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THF Monthly Kukai — February 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: optimism

In January there were 113 submissions from twenty two countries spread across five continents.

First Prize
after earthquake
the little girl drawing her house
     — Aljoša Vuković (97 points - 7; 7; 7; 3; 7)
From the information given here, two rather different scenarios can be conjectured. In one case the child’s own home has been destroyed or seriously damaged; in the other it has survived. I think the poet has chosen well to leave these possibilities open. Regardless of the extent of the disaster, there will have been shock, fear, trauma, and we may conclude that in drawing her own home –– perhaps repeatedly –– there is a degree of therapeutic benefit for the child. This is accentuated by what could have been two lines (“the little girl / drawing her house”) being rendered as one. This has the effect of compressing the activity into a particular kind of absorption and intensity.
Second Prize
after the storm
hovering over fallen flowers
a butterfly
     — Srinivas S (66 points - 4; 4; 5; 6; 3)
It has struck me that this haiku and the one following may to advantage be considered in relation to one another. Both poems depict a creature, each in its natural habitat and looking for food. While the theme for this month’s kukai is “optimism”, I think we can assume that neither poet is ascribing human feelings to a butterfly or a bird. These creatures are doing what they are impelled to do in order to survive. It is we humans who have a need for hope, and we can draw upon emblems such as these as one way of finding it for ourselves and for others. 
Third Prize
first light
the woodpecker’s
drum roll
     — Stella Pierides (59 points - 8; 2; 3; 1; 0)
To continue, I find one notable difference between the preceding poem and this one by Pierides. Here the writer is more obviously in the picture. We can easily imagine someone who is still in bed, waking to this familiar (and thereby reassuring) but perennially thrilling sound. The experience as conveyed has an energy that could well inspire optimism.
Honorable Mentions
chemo fog . . .
she plants hyacinths
in winter light
     — Gavin Austin
desert sun . . .
the caravans sing
a monsoon song
     — R. Suresh Babu
cactus flower —
each poem I write
a dressing of a wound
     — Hassane Zemmouri
a ladybug
on my sleeve
     — Tsanka Shishkova
winter wind
pink balloons tied
to the mailbox
     — Terri French
yesterday and today
the same wish
     — Bakhtiyar Amini

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 9 Comments

  1. It was a wonderful experience to read all the poems submitted on the theme of ‘Optimism’. Congrats Poets. Thanks to Tom Borkowski . Thanks Dee Evetts for the remarks on the poems

    1. Hi Ellen

      You enter your verse via the contact box.
      A list of the verses are displayed, without the poets name.
      There will be a post with the poems and a voting box. Anyone can vote if they have entered a poem or not, but you cannot vote for your own verse.
      The points are attributed to the poets that have the most votes.

      Hope this helps.

        1. Hi Ellen

          I only post the one verse, not too sure how many verses a poet can submit.
          Hope someone will pop in and let us know 🙂

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