Caught

I discovered the VoiceCatcher collective two-and-a-half years ago, when I was still predominantly a writer of prose. I submitted two prose pieces to VoiceCatcher 4. Neither was accepted, but with the second, I received a really thoughtful page of feedback for improving the story. I edited both stories, and the first one (“The Tao of Laundry”) ended up in a Cup of Comfort for Mothers, while the second (“The Power of Music”) won the first Chicken Soup for the Soul Wednesday Giveaway Contest.  Still, the VoiceCatcher stories and poetry tended to be a bit edgier than either of the above, so I did not submit at all in 2010, instead re-grouping. This was also the year I turned mostly first to general poetry, posted on Poetic Asides, Read Write Poem, and Big Tent Poetry, and then haiku. So when submissions for VoiceCatcher rolled around in February of this year, I was undecided on whether or not to attempt submitting again, and if so whether to go with poetry or prose. Finally, I decided to submit haibun, a form that had long intrigued me, but that I had only recently begun to write. And my haibun (“30 Degrees from the Horizon”) was accepted! I had the pleasure last night, of reading it aloud to a roomful of other women writers/poets/artist and collective members, at the book launch party for VoiceCatcher 6, an anthology I am truly proud to be a part of!

A limited run of VoiceCatcher 6 is available at Wordstock, any of the VoiceCatcher readings, Powells (Burnside and Hawthorne only), and New Seasons Markets, or it may be ordered directly from VoiceCatcher.

All proceeds support the VoiceCatcher mission:

“VoiceCatcher is a non-profit collective that nurtures women authors and artists in the Portland/Vancouver area and strengthens the local creative community by offering publishing opportunities, educational grants, and respectful editorial guidance.”

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Calico Cats and Wild Mustangs

Back in August, right as I was preparing to head out to the Haiku North America conference, I saw the call for submissions for the XIII International bilingual ‘Calico Cat’ haiku contest. — BLITZ !!! The rules were simple enough: write no more than three haiku, to this lovely sumi-e painting by Origa, entitled “Yearning for Freedom” (Mustang and Hot Air Balloon).

As I only had about 48 hours anyway, before I boarded my airplane, I had no problem with the tight deadline. Besides, I’m used to writing daily haiku for NaHaiWriMo. These were my three offerings:

reverberations
birds rising
to meet the clouds

swallows’ flight
the mustang tries
to outrun the sun

thundering hooves
the wind echoes
the old refrain

One of the coolest parts of this contest, is that all haiku were translated into Russian. Haiku, translations, and comments can be read here. The next contest will take place sometime in December, but you’d better be watching, because there’s only 48 hours to submit once the call for submissions is posted!

Citrus Fruit and Rain

I’m hooked on the monthly kukai contests I regularly participate in. I like the idea of 100+ people (Shiki Kukai) anonymously reading my haiku and voting and sometimes commenting on it. It gives interesting feedback, especially when the vote doesn’t precisely reflect my “valuation” of my haiku.That always leaves me to wonder what others see, or don’t see in my haiku.

My two haiku this month were both written from direct experience: the citrus one from a visit to my mother-in-law in Arizona for her 90th birthday this August. She was giving me a tour of her back yard. It was early evening, and still the temperature was above 100 degrees. Her grapefruit tree was loaded with green grapefruits, and she was anticipating their ripening. I noticed unusual (for me) cloud formations in the sky and asked about them. They were monsoon clouds, she told me. I thought about waiting. Waiting for the grapefruits to ripen, waiting for the rain to fall, waiting for the temperatures to cool off… and wrote the haiku. This haiku received 11 pts.  I wonder though– how much of what I put in it came across? What do others see when they read my words? That, I guess, is the beauty and the mystery of haiku…

green grapefruits…
monsoon clouds
hang heavy

The second was also written in August. I woke in the morning, to light sprinkles of rain outside my open window. I always hear the robins in the morning, and this particular morning, the robin song diminished, as it flew from the maple right beneath my window, to the Oregon ash in the back of the property, and finally dwindled away, as it moved into the adjacent green space. I liked the word “dampened”, referring to both the rain, and the dampening of the oscillations that produced the robin’s song. This haiku received 6 points. But I liked it better than the first. It was a more everyday occurrence for me, while I felt the citrus haiku was more pensive, and somewhat melancholy. Go figure!

first raindrops…
the robin’s song
dampened