Across the Haikuverse, No. 17: Extraterrestrial Edition

On my pass through the Haikuverse the last couple of weeks I picked up a hitchhiker from another galaxy who was curious to come visit Earth and observe our peculiar poetry-writing ways. I invited him home to hang around and look over my shoulder for a few days while I swore at my computer in an effort to make better haiku appear in my word processor, which was fine for a while, if a little distracting, but then he got pushy and wanted to write the introduction and conclusion to this column.

I don’t like to argue with sentient beings who can shoot actual daggers from their eyes, so I let him. Here’s what he has to say.

People of Earth:

Fear not, I come in peace. And admiration of your “poetry.” Whatever that is.

I’m feeling kind of quiet and subdued today. (Maybe because I’m not quite certain yet of your customs on this planet.)

So without further ado (I don’t know what that means but I like the sound of it), the haiku.


I’d like to start off by offering hearty congratulations to Vincent Hoarau and his wife on the recent birth of their daughter Pia.

At Vincent’s blog, La Calebasse, he’s collected together many of the haiku he wrote during Pia’s gestation and after her birth, including this one:

lune croissante –
les yeux mi-clos, elle attend
la montée de lait

— Vincent Hoarau


While we’re doing French, why don’t we move on to this piece from Temps libres (this one gets a translation, though):

passage d’oiseaux —
en route vers le nord
de ma fenêtre


passing birds —
heading to the north
of my window

— Serge Tome

(If you don’t know Serge’s website, it’s full of both his own haiku and the haiku of others that he’s translated from English to French. Both categories of poetry are wonderful, and he’s been doing this for years now so there’s a lot to browse. You’d better get on over there quickly.)


Okay, now we can get back to haiku in English. First, a couple of poets who have been following my NaHaiWriMo prompts and posting the results on their blog. Both of them are amazing poets and I look forward every day to seeing what they’ve done with my prompt.


From Stella Pierides:

chrysalis –
when did I learn about

— Stella Pierides


From Crows and Daisies:

i go to the river
to write about a river…
its silent flow

— Polona Oblak


And some miscellaneous haiku that have nothing to do with me…


From DailyHaiku:

dark night
imaginary bears
showing the way

— Jim Kacian


From Haiku Bandit Society:

even in soft spring light
I can’t read the words
thinking of father

— William Sorlien


tide fish streak the moon

— Barbara A. Taylor


From Morden Haiku:

april sun
a strawberry
without a taste

— Matt Morden


From Beachcombing for the Landlocked:

first light confirms the flightless bird i am

— Mark Holloway


I love this experimental series from scented dust. This is actually just part of the series, so why don’t you head on over there and read the whole thing?


in the crows eye nothing and what I want
finished looking into crows eye
what is in there? crows eye hunger black
yawn the empty emptiness in crows eye
what darkness to love crows eye
a way to fall horisontally crows eye limbo
biting whatever cracked teeth and crows eye
sorry, bro, really don’t care crows eye
— Johannes S.H. Bjerg


From Mann Library’s Daily Haiku:

passing clouds
he slips glass bangles
over my wrist

— Kala Ramesh

Kala’s poetry is featured every day this month at Mann Library’s Daily Haiku. Her poetry is wonderful, and so is her author profile at the site, featuring a fascinating discussion of Kala’s theory of haiku poetics related to her training and experience as a performer of Indian classical music. Here’s an excerpt:

“In the silences between notes, between words, between lines, the emotions that arise is rasa —the aesthetic essence— which gives poetry, music or dance, a much greater sense of depth and resonance. Something that cannot be described by words because it has taken us to a sublime plane where sounds have dropped off.

The most important aspect of rasa, the emotional quotient, is that it lingers on, long after the stimulus has been removed. We often ruminate over a haiku we’ve read for days and savour the joy of its memory. Thus, although the stimulus is transient, the rasa induced is not.

