name

Pratima Balabhadrapathruni.

 

winter solstice
the reflections
of another life

Helga Stania
Switzerland

 

breaking
out of my old life
glory boat

Pris Campbell

 

reflections —
torn wings
of icarus

Ingrid Baluchi (Macedonia)

 

family wedding…
piecing together
relationships

Madhuri Pillai

 

ripping out the layers
outside is inside
and inside is home

Helen Buckingham

 

first trip
downstream
dad’s ashes

cezar-florin ciobîcă

 

vanishing point
I leave your memory
behind

Tia Haynes

 

still shining
through the shards of glass
family picture

Nadejda Kostadinova

 

Santa Monica pier
the moment the sun
touches the water

-Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, CA

 

morning after
picking up the pieces
one dream at a time

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, CA

 

catamaran sunset
oncoming waves
of nausea

Rich Schilling
Webster Groves, MO

 

fire in the sky–
the sound of wailing
koalas

Susan Rogers, Los Angeles, CA

 

ragged morning light
torn curtains
filter my coffee

Charlotte Hrenchuk

 

broken window
battered woman
shattered life

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio

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 34 Comments

  1. Enjoying the feature!!! 🙂
    .
    .
    Amongst many fine works, this one really showed a power to make me stop in my tracks:
    .
    .
    sunlight
    fills her empty slippers –
    another winter
    .
    arvinder kaur, Chandigarh, India
    .
    .
    It’s not easy to have two seasons in a haiku without it seeming awkward at times.
    .
    Here I felt ‘sunlight’ meant a Summer long gone, but actually there is no mention of Summer, it just slipped into my mind. I guess because my mother died in the month of June. I had to work in my old hometown over December, so I did live in my mother’s house, in another winter, and a last winter.
    .
    Wonderful poem.
    .

  2. Thank you Carole MacRury for the breathtaking photo prompt this week. It inspired a collection of thoughtful poems. I am greatly looking forward to the next three weeks.
    *
    Two that followed each other I kept coming back to for their beauty in brokenness:
    .
    my late love –
    in a broken window
    rising sun
    .
    Tsanka Shishkova
    .
    after his passing
    the harsh beauty
    of the sunrise
    .
    Sari Grandstaff

    1. Thank you so much Debbie for your comments. Yes, my haiku together with Tsanka’s does have an impact I had not noticed. I appreciate you seeing that.

  3. Some wonderful poems here–I think this column is off to a great start. It’s been fascinating to read each of these as both a response to the specific image and as an independent work–I keep asking myself, how would I visualize this if I just came upon it on its own?
    Anyway, just a few of the many I really enjoyed:
    *
    acidic sea—
    the fisherman’s shack
    in shatters

    —Corine Timmer

    *
    warming and acidifying oceans–one of the most serious problems out there. For now it’s the poor fisherfolk who suffer, but ultimately it will be everyone–all of civilization in “shatters”
    *
    broken window. . .
    my view of the world
    forever altered

    Liz Ann Winkler

    *
    this one seems deeply true. How can we witness radical change or destruction and not see everything differently? I like how the new perspective is left undefined: we may find hope in what remains, or realize the fragility of everything, or even get bogged down in despair. We will not be unmoved, though.
    *
    sunset
    one more bottle of rum
    for the old sailor

    Slobodan Pupovac
    Zagreb, Croatia
    *
    I love the idea of being intoxicated by the sun and/or the beauty of the spectacle it creates as it sets. while there’s some melancholy in the end of the day and in the “old,” this does not feel like a depressing moment.
    *

    sunlight
    fills her empty slippers –
    another winter

    arvinder kaur, Chandigarh, India

    *
    I love how all that jagged glass in the picture is smoothed into a slipper here–just as grief and the loss of the loved one are transformed into something warm that “fills” the new emptiness. Lovely!
    *
    reflections —
    torn wings
    of icarus

    Ingrid Baluchi (Macedonia)

    *
    the perfect myth for this image! And “reflections” is of course literal and pointing to the meditation on the story, which has to do with overstepping our bounds–as we certainly have in going too close, not to the sun, but to our own burning desires for more more more
    *

    1. Thank you for your comments, Laurie, on mine and on others. They go a long way to help me understand there is so much more to think about, both reading this genre and trying to write it.
      And thank you to Carole, for the same reason. You are opening up new avenues for me.

      I wonder if anyone else is struggling with the ‘philosophical aspects’ of writing this genre, particularly for this current series? Maybe it takes YEARS of practice. I find it very difficult to think beyond the observe/experience/then write about it ‘at face value’ type of poem…the need to ‘think outside the box’, free up the mind, like I need to with abstract art.

