Back and forth

Oh hi. Thanks for putting up with me for the entire month of November while I wrote a story backwards. What was that all about? If you’d like to investigate you can click on November 2015 in the column to the right and read the story forwards, which is not the way I wrote it but is actually the way I intended it to be read. For quite a while I’ve been thinking that since blog posts appear in reverse chronological order, then obviously to make a story appear in chronological order on your blog, you must write it backwards. Well. Sometimes I get these ideas and run with them. Sometimes they run with me.

In case you were thinking of asking, writing a story backwards is confusing, disorienting, challenging, and freeing. I recommend it to people with writer’s block. One thing you shouldn’t ask me is what the giant is supposed to be about. She’s a giant. Isn’t that enough for someone to be about?

I’ll be moving on to another writing project now. Probably writing forwards this time. For a change.

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m’aidez

I started this blog five years ago today. For those of you who don’t know, I actually started the blog at the same moment that I began to learn to write haiku, and both endeavors had the same cause: I needed to write regularly, and I needed to find something to write, and somewhere to write it.

These were things I’d been trying to figure out literally my entire life (okay, maybe literally my entire life minus about the first four years), and within about two weeks of starting this blog I knew I’d finally got it. It wasn’t just haiku the literary genre that made me feel at home, it was haiku the literary community. Instant friends! Constant support! Artistic fulfillment! No wonder I’ve stuck this out about ten times longer than I’ve stuck out any other writing project of my life. 

This is also actually my one thousandth blog post (and please don’t ask me anything about the complicated calculations that went into making sure the two events would coincide because I’m already embarrassed enough about my OCD). Over the course of a thousand posts the blog has evolved a lot–I’ve discovered not just haiku but haibun, haiga, and tanka, and experimented with a lot of random weird stuff that might not have made sense to anyone but me but made me happy at the time.

Through it all, to my amazement, you people have kept coming back and saying nice things. I would just like to state here for the record that I have NEVER received a mean comment on this blog, which considering that we’re talking about the Internet is probably worthy of a mention in a history book somewhere. Basically, you’re all saints and I’m incredibly lucky, and I would like to thank you one thousand times for the welcome you’ve given me and the sense of purpose and excitement about art and existence you’ve all helped inject into my life, by being out there, by reading, by responding, by reaching out.

I’d like to get more eloquent and profound than this, but I find myself kind of mute with gratitude and awe and also I don’t think it would be fair to reward you for your faithful support by boring you to death. Happy May Day, is about all I have left to say at this point. Happy

everything
I forgot to say
in one flower

Chasing Dragonflies

Dear readers,

I know you’re probably sick of me by now after my interminable rambling about HNA, but here’s your chance to get your revenge by making me read your writing for a change.

Remember back last month when we all went crazy for mushrooms? Mushroom haiku. Mushroom tanka. Mushroom haiga. Mushroom photos. Mushroom drawings. It was so much fun I feel like doing it again. No, not with mushrooms. I think we’ve played out mushrooms. Wonderful as they are.

So how about … dragonflies?Green dragonfly

Yes, I do have a vested interest in dragonflies. And I always feel like I don’t see enough dragonfly haiku. Issa wrote a lot of them, which makes me happy, but more recently I feel like their currency has fallen off. And you guys always surprise me. In a good way. I’d love to see what you have to say about dragonflies.

Not to mention, I have a large collection of dragonfly photos and artwork all ready to accompany your brilliant words. It’ll be awesome.

Once again, I’m taking haiku, tanka, and haiga. Published or unpublished. You can send them to reddragonflyhaiku AT gmail DOT com.

Deadline: Sunday August 14. (They’ll be posted next week sometime.)

The fine print:

1. If I post poems on my blog, they count as published for the purposes of most journals’ editorial policies, so don’t send me anything you are hoping to publish in an edited journal.

2. You will retain all rights to your work after it has appeared here. I will not publish it anywhere else or post it here more than once unless we make other arrangements to do so.

3. Make sure you send me whatever name you want your poem signed with and any link(s) you want me to include — to a blog, website, Twitter feed, whatever.

4. If your poem has been published, make sure to send me the publishing credits because publishers like it when you credit them.

5. Also, I can’t guarantee to post everything people send me, sorry. (What if I get 500 of these things? I won’t, but what if?)

6. Once again: Deadline: Sunday, August 14, 2011. Midnight, wherever you are. (Nobody in the world is more than seven or eight hours behind me, so whatever I see in my inbox when I get up on Monday morning is it.)

7. Feel free to spread the word about this request to your friends and enemies.

8. Any other questions or comments? That’s what the comments box is for. Or the email address above.

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Thanks in advance for the wings,

Melissa

Can You Believe What She Did?

Girl talking on telephone.

No, you’re not imagining things, Hilda. It does look different. It was time for a change. There was just too much stuff around here. Things were getting so cluttered you could hardly see the poetry. Or the pictures. This will work better, I think.

