Haiku @ The Oaks, Canberra

Wednesday 12 October 2022

After all the recent rain, it was a relief to meet on a dry day when we could enjoy lunch together at a table under the trees, albeit in the company of thronging currawongs with similar intentions! Four of us made it this month, Kathy Kituai, Glenys Ferguson, Marietta McGregor, and Jan Dobb. Thoughts were with our two missing companions, Gregory Piko and Hazel Hall.

Of course, with our meeting just a day or two after a weekend of Haiku Down Under, a lot of animated discussion ensued.  There was unanimous praise for this innovative venture and appreciation was expressed for the dedicated task of its organisers.  Our very own Marietta was congratulated on her excellent presentation as part of the program.  Although a lot of the issues raised during the weekend were familiar ones, they nonetheless evoked a freshness for discussion and further thought—an aspect we agreed was essential as we travel the way of haiku. Over fish and chips, our lively conversation ranged from the significance of language (local or universal?); the place of horror in haiku; writing from experience including the ‘experience of imagination’; features of wabi sabi . . . until our plates were long empty. 

Kathy had brought a book to share with us, Translating Loss, a self-published collection of haiku by Maurice Neville.  The delicacy of his poems was appreciated as the book circulated and several were read aloud.  Marietta, too, had brought a book to share, Student Haiku and Senryu Anthology, an outcome of the Nicholas Virgilio Memorial Competition (Haiku Society of America 2020).  As haiku were read from this collection, we endorsed Marietta’s words of appraisal, ‘uncomplicated, fresh and artless’.  Two books brought a double treat!

Jan then produced a selection of haiku she had made from publications, to illustrate her fascination with phonesthemes (a word that escaped her at the time but was later successfully googled by Marietta!).  Unlike onomatopoeia, which sounds like the sounds it describes, phonesthemes convey the ‘sound’ of things that have no sound at all.  For example, the words fly, flit, flutter all tend to convey the type of flight they describe merely from the sound of the word. Similarly, different types of light are suggested by the sound of glint, gleam, glow, glitter, glare etc.  By mere sound, whole phrases can convey something that is quite soundless. Along with other haiku we considered, Susan Scott’s work on this week’s AHS Featured Haiku is an apt example perhaps. 

The currawongs were deciding that enough is enough, raucously urging us to abandon our lunch remnants.  As we started to pack up, we congratulated Kathy and Marietta on accepting roles in the launching of books and the judging of competitions. Things to share next time . . .

Jan Dobb

Author: leanneausthaiku

Secretary, Australian Haiku Society

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