Skip to content

re:Virals 417

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly commentary feature on some of your favorites among the best contemporary haiku and senryu written in English. This week’s poem, proposed by Dan Campbell, was:

     on the tip
     of the bird's beak
     a drop of rainbow
     — Earl Livings 
     Shamrock, issue 47, 2022

Introducing this poem, Dan writes:

I read and then re-read and then re-read this poem. What a creative gem! Through haiku, we learn to hear the whispers of leaves, to taste the rain, and to notice a tiny rainbow with a poet’s eye. Haiku is a meditation, a mindfulness, a practice of being present in the ever-turning wheel of existence.

Opening comment:

Two parts, semantic cut (inversion), season word, a bird and a prismatic rainbow, fusion of  sun, rain and sky: what more could the readers of re:Virals want?

For me, birds and rainbows have been smaller birds disporting themselves in a sunlit birdbath, or shaking off raindrops after a spring shower. Then, distant birds seen apparently flying into a rainbow, summoning up childhood thoughts of Judy Garland: “Birds fly over the rainbow / why then, oh, why can’t I?”  We have a lot of rainbows between showers and sunny periods in spring, but for some reason ‘rainbow’ is held to be a summer word.  I have seen and photographed a rainbow in a dewdrop, and in raindrops on a plant.  I never saw a rainbow in a drop at the end of a bird’s beak. It’s the kind of thing I’d overlook until, say, processing a photograph afterwards. This tiny detail makes a beautiful image in the mind.

Lakshmi Iyer:

Rainbows are an universal sight and their presence is an honour to the five elements that make it possible. The drizzling rain passing through sunlight evolves a rainbow. The sky is a home for it. The air gracefully moves the leaves to allow the rainbow to slip through it and highlight the whole phenomenon. The fire in us; the urge, inspires our words to poem it. So too likewise L 3 ‘a drop of rainbow’ on the ‘tip of the bird’s beak’ manifests that in its flight.

A visual treat to imagine and express it from ‘zooming out to zooming in to zooming the innermost’, isn’t it? Lets think about the ‘tip of the beak’ as one focal point and then to bring the rainbow even to the minutest -zero level is all about this masterpiece, haikuiing. I would conclude that haiku is not just about picturizing and placing them in phrase and fragment but also how best we arrange the phenomenon in the most aesthetic way. Creating a rainbow from a drop of water and then putting it back into that same drop on the tip of the bird’s beak is the intelligence of the poet. Photography also plays a major role. The poet must have shot a picture at the end when the rainbow was slowly diminishing and it chose to be ‘just a drop’. Applause!!

Ruth Happel:

This haiku brought up many images for me. One was almost literal, thinking of the mythical bluebird of happiness flying through the sky. In this interpretation, it was bringing back a piece of the rainbow, a raindrop from a passing storm. Another was the thought of a hummingbird, its bill wet from foraging on flower nectar, and the amazing rainbow iridescence of the bird reflected in the drop. Yet another idea is the colors of the rainbow being displayed in the colorful beak of a toucan. In nature everything is connected, so it is easy for me to imagine how a bird and a rainbow can be joined in the endless cycle of life.

Amoolya Kamalnath:

This is a haiku with rainbow being a summer kigo. The short o sound and the b and p sounds make it lyrical. The verse spreads out like a rainbow with L1 being like the tip and L2 imitating a beak. This riveting verse starts with a preposition, the definite article ‘the’ is repeated twice and the type of the bird isn’t mentioned (was the bird at a distance or was it a fledgling?)

The bird hasn’t been identified in the poem. Is it because it was at a distance when the poet saw the bird? Was the bird a juvenile bird and hence difficult to identify what species of bird it was? The juvenile or adolescent bird getting ready for its first big flight into the sky, trying to fulfill its dreams of catching up with the rainbow, of soaring high into the sky.

There’s a sweet spot in the middle of summer when fledglings have left their nests but aren’t yet sporting full adult plumage. This interim plumage called “juvenal”, applies to birds in their juvenile phase. Birds in this juvenal plumage can be very difficult to identify in the field and hence the poet may have referred to the bird as ‘the bird’. Different species fledge at different times, but most songbirds and smaller species fledge from late June through July. (https://www.audubon.org/news/birdist-rule-57-its-summer-watch-out-juveniles)

Or is it a colourful prey like a butterfly that is left hanging from the adult bird’s beak?

