Across the Haikuverse, No. 2: Only Connect Edition

In which I present for your inspection all the things I found this week while exploring the haikuverse that I thought might interest, entertain, infuriate, intrigue, or otherwise engross you. Or might not. (No. 1 in this series is here, in case you’re interested.)

This week’s theme (because I’ve been rereading Howards End): Only Connect. (Every item connects somehow to the previous item, if only by the skin of its teeth.)


Are you feeling competitive this week? This coming Saturday is the deadline for November’s Shiki Kukai. If you don’t know about Kukai, they are haiku contests in which all the entrants vote on and choose the winners. The Shiki Kukai is a long-running contest with two categories: one that requires a particular kigo (this month: geese), and one that is free format but on a particular theme (this month: weaving). If either of those themes inspire you, check out the rules and give it a try.


And for those who just can’t get enough competition … If you checked out the Haiku Foundation’s Facebook page as I advised you to do last week, you’ll know that they are now running a Facebook haiku contest. Through the end of November, anyone can enter one haiku in the contest by posting it on the page in the comment section following the contest announcement. The top three (as judged by Jim Kacian, Haiku Foundation founder) will get prizes. And glory, of course.

There are lots of entries already. Go check them out even if you’re not sure you want to enter the contest. I’ve found that this is a great forum just to get your haiku looked at by other poets and get a little feedback, so you might want to think of that as your goal rather than winning the contest. I certainly am. 🙂


And more from the wonderful world of Facebook … Last week I shared with you a haiku in French by Vincent Hoarau, which he originally posted on Facebook. This week I will take mercy on the non-French-readers among you. A few days ago Vincent posted the following haiku, which he translated into English:

jour de pluie …
je pense à la mort
elle au berceau

rainy day …
i think about death
she about a cradle


And while I’m on the subject of haiku in French … I recently discovered on Twitter a Belgian haiku poet, Bill Bilquin. He posts new haiku several times a week; here’s my favorite from this week (French original, English translation by Bilquin):

presque trois ans
ses mots de plus en plus précis
premières mandarines

nearly three years old
her words more and more precise
first mandarins


And while I’m on the subject of haiku in foreign languages … There’s a haiku translation site called “Versions” that I discovered a few weeks ago and have been very excited about. (Warning: Serious geek territory ahead.) You can enter your own haiku in your language, which will then be available for others to translate into their language(s). You can also translate the haiku of others. It’s searchable by author, so you can go look at the haiku of a poet you like and see all the different translations that have been made on the site of their haiku. It’s a lot of fun (if, as I say, you’re a complete language geek) to compare the different “versions.”

A caveat: although in theory the site is available to writers and translators of any language, for right now most of the haiku seem to be in, and to be translated into, either English or Russian. (It’s a Russian site.) This is great for those of us who know both those languages, but if you are more into, say, German, you won’t find nearly as much on the site to interest you. However, you will be doing us all a great service if you add more haiku and translations in other languages, so give it a try.

Here’s an example of a haiku by Lee Gurga and a couple of (very) different Russian translations of it. Bear with me — even if you don’t know Russian I’ll give you some idea what they’re all about:

Lee’s original haiku:

his side of it
her side of it.
winter silence


(translation 1, by Versions user Боруко)

его сторона…
её сторона…
зимняя тишина

(translation 2, by Versions user A.G.)

твоё моё наше
холод молчание

The first translation is quite literal; if I saw it only in the original Russian I would probably render it back into English almost exactly as Lee originally wrote it. The second is very different — it’s more of a free interpretation, I would say, of Lee’s haiku than a translation. I might translate it back into English something like this:

yours mine ours
cold, silence

Which Lee might recognize as his haiku, and might not. Anyway, if you’re interested in translation, and especially if you know Russian (I realize that I am addressing a minuscule, possibly nonexistent, subset of my readership here, but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll geek out if I want to), you will certainly want to check this site out.


