Skip to content

THF Monthly Kukai — November 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: gourd

In October there were 124 submissions from twenty-seven countries spread across five continents.
Eighty-three voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
empty gourd . . .
waiting for the first kick
in my belly
     — Cristina Apetrei (75 points - 9; 2; 4; 3; 4)
I had pondered this haiku for a while before it struck me that there might be a biblical reference here. Was Abraham’s wife Sarah likened to an empty gourd because she was supposedly barren? Even if not, this idea set me thinking that the writer is rejoicing in her pregnancy (which is apparently well along) as she anticipates her baby’s first detectable movements. However, my niece –– who occasionally has sight of these poems –– has offered an alternative reading: it may be that the poet is anxiously awaiting the physical confirmation that all is as it should be. It is also true that the two states of mind could alternate or even co-exist. And this serves well to give the piece an added dimension.
Second Prize
after the fight
her snake gourd curry
even more spicy
     — Anitha Varma (41 points - 2; 3; 4; 2; 3)
My first response upon reading this was mild alarm over the possibility that my ignorance of another culture might sabotage my comprehension of the poem. Briefly paralyzed by this, it took me longer than it should have to recognize the obvious –– that a traditional or favorite dish has been made extra fiery as a deliberate response to a (perhaps not fully resolved) domestic dispute. He likes it hot? I’ll give him hot.
Third Prize
lockdown —
from the neighbor’s window
the smile of a gourd
     — Mirela Brăilean (41 points - 3; 3; 2; 1; 6)
Halloween comes immediately to mind, for obvious reasons. However, given the lockdown reference, we might gather that something longer-term is intended here. It is possible that the hollowed-out pumpkin has been saved and re-purposed as an icon of optimism and empathy to be shared with the neighborhood. Yet I cannot imagine in this context the crude and toothy grin we mostly see at this time of year, preferring to conjecture something more subtle accomplished. Perhaps the poet’s neighbor is an artist.

Honorable Mentions
ageing musician
the fading rhythm
of his hollow gourds
     — Jenny Macaulay
braving depression
a hollowed pumpkin
lit within
     — Vandana Parashar
roasted pumpkin
my old mother asks again
who taught me this
     — Henryk Czempiel
The intention with this piece seems very transparent, yet nonetheless poignant. It was of course the mother herself who taught her child to make this dish. The word “again” carries a lot of weight here; it is suggestive of the older woman’s failing memory, while conveying also that the meal has been a favored one in this family.
summer rainfall
the sound of
pumpkins ripening
     — Nick T

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

Comments are closed.

Back To Top