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THF Monthly Kukai — December 2022

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. Please remember that everyone who votes is a winner — the process of choosing your personal favorites is not just fun, but also one of the best ways to improve your own haiku practice!

Results of Last Month’s THF Kukai

theme: feast

In November there were 147 submissions from twenty-eight countries across four continents.
Ninety voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
mother's place at the table
now mine
     — Nancy Richards (53 points - 5; 3; 4; 1; 2)
I find this a deceptively transparent poem, in the following sense. Thus life goes: people inexorably die, and the next generation must then step up, and step into their shoes. The unadorned statement of fact recorded here is all the more effective for avoiding any kind of overt appeal to our emotions, with words such as “bereft” or “sad” being conspicuously absent. The inevitable conclusion we draw here is that the subject’s mother has died within the past year. The subtext is plainly that the first anniversary of that loss is still to come. And it is this that lends this haiku its power to move us. We may also note how the last line (“now mine”) consists in metric terms of a spondee: two dull thuds that serve to drive the message home.
Second Prize
family feast
a shower of words settle
on the salad
     — Bill Fay (51 points - 4; 3; 4; 2; 3)
This is quite delightful. The suggestion that something more than a verbal spray may be raining down upon the neglected salad has an inherent humor that is perfectly judged for the context. We can hear the voices raised in amiable disputation: the hurly-burly of ageing siblings who grew up arguing together, and the cheerful ridicule of their own children –– now become teenagers and young adults –– who were raised to know their own minds, and to speak out. It’s comeuppance time, and everyone is enjoying the fray. (A flight of fancy on my part? Perhaps; but the poet has left room for me to take it.)
Third Prize
fallen apple
bird and worm
face to face
     — Dejan Pavlinovic (45 points - 3; 4; 3; 2; 1)
I have a hard time with this poem. I know this is just my bias (though some others subscribe to my view, I know). I shrink from any suggestion of anthropomorphism in haiku. To be plain about it: neither a worm nor even a bird –– in general parlance at least –– has a face. Furthermore, a worm is in fact blind, and that undercuts the poet’s central conceit. I understand why this piece received a lot of votes. But given my predilections, it is simply not to my taste.

Honorable Mentions
family feast
we all chew over
false memories
     — John Hawkhead
politics of war
the vultures continue
to feast
     — Ravi Kiran
feast table
the quiet solitude
of flowers
     — Ivan Georgiev
The poet here has conjured a profound sense of stillness. I do not mean that in any trivial or dismissive sense. I might instead have said “created”, and that would have conveyed more or less what I mean. Yet I discern something more intuitive at work here than simply skill in depicting a scene. This particular scene is set seemingly just before a banquet, or some such grand occasion. There is a brief interlude between the hurrying wait staff making their final adjustments and touches –– a misplaced fork here, a wine glass there in need of a final polish –– and the entrance of the guests, with their loud (as well as some more discreet) conversations that will be filling this space for hours to come. Momentarily the room is silent, and empty; the table flowers (I see white calla lilies) are as fresh as they can be. And everything is on pause.
an abandoned balloon
on the party's edge
     — Maria Cezza
winter feast
cutting up apples
for the deer
     — Kathleen Trocmet

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 4 Comments

  1. To Whom it May Concern?

    Would you please remove the
    poem below? I accidentally
    sent it to this commentary.

  2. Thanks for the insightful comment – for me more valuable than a prize. Congratulations to the winners and good luck to the participants in the next kukai!

Comments are closed.

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