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THF Monthly Kukai — December 2021

Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:
long night

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: leaves

In November there were 180 submissions from thirty-four countries spread across four continents. Congratulations to all of our participants! The number of submissions and countries are all-time records.
Ninety-three voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
autumn leaves
knowing when its time
to let go
     — Asni Amin (67 points - 6; 4; 4; 3; 3)
All four of this month’s prizewinners have taken autumn leaves as their theme. This might have been expected, since it is after all that time of year, and the fall has long served mankind as a potent emblem of time’s inexorable passing, and indeed of human mortality. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a poem titled “Goldengrove”, which is addressed to a young child.  It opens, “Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving?” and concludes: “It is Margaret you mourn for.”
In Amin’s haiku there is the suggestion that we as humans could well learn from the graceful and inevitable denuding of the trees. The poet has chosen to personify the leaves, and in this particular context I find the anthropomorphism feels appropriate and unstrained. 
Second Prize
still pond
a yellow leaf falls
on itself
     — Greg Schwartz (55 points - 3; 6; 4; 1; 2)
Unlike the other three, this poem consists of a simple but vivid image while refraining from any kind of commentary. The reader is given a glimpse of that moment when a falling leaf is just about to reach the water’s surface and merge with its own reflection. As readers we are left to draw our own conclusions.
Third Prize
with or without me autumn leaves
     — Bill Kenney (47 points - 4; 4; 1; 4; 0)
In this brief one-liner Kenney evokes the indifference of natural processes to our own presence or absence. Which itself –– properly viewed –– is just one more natural process, not least when death is implied.
Fourth Prize
fallen leaves
all the names
I carry with me
     — Anna Maria Domburg-Sancristoforo (46 points - 3; 4; 3; 3; 0)
I hope that I am not alone in finding a degree of humor in this. As I read it, the poet has taken advantage of her own string of names to evoke her ancestors, thereby creating  a kind of elegy and a tribute to them. Accompanying this there is an implied awareness of her own mortality.

Honorable Mentions
empty schoolyard . . .
the whisper of leaves
and long-gone friends
     — Marion Clarke
the road to my
father's grave
leaves under leaves
     — Vladislav Hristov
Leaves will tend to accumulate on seldom-used roads, with the freshly fallen ones lying upon a mat of those already shed. The unstated parallel with the human condition makes for a deeply satisfying haiku.
bare tree
who will miss me
when I am gone
     — Vandana Parashar
loneliness . . .
just the crunch of
fallen leaves
     — Mona Bedi

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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