Red Kelpies Haiku Group # 17

September 2018

We’d been excitedly looking forward to our meeting with Canadian haiku poet Terry Ann Carter but we’d also been anxiously watching the weather in the week leading up to our meeting: the possibility of thunderstorms and hail were on the menu. As it turned out, we were lucky. Melbourne gave us a milder version of its traditional “four seasons in one day”, cold winds and scattered showers, with the sun breaking through now and then. Everyone was in bright spirits. As a bonus, guests Ron Moss from Tasmania and Melbourne poet Robbie Coburn joined us for the day. Delightfully, Robbie Coburn will be joining us next time as our newest group member.

We gathered at the Botanic Gardens’ Visitors’ Centre. Terry Ann came well prepared, wearing her genuine Tasmanian Blundstones and carrying a swag of books and materials. After introductions and friendly talking, we walked through part of the gardens to The Terrace, where we held our meeting, led by Terri Ann. As well as talking about haiku in Canada, Terry Ann had brought along many samples of her hand-made books (each of them unique works of art) and passed them around for everyone to see and touch while she explained how they’d been made. Her enthusiasm and wide experience with groups made the meeting refreshingly informal as well as informative, inspiring questions and comments from us all. We had some competition, though, from some very loud common mynahs who’d claimed The Terrace as their territory. Such is life!

Red Kepies Sept 2018 a
From left: Terry Ann Carter, Robbie Coburn, Jayashree Maniyil, Madhuri Pillai, Lorin Ford, Janet Howie and Rob Scott. Photo by Ron Moss

In the abundance of hand-made and print books by Terry Ann, the Red Kelpie Group was very pleased to at least have prepared a little pamphlet of our haiku to give to her and all present. Thanks especially to Madhuri Pillai, who agreed to receive five haiku of their own choice from each RKHG member attending and had the pamphlet printed while she was visiting her family in India.

siblings . . .
different narratives
of our childhood

Maduri Pillai (Tinywords 17.2, 2017)

Red Kelpies display Sept 2018
Photo by Rob Scott

I first came into contact with Terry Ann in 2015 when she sent her very welcome essay, “Chiyo-ni and Aisatsu :The Poetry of Greeting” to A Hundred Gourds. Those of us who’ve participated in renku understand that the first verse, the hokku, should imply a greeting but relatively few of us have realised that a greeting haiku is a traditional way of honouring a special guest. ( In my experience, Terry Ann’s essay received much attention from peace-minded USA and ex-pat USA haiku poets in the wake of President Barak Obama’s genuine, heart-felt “haiku of greeting”, in 2015, in a toast to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.) Within the text of the essay, along with Chiyo-ni’s haiku and those of other Canadian and USA haiku poets, one of Terry Ann’s own haiku is quoted, with this commentary:

“Stretching the concept even further, my own haiku, ‘in the glass case of skulls’, might be considered a greeting, albeit a solemn one, to the country of Cambodia with its torturous past:

in the glass case of skulls
a reflection
of my own face

This haiku was written on a folded piece of paper and placed with memorial flowers in the Stupa outside Choeung Ek, the “Killing Fields”, outside Phnom Pehn. In this way it might be considered both a greeting and a departure poem.” – Terry Ann Carter

Having taught some young Cambodian refugees back in the late ‘70s-‘80s and knowing their stories, I could immediately relate to this haiku. One of Terry Ann’s haiku chapbooks, A Monk’s Fine Robes: a haiku sequence from Cambodia is based on her experiences of travelling in Cambodia.

Terry Ann’s latest book is Tokaido (Red Moon Press, 2017) a book of fifty-three haibun inspired by Hiroshige’s The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō, a series of ukiyo-e woodcut prints created by Hiroshige after his first journey along the Tōkaidō in 1832. I thoroughly recommend this book, which is available through Red Moon Press. One sample:


Station Ten: Hakone
Underneath My Skin is Mountain Worship

In the blood. In the paper. In the eclipse. Inside. Outside. In the cellphone. In the glass cupboard. In truth. In lies. In manifest destiny. In health. In sickness. In fine print.

I practice the enso circle
my seventy years


Much as we would’ve liked to have a ginko for Terry Ann in the Australian section of the gardens as well, we packed up before heavier rainfall came in the afternoon. We were full of enthusiasm for all of the possibilities she had shared with us. Terry Ann, who only recently stepped down from the role of President of Haiku Canada, welcomes anyone from Australia who is able to travel to Canada next year for their annual Conference. Check out her website 

Resd Kelpies Sept 2018
From back left: Robbie Coburn, Jayashree Maniyil, Janet Howie, Marisa Fazio, Robyn Cairns, Ron Moss. From front left: Rob Scott, Lorin Ford, Terry Ann Carter. Photo by Madhuri Pillai

The Red Kelpie Haiku Group meeting for summer 2018 is scheduled to be held on Sunday 2nd December (the first Sunday in December)

Takanori Hayakawa will lead the meeting on the topic of the role of the saijiki in Japanese haiku and how we might approach local seasoning of our haiku. We welcome guests and new members. Enquiries from haiku writers who might like to join our group or be invited along as guests should be directed to Lorin Ford by email: haikugourds at gmail dot com, with ‘Red Kelpie Haiku Group’ in the email subject bar.

Lorin Ford, Melbourne, September 2018

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