Fringe Myrtles Haiku Meeting, November 2020

The Fringe Myrtles met for what will (probably) be the last time this year. Once again, and customarily for 2020, the meeting was held on Zoom, attended by local, interstate and international guests – the blessed irony of the pandemic.

In the lead up to the meeting, Myron volunteered to do a workshop on haibun, a haikai form which many Fringe Myrtles have dabbled in over the years, and circulated some material to the group to consider prior to the meeting.

Rob chaired the meeting and began in the usual fashion with the haiku reading, where attendees share a haiku for discussion and feedback. The theme for this meeting was ‘open’ and included the following:

spring sunshine—
the lizard in me
slowly defrosts

Marisa Fazio

                                                                                  sleeping butterfly the soft lips of a horse

                                                                                                                                 Alice Wanderer

These haiku and others brought about interesting and invigorating discussions about many elements of haiku. One of the discussions, prompted by a haiku by Madhuri Pillai in which she used the Malayalam word ‘thengu’, focused on the practice and importance of using indigenous (non-English) language in English haiku. By far the majority view of the group was that this practice was meaningful on many levels and should be encouraged.

Later in the meeting, Michael shared a haiku from the Magpie Haiku Group in Calgary, Canada with whom he had met earlier in the day. The haiku posed similar questions on the theme of ‘sense of place’, including the use of regional place names in haiku and the impact this has on the resonance of a poem. Utamakura – the use of “poetic words” (usually place names) – is commonly found in Japanese haiku, and is thought to add greater depth to their poetry. It is sometimes said that allusion to local culture works against universal understandings in a globally connected haiku world, thus limiting the ‘scope’ of a poem, though the opposite argument could equally, and strongly, be put. Attendees were grateful for the opportunity to consider a haiku from another haiku group in another hemisphere – once again underscoring the marvel and accidental convenience of Zoom.

The enthusiastic participation in these discussions, among all members, was such that we ran out of time for Myron’s haibun workshop, which will be carried over to the next meeting!

Rob Scott