Nairithi Konduru (aged 8):

The poem may be speaking about a bird with a rainbow-coloured beak, for example, the keel-billed toucan which has many names such as “sulfur-breasted toucan, keel toucan, or rainbow-billed toucan. This is a colorful Latin American member of the toucan family. It is the national bird of Belize. The species is found in tropical jungles from southern Mexico to Colombia.

Maybe a bird flew through a rainbow and then a raindrop fell on it.

The bird could have bits of its food hanging from its beak.

My mother read out and explained to me Ravi Kiran’s haiku from Wales Haiku Journal –
in the talons
of a fishing eagle
a glint of dusk
This prompted me to think that there could be a metaphor in this haiku too. It could be that a bird is carrying food for its babies which are the rainbow 🌈. Rainbow is a summer season word, my mother told me.

Chloe Chan — look closer and find something special:

This is a haiku that is simple and short and elegant. As a birdwatcher, I can say that the art of looking for birds is often about looking closely and seeing what is hidden or barely noticeable. It can be tedious, but it’s always worth the feeling of euphoria when a new species is spotted.

This poem perfectly represents the joy felt by looking closer and finding something new and exciting; the “drop of rainbow”. Rainbows are a symbol of happiness and hope, something bright and colourful after rainy weather, a reward for surviving the storm. Those sky-rainbows are large and obviously noticeable; this tiny one on a living, breathing bird is discovered not because one made it through the rain, but because you looked closer and found something special.

The detailed description of the location of this drop further signifies one’s journey into the tiny details around us that go overlooked. I also appreciate how the writer has phrased the haiku so we are left with the afterthought of a small rainbow; giving the impression of slowly “zooming in” on this image.

Author Earl Livings:

My thanks to Dan for picking my haiku for discussion this week and to the members of the re:Virals community for taking the time to respond to the poem. I look forward to reading their comments.

My wife and I have been living for 20 years in what is termed a ‘leafy suburb’ of Melbourne, Australia. Our large backyard has apple, plum and lemon trees and the neighbors behind us have plenty of tall gum trees. At various times of the year, we are blessed with magpies, lorikeets and noisy miners during the day and bats and tawny frogmouths at night. To encourage our daytime visitors and provide them with relief during the hot summer months, we set up two bird baths of different sizes and heights in the middle of the lawn. One of our joys is to watch from our kitchen window the birds take turns leaping from one birdbath to the other, diving in again and again, and flying to the washing line to shrug and fling water from themselves and fan their wings dry.

Early in the pandemic, I resolved to write at least one haiku a day and, because of lockdowns, the birds and their antics featured greatly in my project. The selected haiku came out of this period. The first draft named the bird I was viewing at the time and the second draft introduced the rainbow image, which was triggered by the memory of similar birds frolicking in the birdbaths during a summer shower, the rain and the splashes of water sparkling in the sun:

on the tip
of the still magpie
raindrop

on the tip
of the magpie’s beak
rainbow raindrop

Neither version felt right to me. Something about the rhythmic structure of the lines and the awkward repetition of ‘rain’. Four days later, the final version came to me in one of those zen-like moments of inspiration that one tries to encourage when writing haiku. I like the way the syllable count of each line increases by one as if the poem is leading the reader deeper into something. I also like the way the first two lines are end-stressed while the third line ends with a soft stress, a type of release. In addition, every word is a single syllable except for that important last word. The other soundscaping element was the use of the plosives (‘t’, ‘d’, ‘b’, ‘k’ and ‘p’), with the last ‘b’ softening into the ‘ow’. This soft ‘o’ sound contrasted with others in the poem, the hard ‘on’, and ‘of’. It seems to me there is a sense of precise observation leading into an insight or revelation, a twist of perception. I’m sure readers will discover and unravel their own meanings for the poem.


virus2

Thanks to all who sent commentaries. As the contributor of the commentary reckoned best this week, Chloe has chosen 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. All with respect for the poet. Out-takes from the best of these take their place in the THF Archives. Best of all, the chosen commentary’s author gets to pick the next poem.

Anyone can participate. Simply use the re:Virals commentary form below to enter your commentary on the new week’s poem (“Your text”) by the following Tuesday midnight, Eastern US Time Zone, and then press Submit to send your entry. The Submit button will not be available until Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in. We look forward to seeing your commentary and finding out about your favourite poems!

