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THF Monthly Kukai — January 2023

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: celebration

In December there were 128 submissions from twenty-six countries across four continents.
Eighty voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
carry moonlight
to my hand
     — Christopher Seep (65 points - 3; 8; 3; 2; 5)
At first glance this haiku might seem a little too obvious, even facile, due in part perhaps to its simplicity of language, and of the statement being made. But only a moment’s reflection is needed to realise its full significance. For how often do we get to see snow falling whilst it is illuminated by the moon? This phenomenon must be approximately as frequent as a rainbow (and likely far less) given that in both cases a form of precipitation and a source of light need to be present simultaneously in the sky. And then what would be more natural than to hold out one's hand to receive this rarity?
Second Prize
her smile
     — Chris Langer (63 points - 5; 4; 4; 3; 4)
Haiku rarely come briefer than this. The single word “catching” serving as the entire middle line is highly effective, potentially acting in both directions: “bouquet-catching” and “catching her smile”. Or, if you prefer, this third reading: “bouquet catching –– her smile”. In any case: bravo!
Third Prize
celebrating fifty . . .
i shed the weight
of my last name
     — teji sethi (61 points - 5; 4; 6; 1; 0)
There must be an intriguing story behind this poem. There are many ways in which a person can change or shorten their name: through marriage (being the most obvious), by deed poll, or simply by asking one's family and friends to use a different name in future. The precise circumstances in this case do not matter, I believe. It is enough that we can appreciate the sense of release or relief –– of celebration, even –– that is being experienced through this act.
Honorable Mentions
silent night . . .
three docs singing carols
from ward to ward
     — Florin C. Ciobica
a soldier
falling into opened arms
returns home
     — madeleine kavanagh
harvest season
dancing with the wind
old scarecrows
     — Milan Rajkumar
Christmas Eve
in our family the sound
of a new accent
     — Eleonore Nickolay
This haiku is transparent enough with regard to the circumstances. There is already a celebration in progress –– a very traditional one –– and then there is the sub-text of a simultaneous appreciation in the poet’s mind, a welcoming of a new family member (possibly due to marriage, though not necessarily at this point). What I pick up from this is a welcoming of diversity, in the form of a refreshing difference in the voice of the newcomer, whether their accent be regional or foreign.
Due to an oversight one of the November Kukai's Honorable Mentions (with the theme of feast) appeared without its commentary. To correct this the poem appears below as it should have last month.
an abandoned balloon
on the party's edge
     — Maria Cezza
I find something elusively haunting about this poem. Perhaps it is the implication of a farewell to childhood, something akin to the biblical ‘putting away of childish things’ –– or simply finding that those things have lost their power or appeal. The neglected balloon at the same time feels like an emblem of the poet’s feeling that she has become an outsider in present company.

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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