Haiku @ The Oaks, Canberra

Wednesday 11 May 2022

With the leaves of autumn adorning The Oaks and all of Canberra in their seasonal glory, four of us came together in a spirit of kigo—Kathy Kituai, Glenys Ferguson, Marietta McGregor and Jan Dobb.  We sorely missed our other two mates—Hazel Hall and Greg Piko—and thoughts were very much with them.

As we ordered lunch and settled down, congratulations were offered to Kathy who has just had a prose poem published in the weekend Canberra Times.  We briefly discussed the dynamics of mood change and perspective when we choose to write in different genres

Talk veered into observing ways in which we come to live with haiku’ in everyday life.  Glenys spoke of an attractive note book she has had for some while and deciding to handwrite her haiku on its pages as a birthday gift to her teenage grandson who has been expressing appreciation of the genre for some time now.  Jan explained how she has come to spend time (almost) each day quieting herself and coming to rest with one of her ‘old’ haiku, slowly breathing it and entering it once again, before slowly writing it with a fountain pen in a notebook kept for this purpose.

With the empty lunch plates now out of the way, there was room on the table for a bit of show and tell.

Marietta introduced us to Geppo the quarterly members-only journal of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, which describes itself as ’celebrating Japanese traditions in English language haiku’.  For more details see here. Marietta had brought a sample of Geppo to show us, and a selection of haiku were read and discussed.  One haiku raised the challenging question of whether it is legitimate to write haiku about experiences we have not personally encountered.  This produced some lively, friendly, and fiery debate!

Jan had brought an anthology of haiku by Richard Wright (1908-1960), whose childhood autobiography Black Boy she had read many years ago.  Wright wrote haiku in the final years of his life, at a time when 5-7-5 was the norm, and phrase/fragment had not been so firmly recognised.  The beauty and poignancy of Wright’s haiku are nonetheless moving, and although a bit wordy, perhaps, by today’s standards, their general effectiveness remains strong.  We acknowledged that haiku continues to develop and experiment, not necessarily negating what has gone before.

For a brief while we mentioned the plans that are in progress for Haiku Down Under to be held on Zoom in October and we voiced our appreciation of those who are getting it together.  An exciting prospect. . . 

The days are closing in early now, and it was time to be on our way.

Jan Dobb

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