Poem for commentary:

     
     plein air painting--
     I fill my brush
     with the sky
     — Carole MacRury
     Honourable mention, 2023 Betty Drevniok award, Haiku Canada

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.


Footnote:

Thank you, Earl, for the comments on its origin, drafting and revisions.

Earl Livings is an Australian poet and haikuist. His bio and some of his work may be viewed online on his website.

The system tells me that this is my hundredth post in re:Virals.  I crave your indulgence.

I’ve been trying to sort out my thoughts on the questions that have come up in recent weeks; and recalling Lorin Ford’s comment (with which I’m in tune) “I’m not sure anymore what is a haiku and what isn’t;” and Peter Yovu’s (likewise) “For me, to experience something as a *poem* is primary. If, following that, it is useful to see that it is or has the qualities of a haiku, then I am happy to go in that direction.”

There have been many attempts to define English Language haiku (ELH) in terms of rules – many, many rules. Those doing so generally get into difficulties. When these rules are applied by editors, they have led to a stream of pretty uniform haiku. In many cases they re-hash familiar memes and offer little by way of fresh insight. This fosters the dull comfort of familiarity.  From time to time haikuists, including some who comment here, chafe at the uniformity and say they seek innovation, and that haiku must progress.

At the same time, when I read, re-read and study the verses of the old masters, I find a wide range of material and styles, I think more than I find in contemporary haiku as published in the mainstream ELH journals. Their verses include haiku without cuts, single sentence haiku, haiku that make statements or are authorial in some way, aphoristic haiku, haiku that conspicuously rhyme (as opposed to the rhyme occasioned by the restricted range of Japanese endings), haiku with single real images, haiku set in the past, haiku with three (or more) elements rather than two.

I often wonder whether today’s editors would accept the hokku/haiku/haikai of the greats, and conclude that, because of the conventions that subsequently have been imposed on the genre in the English language, they often would not. At least, if submitted without the great name attached. It seems that far from encouraging haiku to flourish, the scope enjoyed by past masters of the genre has become diminished by an accumulation of arbitrary stipulations in the present day. Even in days of yore, we read, for example, Buson’s appreciation of his own teacher Hanjin: “He used to say that adhering strictly to the regulations in haikai art was not mandatory.” And: “My poems are in no way the imitation of Basho’s style. I take pleasure in changing the poetic manner from day to day, following the whims of my imagination.”

According to Dolin and others, “haiku” was a term first used by another pioneer, Matsunaga Teitoku (1571—1653), and not as some suppose by Shiki. Part of the problem seems to derive from the notion that haiku are confined to the parameters of the earlier hokku of the renga. Yet many of the verses that we love, from Basho himself, idiosyncratic Issa, Chiyo-ni, Buson and others were not formal hokku, but observational or reflective verses written on the hoof, as part of travel journals or diaries, or composed afterwards, away from the field, or composed for friends. As they were not strictly hokku (because not for a renga), it is perhaps unsurprising that we find many examples among them that do not conform to the tight specifications of that kind of verse. They preceded Shiki, himself a strong advocate of reform in a scene that he and other creative poets felt had become sterile, and a breaker of some of the so-called “rules.”

After Shiki, some of his pupils continued to conform to rigid, conservative haiku, notably Kyoshi as editor of Hototogisu; others such as Hekigodo, his companions and inheritors, broke away to write more freely. I think they had grounds to do so, continuing the much wider traditions of the great haikuists who preceded them. From what I can gather, the haiku scene in Japan remains divided.

In ELH, if you abandon any of the formal haiku considerations of 5-7-5, season word, two parts, a cut, then it could be argued that you might as well abandon them all… That perhaps is an extreme view, but there’s some logic to it. Not, by the way, a conclusion I espouse. We are not writing in Japanese, for a start.

Albeit they are in a completely different language with different poetic traditions, I think that if we are to call English language verses “haiku” or “senryu,” then while progressing — for the genre cannot retain vitality if it remains straitjacketed — they should be rooted in the traditions. Those traditions seem much broader than the ones that many contemporary editors lay down. And for me, the spirit of haiku is more important than the precise form of it. The pigeon is more important than the pigeonhole. The “pigeon” being a brief, spare, mindful arrangement of observation, image, space and suggestion; leading to reader reflection and the subtle communication of insight, beauty or emotion, preferably original. Techniques may, but not “must,” include restriction to two juxtaposed parts, season word, a separation or cut; you can find impeccable precedents for almost any variation or breach of these.

