Red Kelpie Haiku Group Ginko & Meeting #8

As we did last year, the group met at Federation Wharf for our winter meeting, this time on a day full of umbrellas and continuous mizzling rain, which had the effect of muting the colours of the city and the river, but enhancing those of the deciduous leaves and the soft ochres and pinks of the Fed Square paving. Cormorants on the vacant tour boats hung out their wings despite the rain. The ever-present sparrows just shrugged it off.

We found a sheltered table outside one of the cafes by the river, where Robyn Cairns presented a copy of her recently published chapbook, In Transit (Picaro Poets Series, Ginninderra Press) to each of the other seven members present, then we moved on to our discussion.

Pre-reading had been Martin Lucas’s ‘Haiku as Poetic Spell’ and an essay by Michael Dylan Welch on Basho’s later aesthetic of ‘karumi’, as interpreted by Haruo Shirane in his Traces of Dreams : Landscape, Cultural memory and the poetry of Basho. What we were seeking, through examples of published, contemporary EL haiku, was to approach the ideal of a balance between the use of poetic devices (the poet’s toolkit) and the seemingly effortless simplicity and lightness of touch that distinguishes a truly masterful haiku.

The discussion was lively and stimulating. Everyone had found and brought along haiku that illustrated for them a) skilful use of various poetic devices; b) predictable, generic haiku; and c) haiku that seemed weighed down or that attracted attention through the overuse of poetic devices.

After lunch, for the ginko hour, some went outdoors, while some visited the galleries and wandered around the many activities happening at Federation Square, one of which was the making of kokedama, using club moss and Victorian native plants, explained to me by a lovely Australian-Japanese young man, Nigel. The kokedama will all go on display soon. There must be some Japanese-themed event happening, as the big screens showed manga films all day!

The usual follow-up, of draft haiku from the day and C &C feedback, will happen via email over the next couple of weeks.

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 2016