Over this past week of heavy rain on Melbourne, I’ve found that I finally have an intuitive and bodily understanding of a modern (gendai) Japanese haiku that has previously evaded me:
water of spring
as water wetted
water, as is
— Hasegawa Kai
Everything is so saturated that one experiences the sensation that the rainwater itself has reached a point of maximum saturation too!
Luckily for our meeting and ginko, Sunday 11th was the one day it didn’t rain at all, despite some impressive rain clouds in the afternoon. The Botanic Gardens lawns were saturated, blossoms of all kinds abounded, frogs were evident from their calls and little Black ducklings sped around in the duckweed under the watchful eyes of their more sedate parents. Young children, eel-spotting, called out excitedly to each other and among the dogs there was a gentlemanly red kelpie whose photo will go to the Haiku Utsav in India this month. We were delighted to have Jan Dobb, leader of the ‘Haiku at the Oaks’ group in Canberra, as our guest. We were all familiar with Jan’s haiku and there was an immediate connection that made it seem as if Jan had always been part of our group.
The ‘homework’ topic had been Michael Dylan Welch’s essays on ‘deja ku’, to help us distinguish why various haiku we read might seem familiar. As well as outright plagiarism, unintentional plagiarism (which MDW terms ‘cryptomnesia’) and the grey area of ‘insufficient originality’ (consider all those haiku that have employed “things we didn’t say” and its variations over the past few years!) there are the positive areas of homage and parody; two types of deliberate allusion. At the meeting, we focused on these. Each of us brought along examples of haiku we considered to be homages and parodies in response to well-known, earlier haiku or famous longer poems. Discussion was enlightening and enthusiastic.
We then moved on to the voting for our first kukai, which we’d agreed on holding subsequent to our June meeting. I acted as coordinator, receiving two haiku from all (including our guest, Jan) by email prior to the meeting and brought a copy of the printed sheets of 16 anonymous haiku for each participant. Voters had 6 points each to allocate as they wished, provided that each awarded no more than 3 points to any one haiku and didn’t vote for their own poems. (As coordinator, I didn’t submit haiku for the kukai or participate in the voting) Jaya and I tallied the votes. The group agreed that the exercise was fun and the variety of haiku written to the prompt word of ‘seed’ was a practical demonstration that we needn’t be too concerned about writing on the same topic as anyone else. It’s the individual experience and approach that counts.
Since this kukai was held within a private group and all participants need to feel free to submit their work wherever they like for publication, I won’t quote any of the haiku, but congratulations are due to the winners of first, second and third places:
First Place – (8 points) Robyn Cairns
Second Place – (6 points) Marisa Fazio
Equal Third Place – (5 points) Jan Dobb, Janet Howie, Jennifer Sutherland
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, September 2016