A few weeks ago, Lorin suggested that it might be better to revert to the word “haikai” to cover the lot. I can see reasons for this. We can spend more time writing, less time debating.

What do others think? My conflicted thoughts continue to evolve… I have just been playing with the notion that if you define and identify a haiku strictly by its form then you have the lifeless shell of a cicada. “Ah,” my mischievous inner hermit replies, “but can a cicada live without its shell?”

So I’ll stick with the pigeon/pigeonhole analogy for now. Perhaps it’s enough to say that if a poem has *some* haiku-like qualities then it belongs with haiku, just as a pigeon belongs as a bird along with a peacock or an owl or an ostrich. We know what “haiku-like qualities” are, but shall we call them qualities or guiding principles, not absolute “rules;” make them as minimal as possible, and not require that every verse meets all of them to qualify?

Meanwhile, I hope that we continue to encourage a wide range of contemporary verses for comment and discussion in re:Virals. I like to think that haiku is a broad category, not a narrow and exclusive one.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. If “experimental” means haiku which stretch or even go beyond basic notions of what a haiku is most often understood to be;
    and if “normative” means haiku which are not likely to prompt the question “but is it a haiku?”;
    and if neither term is understood to have pejorative connotations, then I would say–

    Experimental haiku are not, or do not need to be, a commentary on normative haiku.
    Normative haiku are not, or do not need to be, a commentary on experimental haiku.

    One may have, of course, one’s preferences.

    1. Peter:
      Conventional or experimental, I’d suggest that a verse should have identifiable DNA of the haiku traditions and spirit if it is to be called a ‘haiku’ rather than ‘a short poem.’

      For example, many of the fascinating structured experiments of Scott Metz in “ea’s e” have firm, identifiable roots in haiku, when you piece together the texts.

  2. I want to be very clear since there seems to be a misunderstanding here. In absolutely no way did I question the integrity of Earl Livings or his fine poem! I was simply providing further information regarding the comment by Amoolya Kamalnath since the “drop of pond” poem mentioned inspired the title for a book that received an award from THF, simple as that. Congratulations to both Earl and Brad for writing wonderful poems!
    More importantly, my sympathies to Maurice and his daughter. It’s lovely to know that special moment was beautifully captured in a blossom haiku.
    Last, but not least, every haiku poet experiences “déjà ku” at some point, so remember to be kind to everyone in this community, assume everyone is coming from a good place, and take a deep breath in this haiku world.

    1. I agree with you, Paula. I also agree with Keith saying that there’s no question at all of Earl’s integrity here.

      I just stumbled upon Brad’s poem and shared it here because I thought there was some similarity but didn’t think any more than that while sharing the poem.

  3. “…but can a cicada live without its shell?” – Keith

    Yes, it can and does, sometimes for years, underground.
    Literally, at a certain stage, after all that underground time , it can’t live (or reproduce) with a shell. I have watched, fascinated, the long claw (over the ‘shoulder’) sawing a slit in the shell away from within. (a kind of self-surgery?) It is only when the cicada emerges from the shell that it can reproduce. The males, then, having sawed the opening and left the shell, gather together (it’s safer for them that way… safety in numbers from the hungry birds ) and shrill to attract the females,, who have also sawed open a slit they can emerge from.

    The shell is only for the immature cicada. (Years, sometimes)To become an adult, a cicada has to saw a slit in its shell that it can emerge from., with it’s own claw. A cicada can only reproduce when it comes out of its shell.

    1. Lorin, thanks for extending the cicada question.
      Aha! Excellent!

      I particularly note and like “the shell is only for the immature cicada.” May we say that the conventions on haiku form are only for unseasoned haikuists, do you think? Before they fly…

  4. “Aye, lass, even in t’Dales they speak a form of English.” – Keith

    🙂 I googled. https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/yorkshire-dales-by-train/
    I do like the poems that’ve been inspired by English trains. (Or even busses, re Martin Lucas). Perhaps I will put those trains on my ‘bucket list’ (where did that expression come from?)
    (I also appreciate your humour, Keith … muchly! )

    You do a great job here at re:virals.