If you’re looking for all the links to my stuff and other peoples’, they’re still here, up there in the menu bar under “Links” and “Site Archive.” Other bureaucratic stuff is down at the bottom, in case you haven’t gotten that far. Like, for instance, the search bar. (People should use that more, it works really well in WordPress and it’s cool. Type some random word in there to see if I’ve ever written a haiku about it. Go ahead, try it.)

Let me know what you think. I am, as always, open to suggestions, copious praise, and even withering criticism, when tempered with enough homemade cookies. (My snail mail address available on request. For sending the cookies.)

Oh, and the mushrooms? They’re coming tomorrow. Really.

Across the Haikuverse, No. 21: Mad Libs Edition

Dear _______,

In this edition of the ________ you will find many ________ and __________. My favorite is probably the ________ by __________. I hope you ________ this post. It took me a long time to ______ it and now I’m really ______.

This week I have been ______ing and _______ing. _________ are blooming in my yard. I saw ________ the other day for the first time in a while and got very _______. I spent about _______ hours watching them hoping I would be able to write a good _______ about them, but no luck so far.

Hope you’re having a good _______. I’ve been kind of ________ myself.

Always nice to ________ with you,

Melissa

_________________________________________________________

Haiku (Etc.) For You

It’s fascinating to me how in every edition of the Haikuverse the haiku seem to clump themselves into themes, with very few haiku left off by themselves. I don’t know if this is because haiku do tend to be written about a fairly narrow set of subjects, or because human beings are really good at seeing patterns where there aren’t necessarily any, or both, or what. But this time I’m starting off with four haiku about various insects and ending with three haiku about debris, gravel, and pebbles. With rain and toys and lilacs holding down the fort in the middle, staunchly independent.

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larva and silkworm-
once upon a time
there was a girl

— Stella Pierides, Stella Pierides

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身のなかのまつ暗がりの蛍狩り   河原枇杷男
mi no naka no makkuragari no hotaru-gari

.
pitch darkness
inside of me
my firefly hunt

— Biwao Kawahara, translated by Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World
.

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what does the wasp
know about the blossoms —
windfall apples

— Polona Oblak, Crows & Daisies

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monkey cage
a butterfly drifts
in and out

— Laura Garrison, DailyHaiku

(Actually, I had a hard time picking just one from Laura’s seven haiku on DailyHaiku last week. It was an outstanding selection of original, thought-provoking haiku. If you don’t believe me, you can look for yourself.)

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toys my father
couldn’t fix . . .
summer rain

— Aubrie Cox, Yay words!

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scent of lilac –
one final breath
after another

— Paul Smith, Paper Moon

(Last week Paul celebrated acquiring the 100th follower on his blog. Really, he should have a lot more. Paper Moon is a must-read. Did you hear me? Must. Read. Go. Now.)

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Summer clouds,
how fast they build up
over fields of debris

— Kuniharu Shimizu, see haiku here

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yard gravel –
I build a demanding religion
from popsicle sticks

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havegrus –
jeg bygger en krævende religion
af ispinde

— Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 2 tongues . 2 tunger

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beneath me
pebbles congregate
expectantly

— Philip Damian-Grint, a handful of stones

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Cool Things You Can Do With Blogs: A List

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1. You can write haiku and post it. Then you can add two lines to the haiku and turn it into a tanka and post that too. That’s what Angie Werren is doing this month on feathers. (And I thought she couldn’t top last month.) More people should do this. It makes me happy.

summer pond
her body slipping
through the fog
I bookmark pages
with birthday photos

—Angie Werren, feathers

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2. You can take other people’s fantastic haiku and turn them into digital works of art and post them on your blog. Then you can ALSO post a link to a great essay about haiku that is connected in some way to the haiku you posted, as well as an excerpt from the essay that will tempt your readers to go read it right now. You can do this every day for a month and call this brilliant feature “Spliced In.” If you do this, you will be Gillena Cox and your blog will be Lunch Break and it will be July 2011. And you will be one of my favorite people.

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inte ett ljud hörs —
den nytjärade ekan
slukas av natten

.

Without a sound
the fresh-tarred rowing-boat
slips into the dark

— Johan Bergstad, Sweden

(To get the full effect you must go see what Gillena has done with this.)

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3. You can write a series of brief, thoughtful, perceptive commentaries about individual haiku in simple, clear prose. This will make everyone happy, because there are not enough of these. From what I’ve seen so far, Jim (Sully) Sullivan’s new blog, haiku and commentary and tales, will be an excellent and much-needed addition to the Haikuverse. I’ve included a brief excerpt from one of his most interesting commentaries below.

soldier unfolding the scent of a letter

— Chad Lee Robinson

“A quick read and you think a soldier is unfolding a scented letter from a girl friend. … But on another level the haiku could be read as two distinct images.

soldier unfolding
the scent of a letter

… The beauty of this haiku is in the many interpretations.   And the one line format (monostich) enhances this ambiguity; it leaves no clues to image breaks.”

