Fringe Myrtles Haiku Meeting, October 2021

The Fringe Myrtles met yet again on Zoom on a day in which Melbourne was announced the most locked-down city in the world. The only person happy about this was Michael Dylan Welch, who is still able to join our meetings from his home in Washington.

Joining Michael for our latest meeting were Janet Howie, Liv Saint-James, Alice Wanderer, Marisa Fazio, Madhuri Pillai, Louise Hopewell, Rob Scott and Jayashree Maniyil. Jen Sutherland, who sent apologies for Covid-related matters, sent congratulations to both Madhuri and Liv for their haiku that appeared in the most recent issue of Presence, which were shared with the group.

Rob opened the meeting with a review and commentary of Alice Wanderer’s new book Lips Licked Clean – Selected Haiku of Sugita Hisajo (Red Moon Press, 2021). Alice selected and translated the haiku as well as providing a fascinating summary of Hisajo’s life, highlighting the considerable obstacles she faced in the male dominated haiku scene of early 20th century Japan. Hisajo is a fascinating poet who wrote about the mundanities of everyday life with a female gaze. Writing like this had not been seen before. Here is a sample:

my pouting child
shakes my sewing shoulder
how hot it is

reading a play—
the winter evening’s crockery
left to soak

on her first school day
I fold and hand over
a paper hanky

For each poem in the book, Alice provides a helpful note on kigo (as well as an explanatory introduction) which gives us another perspective on the importance and practice of the use of kigo in Japanese haiku. It is a wonderful book and the Fringe Myrtles had plenty of questions and compliments for Alice after the presentation.


Then the meeting moved on to the haiku workshop, for which members were asked to write haiku on the following themes:

Seasonal: spring birdsong
Non-seasonal: Dog

Some wonderful haiku was shared and the workshop discussion was typically warm, lively and productive with poets given plenty of helpful suggestions to consider for their poems. The next meeting is scheduled for the weekend of November 13-14 by which time, it might be possible to meet fact-to-face. Fingers crossed (sorry Michael).

– Rob Scott, Convenor