    1. Thank you, Lorin – much appreciated! And thank you for your many contributions, not only to this feature but also to others in the past (which may be found archived in the THF forum, for example under Sailing, Periplum and The Seashell Game — all of which I’ve read and studied).

      Alas the trains here these days are less inspiring… railroad track / fragment and phrase / clackety-clack

  5. Congratulations, Keith, on 100 posts. I hope you continue to 200+. This has become a entertaining weekly read for its deep brush.

    When I first started studying haiku, I soon learned enough that I became a ‘nouveau-riche’ critic of others. It took a couple years to understand the haiku poets I came to respect and follow closely, like Victor Ortiz, Roberta Beary, John Stevenson, etc., did not criticize others, but were open-minded with an educator’s mindset. This positive embracement of sharing knowledge, and always pushing the boundaries, was enlightening for me bringing the joy of Japanese poetry to an even higher level. Thank you for your viewpoint, Keith.

    1. Thank you, John. I think the system is counting (no more than a handful of) drafts that didn’t see the light of day, but it’s close enough.

      That’s a trio of modern masters, for sure. I admire the work of all of them. Readers know I value John Stevenson’s haiku/senryu and observations about the art particularly highly. And it’s probably not by chance that he often, and successfully, defies convention.

      As for 200+ posts… well, I was once lucky enough to be offered a late-night glass of 100-year-old Madeira by Richard Blandy (of Blandy’s), then our Hon. British Consul on that lovely island. It had stood its age remarkably well. But it was not as fine as a forty-year old Madeira……

      (there must be a haiku in that somewhere)

  6. I think a lot about what you’re asking, Keith. I agree with most of what you’ve said, and I sometimes chafe at those who seem hellbent at ignoring all the variations in the masters poems.

    I do prefer to use the term haikai as an umbrella for all the various forms and because it is less likely to lead to “one way only” discussions. I am very grateful for what you’ve created here, and I look forward to it every week.

    1. Thank you, Eavonka. The field is full of bear traps!

      Glad you enjoy re:Virals. It makes me think, where otherwise I might be lazy; and I learn a lot from everyone’s contributions.

  7. I happened to find this poem as I was reading haiku from old issues of different journals yesterday. I found a little bit of similarity between the two haiku.

    a drop of pond
    at the end of a beak
    setting sun

    Brad Bennett
    The Heron’s Nest
    Vol. XIII No. 2 (June 2011)

    1. Thanks, Amoolya: well spotted.

      Shiki reckoned that haiku were so short that the permutations were in imminent danger of running out – a question of maths, for him. 120 years after his death, still going… but it is to be expected that some similar or duplicated observations will occur.

      Indeed, the more restrictions or guidelines that are placed on haiku, the more likely this is to happen, one could argue.

      1. Indeed. As someone new to writing haiku (since 2021) I found myself ignoring that oft-espoused guidance to read many many haiku because I was worried that I’d be overly influenced and so couldn’t write and submit anything unless I KNEW for sure it was original – which of course is impossible. I recalled well that when I first tried writing poetry (early 1990s) I was prompted by seeing a car accident to think of accidents as a kind of intimacy. Well, it turned out that someone somewhere had previously had that thought and written such a poem (so mine wasn’t worthy, though the idea was original to me, I was just too late). That experience stopped my poetry in its tracks. As an academic too I’m especially conscious that to publish some research it must be new – it must contribute to and advance knowledge etc. SO, with haiku, I gave up and decided just to write whatever I thought to write, and if an editor knows of some similar haiku previously published then they could reject mine. A problem though is that, unlike in the academic world, haiku editors don’t so much ‘edit’ as just accept/reject – ‘editing’ seems to mean ‘selecting’. So, as a writer new to haiku, I can never know just why something was rejected. Ok, mostly it’s no good, needs work etc., but maybe it’s because it’s not as ‘original’ as I thought? I wrote (and published) two haiku about blossoms because they were significant in events around my late wife’s time in the hospice. Only later did I realize cherry blossoms were ‘a thing’ in haiku, and learned that at least one editor mostly now refused to publish ‘blossom’ haiku (i.e. what new could be said?). But what of that moment when my daughter picked a blossom for her dying mother, who held and caressed it in her hand?

