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THF Monthly Kukai — June 2020


Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:

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: sheltering

First Prize
where shadows
crouch inside shadows . . .
migrant shelter
     – sanjuktaa asopa (79 points – 7; 6; 4; 4; 0)
For me this haiku continues to open out further and further, the longer I stay with it. The repetition of "shadows. . . shadows" in another context might feel contrived. But here it conveys a range of possible moments, most of them wretched. If it is daytime, it could be that people are hiding from a glaring heat. If at night, they have probably wrapped themselves against the cold. There are so many ways that it can be visualized. While the main strength of the poem, it strikes me only belatedly, may lie precisely in the absence of faces. The human presences are anonymous and undifferentiated, reduced to vague shapes and outlines: humanity dehumanised.
Second Prize
first raindrops –
the bee in a trumpet flower
doesn’t know yet
     – Tomislav Maretić (43 points – 6; 1; 0; 3; 3)
What presents itself as a charming anthropomorphism on further consideration (or further acquaintance, more aptly) yields considerably more than that. There is a literal truth to the statement made here, even though no one can know exactly what a bee's perceptions and responses are. That thought can serve to shift our attention to the poet-observer, and to the close scrutiny in which he is engaged. We may speculate that regardless of the changing weather, he is going to stay right here –– at least until that bee emerges.
Third Prize
late autumn
a man holds an umbrella
over his old dog
     – Sanela Pliško (39 points – 4; 2; 0; 3; 5)
A simpler picture this, than those offered in the two preceding poems. With nonetheless a degree of layering: we have the poet empathising with a man, who in turn is empathising with his dog. By successfully drawing the reader in to share these feelings, we could argue that the poet has added yet another dimension.
Honorable Mentions
things I keep
in my safe place –
a cricket’s song
     – Cristina Angelescu
deep in the ivy
the gentle blue
of a robin’s egg
     – Andrew Shimield
deer on a cave wall
still running
on my desktop
     – Tim Cremin
I almost missed this poem, due to a reflex response akin to: so what? Then the idea takes hold. Someone painted this image in prehistoric times––a creature of that era, vividly running. Thousands of years later it became an illustration in our art books. And now it appears on the screens of our devices. Still running.
nowhere to go
with the moon
     – Lisa Espenmiller
overgrown by weeds
the buddha statue
loses its self
     – Nick Taylor
I was drawn back several times to enjoy this image, in part perhaps out of a nostalgia for rural Thailand. But there are things of more substance in the poem. In particular, the separation of "its" and "self" in the final line is not merely a neat wordplay; it is an effective and succinct means to convey the very foundation of Buddhist teaching: the forgetting or transcendence of self.
stuck at home
imaginary friends
crowding in
     – m. shane pruett
my self
in me
     – Theresa Okafor
between her grey eyes she shelters the present
     – Victor Ortiz
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. All submissions must be sent via The Haiku Foundation’s dedicated kukai email address using the subject line KUKAI SUBMISSION. 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). 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 email 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 poems have special formatting requirements you should note them as in the third example above.

Good luck, and have fun!


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Please read the notes carefully.
    Entries to the Kukai are through the email link, not here on the comments section.

  2. reopening the theatre –
    other spectators applaud
    the same famous actors

  3. first raindrops –
    the bee in the datura blossom
    doesn’t know yet
    Tomislav Maretić 2019/05/08
    “All poems must be the original, unpublished work of the author” It is a bit of a stretch.

Comments are closed.

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