HAIKU @ THE OAKS, CANBERRA

Tuesday 24 October 2017

By 1:30 we were all gathered at The Oaks, greetings ringing loud and warm under the spreading trees.

Seven of us circled the large wooden table, while a hopeful magpie or two kept watch. The six ‘regulars’ – Kathy Kituai, Glenys Ferguson, Hazel Hall, Gregory Piko, Marietta McGregor and Jan Dobb – were delighted to welcome back our ‘ex-officio’ member Sheila Sondik from Washington State who is again visiting her family in Canberra.

Without pause, the conversation rocketed around the table. First off were feedbacks from Haiku North America. A month ago Sheila and Marietta were there in the joy of it all and the rest of us were keen to hear about highlights that had impressed. Marietta, in her typically thoughtful way, had brought us each a ‘show bag’ of HNA pamphlet-haiku.

Sheila described a session she attended on ways to read haiku aloud, with a different approach to repeating each poem. This grabbed our interest and after a to-and-fro of discussion, it was agreed that next time we might bring a haiku or two to read to the group in such a way.

During all this, we’d been intrigued by a box that Greg had placed in front of him, waiting for a turn at show-and-tell. Inside were packages of Monji teabags with haiku from Blowing Up Balloons by Greg and Vanessa Proctor on the tags, a project that Greg had previously indicated was under way. It was exciting to see the final result! Do visit Greg’s website to read more about it.

Greg and Jan had both brought along copies of Scott Mason’s recently published book The Wonder Code by way of recommendation to the group, a book full of pleasure and enrichment for haiku poets at whatever stage they may be at. Among many haiku from The Heron’s Nest that illustrate each theme of the book are two of Greg’s. This led to other recommendations from the group and a quick scribbling of titles and authors.

Conversations and discussions zipped across the table, each of us contributing in our personal way. Our group shares a wonderful air of friendly enquiry and learning as we talk about our methods of writing, how we decide on format, how we are challenged, how we organise and file our work, which publications we submit to and why . . . and so we go on, our differences in personality and approach enriching our experience together.

As one of us perceptively said, ‘The differences within our group strengthen the flavour of the whole dish’.

Jan Dobb

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