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THF Monthly Kukai — March 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: diligence

In February there were 119 submissions from twenty seven countries spread across five continents.

First Prize
cold moonlight
a street musician’s last song
without audience
     — Keiko Izawa (65 points - 5; 3; 3; 7; 5)
You do not stop playing just because your audience have all gone home. That is what I intuitively take from the poem, rather than the more dramatic possibility: that this is –– for whatever reason –– the performer’s literally last song. Does “cold moonlight” point us nonetheless to the second interpretation? Perhaps. Though it is not inconsistent with people hurrying back to their warm homes on a chilly evening. I am going to stick with that.  
Second Prize
after the stroke
dad’s vocal practice
sound by sound
     — Meera Rehm (54 points - 6; 2; 3; 2; 3)
I find this very moving. We are not told (nor does it matter for the poem) what aspect of this man’s speech has been impaired. We can assume that it will take thousands of iterations to repair his faculty, which may not ever be fully restored. Is there an all-too-human hint of irritation in the final line? If so, it seems to be fully cancelled by admiration and love.

Honorable Mentions
for the next life —
a caterpillar
     — Milan Rajkumar
backspace —
writing one more time
my story
     — Teji Sethi
I take ‘backspace’ to be figurative here, an image taken from the keyboard, and what is being expressed is the challenge (and the dedication required) in trying to convey –– what exactly? A life, a history, a perspective or set of beliefs, all or any of these. Sometimes you have to go back in order to go forward.
on hold . . .
I revise
a doodle
     — Bill Kenney
In this age of telephone menus and queues and endless loops of ostensibly soothing music, can any reader not relate to this? We do not need to be doodlers ourselves to enjoy the picture –– so to speak. The poet has nailed it.
another Sunday . . .
placing fresh carnations
beside his name
     — Gavin Austin
tireless —
mother’s caresses
polishing my character
     — Elena Zouain

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 2 Comments

  1. #1
    there is something bright

    when everything goes out

    Is love …

    Nani Mariani, Melbourne

Comments are closed.

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