Haiku @ The Oaks, Canberra

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Overhead the currawongs, miners, magpies, cockatoos were in full-throated chorus as we yakked once more beneath the trees at The Oaks. One young magpie even joined in our discussion, warbling from his perch on a spare chair. Five of us were present—Gregory Piko, Marietta McGregor, Hazel Hall, Glenys Ferguson, Jan Dobb.  We missed Kathy Kituai this time.

As we settled in over lunch, Hazel congratulated Greg on his impressive reading at the recent Poetry Book Fair.

Then Marietta responded to our interest in her current adventure of editing The Haiku Foundation’s ‘Haiku Dialogue‘. Despite the volume of work involved, the pleasure and enrichment of the project was obvious. Marietta is its first editor from down-under, and some more submissions from Aussie poets were encouraged.

As if by magic, Hazel and Marietta delved into their bags to simultaneously produce an identical little book, Moving Meditation edited by Lynne Jambor, an anthology of haiku about tai chi. As the copies circulated, a number of poems were read out including ones by Hazel, Marietta and our ex-officio member Sheila Sondik. A very pleasing and attractive publication.

Further reading and appreciation arose from an extract of Beverley George’s chapbook The Birds That Stay that Hazel had prepared as a handout. Beverley’s writing impressed us as ever and Glenys, along with others, recounted in tribute the friendly encouragement of Beverley over the years and her place in the haiku history of Oz. It was a delight to read her work together.

Aware of the interest in haiku innovation, Jan handed out an extract she’d discovered on The Haiku Foundation website. This was an experimental poem entitled ‘Swallowing Autumn’ by Kat Lehmann that is described as sudo-ku given that it is written in a vertical/horizontal chart-like form. Our curiosity was aroused, leading to exploratory comments. It forms part of an article entitled ‘Some Thoughts on Line and Syllable Count in English Language Haiku‘ by Julie Bloss Kelsey.

Photo by Hazel Hall

So ended another afternoon of sharing all things haiku with good friends—not forgetting the feathered ones!  Back in a month. . .

Jan Dobb