Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting & Ginko #10

As predicted, Sunday, 4th of December was hot and humid, Melbourne’s first hot summer day. Five members of the Red Kelpie Group gathered at our ‘home’ base, at the Melbourne Botanic Tearooms, but we moved, as planned, to a lawn area under deep shade of old trees, near Nymphaea Lily Lake, to hold our meeting in peace and quiet.

think tank
the pond floats
a waterlily

—Lorin Ford, Failed Haiku #12, December 2016

Our topic, suggested by Jen Sutherland, was an enquiry into kigo , which had been confusing for some. We focused on what kigo means to Japanese haiku practice and how it differs from EL seasonal reference.

We’d each brought along for discussion:

  1. a) haiku (not our own work) by an Australian which we thought used a seasonal reference well, in a way that added depth or resonance to the poem rather than just as a ‘season stamp’.
  1. b) Japanese haiku (in translation) that uses a kigo in such a way that we understood (after some research) the “vertical axis”: cultural allusions that imply more than is said.

The main pre-reading had been Haruo Shirane’s ‘Beyond the Haiku Moment’ (again) and John Bird’s ‘Seasonality: Coming Clean on Kigo’:  We pondered to what extent it’s possible to develop an Australian equivalent of a saijiki and agreed that John’s pithy, “Perhaps we could get all Australians to standardise kigo on Canberra, our national capital; pigs might fly”, summed it up for us. The atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed, we had our picnic lunches and snacked throughout and everyone agreed that the discussions had led to greater insight into the kigo/seasonal reference issue.

We ventured beyond our shady venue for our silent ginko, as usual going our separate ways to write draft haiku or notes. The swan cygnets we’d seen in September are now big adolescents, but still sailing around in a group. The Black Ducks must have a long breeding season because one pair had five new ducklings to watch over, all of whom were busy snapping insects from reeds in the lily pond. Young dragonflies, not yet full size or shiny, darted above the waterlilies. A water dragon sneaking down toward the pond caught our attention. Two of us went into the hothouse, which was like a sauna, and noted that the ‘stinking lily’ had grown into a strange tree.

Back in September, RKHG members Madhuri Pillai and Jayashree Maniyal attended ‘Triveni – The World Haiku Utsav’ in Pune, India. They collaborated in writing up a report for the rest of the group and sent us lots of delightful photos. We all wished we could’ve been there!


(Photo by Jaya: Madhu is front, second from right. Facilitator Kala Ramesh, front row, centre, in sari)
“The participants came from India, Japan, UK, Bangladesh and Australia: two Red Kelpie members Jayashree Maniyil and Madhuri Pillai from Victoria and Samar Ghose from Western Australia.”

Madhu and Jaya have also very generously provided copies of ‘Naad Anunaard: an anthology of comtemporary world haiku’, launched at the festival, for RKHG members. Haiku by three RKHG members, Jaya, Madhu and Lorin are included in this anthology, which will be available beyond India in the near future.

*  *  *

Enquiries from haiku writers who might like to join our 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, December 2016

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