Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting #12

For those of us who might be experiencing a slump or fallow period in our haiku writing: we might take heart from a winter haiku by the all-time master:

kiku no ato daikon no hoka sara ni nashi

After the chrysanthemums,
Apart from radishes,
There is nothing.

Bashō, trans. Linda Inoki, The Japan Times, December 7, 2005

R.H. Blyth also has a translation of this haiku in his Haiku Vol. IV, Autumn – Winter (He substitutes ‘turnip’ for radish since his EL readers were unlikely to be familiar with the daikon. These days, we can find the long white Japanese radish in any supermarket.) Blyth comments:

“(Winter) is a kind of off-season for poetry by the calendar of haiku. (This haiku expresses) simply and spontaneously the poetical emptiness that Bashō feels”.

Perhaps Bashō’s haiku might inspire us to write haiku on not being inspired to write haiku?

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Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting #11


On Sunday March 19th, four RKHG members met at the Visitors’ Centre of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens for our autumn meeting and to welcome Takanori Hayakawa, our newest Red Kelpie Haiku Group member. We all made our way to a shady spot not far from Nymphaea Lily Lake, close to where we held our December meeting. Now that it’s autumn, the waterlilies had ceased blooming but we noted bright little yellow flowers of some kind of water plant as we passed the lake. Purple cosmos at their full height were swaying in a soft morning breeze. The sky was a clear bright blue, without even a trace of cloud, as is typical of Melbourne’s autumns, but the temperature this year was notably higher than usual, reaching the mid-thirties. Continue reading “Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting #11”

Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting & Ginko #10

As predicted, Sunday, 4th of December was hot and humid, Melbourne’s first hot summer day. Five members of the Red Kelpie Group gathered at our ‘home’ base, at the Melbourne Botanic Tearooms, but we moved, as planned, to a lawn area under deep shade of old trees, near Nymphaea Lily Lake, to hold our meeting in peace and quiet.

think tank
the pond floats
a waterlily

—Lorin Ford, Failed Haiku #12, December 2016

Our topic, suggested by Jen Sutherland, was an enquiry into kigo , which had been confusing for some. We focused on what kigo means to Japanese haiku practice and how it differs from EL seasonal reference.

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Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting & Ginko #9

Over this past week of heavy rain on Melbourne, I’ve found that I finally have an intuitive and bodily understanding of a modern (gendai) Japanese haiku that has previously evaded me:

water of spring
as water wetted
water, as is 

— Hasegawa Kai

 Everything is so saturated that one experiences the sensation that the rainwater itself has reached a point of maximum saturation too! Continue reading “Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting & Ginko #9”

Red Kelpie Haiku Group Ginko & Meeting #8

As we did last year, the group met at Federation Wharf for our winter meeting, this time on a day full of umbrellas and continuous mizzling rain, which had the effect of muting the colours of the city and the river, but enhancing those of the deciduous leaves and the soft ochres and pinks of the Fed Square paving. Cormorants on the vacant tour boats hung out their wings despite the rain. The ever-present sparrows just shrugged it off.

We found a sheltered table outside one of the cafes by the river, where Robyn Cairns presented a copy of her recently published chapbook, In Transit (Picaro Poets Series, Ginninderra Press) to each of the other seven members present, then we moved on to our discussion.
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Red Kelpie Haiku Group – Autumn meeting & ginko #7

The long-term lack of rain down here in Victoria has left the water-level perceptibly low in the artificial lake beside the Terrace Tearooms at Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens, prompting dusky moorhens to wade around pecking for food in exposed mud beneath the stone walls, exactly where eels could be seen swimming under normal conditions.

With a range of other people involved unable to attend for a variety of reasons – including our leader, Lorin Ford – four members of the Red Kelpie Haiku Group still managed to gather yesterday (Sunday, 6 March) for our autumn meeting. Even if civic gardeners would have appreciated rain, the weather was beautiful – warm and sunny – while group discussion was positive and fruitful to match.

The Red Kelpie Group members joining me yesterday – Janet Howie, Jayashree Maniyil and Earl Livings – had been invited to bring along a draft version of a new haiku that was proving to be challenging. Productive conversation followed, with constructive feedback and helpful suggestions appreciated all around within this work-shopping process.

A second element of the gathering involved group members having also been asked to share a valued haiku – written by another poet – as a prompt towards dialogue, with no particular theme or technical feature specified in advance.

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Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting & Ginko # 6

On Sunday December 13th, we held our summer meeting at The Terrace Tearooms in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Everyone else in Melbourne seemed to have had the same idea. We had to raise our voices considerably during our discussion on the topic of the haiku technique of juxtaposition; a topic which is well worth revisiting from time to time.

The day was fine, reaching a warm 27 degrees. The sunny blue of Jacarandas matched the weather, Canna lilies and Red Hot Pokers blazed from across the lake, ducks and swans spent much time bottoms-up and three juvenile water hens followed an accommodating ‘foster mother’ seagull around the lakeside lawn. Every dog’s body language seemed to convey that the day was especially theirs and exuded friendliness and good will.

We were delighted to welcome Marietta McGregor, from Canberra, as our guest, and Madhuri Pillai, from Melbourne, as our newest member. Before we separated for our silent ginko, Jennifer Sutherland gifted each of those present with books that had been given to her at October’s Haiku North America conference by Lee Gurga and Jim Kacian for that purpose. Santa came early for us this year!

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Red Kelpie Haiku Group Meeting & Ginko #5

For Red Kelpies’ spring meeting, on September 13th, it was back to our ‘home base’ in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and again we were lucky with the weather: fine with a warm breeze from the North.

Blue irises were out, azaleas blossomed in colourful banks; the large, white variety was the one that scented the pathway with a truly beautiful perfume. Shrub-sized prunus blossoms in a gaudy pink shouted at the subtler ranks of hellebores. Wild Elders from Africa waved their cloudy canopies of blossom. The eels, in large numbers, writhed along sleepily in the shallows of the lake and the little Black Ducks paddled over them, unfazed.

People taking the punt tours looked picturesque under the white paper umbrellas supplied to them.

Everything seemed to be basking luxuriously in the welcome sunshine. Spring at last, after a particularly cold, miserable winter!

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