Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Haiku Foundation, HaikuLife Film Festival 2017

The Poetry of Birds

This four and one-half minute video is comprised of previously published bird-themed haiku with accompanying artwork and recitation of the poems. The video is my contribution to the 2017 National Poetry Month celebrations. Enjoy!

The Poetry of Birds

The British Haiku Society Awards 2016

Tanka Section

tracks of birds
meander through snow . . .
the surgeon
marks her left breast
with a cross

1st Place

Judge's comments:

The winning entry stood out to me immediately. The use of strong, fresh images successfully creates both contrast and impact, while leaving enough space for the reader to fill in. I have read this tanka over and over again, and still, it has not lost its appeal. The strength lies in the juxtaposition between different types of marks...I felt myself drawn in, wishing to further explore the man-made nature of the cross left by the surgeon, in relation to the 'tracks of birds' in snow. The effect is striking, dramatic even. The reader is further invited to explore the silences between the five lines, and to follow the meandering not just of bird tracks, but also of thoughts. Skilfully, the poet provides a window for the reader to look through, placing us right there, as humans, at our most vulnerable. Written in the third person, the tanka ingeniously builds on the idea of looking in from the outside. It could be that the writer is someone close to the person about to undergo surgery, or perhaps, a way to detach oneself from a difficult event. Either way, the effect is powerful, as we are welcomed to both observe and fill in the blanks with our own experiences, recollecting those crosses and events that have marked and shaped us. Executed with precision this tanka is succinct and cutting, yet at the same time elegant, lyrical and evocative.
—Caroline Skanne

to hold the light
of mercury . . .
your memory
slips away


Judge's comments:

The runner-up tanka by Debbie Strange (Canada) was a strong contender for many similar reasons. It employed solid construction, rhythmical language, original metaphor, and vast amounts of dreaming room...Again, we have a tanka that says much in just 19 syllables held inside 11 words. How adept the lines:

to hold the light
of mercury

Anyone who has broken a thermometer containing quicksilver will know it is slippery and virtually impossible to corral and clean up. And the mirrored surface of liquid mercury means that, as it travels around, the light moves with it. But is the poet only referring to chemical mercury? Or is there a planetary or classical god reference here as well? Mercury, the planet, is the closest to our sun, and is the fastest moving of all the planets. The Roman god Mercury also travelled quickly from place to place.

And despite humans being creatures of habit, and wanting to hold on to what is good and pleasing to us, sometimes things slip through our fingers too quickly like, well, mercury. And one of those things that often slip away from us before we are ready is memory:

your memory
slips away

There is also a dual interpretation of these last two lines. Is this the tanka subject's memory failing? Or is it perhaps the narrator's memory of someone fading over time? It is this dreaming room that makes quality tanka such as this so very engaging to the reader.

This again is an original take on memory and memory loss by teaming it with a fast-moving object, such as mercury. The opposition employed is also ingenious. Memory is starting to fade and tarnish next to the gleaming silver and light of mercury. The poet is showing us, with an insightful metaphor, that memory and mercury can both be elusive, and sometimes our hold on either of them is beyond our control. Could it also be that this person losing their memory also once had a brilliant 'quicksilver mind'?

We again enjoy the subtle poetic device of alliteration with the pleasing 'm' and 'p' sounds contained in the chosen language of this tanka. I feel this tanka poet also understands the importance of tanka being pleasing to the ear when read aloud.
—David Terelinck

Haiku Section

harsh winter
squirrels gnaw the tines
of shed antlers

Special Mention

—David Jacobs, Judge

Snapshot Press, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2017

Award Winner - The Haiku Calendar Competition 2017 (for the month of May)

Publication - The Haiku Calendar 2018 (Snapshot Press 2017)

light the woodland . . .
we find our way

Presence, Number 57, March 2017

the fattened shadows
of sanderlings

winter wind
our laughter swallowed

from the old country . . .
tattered roses

Kokako, Number 26, April 2017

robin eggs
the edges of her scar
begin to heal

paper lanterns
the transparency
of first love

a tamarack
unfastens the moon . . .
we rise up,
pressing our backbones
against night

