Posted in Senryu

Donna Claire Gallagher’s Candle

blowing out
one birthday candle
the whole family

© Donna Claire Gallagher (1941 – 2009)

Various poets from the Haiku Nook wrote about this haiku:

I like it. I have an image of a family gathered around a birthday cake for a child who has just turned one year old, too young to understand the meaning of birthday celebrations and too young to know about blowing out candles at such celebrations. This is a happy, joyful event, a family, more than one generation, gathered and bound together with the glue of love. And Donna Claire said all that with only eight words. Kudos to her.

– Dana Grover

Yes, when everyone else forsakes you… the comfort of family is your last bastion of hope in this physical world. Their warmth, their assurance, their comfort in the most trying moments of your life.

Of course there would be happy moments shared with the family, specially with a big one, as in this ku, where a child celebrates his first year. I could imagine the fun… the human drama of it all.

– Willie Bongcaron

Could be a trick candle, the last fragment is the key because it’s pretty much open to all types on interpretations where the haiku never ends because of the structure.

– Fractled

Yes, there’s an element of humor. It could be a trick candle, but there’s also a connotation of warmth and togetherness that conjures the image of a close-knit family, as was said earlier. I don’t approve of calling verses like this “senryu.” The tone is light and humorous, but also very warm and positive. It is firmly in the haiku range of tone and character, and calling a ku this wholesome and lovely a senryu is an insult in my opinion.

– Clayton Beach

I think this says a lot about how much a family has invested in the next generation, and how the first birthday is an important milestone. Perhaps we can be reminded that in many parts of the world, the infant mortality rate remains very high.

Another point is that this first birthday is a unifying event for the familyas we all know, families are full of tensions and issues, but on this special day, the whole family are united in one simple task.

– Martha Magenta

One view that was not mentioned by the other commentators was that maybe this senryu is about the death of a baby, and the family is blowing out a birthday candle in honor of the baby.

Also, in terms of sound, the “b” in “blowing” and “birthday” could connect to the sound of blowing out of a candle. Also, making the senryu more musical is the “l” sounds coursing through the lines.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

What do you think or feel about this senryu? Let us know in the comments. 

Advertisements
Posted in Haiku

Adjei Agyei-Baah’s Stars

calm water…
the urge to walk these stars
as stepping stones

WHR Jan 2017, Shintai Haiku, 7 Honorable Mention

© Adjei Agyei-Baah (Ghana)

The first thing I noticed was the contrast between “calm” and “urge.” In the context of this haiku, I believe “calm” relates to a clarity of vision.

People sometimes have abstract desires to do something.  In regard to this haiku, this abstract idea is celestial and engages the reader’s imagination greatly. To me, stars being thought of as stepping stones can mean multiple things: 1) that we should use outer space as a vehicle to further the human race 2) the poet is disillusioned with mundane life and wants to be guided to a more heavenly/divine/transcendent place 3) that since the stars are being reflected in the calm water (an assumption of mine), it shows that stepping stones can seem grand through one’s perspective, even if they are simply a tool to reach the other side. I am sure readers can find more interpretations as well.

The calmness of the water, in my mind, gives rise to the poet’s imagination. In the stillness of the moment, the poet sees the stars reflected in the water, and is in tune with his desires. In the clarity of mental stillness, the world opens up with new possibilities. Thoughts usually hold us back from imagining and feeling the moment. The border between what is programmed into our minds and what is spontaneous is broken if we attain mental stillness. Like a Zen state, the stars could have easily been stepping stones, and anything else reflected in the water. The beginner’s mind brings life back to a sense of wonder, and I believe that is one facet of this haiku’s message.

In terms of sound, this is a musical haiku. Not only is there an alliteration of “s” soundswhich could be equated to the chime of waterbut also there is “a” sounds in “calm,” “water,” “walk,” and “stars.” The “a” sound makes the words seem longer, and gives the effect of something being pulled, like an urge, as is stated in the haiku. In addition, the pacing of the lines works phenomenally in conveying the haiku’s somber yet energetic mood.