What RASA does to Indian aesthetics is exactly what MA does to renku between the verses and the juxtaposition between two images in haiku. This is my honest effort in trying to understand the Japanese concept of MA in relation to my own evaluation of Indian aesthetics.

It is these silences and pauses in haiku, and what this does in the reader’s mind, that fascinate me.”

— Kala Ramesh


Haiga Corner

I found a ton of haiga I loved the last couple of weeks. I’m putting them in their own special section because I really, really want you to notice they’re haiga and go look at the pretty pictures. Please? Come on, these people spent all this time drawing or painting or taking photos or playing with their computer graphics programs or whatever…the least you can do is a little clicking.


From Lunch Break (HAIGA):

clear skies
blue bird chasing another

— Gillena Cox

From 19 Planets (HAIGA):

concrete history
the imprint of a leaf
in the sidewalk

— Rick Daddario

(This haiku was originally left as a comment here and I liked it even then, but now that it is a haiga it is even better.)


From Yay words! (HAIGA):

phone ringing
in the neighbor’s house
first blossoms

— Aubrie Cox

From see haiku here (HAIGA):

how quickly it comes back…dust

— Stanford Forrester

From Haiga (HAIGA):

full moon illuminating
the steeple —
steeple pointing to the moon

— Eric L. Houck

(I’ve just discovered Eric’s site — he’s stupendous. Well worth taking a look around.)


And to go along with these, here’s a general haiga link I discovered recently…

World Haiku Association Haiga Contest

Somehow, even though I’d heard of this, I’d managed not to actually see it before, but then Rick Daddario of 19 Planets left me a link in my comments and I blessed him fervently as I browsed around in here. There’s a monthly contest and the results are awesome.


Found in Translation

Steve Mitchell over at Heed Not Steve did the coolest thing this week — he used Google Translate to transform one of his haiku into another, related haiku by sending it through a series of translations of different languages.

He got from

without translation
a clatter of birdsong
sipping my coffee


Bird sounds
And my coffee

— Steve Mitchell

….but if you want to know how, exactly, you will have to go over there and take a look.


Haiku Foundation Digital Library

There’s so much amazing stuff over at The Haiku Foundation’s website, I feel like every time I start digging around over there I find something new. But this really takes the cake. Here’s the description of this project: “The Haiku Foundation Digital Library aims to make all books of English-language haiku available to all readers online.”

So what if there’s only fifteen or twenty books there now? They’re all completely amazing and you can download the PDFs and spend a fantastic Saturday afternoon reading, say, H.F. “Tom” Noyes on his Favorite Haiku (highly, highly recommended) or Kenneth Yasuda’s gloriously old-fashioned, kitschy 1947 translations of classical Japanese haiku in The Pepper-Pod, featuring titles and rhyme. Not to be missed.

warm rain before dawn;
my milk flows into her

— Ruth Yarrow, quoted in Favorite Haiku by H.F. Noyes

The Galaxy

Wild the rolling sea!
Over which to Sado Isle
Lies the Galaxy.

— Basho, translated by Kenneth Yasuda in The Pepper-Pod


Dead Tree News

I’m very short on time this week so the extent of my dead tree musings will be to share with you this haiku and related quote from R.H. Blyth’s Haiku, vol. 2, “Spring” (so, so loving Blyth, best million dollars I ever spent), which I found a week or so ago and can’t get out of my head.

The fence
Shall be assigned
To the uguisu.
— Issa, translated by R.H. Blyth

“Bestowing what we do not possess, commanding where we have no power, this is of the essence of poetry and of Zen.”

— R.H. Blyth, Haiku, vol. 2, p. 181

Yeah. I know. It turned my brain inside out too.

Have a great week.


Back to our guest:

Thanks for your kind attention, People Who Orbit Sol. I will now quietly return to my place of habitation and share with my people what I have learned about you through your — what do you call it again? — “poetry.”

Fear not. It’s all good.

