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.

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.