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THF Monthly Kukai — April 2021

Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:

Note: Anonymity is an essential part of any kukai. Please respect this to offer the reader (and voter) the opportunity to choose only the poem.

The THF Kukai Overview

A kukai is a (usually quite casual) poetry contest. The administrator of the kukai (that’s us) assigns a theme for a given writing period and posts to Troutswirl (The Haiku Foundation blog) on the THF site, which is then redirected outward through our various media outlets. Poets write work to this theme during the allotted time and submit it to the administrator. The work submitted is gathered into an anonymous roster and posted to Troutswirl (The Haiku Foundation blog) for public viewing. At that time all participating poets and other interested readers may vote for their favorites. Votes are tallied and the results made public. The top winners will be acknowledged each month, and offered their choice of prizes from a list compiled by the Foundation.

Results of Last Month’s THF Kukai

theme: reawakening

In March there were 119 submissions from twenty-one countries spread across five continents.

First Prize
mail truck —
the old hound raises
an eyelid
     — Greg Schwartz (58 points - 4; 4; 6; 2; 0)
Upon reading this I found myself immediately in the American mid-west: a landscape level to the horizon, dusty country road, hot sun. The only movement, aside from the truck, being the dog’s lazy and perfunctory response to a daily event. There is another dimension implied, for someone happens to be watching the dog and they have snagged this lazy moment. I am wary of talking about “moments” in haiku, since I believe that aspect may in the past have been over-emphasized at the expense of depth of feeling. But haiku represent a spectrum, not an ideal, and this one does what it sets out to do extremely well.
Second Prize
in my lap
the newborn
     — Gail Ribeck (42 points - 6; 0; 2; 2; 2)
Haiku editors probably see as many “day moons” in a year as they do coy anthropomorphisms in the form “fox and I”. For me this example has originality because of what follows. We know the poet is seated, and thus in a position to contemplate the pale moon in front of her. It is left open whether there is a felt connection between the celestial body and the tiny human form in her lap. I feel that is implied, and I think many readers will empathize –– men as well as women. Possibly it is not so much a connection, as an arc of unity over the millennia?
Third Prize
over the closed tulips
spring stars
     — Maya Daneva (35 points - 1; 6; 1; 1; 1)
Because of the perhaps too-obvious parallel between “lockdown” and “closed”, this haiku did not convince me right away. Then a cyclical aspect –– linking the tulips to the night sky –– came to mind. For sky gazers, “spring stars” will convey something quite specific, for the night sky in spring is particular, even while evolving each day. I don’t want to labor this, but the season for tulips can presumably be associated closely with certain stars and constellations. For myself this is largely speculative, but I think it must be correct. And this fact informs the poem, significantly enlarging it.

Honorable Mentions
out of the blue
she remembers me
     — Cristina Apetrei
morning shift
coffee aromas
revive the ER unit
     — Sandra St-Laurent
after seventeen years
cicada awakes
to sing her elegy
     — Christopher Seep
to what is not mine
the passing clouds
     — Lakshmi Iyer
This seems to flirt with philosophizing (generally hazardous territory for haiku) and yet manages to stay grounded. What is expressed is not so much a self-conscious revelation as the personal rediscovery of a way of seeing things. The second line resists any attempt to paraphrase, which for me counts as a strength.
first rain . . .
the petrichor reawakens
scorched dreams
     — Srinivas S
What a delight to find the word “petrichor” showing up in a haiku. This relatively new word was coined by a pair of Australian scientists back in the 1960s, and indicates the scent that rises from surfaces, typically when rain is approaching or has fallen, following a dry spell. (This is apparently caused mostly by specific oils that have accumulated and are then released.) I am uncertain what to make of the closing line here. It seems to indicate something has been traumatic for the author –– and that indication is sufficient. It is well known that the olfactory sense has very direct links to our past experiences and memories.
my son
wears my old jeans
same look but different . . .
     — Tom Staudt

Remarks are by Dee Evetts, THF Monthly Kukai Commentator. He is an internationally known haiku poet and author of “The Conscious Eye” series on contemporary themes in Frogpond in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Writing for The Haiku Foundation Monthly Kukai

On the first day of each month The Haiku Foundation will announce the kukai theme for that month. This theme should be the topic of your poem, and may be stated (by using the theme word or words) or implied. Form may be traditional (three-line, 5-7-5) or free (various numbers of lines and/or syllables). Season words (kigo) may or may not be used at the poet’s discretion. A poet may submit one poem per theme. All poems must be the original, unpublished work of the author. In order to maintain the spirit and fairness of the kukai, a poem that has appeared anywhere with its author’s name cannot be allowed for submission.

Please use the Kukai submission form below to enter your poem, and then press Submit to send your entry. No other submissions will be recognized or honored. Once a poem is submitted it cannot be revised. All poems must be signed (that is, no “anonymous” poems will be accepted, and the Submit button will not be available until both Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in). Poets will not receive acknowledgment of their submissions. Poems will be accepted from the announcement of the theme through midnight of the 15th of that month. All poets are eligible to participate. Administrators of the kukai are ineligible to submit poems. Your submission form to us should look something like this:

line one
followed by line two
and then line three


this poem is all in one line



[all lines right-justified]

If your poem has special formatting requirements you should note them as in the third example above.

Good luck, and have fun!


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Many thanks to Dee Evetts for the perceptive comments. I am thrilled to be among such talented and diverse haiku poets. As a newbie, I find the commentary to be very educational. Congratulations to everyone chosen and thanks to those who voted!

  2. Tom and Dee, re your comment/query on ‘first rain’ (by Srinivas S )

    “I am uncertain what to make of the closing line here. ”

    It seems to me that Srinivas is familiar not only with Australian origin the word “petrichor” , but of the all-too-familiar “scorched” Australian countryside that the all too often scent follows. There have been major bushfires (USA usage- “wildfires”) in Australia both last year and this year. Of course, people may have been waking from “scorched dreams” not only in Australia but in California and other places as well.
    first rain . . .
    the petrichor reawakens
    scorched dreams
    — Srinivas S
    The scent of first rain on charred stringy barks and other eucalypts and on scorched earth is strong, pungent and unmistakable to anyone who’s ever been close to a bushfire. How the scent of things can take us back.
    I’ve not been involved in these kukai and just chanced on this haiku today. Had I been involved, it would’ve been my first choice (of the winners and honorable mentions published on the page above)

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