      It’s hard work! And with a glass or two of wine, my output becomes so obtuse, I’m the only one who gets to understand it.

      Oh well, keep trying….
      ….
      So much to take in this week, with thanks to everyone. I keep hearing your ‘wailing koalas’, Susan, and wish our world was a kinder place.

      1. Hi, Ingrid–
        I find these photo prompts maddeningly difficult! My first impulse is always to describe, but that’s exactly the wrong approach. So hard to look at an image and see something else, let alone work it out in a poem that will have meaning for others. And to stay “objective” and factual.

        Yes, I think it takes a long time to master–a kind of thinking sideways, as opposed to linearly or rationally (though it’s not irrational, either). And I seem to remember reading somewhere that haiku writers are beginners until they’ve put in a good ten years.

        1. Laurie and Ingrid, Here’s more to think about. I remember reading that Basho said one only writes 10 haiku in a lifetime! I take that to mean 10 memorable haiku! I don’t know what others make of Basho’s statement.

          1. What a wonderful discussion. Thanks ladies! So happy to see you choose favorites. I simply don’t have the time to talk up more than 4 poems, but I sure wanted too. And yes, I realize how difficult this challenge can be as the tendency is to write the image. describe it, instead of take the image and look inward to what it says to you and your experiences. This is where metaphor comes in handy. Take for instance, what one might list from this image, broken, torn curtains, sunset, glass, and any one of those words can be taken into your own experience that has nothing to do with the image. So far, as difficult as it may seem to some, the poems have been amazing and moved beyond the image as is evidenced in Laurie’s favorites.

      2. Yes yes yes!!!
        I couldn’t agree with you more
        Ingrid! I pray for a kinder, more welcoming world.
        Thank you for connecting with the haiku. And may your New Year be bright.

  4. Susan,
    we see the koalas and kangaroos in the news, and it is such a saddening thing. I like the way you have expressed emotion through your poem

    1. Thank you so much Pratima!
      I struggled with this one because my feelings were so strong about all the suffering brought on by the wildfires. I was tempted to add more to it…but in the end I thought that less was more.

  5. Thanks so much for publishing my ku, Kathy – and I very much agree with a couple of your star choices – Kath Abela Wilson’s:
    .
    kintsugi
    how the sun breaks
    through my world
    .
    has a wonderfully positive feel without being twee (one of the hardest things to achieve in any kind of poetry) and strikes a massive chord with me in that for years I’ve had, poised for action, the paint, the shards…..but as yet, no cigar.
    .
    And Alijosa Vukovic’s:
    .
    broken window
    a grasshopper jumping
    into the sun
    .
    Lovely image – I’m with you, Kathy, re ‘jumping’ as opposed to ‘jump’. I don’t share the haikuists’ traditional antipathy towards the present continuous – for the most part, it’s true, the present tense is a more effective tool with which to skewer the moment, but sometimes the p. continuous simply works better within the context and structure of a particular ku, and Alijosa’s is a case in point.
    .
    Congratulations everyone on another very enjoyable set.

    1. Thanks for the lovely comments on these two choices, Helen. However, I’ve noticed a few are confused as to who is choosing the poems. I’m your guest editor this month, so I have to take responsibility for choosing them. 🙂

        1. No problem Helen. You aren’t the first…many of the haiku submitted that I read were to the past editor. The editors change frequently, but KJ Munro and Lori are in the background always as coordinator and webmistress. 🙂

  6. a blast from the past
    she remembers her wedding
    and forgets his name

    Pratima Balabhadrapathruni.

    i think this one is about someone who may have early Alzheimer’s.
    and if it is….i like the way pratima describes what can be a very painful event it in a playful way…it shows understanding and acceptance. wonderfully written….i can imagine someone hearing a song from the past and singing along with it…yet unable to remember her husband’s name…..maybe the blast from the past is, “remem…..mem….mem….ber when”?

  7. Had time to read and digest the, wonderful images of hope, loss, political, environmental…
    .
    the world’s beauty. . .
    some need shock therapy
    to look and see
    .
    Natalia Kuznetsova
    Yes, and sooner the better. So much is said, and debated, and very little is being done.
    Only yesterday I was reading about the HS2 plan, again,, and the proposed damage to ancient woodlands for the sake of a few more minutes to get from A to B. One rule for some another for others. Great verse, Natalia.
    .
    broken again
    I wonder about the price
    of hope
    .
    Marion Clarke
    A dual meaning of, hope, I feel, with this one. It has a political and environmental edge. Lovely words, Marion.
    .
    where just one word
    can spark a feud. . .
    wildfire season
    .
    Michele L. Harvey
    Seems all through history we’ve had these ‘wildfire’s’ even in this space-age world, on they go. I often wonder what would happen if a planet was found and it had inhabitants, but so few that mankind would worm itself in, maybe similar to the invasion of other islands and continents, in the so called ‘good old days’. . .
    Thought provoking words, Michele.

