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
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 anniversary 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
orthis poem is all in one line
orjjjjjjjjjjj kkkkkkkkkk lll mmmmmm[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!