Haiku @ The Oaks, Canberra

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Lunch together under the trees on a beautiful spring day . . . how better to begin a haiku afternoon at The Oaks? Through the aromas of fish and chips, toasted Turkish rolls, tea and coffee, our conversation immediately sparked. As usual, the magpies and currawongs were not silent either!

This time we missed Greg Piko who is out of town, so we numbered five–Glenys Ferguson, Hazel Hall, Kathy Kituai, Marietta McGregor and Jan Dobb. Among several haiku topics that ebbed and flowed during the afternoon, two major ones came to the fore.  Thank you to Hazel and Kathy…

A friendly email from Hazel had alerted us to Hansha Teki’s Bipedal Verses that she thought might interest us.  And it did!  We were curious to explore further the idea of ‘parallels’, a form that Hansha Teki quotes Johannes S H Berg in describing as two simultaneous instances, two trains of ‘thought’, in juxtaposition with each other while often with their own juxtaposition.  Hazel sensitively read us several of Teki’s parallels, first reading the left-hand side, then the right, then interlocking them.  The effect was quite astonishing!

By timely coincidence, we had only recently been examining Greg’s development of ‘haiku shuffle’, another intriguing way of intermingling haiku for an extended effect (see July write-up). There was a feeling that haiku is a very ‘alive’ form with possibilities still evolving.

Following up on last month’s discussion of haiku sequence (see September write-up), Kathy had kindly prepared an example for us to ponder. She handed it to us verse by verse, inviting us to connect with the link-and-shift technique and to consider what that implied. How enriching it is to share reactions in this way! We were reminded of the subtleties that are possible and of the interpretations different readers can offer as the sequence unfolds bit by bit. As Kathy pointed out, there is a difference between a sequence and a string, the former following its own inner connections. 

Both of these episodes were times of joy and discovery, surprise and challenge. What will next month bring?  For this group with no formal agenda, there seems never a dull moment!

Jan Dobb

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