Imaginative and evocative, this haiku engages readers and allows them to derive many ideas and feelings from its imagery. A highly enjoyable haiku.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

Some more commentary was written from the Haiku Nook, a haiku community online:

I’m satisfied with the first two lines alone, leaving out the simile and creating a 2-line haiku.

calm water…
the urge to walk these stars

– Edwin Lomere

Totally agree with you here Ed. That’s an excellent edit. I would probably go one step further and split the second line in two with “these stars” as the third line. However, I may be splitting hairs. Great stuff. 🙂

– Dave Read

I don’t disagree with Edwin, except to say that the way Adjei has used “as stepping stones” this is not a simile. Here “as” is used in the same way as “as if” which is more of a conjunction than a simile. (The urge to walk these stars as if they were stepping stones) and this changes the intended sense, I would imagine.

– Martha Magenta

What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comments. 

Posted in Haiku

Laryalee (Lary) Fraser’s Year

planting the beans …
this year it takes longer
to unbend myself

Ambrosia, #4, 2009

© Laryalee (Lary) Fraser (1940 – 2013)

Several poets from Haiku Nook, a community of haiku poets on Google Plus, wrote what they thought and felt about this haiku written by one of the most important Canadian haiku poets.

This haiku brings me way back to my childhood. I got some Russian blood in my veins. They have a saying: “Sitting on the beans.” It usually means that an action of someone puts another person in struggle, that the year wasn’t very good, that the family will struggle through the winter, and that they will have nothing to eat but beans. Even in the worst year, this plant will survive and produce more beans. High in protein, it will be a good addition to the meal.

Back to this haiku, I see a person who is taking care of his/her future by “planting the beans.” Line two works here as a perfect hinge and line three brings something more to explore “to unbend myself.” To me, it brings more to this haiku, and shows more struggle.

– Laughing Waters

To me, this brilliant write by Laryalee (Lary) Fraser shows the passing of time and how it affects the present, where the minute to the grandest of changes occurs ever constantly, for nothing is truly stagnant in this ever evolving/de-evolving reality which in this case was the gardener’s posture.

An inspired haiku:

thorny bush
the weed whacker
loses its edge

– Fractled

It makes me think of age. I find it takes me longer to straighten up after a gardening session now. If we want those homegrown beans, it has to be done. I can feel that creak reading this haiku. Ouch.

– Marilyn Ward

It’s very pleasant. I like gardening, so I connect to that. Squatting down and weeding or planting can get rough on the knees, so I take it as a very simple lament on aging and the passing of time. It has a touch of melancholy, but is still light enough. It’s a solid, no-frills haiku. I can feel the stiffness in the speaker’s bones.

– Clayton Beach

Greatit makes me think of how much my back aches these days when I am gardening, ouch!

– Martha Magenta

I like thisit takes you along a path where you expect it to lead you, and all of a sudden, you end up somewhere else. This is clever, takes a matter-of-fact doing and turns it into something bigger than itself. It says one can no longer easily do the things one used to easily do, without coming right out and saying that.

– Dana Grover

Time takes its toll on everyone and in everything we do; as we grow older (and wiser I suppose), chores become more physically demanding… gone are the days when we could do our daily chores with ease, no matter how long it would take us to do these.

Moreover, this ku reminds me of a poem by Archibald MacLeish “The Wild Old Wicked Man” with its first stanza that goes:

“Too old for love and still to love!
Yeat’s predicament and mine – all men’s:
the agind Adam who must strut and shove
and caper his obscene pretense…”

– Willie Bongcaron

I get a lot from this haiku.

Four major interpretations come to mind:

1. To echo the comments made, I see an old farmer or a gardener. I can see the wrinkles of time in his/her face.

2. I also see a young farmer who is slowly recovering from a major surgery or injury, and physically has to move slower in order to heal from it. The first line brings me a sense of youth via planting the new beans. When we bend a bone to such an extent that it breaks and becomes a fracture, the physician makes the repair, and he/she does so so that the body part can remain unbent and be stabilized/immobile, so it can fully heal.

