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THF Monthly Kukai — July 2020


Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:
social justice

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: reopening

First Prize
as if
nothing’s changed 
morning glories
     – Maxianne Berger (75 points - 6; 6; 3; 4; 4)
The evident popularity of this haiku is understandable. It gives expression economically and vividly to a fundamental response apparent during this time of crisis and confinement. Coming upon us as it did on the brink of winter's giving way to spring, and that in turn to summer, it has offered a revelation to many that the natural cycles of regeneration do not falter just because the human species is having a rough time of it. (On the contrary, it would seem.) This has been a consolation of sorts, and more importantly, can serve to enlarge our perceptions by demonstrating––once again––that humanity is one piece of many in an extraordinary matrix.
Second Prize
again i open
to the pressed violet 
mother’s cookbook
     – Sandi Pray (59 points – 6; 3; 2; 3; 5)
In the first line the word "again" is suggestive of this being the most recent of countless occasions when the poet has opened her mother's cookbook, to this page. What makes the piece so eloquent is that it evokes a particular day in the past, in a particular season, when this small flower was plucked by her mother's hand and preserved. I find it notable that the second and third lines might have been reversed, thereby having a more obvious word order. But it is more effective as it stands, with the location of the pressed flower withheld until the last line.

Third Prize
unfolding mimosa I let myself out of me
     – Rashmi VeSa (54 points – 6; 3; 3; 1; 1)
This one-liner feels appropriate in form for an image of liberation and expansion, in what may well have been a 'one-breath' experience. The "I" and "me" are far from having equivalence in this brief statement. The former conveys the sense of a truer or more fundamental self, the latter something more quotidian, even restrictive. The super-ego contrasted with the ego, we might also say. In less clinical terms, it brings to mind the French expression: se sentir bien dans sa peau––literally translated, to feel good in one's skin, and thus expressing the state of being comfortable with oneself.
Fourth Prize
first blossom
the sonogram detects 
a heartbeat
     – Bruce H. Feingold (40 points – 4; 0; 2; 6; 2)
The poet suggests a parallel between the bud's opening and a significant stage in the development of an embryo. It is only in the past few decades that this experience has been available to parents (and the information it yields, to doctors). This reflection brought home to me just how little I know about it. There is a telling interplay in this haiku between image and sound. A heartbeat we usually think of as something we listen to, or otherwise feel. The sonogram on the other hand, being an image obtained by ultrasound, offers the remarkable phenomenom of a visible sound. As visual as a blossom unfurling, in fact.

Honorable Mentions
camera in hand
waiting for butterfly wings 
to reopen
     – Julie Bloss Kelsey
green shoots
on a blackened trunk . . . 
eucalypt sunrise
     – Carole Harrison
a cuckoo’s cry –
will I ever cease
to reopen this wound
     – Cristina Angelescu
borders closed 
we reopen to 
one another
     – Srinivas S
reopening –
all things I haven’t seen 
     – Mirela Brăilean
visitors again 
Mona Lisa smiles 
a little wider
     – Mona Iordan
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.

Note: Submission procedures have changed. Please see new instructions below.

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.

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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