        1. Welcome, Maurice (author of “Translating Loss”? ).

          Sympathies. In all poetry there’s a problematic blur between intertextuality and originality, but in this tightly confined short form it is perhaps most acute. We have all, probably, had that “déjà ku” experience as well as many silent rejections, but after a while they can be contemplated with calm detachment. I’m trying not to use the groanworthy cliché “learn to let go” here.

          Your comment brings up several points, not least the eternal questions of why we write, for whom do we write, and whether and why publication should matter. Sometimes, the answers might be a little uncomfortable.

          I read haiku, and pieces about haiku, as widely as time permits, for curiosity, pleasure, and if lucky, insight; so I’d be among those recommending the same. It is a reward in itself. Not that I find more than a modest percentage of verses that rise above tedium in some way, but they make it well worthwhile.

          Haiku are a practice as well as versification; that is, a way for an individual to contemplate and savour (or rue) the world in focusing on an immediate part of it. When it is an imaginative poetic act of composition, it will likely lack the authenticity that comes from a real and present experience. It is also less likely to be original, I think. ((edit: hmnnn I might have to row back on that one)). One suspects (but generally keeps quiet) that a good many verses appearing in journals are inauthentic, largely products of the imagination. In contrast, the painfully real experience with which you conclude your comment goes to the heart of it. It’s not important that others may have had, and written about, similar experiences. This one is for you, and sharing it is also of the essence of haiku.

          While being anchored to a real and present experience helps to produce authentic and more original haiku, you can’t get away from the fact that a large part of life’s experiences are common to all. Washed up, each pebble’s different story… This brings up another cherished characteristic of good haiku: universality. A mindful experience that can be shared, that *is* shared.

          Universality and originality are at opposite poles. You can’t expect many insightful haiku to exhibit both. To the extent that a few do, they are potentially the great ones.

          1. “While being anchored to a real and present experience helps to produce authentic and more original haiku, you can’t get away from the fact that a large part of life’s experiences are common to all. ‘ – Keith

            …and we have, as well, a (more or less) common language to express our experiences with.

          2. We have things in common, Maurice: I wrote poems over years, since the age of seventeen, in fact, off and on for my own self (“..my craft or sullen art exercised in the still night..” as Thomas put it) . I kept it from my colleagues: if you want to be taken seriously as a research scientist, later in the business of diplomacy, you don’t want people to think of you as a poet, particularly if not much good at it. Later, I wrote a few for friends and family. I never thought of publication. In more recent years of retirement I ‘came out’ as a would-be poet (I found that quite difficult; my hair is short, I don’t have a beard and a black homburg, I lead a fairly conventional life in many ways…). I was helped to publish by a professor of poetry from whom I learned a great deal. I turned to haiku deliberately, to improve use of imagery; and then got hooked. I too felt that if I read too much, it would damage the development of my own ‘voice.’ I don’t think that, now. Studying haiku has helped me to realise more things, and that has been useful in evolving a ‘voice.’ If anything, it is a desire to be published together with the editorial portcullis that can inhibit personal poetic development, I might contend. Or a desire to be popular with readers, hearts on Twitter, votes in kukai, &c. Any of those aims are perfectly valid, of course: wanting to be published, wanting to be read, wanting to be liked, and I was fortunate to find several editors who have helped me on. But do the results satisfy the inner poet, or just the outer one?

        2. Dear Maurice,

          For my first founded journal Blo͞o Outlier Journal (I had co-founded “Haijinx–haiku with humor” and “Bones Journal” now both sadly no longer publishing) I engaged in dialogue with each submitting poet, and remember a 50 email exchange with one person! 🙂 I eventually got to the haiku version he wanted to send, but had not done so! 🙂 I had discovered his version by presenting variations on what he had sent, so yes, no rejections ever happened with issue 1 of Blo͞o Outlier Journal, because there was dialogue between poet and editor. In fact the Blo͞o Outlier Journal Summer Issue 2022 “The Natural History Haiku” (Issue #3) held an average of 20 email exchanges with no rejections whatsoever! 🙂

          Blo͞o Outlier Journal is now absorbed into The Pan Haiku Review.

          So many fine senryū and haiku by you, it was difficult to select just even three!

          early bulbs
          such vibrant colours
          she left us

          — Maurice Nevile
          Modern Haiku vol. 52:3, Autumn 2021
          and
          March 27, 2022, Haiku of the Day
          https://thehaikufoundation.org/maurice-nevile/

          .

