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THF Monthly Kukai — March 2022

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: icicles

In February there were 164 submissions from twenty-two countries across four continents.
One hundred five voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
icicles . . .
how soon moments
become memories
     — Srinivas S (54 points - 5; 4; 1; 3; 4)
Generally speaking things do not turn out well when haiku poets make generalizations. I am happy to see that the author has managed to buck that trend in this case. This is I think partly because the icicle image, and the analogy with memory that is suggested, are so apt to the purpose. When icicles start to thaw, how swiftly they can disappear! This is a notable example of how not to fall flat on the ice, so to speak. A fine balancing act, and well executed.
Second Prize
     — Scott Mason (52 points - 4; 5; 1; 4; 1)
This is the most pleasing example of a concrete haiku that I have seen for a long time. Wind can do strange things with icicles. If it blows steadily enough throughout the freezing period they can even grow at an angle, as if defying gravity. Here I envisage a relatively mild wind carving away at this fully formed icicle (which constantly refreezes, as tends to happen) and thereby creating a sculptural effect. 
Third Prize
icicle . . .
how long will he take
to forgive me
     — Stella Pierides (51 points - 4; 3; 2; 5; 3)
I find that a great deal is implied here. It is winter. There has been a falling out, and apparently a felt culpability on the part of the writer. Possibly the weather (or another circumstance) has forced the couple or pair to be together when they might otherwise have chosen to put some distance between themselves –– at least for part of the day. There is a prevailing silence, and at best, monosyllabic and toneless exchanges when strictly necessary. This is one of those “suit yourself” kind of domestic stand-offs. It is true that I am embroidering –– even weaving my own version of the poem. Another reader will come up with a different story. What counts is that the poet has given us room to speculate, while at the same time giving us the very concrete image of the (how gradually?) thawing icicle.

Honorable Mentions
icicles . . .
with each drip
the sound of spring
     — Helen Ogden
border barb wire —
where the refugees cross
crimson icicles
     — Milan Rajkumar
our silence
icicles . . .
     — Christopher Calvin
mom's funeral
even the icicles
     — cezar florescu 
through icicles
grandpa's gap-toothed smile
     — marilyn ashbaugh

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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