Seabeck 2012 Recap

Attending the Seabeck retreat from October 11-14 of this year was an exhilarating experience on many counts. I rekindled friendships made at last year’s haiku retreat, online, and at other haiku conference. I made many new friends. I made a presentation on “Online Haiku Resources”, which was well received, and I will follow up on it by posting to my blog an expanded list of online resources. I facilitated a thought-provoking panel on “Poetic Truth: Will the Real Haiku Please Stand Up?” with panel members Michael Dylan Welch, Angela Terry, and Tanya McDonald. Carmen Sterba was unfortunately unable to join us at the last minute, but I read her prepared position statement on the topic. This generated much audience response, and the haiku and position statements from this will be posted at a later time.Under the able direction of Fumiko Kimura and Frank Kawasaki, I learned some basics of sumi painting, and created (with much help from Frank!) three  sumi-e haiga that I am very proud of. I enjoyed the scavenger hunt, the talent show, conversations over meals, great panels and presentations, and the wonderful new lodgings. I was delighted to receive an Honorable Mention in the Porad contest, and to tie for third place in the kukai. All in all, a wonderful weekend! This year’s group photo can be viewed here.

graduation day

The prompt this month for Caribbean Kigo Kukai  #36 was “high school graduation”. The prompt was so evocative, I hardly knew where to begin. So I started with the last high school graduation I attended, several years ago, for a family friend.

The ceremony was held at a college campus, so that there would be more seating. There was dressing for the event. The long ride over. The disastrous parking situation. The long walk across campus to the auditorium. The uncomfortable seats. And the hot, stuffy room.  There were many long speeches. A choral number. Students fidgeted in their heavy gowns, under the hot lights. And finally, they began calling the students up one by one, to receive their diploma covers. There were over 500 graduates that year. We were asked not to clap between students, but of course, who listened? Each student, it seemed, came with their own private cheering section. Cameras flashed, younger siblings fidgeted, and officials propped the outside doors open, in a futile attempt to create a cross draft. Row by row, student by student, the evening dragged on…

This was my haiku, that won 1st place:

graduation day
I fold my program
into a fan

A Haiku Evolution

When I first began writing haiku, in 2010, I discovered kukai contests, a wonderful no-fail way for a beginner to get their feet wet, and did a blog post on Kirsten Cliff’s Swimming in Lines of Haiku about them. Kukai are still one of my favorite ways to immerse myself in haiku.

For a long time though, that was my only connection to the greater haiku community. While I found an outlet for some of my haiku, I still didn’t know very many people in the haiku community. I  submitted to a handful of journals and contests, that first year, and had my first contest Honorable Mention, in World Haiku Review, and my first journal publication, in Riverwind 30, but I still felt like I was on the outside looking in. I wasn’t sure what journals and contests were looking for, and it didn’t feel very satisfying to get far more rejections than acceptances. And then I began participating in NaHaiWriMo, on Facebook.

Writing haiku daily since February 1st of last year, and receiving positive feedback, encouragement, and support, from like-minded others, has not only been rewarding and helped me improve my craft, but has really built a sense of community. Attending two haiku conferences and a haiku retreat this year enabled me to meet many of my Facebook friends “in real life”, an added treat. And all this gave me the confidence to once again try my hand at getting my haiku published, and entering contests. It’s been a good year!

Starting in January, I’ve had two 2nd place finishes in the Shiki Kukai, and two 1st place finishes in the Sketchbook Kukai. I’ve had haiku published in Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest, Notes from the Gean, and A Hundred Gourds. And I placed well in a number of contests: an Honorable Mention in the Haiku North America 2011 Conference Kukai contest, a Sakura Award in the Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational 2011 , Third Prize in the International “Kusamakura” Haiku Competition, First Prize in the 2011 Porad Award, October 2011, an Honorable Mention in the 13th HIA Haiku Contest, 1st place in Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge: Haiku, 3rd Place, 2011 Thom Williams Memorial contest: The 7s, and 2nd place in the 2011 San Francisco International Competition for Haiku, Senryu, Tanka and Rengay, for my first tanka.

Yesterday I learned that I also received an Honorable Mention in the 15th Mainichi Haiku Contest: International Section for one of my haiku. All this has only whet my appetite, and I’m looking forward to lots more haiku, haibun, tanka, and rengay writing in 2012.