Fringe Myrtles – International Haiku Day in Woodend

The Fringe Myrtles haiku group were delighted to be invited to feature at the Chamber Poets spoken word event in Woodend on Saturday April 15th. Seven members of the group attended, and three absent members had some of their haiku read out for them.

Around fifty people gathered at the Woodend RSL on a rainy autumn afternoon. The reading was filled with poetry of all forms, including haiku sung and played by Myron Lysenko’s band Black Forest Smoke who opened the program with a new song ‘Whispering’ and an anthemic haiku sequence titled Anzac Day. In recognition of international haiku day on 17th of this month, the focus of the afternoon was haiku and poets were also invited to read work inspired by Anzac Day.

Marietta McGregor, a treasured Australian haiku poet from the A.C.T was a special interstate guest who treated the audience to a wonderful selection of her evocative nature haiku and a moving Anzac Day haibun. The audience enjoyed her energetic delivery and body language and were captivated by her insights and observations.

Twelve poets from ten local towns and six from Melbourne read in the open section and several read haiku. After a short interval, Black Forest Smoke performed two more original haiku songs, one about families and the other about the pandemic lockdown. “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole afternoon and a highlight was hearing the haiku lyrics and very cool music of Black Forest Smoke sing haiku,”said Fringe Myrtles stalwart, Robbie Cairns.“l’d never heard haiku being performed this way sequenced as lyrics with a repeated haiku chorus and could relate to the darkness of the pandemic lockdowns portrayed in the song balanced with wonderful humour in the haiku and heartfelt music.”

Fringe Myrtle members in attendance then got up to read. Alice Wanderer, Jennifer Sutherland, Madhu Pillai, Louise Hopewell, Robbie Cairns and Myron Lysenko all shared their haiku, both light and dark with a responsive audience. Members Liv Saint James, and Rob Scott had their haiku read out by local poets Helen McDonald from Woodend and Bill Wootton from Hepburn Springs, while Robbie Cairns read Marisa Fazio’s haiku .

Woodend writer Helen McDonald was awarded the coveted Poet of the Month award by judge Ann Bowman. McDonald read a prose poem about her grandfather being in the trenches during World War One and then followed it up with a haiku.

Other highlights of the afternoon included Alice Wanderer’s poignant haiku sequence and two anti-war haibun; the first public reading by Madhuri Pillai and a very funny and entertaining set from senryu specialist and all-round writer Louise Hopewell.

Hats off to Myron Lysenko who donned both his Chamber Poets and Fringe Myrtles caps to host a wonderful afternoon of poetry, haiku and music.

The next Chamber Poets event will take place on Saturday 13th May and the featured reader will be Andy Jackson whose most recent poetry collection is Human Looking which won the ALS Gold Medal and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, as well as being shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry. As usual, haiku poets are warmly encouraged to read in the Open Section.

– Robbie Cairns and Jen Sutherland

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