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THF Monthly Kukai — November 2020

Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:

Note: Due to issues with the website, the submission period for this month’s kukai will extend to November 19.

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: perseverance

In October there were 108 submissions from twenty three countries spread across five continents.

First Prize
digging my escape tunnel with a teaspoon
     — Dan Campbell (70 points - 7; 5; 4; 1; 1)
Making the assumption that this image is intended figuratively, I can only guess at the situation that lies behind it. My best point of access is to summon up two experiences from my own past, both of them vicarious: a close friend who steadfastly worked towards leaving an abusive relationship, and my own mother nursing me through two years of rheumatic fever, in early childhood. I am sure that at times, for both, it must have felt like removing a hillside with a small spoon.
Second Prize
hospital room
I sing a lullaby
to my empty womb
     — Vandana Parashar (64 points – 5; 4; 5; 3; 2)
The context here would seem to be a miscarriage experienced by the poet, and her response to it in this poem may come as a surprise. But the capacity to sing under such circumstances is surely a source of strength. We may wonder for whom the lullaby is being sung: for the lost child, or for one yet to come? Both perhaps —— and for the writer herself even –– and thereby something altogether larger and all-encompassing.
Third Prize
adult literacy class — 
her toothless smile 
in the reading light
     — R. Suresh Babu (58 points – 6; 4; 1; 4; 1)
Whatever the background to this scene (low income, poor diet, lack of dentistry –– all are easily imagined) despite this the reader is presented with a smile. This could be due to something humorous in the text that is being read, but just as likely to the delight experienced in the widening boundaries of comprehension, and the rewards for persistence.
Fourth Prize
my PhD project
in the snail’s footsteps 
to the top of Mount Fuji
     — Maya Daneva (57 points – 6; 5; 1; 1; 2)
This makes a clear reference to Issa's famous poem, "Oh snail, climb Mount Fuji –– but slowly, slowly!" The introduction of a PhD thesis into such a context is original and refreshing, and I enjoy the extra dimension provided by the possibility that the poet may also be a malacologist!
Honorable Mentions
after third attempt
to thread the needle 
granny wipes her glasses
     — Vishnu Kapoor
long hours . . .
the way the moonlight 
fills her scars
     — Praniti Gulyani
This poem is likely to stay with me for as long as any that have so far appeared in this kukai series. Any attempt at interpretation seems bound to detract from the distillation of feeling achieved here with such naturalness and economy. I find that it has a lovely cadence also, with the two extended vowels of the first line, the quickening pace of the second, and finally the three equally-weighted words of the third, bringing closure.
a one-legged grasshopper 
climbing up the window — 
pouring rain
     — Daniela Misso
we retie the knot 
with twisted fingers
     — john hawkhead
after the Tsunami 
homeless child builds 
another sandcastle
     — Srinivas S
ceasefire . . .
to his father’s funeral 
on prosthetic legs
     — Teji Sethi
gripping the bars

he takes one step — 
prosthetic fitting
     — Gavin Austin

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 8 Comments

  1. Congrats all winners and special mentions .
    * Let’s aim to promote good work always *

  2. Congratulations, all the winners!

    Do we really need a kukai to keep all poets in good humour that finally helps sharpening our haiku skill as well? A kukai is a community barometer for testing the strength of a haiku that replaces the inbuilt mechanism in each poet that he uses for self-determination. Anonymity is the crucial pillar in a kukai. This working together with the usual ethical and righteous nature of poets yields the desired results.

    But literature has been becoming a tool for achieving fame and we can not be indifferent to a probability that such tendency may also have made seepages into the haiku world. It will be the generosity of the my haijin fraternity to air my skepticism here. Although this is a comment box, I consider this to be the most appropriate place. People with knowledge of educational and psychological statistics and distribution models are the persons who will accept the contention I am going to make. 💓All the points I make is for pondering and are in no way clear cut findings.💓

    I went through the results of Shiki Monthly Kukai October 2002 and THF’s monthly kukai for October 2020. The patterns are disturbing and show a complete reversal… as 2002 would look like 2020 !

