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THF Monthly Kukai — May 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: trust

In April there were 138 submissions from twenty-seven countries spread across five continents.

First Prize
crossroads —
I follow the
     — kash poet  (64 points - 4; 4; 6; 2; 6)
When all choices look the same, why not be guided by a piece of fluff carried on the breeze? This poem works convincingly both as an actual experience and as unlabored metaphor. Aside from the dandelion seeds, might the wind alone tip the scales in favor of that direction –– giving a tiny push, so to speak? This is the sort of inquiry that many find trivial, others definitely not. Poets in particular perhaps. 

Second Prize
her giggles
falling from the sky
into daddy's hands
     — Ted Sherman (53 points - 7; 3; 1; 1; 1)
If I have this picture right, a little girl is being tossed into the air by her dad, and she has total confidence that he will catch her. I admire the way the middle line does double duty: we can hear the giggles as falling from the sky, and then the child dropping into her father’s arms. (Not to belabor this unduly, but my meaning is: one can read the poem as two lines followed by the third, or equally well as the first line prefacing the following two.)
Third Prize
autumn dusk
an old friend's hand
in mine
     — Neena Singh (52 points - 4; 3; 4; 2; 4)
A lifetime of friendship is implicit in this simple picture. Is “autumn dusk” too obvious a trope for denoting the later stages of life? I think not in this case, since it holds up as part of a plausible scene. Dusk is just the kind of time when the less sure-footed can use a steadying hand –– in this case mutually, we might suppose.

Honorable Mentions
ripples . . .
she reads the wind
to her goslings
     — Marilyn Ashbaugh
This haiku makes an astute observation, more so than is first apparent. As I understand it, the goose is responding to natural signals that the fledglings can hardly yet perceive, let alone know to be important. At the same time the poet, who is watching with absorption, becomes alert to this series of teachable moments. “Reads” is the all-important word here, and it is an inspired choice. It achieves the kind of compression that can inform a haiku with far more than its very brief form might lead us to expect.

earthquake —
my trust in Earth
is shaken
     — Aljoša Vuković
origami plane —
my grandson sends a letter
to god
     — Arvinder Kaur
the trust 
from my cat's eyes
     — Mirela Brăilean
busy road
she grabs my hand tight
with tiny fingers
     — Sushama Kapur
they too
must trust the stars . . .
migrating geese
     — Michele L. Harvey

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 10 Comments

  1. Dobar dan! Prvi put sudjelujem, Čitam haikue i svaki put se u meni rodi nova ideja za pisanje. Hvala na izvanrednim haikuima koliko ja kao pojedinac mogu procijeniti. Svako dobro!

  2. Dear Tom,

    I am thrilled to be in “The Monthly Kukai” and feel deeply honoured. I loved your commentary and its underlying emotion. Kash Poet’s haiku is outstanding. Congratulations to him on coming 1st and Ted Sherman for his heart-warming haiku at 2nd place. Congratulations to all friends who feature in Honourable Mention.

    I would like to acknowledge THF and their amazing team that makes it possible for learners like me to have access to its valuable haikai resources. My gratitude to my mentors, guides & Editors of journals, who are teaching me the intricacies of haiku.

    Thanks to friends who voted for my haiku.

    1. Neena,

      Thank you for your thoughts, and for your participation in the Kukai.

      Please note that credit for the commentary belongs to Dee Evetts, THF Monthly Kukai Commentator.

      1. Thanks Tom, my gratitude to Dee Evetts for the great commentary on my simple haiku.

  3. Tom,
    Thank you for reading and commenting on my HM haiku! I am happy you enjoyed it and appreciate your kind words.

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