3. I also get the feeling of a person becoming mentally rigid by clinging to narrow and rigid belief systems. As we get older, it seems some people tend to become less flexible in their worldviews (political or otherwise), while others remain more flexible and open-minded. It has been said that what is rigid is bound to break. On the other hand, I’ve read quotes about the strength of flexibility, and it’s vital importance as we learn and grow, like the bean plants. : )

It’s as if planting the new beans is symbolic for a new beginning, as we appear to struggle with the weight of old karma, and the mental conditioning that was forced on us from day one.

4. This haiku reminds us to save our backs and lift from our legs. I’ve read about many job-related injuries at work, where the patient will bend over, and lift heavy objects resulting in lumbar strains/sprains, and chronic low back pain. Even sciatica. All it takes is one sudden movement, and you are in for a long recovery. It has been said, when your back goes, you don’t get it back. Fortunately, we have surgeons that can do remarkable things for people with spinal cord injuries. But, I won’t get into the heavy topics of health insurance or narcotic pain management.

Great haiku!

– Jacob Salzer

What do you feel or think about this haiku? Let us know in the comments. 

 

Posted in Senryu

Elisa Allo’s Drawer

after Memorial Day
Anne’s Diary
back in a drawer

© Elisa Allo (Switzerland)

(first appeared in The Mainichi May 31, 2017 and Otata, May 17, 2017)

I would say this is a senryu rather than a haiku, as it does not have any seasonal reference (though sometimes haiku does not contain a seasonal reference), and it takes a jab at human behavior.

This is most likely a senryu about The Diary of Anne Frank, and how we forget its meaning, and the victims of war in general, the day after Memorial Day. One famous quote from the book that may slip our mind is, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

This senryu to me points to a fact of human nature: though we know what is true and essential, we relegate it to something insubstantial, because we would rather concern ourselves with the easier thoughts and actions to digest, such as mindless entertainment, and the routine of life. To be concerned and sympathetic each day is difficult, as we mostly put our attention on the mundane. This senryu is a reminder that we should keep compassion and higher thinking integrated in our lives.

On a more technical note, the sound of the poem is populated with strong “d” sounds in “Day,” “Diary,” and “drawer.” It is akin to the sounding of the drums of war.

The phrasing is succinct, and the lack of punctuation works well to let the words come as they are, without adding over-emphasis.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

Here is additional commentary from members of Haiku Nook, a group of haiku poets on Google Plus:

After reading it, in a broad sense, I’m sorry that the victims might be forgotten on Memorial Day and in the writer’s personal meaning, she might be touched by Anne’s Diary after Memorial Day. So, I think of Anne’s Diary as a symbol for victims.

– Rika Inami

This evokes a few scenarios. Is Anne a relative (wife, mother, sister, daughter?), an old lover, could it be Anne Frank? Could be any of these, and more. I’m thinking it is the The Diary of Anne Frank, and how we tend to put our memories away for awhile, take them out now and then, peruse them, put them away.

– Dana Grover

Anne Frank was the instant go-to for me, she being the only person named Anne whose diary I have ever read. It is difficult to imagine other readings of this piece, except for the possibility of highly personal ones.

Philosophically, I think Anne Frank barely breaks the surface of the modern consciousness. It might be more accurate to revise it:

Memorial Day –
Anne’s diary unmoved
from its drawer

– Eric Lohman

I thought of Anne Frank also. I guess it’s just an automatic connection?

– Edwin Lomere

Yes, how we tend to forget important people and events as time passes. This haiku creates a feeling of being human—that we forget bigger things, because at times we are so engrossed with our own personal affairs. So sad because those bigger things are also important, if not, more important to us as thinking human beings.

– Willie Bongcaron

What do you think or feel about this haiku?