    A statistician would say that in a kukai result like this, numbers exhibit definite tendency. The pattern would usually be as under:

    Expected pattern:

    Most poets will not vote you
    Some people will give you the lowest 1 mark
    Still less people will give you 2 marks
    Still less people will give you 3 marks
    Least number of people will give the highest 5 marks.

    Thus, there is always an inverse relationship between the value of the vote and number of persons giving that vote.

    The Shiki Monthly Kukai for October 2002 chosen by me in random also follows such pattern …You may go through all the results to have a view of your own.

    Shiki Monthly 2002 (3 pts, 2pts,1pt)

    Kigo theme:

    First prize – 3,3,6
    Second Prize – 2,3,5
    Third Prize – 1,3,6

    Free Format:

    First prize – 1,3,7
    Second Prize – 0,6,3
    Third Prize – 0,3,8

    THF Monthly Kukai October 2020
    (5pts, 4pts, 3pts,2pts, 1 pt)

    First Prize 7,5,4,1,1
    Second Prize 5,4,5,3,2
    Third Prize 6,4,1,4,1
    Fourth Prize 6,5,1,1,2

    From the above, it is quite evident that the Shiki Monthly Kukai result was showing generally an increasing series while the THF kukai shows a decreasing series.

    The results in the case of the THF kukai is against the natural principles of number system and the probability of distribution. What may be the reason?

    This is quite alarming and no well meaning and sensible poet can simply ignore. This tendency is not limited to kukai … this lure for ill-gotten fame is going to destroy the fabric of literature.

    I am not casting any doubts on the results. But this is my concern to point out that the condition of anonymity in earlier kukai was working well vis-a-vis all the members. But by allowing readers to vote there has been dilution of the principle. Anonymity has been undermined indirectly if not bypassed.

    Who are our non-poet readers who are willing to vote ? They are, in most cases, ours friends and family members.

    If the intention is to keep the larger community of haiku writers in good humour, the practice of allowing non-poets for voting may please be stopped altogether. Each non winning poet may also be allowed to see his score… the place where does he really stand in the zone spanning from the point of complete rejection to partial acceptance. It will be a token reward for his month long wait.

    1. But…
      The rules of Shiki Kukai voting:
      „Each poet has SIX (6) points to be used IN EACH SECTION. You may distribute the points in increments of 1, 2, or 3. You may not cast more than 3 points for any single poem.”
      That means people can voting e.g. 1+1+1+1+1+1 and the total number of “1 pt” is much higher than “3 pts”.
      _ _ _

      Look at this:

      32nd Indian Kukai May/June 2020
      The voting rules:
      “You will have 6 points to use in total, no more than 3 marks to any one haiku entry. All 6 points must be used.” (Like in the Shiki Kukai)
      Results (3 pts, 2 pts, 1 pt):
      First prize – 8,1,10
      Second Prize – 1,6,9
      Third Prize – 2,6,3

      33rd Indian Kukai July/August 2020
      A change of rules!
      “You will have 6 points to use in total. You can vote only for three haiku. You have to award 3 points to one haiku,2 points to another one and 1 point to the last one of your choice. You have to use all 6 points this way. You can’t go for 2+2+2 option of voting.” (Now it’s like the THF Kukai. You MUST voting 3+2+1).
      Results (3 pts, 2 pts, 1 pt):
      First prize – 5,4,1
      Second Prize – 5,2,4
      Third Prize – 4,5,2
      _ _ _
      What about the tendency, when the total number of each value is the same?
      That’s the point 🙂

    2. Yes you are right sir. If readers who do not know the poem vote, it will be considered unfortunate for poets. This voting process needs to be stop and judgments should be made by the judges.

  3. Thanks Dee for your comments on the poems. I also had rheumatic fever as a boy and remember my dear mother bringing me comic books to read in the hospital.

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