Cloudcatchers Haiku Workshop – a report

Cloudcatchers Haiku Workshop

Sunshine and a light breeze made a perfect day for the Cloudcatchers Haiku Workshop, held in the CWA hall in Ballina, on Sunday 26 October. Eleven poets assembled at 10 am from as far away as Brisbane and Nimbin, with the group comprising both beginners and members of the local ginko group ‘cloudcatchers’. Quendryth Young tutored the workshop, which was supported by a comprehensive booklet of notes and examples. An introductory talk included a respectful outline of the ancient Japanese origin of the genre, followed by discussion of various definitions suggested for the form.

At this point everybody attempted to write something, using Tim Russell’s excellent exercise. A set of guidelines was offered, giving beginners some idea of how to create a satisfying haiku. Then the ginko – along the banks of the Richmond River – with its seagulls and terns, the sandbar and the mangroves across the water, the little boats and the Sunday fisher-folk. There was a great hush for half an hour, as pencils flew over paper, until a reluctant stop was called. The whiteboard displayed, in turn, over twenty haiku from enthusiastic participants (all that time would allow), and the workshopping was lively and productive. At the end of the day, at 4 pm, eleven publishable haiku had been created, with many more potentials in small note pads carried home to be worked on, agonized over, and loved. Feedback records: “A fabulous workshop. I had a terrific day, and learnt lots.” “I felt I got closer to the haiku spirit on Sunday.” “What a great way to learn haiku. For something so simple, haiku is certainly challenging. I have had my haiku-eyes on alert ever since the weekend. The brain is buzzing the whole time, and now I have a whole lot of observing and thinking to do.”

Nathalie Buckland
30.10.08