HAIKU @ THE OAKS, CANBERRA

The trees at The Oaks offered us their full summer shade as we gathered around a large wooden table for our final gathering of 2017. Magpies and koels accompanied us with song. A team of dog-walkers ambled past on adjacent parkland to a general wagging of tails.

There were five of us – Glenys Ferguson, Kathy Kituai, Hazel Hall, Gregory Piko and Jan Dobb. We missed the eagerness of Marietta McGregor who alas was out of town. Emailed greetings were passed on from Sheila Sondik who is now back home in Washington State. We look forward to her next visit down-under.

As usual we arrived with no agenda other than to see where our talk on haiku and related genres would take us this time. And along some intriguing paths we wandered.

As a couple of us have publications in progress, discussion turned to publishers – their preferences, their approach, their experience. Who is who? When is self-publishing an option? What is good advice about illustrations? Many aspects kept coming forth . . .

Questions were asked about the various poetry activities around Canberra and Kathy detailed some of these, including the challenge for haiku and tanka to find showing. Kathy’s long experience in Canberra’s poetry world brought valuable insights to our group.

This, quite naturally, led on to further discussion from our previous meeting when – thanks to Sheila’s feedback from Haiku North America – we had looked at an alternate way of reading haiku which was to:

Read line A (pause)
Read lines A and B (pause)
Read lines A, B and C

Indeed, Glenys mentioned that she had tried this style at a recent local writers meeting where it had been well received. So now we began suggesting even further possibilities, and as Jan had distributed a few favourite haiku she had read over the years, we decided to try a ‘communal’ reading. Going round the table in turn, we each

Read a haiku in full
Read line A
Read line B
Read line C
Read the haiku again in full

We agreed that this sounded well and ideas were forthcoming as to ways of physically presenting such readings, e.g. perhaps the one-line readers could be at different places throughout the audience. The ideas seemed endless.

After some previous email exchange, some of us had been giving thought to haibun and Greg came up with a fascinating proposition – is it possible to have a haiku-less haibun? That made us sit up! We acknowledged the ‘poetry’ of certain short-prose pieces. Might a haiku perhaps be contained in prose?

Greg read us a published small piece of his to demonstrate his query. This indeed left us something to think about as we gathered our belongings and headed to the car-park after another stimulating afternoon at The Oaks.

What a beautiful spot!

Jan Dobb

Tuesday 12 December 2017