— Jim Sullivan, “Soldier unfolding

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Cool Things You Can Do With Websites: Another List

1. You can be Haiku Chronicles. I have written about them before but I should keep reminding you that there is a website devoted to podcasts about haiku. And if you have not listened to any of them, say while you’re chopping leeks a la Basho or staring at cobwebs deciding not to dust them a la Issa, then why are you wasting your time reading this when you could be doing that? Go. The latest installment is Anita Virgil (on whose haiku I have a massive crush) reading the fourth in her series of essays on the four great masters of haiku: Basho, Buson, Issa, and now … ladies and gentlemen … for your edification and entertainment … Shiki.
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2. You can be Bob Lucky. Okay, okay, most of us can’t be Bob Lucky, but at least we can go read Bob Lucky and the 25 tanka prose by other people that Bob Lucky (who is one of the most talented and, um, fun writers of haiku and tanka and haibun and tanka prose out there) lovingly selected for a special feature over at the website of the tanka journal Atlas Poetica. Not only are the tanka prose themselves more than worth reading, but Bob’s introductory essay on the selection and editing process is one of the most frank, funny things I’ve ever read on the subject.

“I never wanted to be an editor. I wanted to be a lumberjack. Not really, but there were days when working on this project I would wander from room to room, occasionally picking up a ukulele and singing momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be editors, while my mind wrestled with choices I had to make.”

— Bob Lucky, “TP or not TP, That is the Question

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Dead Tree News: Dead Tree Journals

What showed up in my mailbox the last couple of weeks and made me very happy. I may be a bit telegraphic here because it’s late and words are starting to fail me (or I’m starting to fail them). Just imagine I had something more profound and appreciative to say about both these publications, because I do, it’s just kind of trapped in a yawn at the moment.

Presence

Out of the U.K., glossy cover, haiku arranged thoughtfully by season (including a non-seasonal section). There are tanka and haibun too. And reviews. It’s good, you should get it.

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all the bones
scattered in the cave
imagining God

— Bob Lucky
[See? I told you.]

hand-thrown
another bowl for fruit
I’ll never taste

— Thomas Powell

last night of September
a tear darkens
the facial mud pack

— Maeve O’Sullivan

winter closing in…
I visit the simplest words
in the dictionary

— Philip Rowland

holiday snapshots —
all the years
I was invisible

— Johannes Bjerg

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red lights

A tanka journal, tall and thin and, naturally, red. Nice paper, nice print, pleasant to hold and look at and, oh, yes, read.

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summertime
a boy leans over
a riverbank
with a foot raised
over the world

— David Caruso

some nights
someone screamed
for us all
in the dark
down the hall

— Susan Marie LaVallee

a stranger
to the sound of my voice
on a recording;
are there other parts of me
that people know and I don’t?

— Adelaide Shaw

________________________________________________________________

Okay, back to ________. I still have to ________ that _________ about the ________, prepare my ________ for _________, and ________. Hope you have a great ________!

Mushroom Hunting

Dear readers,

For some reason I have decided that I don’t have enough mushroom haiku in my life. How about you? Mushroom

I mean I keep trying to write them but it’s not going very well. (Writing in general is not going very well just at the moment, but that’s a whole nother story.) And I can’t find enough good ones to read. Why do I want to read and write mushroom haiku? I don’t know, I just do, okay? We all get in these weird moods sometimes.

So here’s my modest proposal … send me your mushroom haiku. (Or tanka. What the heck. Or, hey, haiga.) Yes! For just a small, small reading fee of $14.95…no, just kidding. Geez.

What I’m trying to say is … If you have written (or are about to write) mushroom haiku/tanka/haiga, published or unpublished, that you would like to share with me and my reading public in a charmingly illustrated post to take place … oh, next week sometime, feel free to wing them my way (mlallen DOT 69 AT gmail DOT com).

Yes, of course it’s free. Also unpaid, needless to say. But the glory! Think of the glory! And the fun!

Caveats:

1. If I post poems on my blog, they count as published for the purposes of most journals’ editorial policies, so don’t send me anything you are hoping to publish in an edited journal.

2. You will retain all rights to your work after it has appeared here. I will not publish it anywhere else or post it here more than once unless we make other arrangements to do so.

3. Make sure you send me whatever name you want your poem signed with and any link(s) you want me to include — to a blog, website, Twitter feed, whatever.

4. If your poem has been published, make sure to send me the publishing credits because journals like it when you credit them.

5. Also, I can’t guarantee to post everything people send me, sorry. (What if I get 500 of these things? I won’t, but what if?)

6. Deadline: Saturday, July 16, 2011. Midnight, wherever you are. (Nobody in the world is more than seven or eight hours behind me, so whatever I see in my inbox when I get up on Sunday morning is it.)

7. Feel free to spread the word about this request to your friends and enemies.

8. Any other questions or comments? That’s what the comments box is for. Or the email address above.

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Thanks, and enjoy all your fungi-related writing activities this week,

Melissa