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THF Monthly Kukai — December 2020

Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:


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: resolution

In November there were 72 submissions from nineteen countries spread across four continents.

First Prize
loving you
cracked mirror
     — Patsy Turner (42 points - 3; 3; 5; 0; 0)
The way that I generally approach writing these commentaries is to read the poems several times (from a printout, naturally), and then dwell with them for a day or so before making any notes or starting to write. I have found that this can help me to catch a nuance or possibility that I might otherwise have missed. Such is the case here, where I concluded fairly quickly that the poet is writing about herself –– with imperfections implied and included –– and the damaged mirror is resonating with that. Only on the second day did it occur to me that the mirror being cracked adds in a literal way to the imperfection of the image, thus tying everything together in a kind of benign circularity. This is a lot to achieve in just five words. 
Second Prize
they say I am not
     — Vandana Parashar (38 points - 5; 2; 1; 0; 2)
Right off we are hearing that the writer on the contrary is ambitious, albeit privately and in silent opposition to those who deny it. There is something about the wildflower, flourishing unseen and unadmired in its own environment, that seems to grant permission to dare and dare to be unique. 
Third Prize
decision made
the slowing beat
of a life unplugged
     — Tracy Davidson (35 points - 4; 2; 0; 1; 5)
This is a difficult haiku to write about. Many readers will either have been in this situation, or know someone who has. I would just like to draw attention to the cadence of the poem: the short, tumbling syllables of the first line, the slowing rhythm of the second, and then in the final line those three quick beats followed by a prolonged pair of syllables in the uncompromising spondee of “unplugged”, with its double thump and most guttural of consonants. This poem well repays reading aloud.
Fourth Prize
my childish resolutions
in her secret box
     — Tsanka Shishkova (33 points - 4; 2; 1; 1; 0)
I am guessing that the writer is making this discovery some time after her grandmother’s death. If this is the case then she may be rediscovering some of her early aspirations, that she had long forgotten. What is plain is that her grandmother valued those ambitions, some of which would have been impossible dreams for herself, yet were not unthinkable for her granddaughter.
Fifth Prize
my resolve to walk
the sunny side of the street . . .
winter light
     — Michele L. Harvey (30 points - 2; 2; 2; 2; 2) 
How would this haiku differ if the first line were to read “deciding to walk”? For me it would be a very different poem, one evoking a singular day on a particular street, at a specific time of year. As it stands (“my resolve to walk”) it seems aimed at being more obviously metaphorical, stating the intention of making the best of things generally. Or does it in fact work both ways? I shall leave it at that, for readers to decide as they will. Meanwhile though, we should not overlook the last line, which is notable in itself. Evocative of the sun’s lowness, the way it reaches into places that otherwise never see the sun, and seems more blinding than in other seasons, this is all of a piece with the intent of the first two lines –– however we choose to read them.
Honorable Mentions
frozen lake —
falling ducks
learn to skate
     —Shalini Pattabiraman
dropping daffodil . . .
her first step
     — Kinshuk Gupta
therapy session —
with her autistic son
she learns to tie a lace
     — Teji Sethi
peace accord
she bans politics
at the dinner table
     — Bona M. Santos
I find this intriguing as well as apt. A peace settlement may well stimulate as much argument as a long-smouldering dispute or stand-off. Following official reconciliations there is still plenty of scope for boasting and bitterness, recriminations and the restating of hypothetical alternatives. Our hostess being an astute woman knows this very well.
reminding me
of last year’s resolutions
autumn leaves
     — Srinivas S
calendar filled with
dark blue circles . . .
AA meetings
     — Krishna Palle
chanting sutras
the blind man plays his violin
until the last string
     — Yulan San
her eyes . . .
I find my resolve
     — Surashree Joshi

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!


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