    1. Thank you, Carol. I see you picked on three with an environmental subject. I think there is so much about the world that is broken at the minute and a lot of blame being passed around, rather than action being taken. I fear time is running out and wondered about the cost of simply hoping instead of doing…we need leaders who will make a difference and direct us properly.

      1. Thank you so much, Marion, for your reading of the verses I have chosen, seems when I talk to others in my community there’s just not that connection with what is actually happening with regards to what is being relayed by the government.
        I have seen many changes having been born and bred in a mining valley, and to see scars reappearing on reclaimed slagheaps vis dirt bikes, one of my pet hates, and fly-tipping. After many year of taking notes and pictures of how nature has so wonderfully reclaimed her territory under such adverse conditions, my sword has been well and truly drawn 🙂
        Token gestures have been made, but the bottom line is all about putting money in the coffers.

  8. Congratulations to all who were chosen for this week. I am deeply moved by your skill, and your imagination, and your heart. But, mostly your heart.
    .
    I sense a juxtaposition of the inner (remembrance) and the outward or natural (turn of the day). So, the poet does simultaneous feats, as a meditation perhaps without a resolution. Bravo and respect for the missing word “like” in the second position in this poem.

    *

    evenfall all your broken promises
    .
    Olivier Schopfer
    Switzerland

  9. first, i would like to the thank thf for providing wonderful programs such as haiku dialogue to be there to encourage
    participation of poets from around the world to be able to share their talented views in haiku/senryu format.
    .
    secondly, I am grateful to carole for exposing her wonderful photographs to inspire the exceptional poems I am reading here, and her sensitive, and special guiding framework to help birth them.
    .
    carole’s commentary is superb…..bringing my enjoyment of this experience to yet another level.
    .
    Now to the chosen submissions…..wow! to me…..this is some of the best poetry I have read, inspired by one prompt!

    .
    to the all the poets…..kudos! well done!

    1. Thank you Wendy. I was delighted to see how many poets responded to the image through their own inner worlds. I could have commented on so many, but prefer to read commentary from all the poets. The more the better as different perspectives can open up the poems even more.

  10. Thank you Carole for including one of mine.
    As already said, a very emotional trip, covering many diverse subjects.
    Congratulations to all.
    If a tonic exists, for me it is Kathabella Wilson’s
    .
    kintsugi
    how the sun breaks
    through my world

    Kath Abela Wilson
    Pasadena, California

  11. Wow, some pretty powerful poems. Poignant, sad, colorful, just to name a few of the emotions they stir in me.
    .
    Thanks for including one of mine to this week’s collection.

  12. So much to think about in five words. Marks of a good haiku, and thanks for sharing the tradition of breaking glass you felt in this one.

    1. Thank you, Carole, it is always insightful to read the work of others and the comments made.
      I am slowly finding a more delicate touch when it comes to expressing my thoughts and views within this type of poetry.
      Looking forward to the next session.
      .
      Always a good thing to know who’s doing what, my apologies.

  13. Thank you for including my haiku here! Many interpretations speak to me. I do particularly love the association of this haiku. At the end of Jewish wedding ceremonies the groom traditionally stomps on a glass and breaks it (for good luck) so the shattered glass association with the wedding here was strong for me. And then the horizon feeling of the honeymoon and starting the couple’s journey together. And of course that whole dynamic of being at a family wedding and having to explain to a “plus one” guest perhaps all the familial relationships, groom’s side, bride’s side, long lost cousins, black sheep, family feuds, etc. Great haiku!

    family wedding…
    piecing together
    relationships

    Madhuri Pillai

    1. so interesting sari
      I too thought of the stomping on glass at a Jewish wedding and also the honeymoon cruise reprised after a lifetime of broken glass..the little conflicts or big ones. I did not use this haiku because my heart has been breaking for the koalas in Australia, but it was the first one I thought about:

      honoring their vows
      after a lifetime of broken glass
      sunset’s kiss

    2. Thank you Sari for commenting on my poem, and that’s exactly what happened on my recent visit to India where I was invited to few family weddings. Wonderful feeling of belonging.

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