          I love this one:

          keeping
          the half packet of split peas
          she never cooked

          Maurice Nevile
          Failed Haiku, #66, June 2021

          .

          our first saucepan cooking for one

          Failed Haiku, #70, October 2021

          .

          I see you are astute at both senryū and haiku.

          Before the New Romantics (not the musical generation, the other one 🙂 ) there wasn’t the same attitude to being fresh and original, but rather looking back, making literary allusions etc…

          And of course, haiku comes from a communal background, perhaps out of necessity during pre-Industrial Age Japan, via renga and renku (Matsuo Bashō), so that’s why we see so many (cherry) blossom haikai verses, and moon verses, in particular. Even with our standalone haiku we make a nod back to the linked verse forms and those wild social parties of green tea, and perhaps later copious saké! 🙂

          .

          pink bullets
          an armadillo ricochets
          off the blossom

          розови куршуми
          броненосец рикошира
          от цветчетата

          Alan Summers
          Ohanami: “One Hundred and One Cherry Blossom Haiku”
          Annual Ohanami Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria April 2016
          Bulgarian trans: Iliyana Stoyanova
          and
          The Hole in My Haiku by Susan Beth Furst
          (Paper Whistle Press, 2020)

          .

          And a more ‘traditional’ haiku approach and kigo (as blossoms on its own always means cherry blossoms just as moon always means Autumn, re renga/renku):

          demolition site
          the blossoms hug
          an old school

          Alan Summers
          Honourable Mention, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2020

          .
          From developers ripping down two wonderful buildings and the mature abundance of cherry trees, as if however frail and vulnerable, it was the cherry blossoms holding on, holding on, protecting, yet knowing.

          .

          As you are an editor and writer you will know the contrary side to all forms and genres of writing perhaps, and the engaging, sometimes edgy (not just death by torture re New Rising Haiku poets), but dangerous and unnerving nature of the haiku world outside of Japan! 🙂

          By the way Pan Haiku Review issue 2 will be investigating ‘kigo’ and seasonal words in November, though that is never too late for cherry blossoms!

          BTW I bought this book soon after it came out:

          Cherry Blossom Epiphany — The Poetry and Philosophy of a Flowering Tree
          Paperback – 31 Oct. 2006
          by Robin D. Gill

          3000 haiku, waka, senryû and kyôka, and that’s a mere tip of the iceberg! 🙂

          warm regards,
          Alan

          1. Translating Loss by Maurice Nevile is a magical book.

            Author: Nevile, Maurice
            Title: Translating Loss: A haiku collection
            ISBN: 9780645503500 (paperback)
            Notes: Includes publication credits
            Subjects: Australian poetry, grief, haiku, love
            Cover and internal artwork: the late Susan Joy Nevile Cover design: Maurice Nevile

            Heartbreaking and empowering.

            Alan

      2. Paula, I’ve read your two (identical) posts. Yes, it’s true that Earl’s haiku:

        on the tip
        of the bird’s beak
        a drop of rainbow
        — Earl Livings
        Shamrock, issue 47, 2022

        has much in common with

        a drop of pond
        at the end of a beak
        setting sun

        – Brad Bennett – The Heron’s Nest vol. XIII No. 2 (June 2011)

        That said, I’ll vouch for Earl’s integrity. (and I wouldn’t do that for several Australian haiku poets and commentators of my acquaintance) Earl has been a writer and teacher of poetry (not only haiku) for many years, both in Australia and Wales, if I recall rightly, but it’s not his experience that counts, it’s his person, who he is. There’s no way there would be any deliberate copying, anything like plagiarism here.

        It’s unfortunate, but it happens. It happened to me. A fellow Australian haiku poet wrote to me under the impression that I’d copied the essence of one of her poems ( a line – “what light there is”. I’d actually seen hers, when it was first published, a couple of years after my little book came out, but had said nothing. When I explained, she was embarrassed. She was someone I’d met, and liked, from a different State. A decent person. There’s no way she would deliberately copy anything.

        1. I don’t think there’s any question about integrity here, Lorin. These are different verses composed from different observations. I’ve just commented in reply to Maurice about universality vis-a-vis originality.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top