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re:Virals 276

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was

     midnight blue
     a grandma-shaped crater
     on the moon
          — Hemapriya Chellappan, The Blo͞o Outlier Journal, Issue #1 (2020)

Marion Clarke reflects on larger-than-life grannies:

The rich and vibrant midnight blue of line one combined with the humorous visual of the second line suggests a grandmother with a larger-than-life character who was a lot of fun. In fact, this haiku reminds me of my own grandmother, Granny Campbell, still much missed after twenty years. The loss of a favorite grandparent who colored our lives during childhood has a huge impact, and Hemapriya’s haiku reflects this well.

Radhamani Sarma moves through various phases:

Thanks to Hemapriya for kindling our imagination on the specific shape of the moon. East or west, the moon and celestial stars have been agile tempers for writers augmenting their descriptive aura. Creativity finds a unique platform when one writes about the moon, its round shape and bright, waning or waxing phases, as well as the shades and shadows embedded on it — various images to suit the writer’s immediacy of purpose.

The persona who weaves a tale of woe could be either a sad man or woman, viewing the moon’s odd shapes and phases.

The first line, “midnight blue,” sets the tone of unhappy, somber surroundings. He or she is in deep distress, unable to control the memory of loss, death, a bygone event, perhaps experiencing an uncomfortable sleep or some inexplicable void or cloud. All of this taunts the persona, who may be rolling to either side of the bed in the dead of night, midnight, the irony of depression passing through. If it were day, it might result in the narrator’s scream or wail; his running and jumping might be the outcome. Yet it is midnight, and this is happening in silence, eerie silence.

The second line, “a grandma-shaped crater,“ manifests in this image on the rounded beauty of the moon, until some creepy hollow or dent has formed on it, as visualized by the narrator at midnight. Hollowness, or perhaps a chipped cavity on the moon, is carved like a grandma, all shrunken due to age. It could be that the hollowed size or gap is Grandma warped on the moon.

Another possible inference is that the person recollects the bard’s feeling, and he or she wants to outwit the moon’s speed as it crosses the sky. As the moon moves along, he or she sees gaps and shadings, somewhat like Grandmother gliding along the gaps of the moon.

“on the moon” implies a gradual disfiguration of this celestial body. There is contrast between the cool, rounded beauty and the thieved, chipped hollowness. Taken in its totality, the poem shows that what was once in the past now is the present condition. The visitation of Grandmother on the moon takes place in this poet’s imagination.

As this week’s winner, Radhamani gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.

Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!

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.

re:Virals 277:

     peeling layers of childhood green mango chutney
          — Neena Singh, Heliosparrow Poetry Journal (2020)

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. My grandmother was no picnic. And so, looking at this,
    I am reminded that craters on the moon were created
    by collisions with meteorites.
    Not too many nasty grandmas in the world of haiku/senryu,
    or that I’ve seen. Be curious if anyone knows of one.

  2. I love this haiku and find it so interesting that Marion and Radhamani responded with such different reactions. Marion saw a rich deep color in the midnight blue sky, while Radhamani found it to be somber and distressing. As Marion savored the happy memories of her grandmother, Radhamani was drawn into the grief at the loss of a beloved grandmother. For me, the midnight sky and full moon are distant but reassuring images, and the grandmother shaped crater is a reminder of the crater left in our lives at the loss of a loved one. At the same time that shape holds the memory of the beloved person preserved in the shape in the moon. I always seem to come back to this thought: A wonderful haiku is so perfectly presented that each reader becomes a partner of the poet in the creation of a new poem, through their own experience and context. Thus, the creation continues with each reading. Well done Hemapriya!

    midnight blue
    a grandma-shaped crater
    on the moon
    — Hemapriya Chellappan, The Blo͞o Outlier Journal, Issue #1 (2020)

  3. Such a beautiful commentary…the ku is memorable and the commentary adds to its wonder! Congratulations to Hemapriya, the poet, Radhamani Sarna for taking us on the flight of fancy and Alan Summers for selecting it for the extraordinary Bloo Outlier journal.
    I am grateful for the selection of my ku by Radhamani and deem it a great honour, as I am still learning the nuances of this great art of haiku. 🙏🤗💐

  4. Dear Marian Clarke,
    Always grandmother lives ever mostly in our memory.
    Your mention , in your take of a grandmother in the following way is
    quite interesting.

    ” a grandmother with a larger-than-life character who was a lot of fun. “

  5. Some see the rabbit in the moon (I still do: my paternal grandmother showed that rabbit to me when I was very young), some see the man in the moon and Hemapriya Chellappan discovers a grandma in the moon, a crater in the shape of (a) a grandma or (b) Hemapriya’s own grandma.
    What shape is a grandma? Since grandmas come in various shapes and sizes I conclude that the moon crater has the familiar shape of the author’s own grandma.
    Midnight blue is the deepest possible blue, the colour of mystery, vibrant and alive in a way that black can never be. Black obscures but midnight blue beckons , shimmers, invites us into mystery, here the mystery of our own perceptions/ projections, the shapes that the shadowy moon craters take on, for each of us.
    Hemapriya’s excellent haiku has balance and a light, humorous touch.

    as colour colour s

    that is “grandma shaped”.

  6. Huge thanks to Marion Clarke and Radhamani Sarma for your wonderful comments, deeply appreciated.

    It’s a truly amazing haiku, and I knew within minutes, nine I believe, that I had to nab this freshly original, unusual, and genuine poem ASAP!

    Alan Summers
    Founding Editor, Blo͞o Outlier Journal

    And do enjoy the other 250+ authors! 🙂

    The Blo͞o Outlier Journal Winter Christmas Eve Special Issue 2020 (Issue #1) ed. Alan Summers

    1. I nominated Hemapriya Chellappan for The Touchstone Individual poem awards:

      Diana Webb
      Lynne Jambor
      Kath Abela Wilson
      Jo Balistreri
      Hemapriya Chellappan
      Margaret Walker
      Robyn Cairns
      Gabriela Popa
      Brad Bennett
      Lenard D. Moore

      The haikai verse deservedly got a nomination in such great company, and it’s wonderful that Terri French nominated the poem for this THF feature too!

      Alan Summers
      Founding Editor, Blo͞o Outlier Journal

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