And on the subject of versions of things … Bill Kenney has started a new feature on his blog haiku-usa that he calls “afters.” That is, they are haiku “after” haiku of classical haiku poets — not translations per se (Bill doesn’t know Japanese), but loose interpretations, attempts to capture something of the feeling of the original. Here’s his first:

a bit drunk
stepping lightly
in the spring wind
Ryokan (1758-1831)


And more on the blog front … Andrew Phillips and I became acquainted with each other on Twitter this week and I’ve been enjoying checking out the haiku on his blog Pied Hill Prawns. An example:

telephone wires
connecting –
possum’s nightly walk


And yet more bloggy matters … From Matt Holloway of Beachcombing for the Landlocked, a haiku I really enjoyed reading this week:

a tray      of stored apples      not yet a poem


And while we’re in one-line haiku mode: I’ve been blown away this week by the amazing contents of Marlene Mountain’s website. In case you don’t know about Marlene, she is something of a haiku legend; she’s been writing haiku since the sixties, and she was one of the first poets to work with haiku as one line in English.

Here’s a page showing some of her early 3-line haiku, and then the same haiku later rewritten as one line. Here’s a selection of her one-line haiku. (A wonderful example: off and on i’ve thought of you off and on.) Here are scans of some pages from her notebooks, showing her revisions — I love this kind of thing, getting to see into another writer’s mind as she works. Here are some of her “ink writings,” similar to haiga. Here are some wonderful things called “unaloud haiku,” and here are some really fun things called “visually aloud” haiku. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as Marlene’s site is concerned. Enjoy!

And that’s all from the Haikuverse this week. Thanks for visiting.

11 thoughts on “Across the Haikuverse, No. 2: Only Connect Edition

    • You’re welcome, Bill … and thank you for having contributed so much to the Haikuverse over the years. 🙂

      Incidentally, you are the proud winner of the unannounced race to post the one thousandth comment on this blog. 🙂 Congratulations. 🙂

  1. Thanks again, Melissa. Overwhelming, isn’t it? Across the haikuverse, it’s like cruising along the Milky Way. Yes, I’ve visited the THF on facebook and posted a few of my would-be haiku. What’s exciting about haiku is that even while you’re learning and writing, you never know if there’s something not quite right to make your haiku a haiku. And that fissure in its creation is what keeps me going.

    • “Cruising along the Milky Way” … maybe I’ll use that phrase in next week’s edition. 🙂

      So glad you’re enjoying the FB HF site … I’ll see you around there. 🙂 I have still not decided which haiku I’m submitting to the contest …

  2. wow. have i said that enough yet? wow. i still can not get around enough. however your findings… are stunning stoppers.

    i am thrill-delighted with (#9) Marlene Mountain’s ink writings. i’m tempted to say inku. inkku. ink-ku. yeah. may be, ink-ku. but that would not be true to her. on the other hand… i’ve been playing with what i’d could call my own (digital) ink-ku. i didnt post one i did a day or two ago. now i wish i had. i thought i’d wait till december. heck with that. bwahahahaha. soon. yes. i hope. soon.

    and yeah. i’m interested in the – November’s Shiki Kukai – of #1. altho i may not get to it by the deadline of this month. . . cool just the same.

    and then. #2 thu #8 are fascinating as well – in amazing and different ways.

    yeah. i am wow-ed with your Haikuniverse. …i mean… Haikuverse. . . wow me on! and thank you.

    the awe
    of stunning words

    • Thanks, Wrick. 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying this stuff … I do it as much for me, so that I’ll remember the cool things I’ve seen, as I do for other people. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Haiga: Silent Night in Digital Ink « A 19 Planets Art Blog 2010

  4. I have to agree with Rick’s ‘Wow’. I’ve been really enjoying your blog Melissa. You pack so much into this site and it is a great resource for a beginning haiku poet like me. I love how you have sequentially worked through Jane Reichhhold’s essay on techniques. Great work and thanks for the comments and mention in this post. Cheers from Australia.


    • Thanks so much, Andrew. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’m finding a lot in yours to appreciate as well.

      It seems I have so many readers from Down Under — I love that! Someday I must get down there and meet you all. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Across the Haikuverse, no. 3 « Red Dragonfly

  6. Pingback: Across the Haikuverse, No. 5 (Too Much Homework Edition) « Red Dragonfly

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