Haiku @ The Oaks, Canberra

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Lucky again with the weather. So thought many other people! The Oaks was abustle with lunchtime trade beneath the trees. Adding to human chatter was that of the birds who seemed more numerous and up-close than ever, one magpie starting an avian squabble after stealing a chip straight from Hazel’s plate!

We were a smaller group this month, Marietta McGregor and Greg Piko being unable to join us–Hazel Hall, Kathy Kituai, Glenys Ferguson and Jan Dobb. 

Jan returned Hazel’s copy of Johannes S H Berg: Noah’s Eggs that she had borrowed last time and perused with interest, so a little further discussion about haiku ‘parallels’ followed, and Hazel read one or two of Berg’s poems. Since the last Oaks write-up, we’d been delighted to read of the Bindii Group’s October Zoom meeting and their own suggested follow-up of Teki’s Bipedal Verses. A nice sense of inter-group comradeship!

A copy of the recently released ‘Haiku Hecameron’ was much admired and discussed (Girasole Press, 2020). This book, Gratitude in the Time of COVID19 edited by Scott Mason is a truly superb production, reflecting the same quality, sensitivity and tactile feel to it that is evident in his former The Wonder Code. Despite being produced in an abnormal time of pandemic, these pieces ‘serve as a testament to what is timeless: the abiding wonders, large and small, of the greater world we inhabit’ (from Introduction). And indeed, the sense of wonder and gratitude that permeates this collection stems not only from the fine haiku-related forms, but from the way they are collated and presented on each double page, on each day. One work speaks to and enhances another though from different sides of the globe. We read some of the ‘days’ aloud, and those of us yet to buy a copy made plans to do so. To top it off, author of three of the contributions is our very own Marietta. 

The October issue of cattails provided food for thought too. Jan had appreciated, and now circulated copies of works by two of The Oaks mob–a haiku from Greg (page 10) and a haibun from Hazel (page 125) both of which portray so much so succinctly. And yet . . . isn’t there a ‘rule’ somewhere to say that haiku does not comment on social or political matters? After thoughtful discussion, we agreed that the stark power of Greg’s and Hazel’s work indeed lies in the gentle beauty of their haiku/haibun expression. A crucial poetic voice in our times. . .?

Although the lunchtime crowds had thinned by now, the noise continued, this time from a gardener’s mower tackling the overgrowth in adjacent grassland. Inhaling the fresh-cut aromas, we eventually packed up and gave our table back to the birds.  Until next month. . .

Jan Dobb

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