Caribbean Kigo Kukai #29

One thing  I particularly like about the Caribbean Kigo Kukai, is that the kigo often put me outside my comfort zone. When I saw the kigo “bamboo” for this month, I almost didn’t enter, because I don’t know much about bamboo, and all I could initially think of were the bamboo gardening stakes I use to prop up some of my top-heavy plants. But then I remembered the bamboo pipes at the Japanese Garden, and wrote:

catching the sky…
the bamboo pipe fills
with rainwater

This haiku garnered 7 points, and the following comment: “A very visual haiku – perhaps it’s because I like rain, but I can see and feel this one – as well as hear it!”

All of this month’s entries can be read here.

2011 Shiki Poets’ Choice Awards

I was very very happy to see that the Shiki Kukai results have a new, albeit temporary, home online, so they all can be read and enjoyed. I started participating in the Shiki Kukai in March of 2010, and have participated in every one since. I can’t say enough good about all of the online kukai I regularly participate in: Shiki, Sketchbook, and the Caribbean Kigo Kukai. They welcomed me with open arms, when I was a raw beginner, and because of the anonymous nature of kukai, I was put on an equal footing both with other beginners, as well as with those who have been writing haiku for many years. It has been an eye-opening experience. Through judging and casting my own votes every month, I have learned to have a more discerning eye, and see what makes a haiku resonate with me. And through receiving votes and comments, I in turn get valuable feedback on my own haiku efforts.

The first time I entered the Shiki Kukai, I was still fastidiously writing 5-7-5 haiku. I received no votes, either in the kigo category (“planting/sowing”) or in the free format section (“cookies”). But I refused to let that discourage me, and I persevered. The next month I received my first votes, and by June of that year, I took 5th place in the free format section with the following haiku:

fifth birthday party
the oak adds
another ring

I knew then, that I was on my way. A month later, I was overjoyed to learn that I took 1st place in the free format section, with:

night sky-
my thumb
eclipses the moon

This haiku also took 3rd place in the 2010 Shiki Poets’ Choice Awards. Which brings me around to this year. I had three haiku that qualified for this year’s Poets’ Choice Awards ballot: a first place finish, and two second place finishes. Although none of them placed in the top three for the year, they all garnered a respectable number of points, rounding out a second very gratifying year of kukai-ing:

winter dawn…
humming along
with the furnace

flea market
two bees circling
the same flower

garden spider –
weaving the dew
into its web

Together my three haiku garnered 21 points, which coincidentally was the exact same number of points I received for my single haiku last year. I was also very pleased to see that first place in the kigo section this year went to Svetlana Marisova, a fitting tribute to a fine haiku poet, who was taken too soon. The complete 2011 Poets’ Choice Award results can be read here. And links to all the Shiki kukai monthly results, going way back to 2002, can be found here.

Seabeck Haiku Retreat

I keep thinking I should do a post on the Seabeck haiku retreat, as I have been home for a week and a half already! Seabeck– where to start? Thanks to Google, I knew exactly what it would look like, so there was no surprise there, but pulling into a parking space in front of the main lodge and seeing a gardener actually using a rake instead of a leaf blower to remove leaves from the steps of the porch immediately told me I was in the right place. It was a wonderful long weekend of writing renga, rengay, and haiku, socializing, buying piles of cool new haiku books, eating, taking ginko walks, visiting an old (circa mid-1800’s) cemetery, walking on the beach, hanging out on a rock and watching birds criss cross the sky above the lagoon, learning to identify a cormorant, eating some more, walking some more, listening to presentations, participating in my first anonymous haiku workshop, leading my first anonymous haiku workshop, making weathergrams, making various kinds of books, including one with Japanese stab binding (thanks to the expert instructions and patience of Tanya McDonald), meeting lots of new people, and even learning most of their names. Everything was wonderful, including, surprisingly, the weather, so now I am hooked, and plan to make it a yearly event! I can’t say for sure what the highlight for me was, but certainly one of the highlights, and the icing on the cake to an already lovely weekend, was being selected by judge Susan Constable to receive the First Prize Francine Porad Haiku Award! I feel both honored and humbled, and it only serves to make me want to write more, more, more! 🙂

creepy crawlers

When I saw “insects / bugs” for the  July/ Aug Sketchbook haiku thread kigo, I was temporarily stumped. What was there to say about these critters that hasn’t already been said, by Issa in particular. But then,  I picked up my pen and wrote the following:

Tai Chi morning
a spider climbs slowly
up the wall

shortest night
on the breeze, one thousand
cricket voices


is it love?
moths circle
before a flame

sultry afternoon
the iridescent sheen
of dragonfly wings

cricket song –
sleeping at night
with an open window

The entire thread can be read here.

Four of these haiku made John Daleiden’s Editor’s Choice list, and rather than just list the haiku randomly, John chose to arrange them into haiku sequences. My haiku appear in “Cricket Songs: A Haiku Sequence”, “Hometown Memories: A Haiku Sequence”, and “Shadow Darners: A Haiku Sequence”. All the haiku sequences can be read here.