27 thoughts on “Across the Haikuverse, No. 17: Extraterrestrial Edition

    • Well, we can’t all be Kuniharu…but doodleku rule in their own way. And yeah…that haiku of Stanford’s is one of my favorites of the year.

      (Also, just as an aside…I was in bed by one o’clock last night. 🙂 )

      • Trying to be Kuniharu-san would mean learning Adobe Illustrator. And then I will stab my eyes out. With a spork. (If you can’t tell by that statement, I suck with vectors.)

        Stanford has a habit of doing that. It’d be annoying if he wasn’t so damn good at it.

        (Whoo! I wondered about that. I was still awake when this went up at 5am. Go you!)

        • Spork. Eyes. Bad image. I am still having nightmares from when my son played Gloucester in “Lear” and I had to see his eyes plucked out on stage. He is a great agonized screamer.

          I schedule most of my posts to appear at 5ish…I’m always having people write me and say, “Hey, what are you doing up at this time of day?” Then four hours later when I actually get up I write back and say, “What were *you* doing up?”

  1. aloha Melissa – quick note with no other comment: would you check the link to Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, please? i got the web hosting domain twice on it but no Haiga. i have to go, so i’m not going on… other than extra ty for all you do of course. and yeah, 5 AM is a great time of day. along with the other 23 hours of the day too. aloha.

    • Thanks for the heads-up, Wrick — I took the reference to that site out, because it looks like it is at least temporarily out of commission — all the links to it from Google just lead back to that same domain hosting service. If they return to the land of the living I’ll put it in a future edition. Can’t believe I just looked at that a few days ago and now it’s gone…

      • thanks Melissa – i was intrigued by that site so i hope it is just a temporary glitch. you’ve revealed some striking haiga places to explore here. outstanding and thank you.

        i might mention for anyone interested in submitting haiga to WHA – anyone can submit work and the deadline is the 20th of the each month for the following month. those that make it are posted and then archived. have fun.

          • ha. it’s a post – it should be a little short of a book. you do a most excellent job of presenting Melissa. we have to be able to do a little bit for our self, yes? ha. lazy girl. like the sea is lazy. you’re always in motion. and fun too. aloha.

            • Don’t try to get in the way of my perfectionism, Daddario, you might end up run over with a steamroller. 🙂
              No, actually, I am doing a much better job of letting things be Good Enough these days, if I didn’t I would have died a long time ago. And now that I know that my faithful readers can be trusted to pick up some of the slack for me…who knows what else I might let go? 🙂

              • yeah. i’ll stand aside on your roller mode days. insane is not always infoolish.

                wait. shouldnt “insane” mean “the one in the sane area”? and the one out of sane area be the one who’s off their walker. …or… i mean around the twist. . or something like that.

                i know you are doing at least 3 full time jobs of work, with 2 part time jobs on the side. plus classes. so a break now and then is in order. not a break down. just a break. measure that. carefully. yes. good on letting things go. aloha.

                • Oh, good heavens, my schedule isn’t anywhere near that bad. I’m shuddering just thinking about the scenario you’ve outlined.

                  Four classes, two part-time jobs. Some volunteer stuff. And a blog. I spend more time on the blog (or rather, on haiku in general) than on any other single thing, because, you know, it’s the only thing that will never make me any money or impress more than a vanishingly minuscule (though, naturally, brilliant and discerning) portion of the population. So that makes sense.

    • What alien did you think I was talking about, Steve? 😉
      You’re welcome. That’s still one of my favorite things of the week.
      I’ve tried to do it a couple times with my haiku but it never comes out as good as yours. Or good at all.

  2. …and I love how you do not just give a rundown but imaginatively frame each new journey through the haikuverse with a travel plan–here with an alien visitor! The finger-tip greetings did deepen my impressions of each stop. So endless this universe of haiku and such luck we have with you as navigator who can’t sleep as the world does. Thanks so much again!

  3. Pingback: News 28 April 2011 | Stella Pierides

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