Haiku @ The Oaks

Thursday 11 May 2023

A monthly lunch @ The Oaks is one of those bright spots in our calendars. Once a month we bond in friendship and haiku, wondering where our agenda-less meeting might lead us. On Thursday, five of us greeted around the table—Kathy Kituai, Hazel Hall, Gregory Piko, Marietta McGregor, and Jan Dobb. We missed Glenys Ferguson, who is out of town.

Amid our preliminary catch-up, we were impressed by Kathy’s description of facilitating a labyrinth meditation inspired by autumn tanka. Creative non-fiction also engages her, a genre that evoked lively feedback, noting its effective use in haibun.

Hazel produced a recently published book of poems gifted to her by its author Kath Abela Wilson, Figures of Humor and Strange Beauty, which, to quote the blurb, ‘explores the permeability of dream and reality . . . from meditative engagement with the mysteries of the natural world’. Although not haiku in form, its spirit was recognised as these beautiful poems circulated around our table.

Of course, the conversation soon led on to haiku itself, Greg congratulating our little mob for its three showings in the results of the John Bird Dreaming Award—Hazel, Marietta, and Jan. This was indeed a pleasing outcome and some discussion followed about a poet’s intentions and their readers’ responses, about haiku as a living and unpredictable entity.

Another book came to light, this time from the depths of Greg’s bag. The Haiku Down Under anthology, Poetry from the Edge, drew appreciative comment as it, too, circulated the table and one or two haiku were read aloud. We found the book’s tactile ‘feel’ very pleasing and the comfortable size of font a boon to readers with problematic vision.

Jan then distributed copies of a few haiku by H F Noyes from his Between Two Waves (1996) that had impressed her while browsing the Haiku Foundation digital library. The ‘music of language’ along with various techniques was her primary attraction and this we explored. The date of publication gave rise to some further discussion. How readily do today’s editors choose lengthier haiku when the trend is brevity? Perhaps those of some journals more than others? We agreed that Noyes’ poems highlight the evolution of haiku writing, and even of haiku content. We agreed, too, that it is not a matter of ‘better or worse’—merely an ever-growing richness of haiku possibilities.

Where will our rambles with haiku take us next month? 

Jan Dobb

Author: leanneausthaiku

Secretary, Australian Haiku Society

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