Posted in Haiku

Charles B. Dickson’s Cabin

cajun cabin …
the aroma of hot gumbo
floats on the bayou

© Charles B. Dickson (1915-1991)

I sent out messages on social media to learn what poets thought or felt about this haiku. Here are some of their responses from different social media platforms:

Haiku Nook on Google Plus

At first look, I thought about why the word “hot” is used in line 2? Cold gumbo wouldn’t have a strong smell, but in English “hot” isn’t just temperature, it also can mean “spicy.” Cajun meals are famous for their heat and spice. Overall, thanks to line 1, and the word “bayou,” it creates a good visual. Here is my simple attempt at a revision:

the bayou
wraps around the Cajun cabin
spicy aroma of gumbo

– Laughing Waters

There’s definitely a mysterious element to this haiku. What I can’t tell is whether this is a day or night event, but I’m leaning towards night. While there’s no juxtaposition, it’s quite a vivid capture that definitely lets the mind of the reader explore. Going back to the mystery, the “technique of mystery” was used to write this haiku, and is one of 59 techniques from Jane Reichhold’s teachings from AHA Poetry.

– Fractled

Pretty sure gumbo is a dinner dish, so I get an image of the quiet bayou with a spicy scent in the air. I agree with the use of the word “hot” seeming offspicy would be better. “Floats on” is awkward too. I would have liked to see it say:

Cajun cabin 
spicy aroma(s) of gumbo
floats across the bayou

– Clayton Beach

re:

cajun cabin …
the aroma of hot gumbo
floats on the bayou

A good point was made that you might not require ‘hot’ as gumbo aroma would happen as the dish is being prepared and hence it’s both hot in temperature, and also the spices would be strong across a breeze.

I wonder about just:

cajun cabin…
the aroma of gumbo
on the bayou

or

cajun cabin…
an aroma of gumbo
on the bayou

or
cajun cabin…
a gumbo dish cooking
across the bayou

Gumbo: en.wikipedia.org – Gumbo – Wikipedia

– Alan Summers

Facebook

Well, its images certainly transport me. I love Cajun food! Haiku wise, I’d say it’s a little obvious. Perhaps if I was made to think at first of something else floating on the bayou.

– Eric Lohman

Poets on Google Plus

Makes me want some gumbo! 😉 Very nice!

– Danielle Kennedy

I have no idea what gumbo is . . . and yet “Cajun” tells me it is hot with reds and oranges, maybe. It feels like yesteryear memories, warm and inviting, calm and peaceful. . . 🙂

– Karen Hayward

Food is always related to nostalgia and memories, 😊 especially comfort foods. I love how it mentions the aroma floating around the bayou. I love this haiku.

– Meekha

Frankly, I needed to google cajun and gumbo first to get the feel of this haiku better 🙂

Using the words cabin, gumbo, and bayou, the writer effectively packed the typical scene in the Cajun’s life.

Combining multiple sense observations–sight, smell, and taste–I think he succeeded in brining the scene to life.

Love the repetition of the ‘o’ sound too. It gives a dreamy atmosphere to me. I can almost see myself standing there, by the bayou 🙂

– Lucky Triana

What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comments.

Posted in Haiku

Andrea Cecon’s Carrots

the sound of a knife
cutting carrots . . .
cold morning

Acorn, Issue #38, Spring 2017

© Andrea Cecon (Italy)

This is a great instance when a haiku says something without saying it. Instead of writing, “A cold morning is like the sound of cutting a carrot,” the two parts are put side by side to suggest it. This opacity is the biggest difference between lyrical poetry and haiku, in my opinion.

Is there a meaning behind this comparison? Well, it shows several things to me: 1) that death or mutilation (of the carrot) happens even the morning, when everything is supposed to be peaceful 2) that our present actions have a direct correlation to our surroundings 3) and that possibly nature feels compassion for the carrot. I am sure readers can come up with other ideas as well.

