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THF Monthly Kukai — May 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: rain

In April there were 192 submissions from thirty countries across five continents.
One hundred nine voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
breaking drought
the river
finds its voice
     — Gavin Austin (75 points - 9; 3; 3; 3; 3)
The personification of the river handicaps this haiku for me. This is a matter of taste, I know, and there will be plenty of readers for whom it is not a problem. For me this is one of the fundamental ways in which haiku differ (or I think should differ) from most mainstream poetry. I do very much like the phrase “breaking drought”, which I had not heard or read before. We are familiar naturally with “the drought broke” and “maybe the drought will break”, but used like this –– in the present tense, and as a gerund –– makes the poet’s experience feel very immediate.
Second Prize
each drop
a different sound
     — Shalini Pattabiraman (74 points - 6; 3; 3; 10; 3)
I am sure that I have had comparable experiences in my lifetime, and in fact one of my favourite childhood memories is of sheltering from the occasional summer shower in our garden’s potting shed, listening to the rain falling on its corrugated tin roof. But the situation in this poem offers so much more variety of sound. Both the soft and the hard: a deep resonance from over there, a metallic tinniness from closer by, and the dull splat that eludes identification.
Third Prize
acid rain
how your words
corrode my self-worth
     — Baisali Chatterjee Dutt (62 points - 6; 2; 2; 7; 4)
The tone of this haiku is quite matter-of-fact –– almost prosaic. This is used to advantage in the play on “acid rain” and “corrode”. We commonly refer to someone as being acid-tongued, or of “speaking acidly”. The notion entertained here is that such speech can cause actual damage to the self-confidence of a person who is repeatedly addressed in this way.

Honorable Mentions
she learns to
write in italics
     — Anjali Warhadpande
I am intrigued by this poem. Is such a thing even possible? Can we learn to write in italics, if we choose to do so? The answer is of course we can. It would take a lot of dedicated practice, but that is true of many –– indeed most –– skills. It would certainly require a lot of time, which suggests circumstances of unavoidable confinement. (Such as the monsoon season.) Another person might pass the time by writing cryptic crossword clues, or learning the Periodic Table. This project strikes me as classier than either. The successful student will be able to italicise any word or phrase that she chooses, without resort to underlining –– which is really little better than a crude kind of making do. This refinement could be coupled with a staunch defence of the fast disappearing semi-colon; such an alliance might even save the art and practice of letter-writing!
autumn rain . . .
the last trip
of yellow leaves
     — Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
your touch
how spring rain seeps
through the soil
     — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi
forecasters name
the coming storm
     — Ben Oliver
If we unpack this haiku –– to use that verb in a way that has a lot more history than one might suppose –– if we dismantle it carefully, there is an array of suggestions to be found. If the diagnosis, presumably a medical one, can be likened to a coming storm, then it must be a serious and possibly life-changing one. (The name of the condition we can imagine to be multisyllabic –– as well as Latinate –– and intimidating just in itself.) An afterthought might be that forecasters do not give names to weather systems unless they have the potential to threaten life. There is a lot to be found in this package, and it is tightly intertwined.

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. Very happy to have my haiku winning an honorable mention… thanks to the authors who voted it!

Comments are closed.

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