Haiku @ The Oaks, Canberra

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Despite blue sky and sunshine, the chill of Canberra’s winter meant another indoor gathering this month. Hot soup and fish & chips were orders of the day as five of us gathered by a heater in The Oaks marquee–Kathy Kituai, Hazel Hall, Marietta McGregor, Glenys Ferguson and Jan Dobb. We missed the cheerful company of Gregory Piko who is out of town just now. 

Our greetings and life-sharing included thoughts of Sheila Sondik, our ‘ex officio’ member, who is enduring the horrendous heatwave in north-west US.

Marietta arrived with a paper bag stuffed full of books! She’d been having a cull (how quickly our shelves tend to overflow!) so we found ourselves the grateful recipients of haiku journals we’d not previously seen. We agreed that this is a fine way to keep journal issues alive and to share in the joy of them. (On an earlier occasion, Kathy had brought a bundle for us.) Thank you, Marietta.

So, rather naturally, this led to further discussions about publishing, a bit of a carry-over from our talk last month. So many varied aspects to this topic . . .

Jan then produced her copy of a book that she is currently finding inspiring, a book that has sat on her shelf since it first inspired her several years ago–Martin Lucas’s Stepping Stones: a way into haiku (British Haiku Society, 2007). It is interesting to observe how an excellent book can open up fresh insights at different stages of one’s haiku journey. And, of course, we remembered with sadness the loss of Martin Lucas and we honoured his priceless contribution to the haiku world.

Much of our ensuing time was taken up with exploring haiku from this book and considering the various ways we might approach them, along with Martin’s comments. This led to some wonderful interchange and moments of discovery.

Our conversation veered off into wider realms as our pleasure of language steered us towards poetry in general and its relationship to prose, a topic that could go on forever through prose/poetry, to haibun, to almost wherever. . . By co-incidence, Glenys mentioned the beautiful work of Jane Baker, a member of the Yass Writer’s Group to which both she and Greg belong. And then, the same evening, came an email from Greg with his latest website post—Jane’s recently published book. An apt co-incidence indeed! Greg wasn’t even present at our discussion today!

In all, our chatter had covered such a lot of ground although, once again, the afternoon had flown. Beyond the marquee the chill was growing chillier, yet we emerged full of warmth from another Haiku @ The Oaks.

Jan Dobb

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