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THF Monthly Kukai — October 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: sunset

In September there were 157 submissions from thirty-one countries across five continents.
One hundred five voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
backwater cove . . .
an old man fishes out
a bit of sunset
     — sanjuktaa asopa (54 points - 7; 1; 3; 3; 0)
While this scene may have been witnessed exactly as described, artistically speaking I find it overloaded. As a result the poem borders on the sentimental, even if that was not the poet’s intention. I have experimented with substituting “the man fishes out” as an alternative middle line. The resulting version is to my way of thinking both more interesting and more mysterious. I seem to be out of step here with the majority of this month’s kukai participants. Sometimes that is just the way it goes.
Second Prize
fading sun . . .
the desires
I once had
     — Mona Bedi (45 points - 1; 5; 3; 4; 3)
I do not detect any overt metaphor here, but rather a synchronicity of sorts. It is natural enough that the declining day should prompt reflections upon an earlier time in one’s life, a time that was more passionate and more motivated. As readers we could pose the question: is this a state of regret –– even of mourning –– or one of realism and acceptance? (These feelings could conceivably be mingled.) That the poet leaves this open to speculation lends subtlety and depth to the piece.
Third Prize (tie)
clouds at sunset . . .
all the places
we promised to visit
     — Cristina-Valeria Apetrei (43 points - 2; 4; 1; 4; 6)
There are obvious similarities between this haiku and the preceding one, but that does not diminish either. In this case the regret is more palpable, with the main difference being that here we have apparently a shared experience, rather than a solitary one. However, that is not an absolute given, for the subject might recently have been bereaved, in which case the “we” is retrospective. It is such well-judged ambivalence that invests certain haiku with more import than would seem possible in just three lines.
Third Prize (tie)
into the sunset —
dropping Dad off
at the nursing home
     — Ruth Holzer (43 points - 3; 2; 3; 3; 5)
I was at first nonplussed by this poem. There may or may not be a literal sunset involved, but clearly there is a play on the expression “into the sunset”. Perhaps irony is intended, since that phrase is generally used to describe a rosy future (and/or ending). And the nursing home by definition falls short of that? It is possible to read the phrase “dropping off” in two quite different ways: as the momentous occasion –– the day itself, that is –– when a parent is finally moved into care, or quite the contrary: this father is contentedly settled there, and this is merely the conclusion of one more enjoyable outing together with his daughter –– an afternoon, say, of ongoing conversation and company. This closely matches something I once witnessed, and I am inclined to stay with my interpretation.

Honorable Mentions
a golden sunset
slips gently
into tomorrow
     — Hildy Bachman
war-torn land
the sunset too
goes down bleeding
     — Arvinder Kaur
sinking sun
the things we lost
     — Manoj Sharma
Just as with the structurally similar poems “fading sun. . .” and “clouds at sunset. . .” above, this haiku strikes me as neither formulaic nor indulgent. For the reader everything hangs here upon one's personal understanding of what is conveyed by that final line: “in-between”. My own mind runs to the possibility that this encompasses many years of relationship, during which the important things –– as the poet now perceives –– gave way all too often to the seemingly urgent ones. These are deep waters, and from among the seven poems this is the one that will probably stay with me the longest.

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. Thanks a lot to the kukai hosts, to all the participants and to Dee Evetts for his valuable comments!
    Congratulations to all the winners!

Comments are closed.

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