Chrysanthemum, Number 21, April 2017

Translated into German

Australian Haiku Society, 2017

Autumn 2017 AHS Haiga Kukai: Non-Seasonal Entry

still life . . .
sometimes we forget
to breathe

Autumn 2017 AHS Haiga Kukai: Seasonal Entry

vignettes . . .
the many shades
of autumn

Sunday, April 09, 2017

World Haiku Association, March 2017

151st Monthly Haiga Contest

The Mamba, Issue 3 - Africa Haiku Network, March 2017

old baobab
sky-roots tangled
with bird nests

a thousand suns
dot the hill

The Heron's Nest, Vol. 19, Number 1, March 2017

window fog
I write your name
on the moon

Stardust Haiku, Issue 3, March 2017

deep breathing
the scent of lilacs
after rain

Sonic Boom, Issue 8, April 2017

Ribbons, Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2017

a wake of fog
rolls over canyon walls
silence empties
into our noisy minds
until we become quiet

NeverEnding Story, March 2017

Translated into Chinese by Chen-ou Liu

with my sisters
washing moondust
from our hair
then braiding it with stars

Atlas Poetica 18, July 2014

Chen-ou Liu's comments:

These great visuals (especially the concluding one) in Debbie's sensually intimate tanka resonate well with one another.

KYSO Flash 2016, State of the Art Annual Anthology Number 3

Coming Undone

She always wore the same sweater. I've kept it all these years, and I wear it whenever my memories of her start to fade. Today, the last button came off, and I put it in the sweater's frayed pocket for safekeeping. When it slipped through a hole, and dropped between the floorboards, I finally realized that she was never coming home.

heirloom quilt
sparrow prints embossed
on new snow

Haibun: Second Publisher's Choice Award, HTP Writing Challenge 2016

Commentary by KF Editors:

This little button of a haibun reminds us of the set-up in "The Last Leaf" by O. Henry, in which the consumptive young woman thinks that she'll die when the last leaf falls outside her window. "Coming Undone" avoids any clever plot twists and aims directly at the heart in a spare and effective way.

Inner Voices - International Women's Haiku Festival, March 2017

cirrus clouds . . .
she donates hair
before chemo

Editor's Comments:

Debbie Strange turns those wispy clouds that look like pony tails into locks of hair on the stylist's floor. The woman in this haiku is a picture of proactivity, strength, and generosity in the face of possible death, embracing her diagnosis with eyes and heart wide open.

—Jennifer Hambrick

laundry day . . .
my skinny jeans
fat with wind

Editor's Comments:

It's not enough that the thought of wearing skinny jeans strikes fear and dread in the hearts of some; the wind has to rub it in. The image of the puffed-up skinny jeans pokes fun at our warped obsession with weight and body image, leaving us to laugh at how quickly we abandon more noble constructs of authentic beauty, and thus the paths to true contentment, in the pursuit of pretty packaging.

—Jennifer Hambrick

Gusts, Number 25, Spring/Summer 2017

evergreens bending
but unbroken
we survive even when
our roots are washed away

the peace
that accompanies
after this long drought
an ecstasy of rain

every hill
buttered with celandines
her memories
return with the swallows
but fade at season's end

Failed Haiku - A Journal of English Senryu, Vol. 2, Issue 16, April 2017

Creatrix Poetry and Haiku Journal, Number 36, March 2017

on the empty beach
I write his name

silver wings
etched against clouds
our last goodbye

ice castle
my neighbour's house
after the fire

Cattails, April 2017

river stones
polished to a soft sheen . . .
in sharing
the weight of our worries
we each become light

my dreams
wander in and out
of yours . . .
rabbit warrens
in the bluebell woods

origami class
the beautiful folds
of our elders

old documents
the things we forgot
we knew

the curve
of an avocet's bill . . .
sickle moon

Editor's Choice

Editor's Comments:

Avocets are from the genus Recurvirostra, meaning 'bill curved backwards'. These striking waders can be distinguished easily by their bills. The poet juxtaposes the beautiful image of the upward curve of an avocet's bill with the sickle moon. A skilful use of two concrete images to create an unusual association in the mind of the reader.

—Geethanjali Rajan

Butterfly Dream: 66 Selected English-Chinese Bilingual Haiku, Vol. 3, 2017

Translated into Chinese by Chen-ou Liu

stone cairns
a faded cap drifts

1st Place
2015 HSA Harold G. Henderson Awards

Brass Bell, April 2017

waxwings again not enough berries for jam

squash blossom . . .
creases form between
her brows

Blithe Spirit, Vol. 27, Number 1, February 2017

the scent of hay
whickers of horses
in my dreams

sodden roses
line the graveyard path
bowed down
how do we survive
this broken-heartedness

this struggle
to hold back the tide
every breath
might be my last
but I refuse to drown

Asahi Haikuist Network, March 2017

alpine lakes
begin to thaw . . .
robin eggs

Akitsu Quarterly, Spring 2017

soft rain
bitterns camouflaged
as rushes

a tuft of sky
snagged in the fir
blue jay