Skip to content

HAIKU DIALOGUE – Times of Transition – From youth to adulthood (2)

Times of Transition with Guest Editor Deborah Karl-Brandt

For the next few weeks let’s talk about Times of Transition. Arnold van Gennep and Viktor Turner explored these times of transition scientifically, because human existence is defined by them. So, together, let’s do the same – by reflecting on our lives. All of us experience periods in life when alteration takes place and we have to change too. Everything changes: the seasons, moods, the weather – there might even be times when the boundaries of right and wrong, of good and evil seem to change. We are caught in the middle of transition, becoming opaque like water in turmoil. Looking back, we hardly recognize our way up to the present; looking forward, our path seems to be foggy and uncertain. Sometimes we are challenged to let go of our former self to become someone new.

next week’s theme: Falling in love

Write about the first time, the second time, the last time, with the right one, with the wrong one. Write about returned love, unrequited love, about allowed or forbidden love. Let’s write about all facets of love.

The deadline is midnight Eastern Daylight Time, Saturday August 19, 2023.

Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 & residence 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 Deborah’s commentary for From youth to adulthood:

first Halloween
the mask of parenthood
becomes me

Christopher Peys
Los Angeles, CA

This well-crafted haiku works with fragments and phrases and a play on words in the last line. There are many shifting boundaries in this poem set on Halloween. Between life and death, but even more interesting is the boundary between childhood and adulthood and how crossing that boundary happens to all of us. Are we ever adults? As adults, are we just wearing a mask, are we really that different from our younger, child selves? A mask that fits us, that we grow into, that we fill out, but that ultimately remains only a mask. Behind it, we remain what we have always been, ourselves.

swallows …
crossing the threshold
of my new home

Daniela Misso

Where is the home of the swallows? Is it Africa or Europe? Maybe it’s both in equal parts? When I began my studies, I suddenly spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between the home of my childhood and my new home. I had become a swallow myself.

first diagnosis
learning my bipolar
was not just a phase

Jackie Chou
United States

This diagnosis and a young person who must learn to live with it. The hopes have been dashed. The problems will not disappear and the beautiful future we imagined does not just vanish into thin air. Anyone affected by a chronic illness knows how difficult it is to live with it and the knowledge of it. To build a life around it.

first garden–
with the cosmos

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

From the garden bed (small) to the cosmos (huge) in just seven words. In between as the hub of growth.

A cousin’s son (two years old) recently got his first garden bed. The first crop were questions. Why do earthworms live in the soil? Why do plants drink from a watering can? Not only did the plants grow a little more each day. With every question the little one asked, with every answer, this world became a little more his own.

loving and wondering if it’s love

Peggy Hale Bilbro

Most of us have fallen in love at some point in our lives. It is one of the strongest emotions we feel and will change us forever. Suddenly we react in such strange ways. Experiencing this overwhelming feeling for the first time can be…well…a little overwhelming. We may have also wondered: is this really love? The famous Japanese Zen monk Ikkyu opined that love, in all its aspects, has the potential to bring enlightenment. Indeed a beautifully written one-line haiku.

first debt …
that stolen

Samo Kreutz
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Five words, a successful senryu. The first guilt. Was the kiss longed for, or was it simply taken? What happened after the kiss? Either way…this kiss is the expulsion from the paradise of childhood. There can no longer be a before.

wild horses
the promises
that got away

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, WA

A well-crafted haiku that feels somehow enigmatic to me. I’m not sure I understand its full meaning and depth, but it feels absolutely true to me. I remember myself when I was a kid thinking that surely adults have a plan, have some special knowledge. Wasn’t that the promise of adulthood? But when I was an adult myself, I found that I was the same clueless person. I had simply lived longer. So how do you tame a wild horse? By doing it? How do you learn to live your life as best you can? By doing it…

when we realized
it could happen to us –
6th grade death

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD

Fragment and phrase. A successful haiku. There is ma in this poem and a blow of sudden realization. The day before and the day after. Even at a young age, death will not make an exception for you. This is one of the hardest truths to learn in life. There is no harder way to leave childhood behind.

star festival–
folding a dream
into the paper doll

Teiichi Suzuki

A secret dream folded into a paper doll. The hope that one day it will come true. The poem does not tell us who is wishing, how old the person is, but what is told is the time of the year. It is Tanabata (7 July). The Japanese star festival commemorates two lovers who were separated by the gods because they neglected their duties. In their grief, they continued to neglect their duties and so they were allowed to meet once a year. The secret wish may be about an unfulfilled love, a hoped-for love. A beautiful haiku about yearning and longing.


Join us next week for Deborah’s selection of poems on the theme of Falling in love…


Guest Editor Deborah Karl-Brandt lives in Bonn, Germany, with her husband, two rabbits and numerous books. After her PhD studies in Scandinavian languages and literatures, she now works as a freelance author and poet. One of her poems won 2nd place in the 2021 Pula Film Festival Haiku Contest. Her poems have most recently appeared in Prune Juice, Kingfisher, First Frost, Frogpond, Failed Haiku and Tsuridoro. If she is not outside for a long stroll or to do some birdwatching, she is an avid reader who is currently exploring Chinese Xianxia Webnovels.

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 7 Comments

  1. Thank you Deborah for your comment on my mono Ku! It was one of those that wrote itself. Sometimes those work and sometimes they don’t! Thank you Deborah, KJ and Lori for your efforts to keep this site available to us.

  2. Thank you, Deborah, for your insightful comment on my cosmos garden. Delighted and honored to be in such talented company. Both this and last week’s selections are a fascinating and varied collection. Looking forward to the next one!

  3. I have really enjoyed this series. So much variety from talented poets. Thanks Deborah for hosting this.

  4. I hope everyone enjoyed the first part of Times of Transition as much as I did. Many thanks to all who have entrusted me with their poems. I feel very honored. It is a great privilege to be able to read them all and go through a personal time of transformation with them. I also want to thank you for all the positive comments and the feedbacl you gave me.
    I have one more personal request. Some submissions were disqualified because more than two poems were submitted. Some of these poems, I could not consider, I liked very much. Therefore, please, send me a maximum of two.
    And now I am looking forward to the second round of Times of Transition.

    1. I am so enjoying these themes and your selections, Deborah. Your commentary today was quite moving and meaningful.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top