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THF Monthly Kukai — November 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: harvest

In October there were 159 submissions from twenty-seven countries across four continents.
Ninety-three voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
harvest festival —
the scarecrow wears
the same clothes
     — kaiser von kahn (58 points - 4; 5; 5; 1; 1)
Upon first reading I hesitated over this. It is certainly possible that every reader except myself knows what is going on here. The same clothes as whose? Or the same clothes as when? After floundering a while I relax, and then something comes through. It is not unlikely that in some countries –– even in parts of my own –– there is a tradition of featuring a scarecrow at harvest festivals. This could be the usual static version, or alternatively a costumed dancer. (I am liking this; the “costume” is saved from year to year, becoming part of the tradition.) Way off I may be, but I shall stick with my interpretation. There is a kind of tenderness in it.
Second Prize
whether or not
the war ends . . .
harvest moon
     — Arvinder Kaur (55 points - 7; 2; 2; 3; 0)
I know that my mind tends to skitter away from war-related haiku, even though I have in the past chosen to write about a fair number of them. Sadly, war has entered our lives once again –– our neighbors’ lives, that is, not merely the lives of people in some distant part of the globe from which we can all too easily look away. This poem offers a simple truth that could be consoling to many: humankind is ephemeral; so long as we survive as a species we shall need crops; millions of years after the last of those crops have been harvested, the moon will still be circling the earth.
Third Prize
corn maze
finding our way
out of adulthood
     — Ronald Craig (43 points - 3; 3; 4; 1; 2)
First time around I read this carelessly as “out of childhood”. Then two days later when I copied it onto a worksheet, in the process I made the same mistake again. But no –– it’s not about a brief escape into childhood and then emerging to pick up your real life again. It’s about the experience of going into an unaccustomed or forgotten place, and then realising that you have left behind what you had come to think as reality. It is a lovely paradox, and it is the “out” that tricks us into allowing the poet to take us by the hand and lead us there.

Honorable Mentions
bitter harvest
this year's field planted
with mines
     — Scott Mason
Another war, another war poem –– and certainly one for our time. Here is the modern equivalent of a “scorched earth” strategy, and so much cheaper. Destroy their homes if you can, and if you fail to take their lives then make sure to sabotage their resources and their livelihoods, in case they should try to come back. Mason has compressed all of this into one bald statement. There is a sinister aspect that goes along with it: even if you were there you would not be able to see what he describes for us. That is the whole point.
lean harvest
the scarecrow loses
his shirt
     — Greg Schwartz
bare tree
wrapped in the mist
the homeless man
     — Eleonore Nickolay
car accident . . .
his organs
     — Nancy Brady
funeral ends
the harvest moon
walks me home
     — Ravi Kiran

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 One Comment

  1. Great poems for the theme. Congrats to the prize winners and the honorable mentions!

Comments are closed.

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