But beyond seeing interpretations, there is also tone. While reading the poem out loud, you can feel the melancholy, especially associated with winter (“cold morning” suggests it). The poet has succeeded in giving us the same emotion he felt while writing the haiku, which is no small feat. That is one of the main goals of poetry: to hand off one’s experience to others.

In line with tone is the sound of the haiku. In the first line, the letter “n” gives the impression of cutting, and then in the last two lines, the letter “c” supplies the sound of chopping the carrots. The ellipsis shows that the chopping goes on for a while and that the cold morning is dragging on.

This haiku captures a moment and feeling distinctly, without any barriers for the reader. It reminds me of what Basho said: “The style I have in mind these days is a light one, one that gives the impression of looking at a shallow river with a sandy bed.”

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

Posted in Haiku

Vladimir Devidé’s Spring Shower

A spring shower:
and then, each drop turns into
a wild strawberry.

© Vladimir Devidé (1925-2010)

(from In Trenutak/The Moment, Ceres, Zagreb 1997)

Vladimir Devidé was a towering haiku personality, but I will try to do my best to examine this haiku of his. My first impression of this haiku was of awe. I love how the third line comes and makes the reader gasp. The imagery is spectacular, but grounded at the same time.

You can see that this was written when haiku was first coming into the West, as it uses a period and leaves the first letter of the first line capitalized. This is not bad, but rather something that was common when haiku was being first introduced in the West. Haiku poets at the time did not come to the consensus we have now in the English-language haiku community about capitalization and punctuation (though debates are still going on about these factors, though not in the same sense). Now, we don’t use capitalization much, as haiku are supposed to be incomplete sentences—fragments. Also, we avoid periods due to the aforementioned point. This does not make this haiku any less valuable, though. It only points to the time it was written in.

It starts with a common seasonal reference. Spring showers point towards something pleasant rather than a feeling of melancholy, usually. The use of the colon makes the reader read the next two lines as a consequence or equation of spring showers.

The second line gives the reader suspense, as he or she wonders what the raindrops turn into. Usually, we don’t think of raindrops transforming into anything, so we are expecting something surreal in the third line.

And the third line certainly delivers. From it, we can imagine raindrops transforming into wild strawberries. But in reality, the raindrops were probably being quickly absorbed into the wild strawberries, or the poet is referring to how the raindrops will aid in the growing of wild strawberries.

Spring is a time of the plentiful, and I believe the poet is expressing the optimism and energy this time brings. The poet displays an almost child-like sense of imagination. This is an important element of haiku: seeing life with a new sense of discovery and freshness. If we could look at each moment with fresh eyes, life would never be mundane. Only by being completely in pure awareness without thought can we be like this.

In terms of sound, the letter “s” features throughout, making the sound of falling rain. Also, the “r” is prominent, giving us a sense of whirring, or turning, which lends to the idea of transformation present in the poem. This might be overthinking it, and maybe these sounds were used simply for musicality.

A joyous haiku written with child-like perception, it allows us as readers to reach into our imagination and to feel the magic of spring.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

About the Poet

The history of haiku poetry in Croatia is inextricably tied to the name of the outstanding Croatian Japanologist, mathematician, academic, and writer Vladimir Devidé—a long-time member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb.

Vladimir Devidé was born in Zagreb in 1925. He graduated from the Technical University of Zagreb in 1951, and did a PhD in the field of mathematical sciences at the Faculty of Science. Since 1965, he was a professor of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Zagreb. He did post-doctoral studies in Israel (1960) and in Japan (1961-1963) and was a visiting professor at Monash University, Australia (1968) and Ohio State University in Columbus, USA (1971). He participated in numerous international mathematical congresses and symposiums.

In the field of mathematics, he published 40 scientific papers and about 200 essays and articles, and held some 60 public lectures about the results of his scientific work. He published 15 books on mathematics. In the field of Japanology and literature, he published more than 200 essays and articles in Croatian, American, Japanese, and German literary journals and magazines, as well as 16 books.

