HAIKU @ THE OAKS, CANBERRA

Tuesday 15 October 2019

A sunny afternoon had brought customers to The Oaks and busy mowers to the adjacent grassland, magpies and cockatoos adding further sounds of spring as we settled around a table in the dapples. As usual, we’d anticipated this casual time-out together and greetings were hearty between the five of us – Kathy Kituai, Glenys Ferguson, Marietta MacGregor, Gregory Piko and Jan Dobb. We missed Hazel Hall whose time was stretched with her involvement in Canberra’s annual festival of Poetry on the Move.

Inspired by our discussion last time, Marietta had prepared some ‘Haiku to think about’, a collection of published works by various poets that she had sorted into four categories for our consideration — not obvious at all, more obvious but still dreaming room, obvious juxtaposition but clever, very obvious. Animated discussion immediately ensued as we worked through these twenty or so haiku and exchanged reactions. Doors opened, new insights were glimpsed, agreements questioned, enigmas unsolved. How stimulating to freely bounce ideas and responses across a haiku friendly table! Even the zooms of nearby mowers could not stop us.

As a flow-on, Greg was asked if this discussion was relevant to his recent task of judging the NZ Poetry Society haiku competition, and we listened with interest to his comments on how much of this affected his reading and selecting of entries.

By happy coincidence, Greg then produced his show-and-tell of gendai haiku which tied in appropriately with the foregoing. He had watched a YouTube interview with Richard Gilbert, sponsored by the US poetry magazine Rattle, in which Gilbert spoke about his book Poetry as Consciousness and ‘haiku sanctuary’, a zone of knowing between living and dreaming. Greg presented us with several haiku to consider in this light, including the frogmouth one by Sheila Sondik recently published in Echidna Tracks. (Sheila is our sort of ex-officio member who visits Canberra from the US occasionally.)

We gathered up our bits and pieces and prepared to leave, marvelling again at how quickly the afternoon had flown by. Amazing how an informal cuppa under the trees can leave us so fired and refreshed . . .!

Jan Dob