Red Kelpie Haiku Group Ginko & Meeting #4

Considering that June weather in Melbourne can be rainy, squally and generally miserable, we planned a venue with centrality and shelter in mind, so on Sunday the 14th we met down on the Old Melbourne Wharf, on the Yarra and now a part of Federation Square. Though a little cold, the day was surprisingly fine and sunny, with no wind.

Our discussion topic this time, inspired by Jaya’s query into the differences between haiku and senryu and taking into account Charles Trumbull’s insight into the growing preponderance of ‘tankaesque’ ku being written and published (see his ‘Between Basho and Ban’ya (bypassing Barthes): A New Brand of Haiku?’ in A Hundred Gourds, June 2015) was ‘Haiku, Senryu or Tankaesque Ku ?’ Each of us attending brought along examples of ku we thought fitted into each of these categories. A challenging topic! The discussion was enthusiastic, in-depth and very lively indeed.

Our conclusions? That while there are grey and overlapping areas, the most important consideration in distinguishing between haiku, senryu and ‘tankaesque’ ku is ‘spirit’: is this particular short poem written in the spirit of haiku, the spirit of senryu or the spirit of tanka? The spirit of haiku may be hard to define, but with close and engaged reading it’s not all that hard to recognise. After all, in the tradition of longer poetry, we have no trouble distinguishing between, for instance, confessional poetry and satire.

After the discussion, we all went our own ways, as usual, for the silent ginko. Some walked along the river to Birrarung Marr, others checked out the suitcase sale in Federation Square, others sat and watched ferries, rowers and swans on the river or visited the NGV Galleries in the Atrium. Many promising draft haiku and notes towards haiku were shared after we regrouped for lunch.

We were delighted to welcome Earl Livings, our most recent member. Earl expressed interest some time ago, but has only recently returned from a writing residency in Wales.

The Red Kelpie Haiku Group is currently: Robyn Cairns, Marisa Fazio, Lorin Ford, Janet Howie, Earl Livings, Jayashree Maniyil, Jennifer Sutherland and Rodney Williams.

Enquiries from haiku writers who might like to join the group or be invited along as guests and who have at least three haiku published in edited, English-language haiku journals should be directed to Lorin Ford via haikugourds at gmail dot com, with ‘Red Kelpie Haiku Group’ in the email subject bar.

– Lorin Ford, Melbourne, June 2015