Vladimir Devidé was a full Member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, member of the Union of Croatian Writers, the Croatian P.E.N. Club, etc.; honorary President of the Association of Croatian Haiku Poets, honorary member of the German Haiku Association, and advisor of the World Haiku Association.

Awards:

· Order of Labour with Golden Wreath, 1965.

· Republic Prize “Ruder Boskovic” Institute, 1969.

· International Le prix CIDALC, 1977.

· Award of the City of Zagreb for an entire mathematical work and literary work, 1982.

· Order of the Sacred Treasure of the Japanese Government, 1983.

· State prize of the Republic of Croatia for Life Work in Science, 2003.

· Special recognition of the Japanese Ministry of Culture for outstanding contributions to the international understanding between Japan and Eastern Europe (2004).

· Some twenty prizes for Japanese international haiku competitions.

Publications on Japanology:

· Japanese Haiku Poetry and Its Cultural Framework, 1970.

· Japan—Tradition and Modernity, 1978.

· Japan—Past and Future into the Present, 1978.

· From Japanese Literature, 1985.

· Japan—Poetry and Reality, 1987.

· Japan for Children, 1987.

· JapanPast and Future into the Present, 1988.

· Talks about Haiku Poetry, 1991.

· Zen, 1992.

· Renge, 1995.

· Anthology of Croatian Haiku, 1996.

· Japanese Haiku Poetry and Its Cultural Framework, Zagreb published, Zagreb, 2003.

· Japan, Monographs, School Books, Zagreb 2006.

Literary works:

· White Flower, 1994.

· Antidnevnik/Recall, 1995.

· In Trenutak/The Moment 1997.

· Haibun—Words and Pictures, 1997.

[From The Living Haiku Anthology, with edits]

Posted in Haiku

Christina Sng’s Secrets

winter nights
telling the walls
all my secrets

Chrysanthemum, Issue 21, April, 2016

© Christina Sng (Singapore)

This haiku charges the reader’s imagination with many ideas and images. The scene in which the haiku takes places implies that the poet feels lonely or is alone, or that she feels the people around her are not able to truly listen to her.

Winter nights are often times to introspect about one’s life and also to be together with family. However, in this haiku, the poet shows that perhaps she does not have her family around, and takes the walls as her sounding board to express her emotional weight.

Without using personification, the poet shows it. The walls become animate in the reader’s mind, as if they are capable of listening to the poet’s secrets, and possibly comfort her. The chill of a winter night might represent the coldness of the walls, in that they do not respond to her as a human would. But, they seem to be all she has at the moment. However, maybe the mere speaking of the secrets out loud helped the poet overcome some issues she was having.

There is a common question: “What if the walls could listen?” In this haiku, the poet does not ask this question, but puts it to the test. In evaluating the mood of the haiku, it seems the act was not successful, and the poet went deeper into her melancholy.

The sound in the haiku adds much to its mood. The “w” sounds in “winter” and “walls” accentuate the cold environment, in both weather and the temperament of the walls. The letter “t” also features strongly, with it being within five words. Besides giving the haiku a more musical sound, it lends to the power of a secret.

A haiku about loneliness, and about the relationship between the animate and inanimate, it leaves reader’s with an impression that is at once relatable and distant.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

Posted in Haiku

L. A. Davidson’s Winter Storm

in winter storm
his own deep footprints
closing behind him

© L. A. Davidson (1917-2007)

Sometimes, what we do seems to make little difference, even though we push hard to be of significance. I think this is one of the main messages of this haiku. The “winter storm” could be our modern life, or it could be the harsh environment of our family life or personal life.

Though this haiku could be seen as cynical, I believe there is a sense of acceptance in it as well. It is an acceptance that our lives are insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe. This acceptance is freeing, as we often put too much weight on our actions and our inactions, and do not see the play of existence for what it is.

This haiku could also be pointing to the fact that human existence is not as powerful as nature itself. Though we like to think we own land, that we can master nature, our actions are unlikely to be more powerful than nature itself. We can change and mold nature to our benefit, but we cannot create something entirely new without its help and substance.

