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THF Monthly Kukai — August 2020


Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:
do(ing) the right thing

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: social justice

First Prize
the lines 
on her face
     – Patsy Turner (59 points - 3; 4; 5; 5; 3)
A face that is prematurely old––as is likely to be the case here––has a look that we tend to recognise, even when it is hard to analyse. It may be that malnutrition or an inadequate diet have played a role in this deterioration, but in the context of our own society my guess is that we would be looking at predominantly the cumulative record of struggle and disappointment.
Second Prize
bowing together 
to the wild wind 
leaves of grass
     – Luisa Santoro (58 points - 5; 5; 1; 3; 4)
This image prompts a flurry of disparate ideas for me: the sheer numbers of the blades of grass, their susceptibility to natural forces, their resilience to those forces nonetheless, and their capacity for recovery. The metaphor for humanity is not explicit, and can only be assumed from the context of the poem's publication, or derive from the reader's own perspective. A reference to Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" may or may not be intended in the third line; either way it offers an extra dimension.
Third Prize
the shadows between
     – Michele L. Harvey (54 points - 5; 2; 4; 3; 3)
After the set-up of "black" and "white", everything here happens (and continues to happen) in the last line. We are free to reflect upon the innumerable variations of skin colour that exist in the world, or upon all that takes place in the shadows––the unspoken, the unreported, and the unrecorded. If any conclusion is possible, it might be simply this: that nothing is ever simply black and white.
Honorable Mentions
a river enters a river gender neutral 
     – Damir Damir
It is difficult to imagine more being compressed into seven words. My mind flies off first to the literal considerations: when a tributary is more than a tributary; what names we give to rivers before and after their confluence. Likewise we give names to our genders and our orientations (in our times so many of these). While all the time water is just water, and humans are humans.
court room . . . 
how white the shirt 
of the rapist
     – arvinder kaur
This is challenging territory for haiku. Here the single vivid image evokes with well-gauged irony the complex issues surrounding innocence and guilt.
in the classroom – 
sharing the globe 
with a refugee
     – Dan Iulian
I admire the economy of this poem. There is no sense of stretch between the various ways in which "sharing the globe" can be understood. That is to say, beyond the immediate context of the classroom, all the aspects of sharing our world: tangibly in terms of physical resources, and less obviously through our evolution and ancestry, the migration of languages and ideas––in total what we might term our common humanity.
on a gator’s back an egret preens midday sun 
     – Sandi Pray
The poet gives us in a single breath an eloquent picture of symbiotic relationship. And despite the brevity manages to convey a mood of ease, and balance, and the slowing of time.
through razor wire 
the refugee boy’s 
thin shadow
     – Gavin Austin
winding river – 
bridges are better 
than walls
     – Dan Campbell
court room . . . 
the new shape 
of an old bruise
     – Praniti Gulyani
waiting room TV
the protest for social justice 
running on mute
     – Muskaan Ahuja
falling statues the gravity of conscience 
     – john hawkhead
Here is yet another example (exemplar, even) of highly effective compression. Would this poem gain or lose if the same words were to be arranged in three lines? It would certainly be very different.
In conclusion, I would encourage readers to experiment with re-casting some of the poems featured here––any that suggest themselves as having that potential––the three-liners as one-liners, and vice versa. This exercise can be very informative (plus it's fun).
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.

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!


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