January 3: Shiki Kukai results

winter sky the way we sleep under that blanket

— nineteenth place πŸ™‚ , december 2010 shiki kukai, kigo category (kigo: winter sky)


new moon she practices taking off
her ring

— seventh place, december 2010 shiki kukai, free format category (topic: ring)


I submitted both of these as traditional three-line ku and that is of course the way they appear over at the Shiki Kukai site. But I like them better this way. Insofar as I like them at all, which is not a whole heck of a lot.

And yes, nineteenth place is as unimpressive as it sounds. πŸ™‚ But hey, somebody voted for it!

The Shiki Kukai is really fun, actually — you send in some ku and in a week or so they send you a list of over a hundred other ku on the same subject and you get to try to decide which ones you like the best. You should try it. I would like to try to guess which ones were yours on the list. I also like seeing my friends’ names in the list of winners. So go for it. They’ll be announcing the topics for January soon.


8 thoughts on “January 3: Shiki Kukai results

  1. Melissa, I like the way you read that line–. . . she practices taking off–with the break where it is now. Very surreal.

    The thing about the kukai for me is that, with so many good ku, I want to spread my votes out as much as possible by giving just one vote per haiku, which, I guess, really limits the amount of votes someone might get; however, I still don’t get to vote for everyone that I might otherwise. Long story short, I don’t think people should get disheartened by a lower vote. My Pollyanna view of things, but I’m stickin’ to it!

    • Hey, fantastic job in the kukai this month, Margaret! I was so excited to see how well you did.

      Yeah, I definitely like that line break better there, I think it makes the best of a bad job. πŸ™‚

      I don’t really get disheartened by low votes because I’m not really expecting anything. πŸ™‚ For one thing, I have to admit that I usually do not put a ton of effort into my kukai entries, I do it more just to play around and experiment, sort of like with the blog. I’m totally able to accept that some of my experiments will be less successful and/or less interesting to people than others. But I like trying to figure out what kind of haiku people respond to. It feels like a game. It’s fun. I’m actually amazed that some of my ku have done as well as they have — that just feels like a bonus.

      With regard to voting — I tend to be incredibly picky so it’s actually not unusual for me to vote for only two or three ku, which doesn’t mean that I don’t see value in any of the others, it just means that I thought those two or three were clearly superior to the rest. Usually no one agrees with my view, of course, but once again … it’s a game. πŸ™‚

      • Thanks, Melissa. I was happy to do so well too, especially because the whole “competition” thing is so new to me.

        I get what you’re saying about the voting. It’s a bit overwhelming when you’re looking at 120 ku. I just try to narrow it down to the ones I like initially, and then realize I like more than six and then, oops, have to narrow it down some more. It’s an interesting exercise, especially because, like you said, my picks aren’t always the match for what ends up winning. I find it hard to vote for things I think are derivative (but then I question myself given the tradition of haiku referencing other poets/ku). Still, I guess it’s hard for me to let go of the anti-plagiarism mode I take with me from prose, and, with ku, and no pointed reference to an allusion, it’s difficult for me to tell whether or not the writer is actually paying homage or just “stealing” someone else’s idea/words. (I didn’t mean to get all philosophical here, but it’s great to be able to bounce this off someone else.) How do you feel about that?

        The other absolute put-off I have is when there’s an obvious typo or something’s not spelled correctly; I mean, it’s only three lines . . . So, there’s my bias. Oh, and one other thing, I’m big on line breaks.

        P.S. As soon as Bill posted his version, I read the intention differently. I was thinking of the moon actually slipping away from its ring. Interesting.

        • Hmmm. yes, sometimes ku are obvious tributes to famous ku (like the variations on kono michi ya you did a while back) and sometimes they just seem strangely familiar and you’re not sure why — whether they reference some famous ku you’ve forgotten about or just ripped one off or just ripped off some not-so-famous ku (you aren’t by any chance referencing the ku that talked about getting used to the dark, are you? yeah, I kind of squinted at that one and went “hmmm” but, see next possibility) or whether two haiku poets just happened to think along the same lines. I mean the idea of “getting used to the dark” (just for instance πŸ™‚ ) in the fall is not really such a radical or original idea and it’s completely possible that two or more poets could come up with it independently. I have actually had the experience of writing a ku and then finding a very similar one that had been written earlier on another site that I know I had not seen previously — we just happened to be thinking along the same, not terribly original, lines. so it’s hard to know what’s going on when you see two similar ku and I guess I don’t take it too seriously if I see repetitions like that. If there was some really strikingly original ku (oh, maybe you are talking about the guy who did the Nick Virgilio tribute? but see, that one is famous enough that it does seem really like a tribute to me) that someone was passing off a nearly identical version of as their own, that would seem like plagiarism, but I guess I’ve never actually seen that personally although I know it happens.

          yeah, I think in the haiku world there is a much stronger tradition of referring to the work of earlier more famous poets, riffing on them, playing with them — maybe it’s a Japanese thing, they don’t have such a Western obsession with individuality and originality (I think, or maybe that’s a cliche?). so it’s a fine line. the nice thing about the kukai is, you’re voting based on your preference, so if your preference is for more original ku then just don’t vote for the ones that echo strangely in your head. πŸ™‚ That’s how I get through a lot of the kukai voting — I can see that a lot of the entries are perfectly fine haiku, technically adept and interesting and intelligent and all that, but I am voting not on which entries are most like some theoretical pattern of what a haiku should be but which ones I actually like the best. which are the ones that make my head turn inside out. πŸ™‚

          interesting reading of Bill’s version … yes, that does definitely make for a cool picture.

    • Bill, you don’t need to worry about the competition. πŸ™‚ Nice work this month!

      I don’t know, there’s not quite enough resonance in the ku without the “practicing” for me. Not enough context — she could just be taking off her ring to wash the dishes and in that case who cares? I mean I know you want to leave haiku open to interpretation but in this case I think it needs a little more closing-off. πŸ™‚ Aren’t you glad you’re not my editor?

  2. I’m glad to have discovered your blog, Melissa! Re. the Shiki Kukai, having taken a last place, a couple of first places, and everything in between over the past year, I’ve decided that the best reason to enter a kukai is simply for the fun of seeing how much variety (& sometimes how much similarity!) there is in the resultant haiku. The way I see it, anything that motivates people to keep on writing is a good thing!

    And Margaret, I’m with you. I generally try to spread my points out as far as possible (unless there is a true standout) in order to give more people encouragement. It’s no fun to always write in a vacuum!

    • I’m glad you discovered it too, Cara. Yeah, I think that’s the attitude I take toward the kukai as well.

      Sometimes I spread out my points, sometimes I concentrate them — it really depends on how I feel about the ku I read. The first kukai I was in there was one ku that I thought was really outstanding, a clear winner — I gave it three points. It ended up coming in one place below me. πŸ™‚ I find it very amusing to try to guess which ku will actually win versus which ku I like the most myself. Usually I like weirder ones than everyone else. πŸ™‚

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