Another take on this haiku is that when there is too much happening at one time, our memory will not be clear. Instead, if we live life simply, we will remember the moments of our lives with more clarity.

There are many more things that this haiku implies, but I will leave that to the imagination of the reader.

Sonically, the letter “o” is the most important sound in the haiku, and brings a sense of elongation of the journey of life, and the dragging feeling that no matter what we do, our actions are not that important.

A poignant image, a beautiful moment, or a cynical look at our existence–all can be correct. This haiku brings a lot to the reader’s mind, and allows for an introspective mood.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky

About the Poet

L. A. (Laura Agnes) Davidson was one of the most honoured and respected American haiku poets of her time. She was born on 31 July, 1917, and grew up in the wide open spaces of Montana. She enjoyed learning and reciting poetry and ballads from a very early age. She gained scholarships towards higher education and college and later graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Minnesota.

Agnes enjoyed writing short stories and poetry, and during her extensive travels through Europe and Africa, she proved to be an excellent correspondent communicating with other poets from far and wide who wished to learn more about the ancient poetry of haiku. Agnes was first acquainted with haiku in 1966, when a friend gave her a copy of Harold G. Henderson’s Haiku in English and shortly thereafter, Agnes began experimenting with the form. Three years later, she had her first haiku published in Haiku Headlights. She considered her haiku to be “a personal journal” written from observations and specific moments of her life.

Agnes was an active member of the Haiku Society of America since its founding in 1968 and she had promoted haiku for many years. She served as a vice president in 1976, a Membership/Subscription Secretary in 1979 and 1981-82, a treasurer for 1989-90, and was also a long-time unofficial historian for the society. Agnes died just two weeks before her 90th birthday on 18 July, 2007, from a massive stroke and heart attack.

L. A. Davidson’s publications include hundreds of haiku in magazines, journals, and anthologies, and she is the author of three books:

The Shape of the Tree: a first collection of haiku and senryu moments of New York City life, New York (Wind Chimes, Glen Burnie MD, 1982; rpt DLT Assoc. 1992, 1996)

Jamaica Moments (DLT Associates, Miami FL, 2002)

Bird song more and more (Swamp Press, Northfield MA, 2003, rpt 2007)

[From The Living Haiku Anthology, with edits]

Posted in Senryu

Antonietta Losito’s Childhood Home

childhood home
I straighten my back
before entering

© Antonietta Losito (Italy)

This is something we do that is inexplicable, and often unconsciously. But the poet, through her observation, noticed this familiar, but intriguing action. What is the meaning of straightening one’s back before coming to one’s childhood home? A multitude of interpretations come to mind: you remember the words of your parents to keep your back straight, you want to return to your childhood days somehow by making your back straight as it was when you were a child, you become more alert when you enter your childhood home, it could reference the purity you had as a child and now you are trying to pretend you have that purity still, or it could be that you await your parents inside the house and you want to show you are a good child of theirs by keeping your back straight.

A straight back shows confidence, healthiness, and is often associated with youth. It is almost as if the poet wants to become who she once was when she enters her childhood home, though it is not possible.

This tension, this situation of limbo, is a common theme in senryu and haiku, but it is subtly referenced in this poem. The poet is an adult, but may feel as if she is a child at home—essentially feeling like an adult and a child at the same time. This uncertainty is spiritual, in a way, as when we are certain of something, that means we have come to a dead end in our awareness. Not fixing ourselves on specific ideas allows us to grow and to advance in our spiritual awareness.

The sound of the senryu lends to its meaning. With the “o” sounds, you can feel the longing for being a child once again. The senryu’s language is straightforward, but has many implications. It is a real “sketch of life” senryu.

I think in a sense, each of us yearn to enjoy our childhood self again, for its innocence, wonder, and fresh awareness. This senryu brings this pining to the fore of the reader’s mind in a casual but intimate way.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky