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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
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Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: International Student Haiku with Kala Ramesh

May 28, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, student work, poets

Kala Ramesh

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

On this final Friday of May, we have a special treat. The talented and generous Kala Ramesh of India has dropped by to tell us a bit about herself and haiku, and to share some wonderful student poetry featured in the "Youth Corner" of The United Haiku and Tanka Society' s online publication, cattails.


Welcome, Kala! I’m thrilled you can join us today and share a bit about student haiku poets from around the world. But first, let’s get to know you a little better.

I’ve read that your professional background in India is as a musician, and that you discovered haiku in 2005. Apparently you jumped right in with both feet, and no looking back. What is it about haiku you find so captivating?


A million thanks, Robyn, for wanting to focus on “Youth Haiku” in your blog.

In answer to your question, I come from a culturally rich south India family, and began having music lessons from professionals from the age of six – the resonance is what captured me when I came into haiku. What is resonance one might ask? For me it was close to the concept of ‘rasa’ theory in Indian aesthetics. What is it that lingers in your mind long after you’ve heard a piece of melody . . . and which gives you joy? Indians call it ‘rasa’ – the resonance, the distilled emotions that happen within us.

I found that haiku worked in the same way in my mind – I would linger over a haiku to see how in just 9 or 10 words the author could say so much. When I started I had no access to haiku books. Even now you can’t find a single haiku book in any bookstore in India. Ninety-nine percent of the haiku books are self-published. Now the internet is flooded with haiku information and literature!


I’ve enjoyed reading your work in leading haiku journals. I’m struck that you plunged into English-language haiku with such vigor, when English is not your first language. Is this a particular challenge, or do haiku just “come to you” this way?

Thanks a ton, Robyn. Yes, I’m a Tamilian from South India. People wrongly assume that Hindi is our national language, but it’s not! I don’t know Hindi. In India we have around twenty-two languages, so English becomes our common tongue, and I don’t see that dependence on English decreasing. I can think in English, though my ‘thinking’ is coloured by Indian aesthetics and culture.

A few years ago, Gisele LeBlanc sent me your haiku publications for children from Katha, Haiku and My Haiku Moments. These are such colorful, fun introductions for young writers (writers of any age, really). Why do you have such a passion for nurturing haiku among young people?

Children take to haiku like fish take to water – I know this is a cliché but it gives a true picture. Children are easily malleable and haiku has some very good tools that help to hone their writing skills. Editing is so important in haiku and this tool is most needed in our fast galloping lives. Who has the patience to read through volumes of uninteresting stuff, tell me! This art of saying a lot in few words is something a child should be exposed to!

Along those lines, you currently serve as the Youth Corner Editor for “Cattails,” the online publication of the United Haiku and Tanka Society. Tell us a little about the Youth Corner, and from what corners of the world you receive submissions?

When an’ya invited me to become the “Youth Corner” editor, I had mild trepidations, for no other journal had this feature and starting off anything for the first time is always a challenge. We have nothing to fall back on. I’m now into my fourth issue and I’m happy about this little corner!

Submissions are still not coming from all parts of the world. Maybe they aren’t aware about cattails Youth Corner. I do get a few from the US. I got a lovely cartoon submission from Indonesia this time and I’m hoping children from all over the world will begin to submit their haiku to cattails Youth Corner soon.

India has opened to haiku in a big way! But all this didn’t come on a platter to me. I’ve worked hard since 2006. I approached dozens and dozens of schools and colleges, but just couldn’t get beyond the office doors! Slowly, schools opened their doors, and now respected organizations like Katha.org, Bookaroo Children’s Literary Festival, The Hyderabad Literary Festival, Muse India - online poetry site, The Central Board of Secondary Schools (CBSE) all over India, and of course the Symbiosis International University have opened not just their doors, but their hearts to haiku. It’s exciting “haiku” time for India!

I used to have a HaikuWALL in almost all my workshops, where along with the masters' haiku, the children’s haiku would be pinned up on a huge make-shift wall. Excited parents would take pictures of their child next to their first haiku! Pune Biennale 2015 offered to paint the chosen haiku on our street walls. That was the start of another venture, where we have school children’s and college students’ haiku painted on city walls in Pune and Chennai. A few of my haiku are included too. I call it the HaikuWALL India – it’s an ongoing project.


That sounds wonderful, Kala. Finally, let’s enjoy some haiku!

Robyn, I’ll proudly showcase the youngsters’ haiku. They need all the encouragement! A million thanks to you for presenting them in your blog. We need more haiku lovers like you!

Enjoy!


yawning wide . . .
I watch the leaf settle
on a bed of brown

R. Hariharan (age 14)
CBSE School, Chennai, India



still water . . .
a zebra runs away
from itself

      stira jalarasi . . .
      Vayakari dhainjaye zebra tiye
     dekhi nija pratibimba


Aditya Ashribad (age 17)
CBSE School, Orissa, India


long journey
pausing for water
I drink the moon


Iqra Raza (16 yrs)
CBSE School, Delhi, India


maple leaf parachuting down upon soldiers’ graves

Rose Anderson (age 18)
USA


broken ladder
a spider weaves a web
into the web itself


Tanvi Nishchal (age 16)
CBSE School, Delhi, India


icy night
all the city streets
clear of people


Pruthvi Shrikaanth (age 7)
United Kingdom


dancing without
knowing who holds my waist
masquerade ball


Aashna Banerjee
Symbiosis International University, Pune


war cry—
my nephew gets ready
for the pillow fight


Vividha Bhasin
Symbiosis International University, Pune


creeping up
the rocky wall—
vines


Aaliyah Saleem (5 1/2 yrs)
USA

All poems are copyright their respective authors.


I want to end this collection of children’s haiku on a high. I am ecstatic to announce that one of my students, Jhanvi Tiwari, was awarded an Honourable Mention in the international 2014 ANNUAL MOON VIEWING HAIKU CONTEST, a competition held by the Australian Haiku Society.

Congratulations to Jhanvi for this lovely haiku!

hunter’s moon
a werewolf growls in
nani’s* stories


Jhanvi Tiwari
Symbiosis International University.
*Nani – maternal grandmother in Hindi


And lastly how can I not include a school student’s work picked up by Don Wentworth for Wednesday Haiku!


windy day…
the pages turn
to the last line


Sneha Mojumdar (15 yrs)
CBSE School, Delhi.


Sneha, studying in Sanskriti School Delhi, wrote this haiku during the Katha Utsav haiku workshop I conducted in December 2014. I vividly remember exclaiming that it was beautiful when Sneha read this haiku out.

Don Wentworth of Wednesday Haiku says:
My very best to Sneha ... a deep bow from me to honor a spirit that cuts so quickly to the essence. And thank you for your wonderful work with your students, Kala. With this type of devotion, the future is assured.



Many thanks, Kala – and I will agree with Don. Thank you for all you do to promote haiku among young readers and writers.


Kala has also kindly provided the following links:

Premier issue cattails Winter 2013
cattails May 2014.
cattails September 2014.
cattails January 2015. (Note - In this issue, you’ll find that Kala chose a haiku by one of our Haiku Student Poets of the Month, Emma Jones, as one of the “Editor’s Favourites.”)
cattails May edition is expected to go online soon.
Wednesday Haiku link – Yesha Shah & Sneha Mojumdar: Wednesday Haiku, #205.

What’s that, readers? You’d like to read some of Kala’s work as well? Have no fear. You will find it in leading haiku journals, and I’ve also asked her to please visit again in the fall to share her haiku.

For more great poetry of all kinds today, please visit the lovely Margaret at Reflections on the Teche, where she’s rounding up Poetry Friday as she winds up the school year.

Poetry Friday: On the Haiku Road with Jack Kerouac

May 21, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, HSA, poets, conferences, workshops

Top: Robyn and award-winning poet and conference speaker Stanford M. Forrester, editor of bottle rockets and past president of the HSA;
Center: Current HSA President David G. Lanoue, poet and teacher Tom Painting, and poets Ray and Terri French (current Southeast Regional Coordinator for the HSA).
Bottom: Kerouac memorobilia displayed at The Kerouac Project house in Orlando.

Confession: I've only read a few excerpts of Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD and other novels. Unfiltered stream-of-conscious accounts of unbridled lives of the Beats (with no white space!) isn't quite my cup of tea. However, I was intrigued when my son gave me a copy of JACK KEROUAC - BOOK OF HAIKUS, edited and with an introduction by Regina Weinreich (Penguin, 2003) a year or two ago. And one of the houses Kerouac lived in (in 1957) is smack-dab in the middle of my old stomping grounds in the College Park area of Orlando, just a couple of miles from my folks' current home.

So when I learned the second quarterly meeting of the Haiku Society of America (HSA) would be coming to the Southeast, and to Orlando and the Kerouac house specifically, I signed up right away.

What a terrific weekend of learning, writing, and camaraderie!

The day began and ended with presentations by former HSA president, award-winning poet, and bottle rockets press editor Stanford M. Forrester of Connecticut. He did a wonderful job explaining how important Kerouac's role was in the development of haiku here in the states, noting that Kerouac drew mainly on Zen rather than Tibetan Buddhism, and that he "exchanged dogma for a more 'free-wheeling' life."

One of Kerouac's haiku that we looked at was this:


In my medicine cabinet
      the winter fly
Has died of old age



I'd remembered it from Weinreich's book and it was one of my favorites. I liked it even more after Stanford pointed out that to open the medicine cabinet, the speaker would likely encounter an mirror. Of course! Makes the poem even richer.

The middle of our day included a trip from Rollins College (where the lectures and meeting were held) to the cottage in College Park where Kerouac and his mother lived in 1957 - in the back part of the house, not the whole cottage. It has been preserved with generous support of some savvy volunteers, who administer residencies for selected writers four times a year (one per season). The folks from The Kerouac Project who gave us a tour (the current writer-in-residence was out of town and so we could see the house) joined us in many conversations and couldn't have been more welcoming. Several of us bought Bob Kealing's book, KEROUAC IN FLORIDA: : Where The Road Ends, which chronicles Kerouac's life in several houses there until his death in St. Petersburg in 1969 at the age of 47.

After a picnic lunch in the yard, we made the short trek by foot to Lake Adair, where I spent many an afternoon as a teenager. This was our "ginko walk" - poets walking together to soak up inspiration from the surroundings and compose haiku, perhaps with sketchbooks or cameras in tow. Cypress knees, red-winged blackbirds, and a circling osprey gave us plenty to work with on a sunny day.

Kerouac and fellow writers often composed haiku during their road trips. How fitting that HSA President David G. Lanoue and three more folks making up the New Orleans contingent did the same during their long, long drive. The result was a lively renku read during Saturday evening's poetry reading at a local watering hole, where 20-somethings huddled over laptops with beer or coffee, strung lights and colorful paper cut-outs made for festive, hipster-friendly décor, and our haiku folks took up most of the room with its small stage. Actually, the linked verses (36) were not read so much as performed, set to some top-notch harmonica improvisations by one of the renku poets.

A bonus for me was getting to make it a weekend trip with my husband (and the dogs!) to visit my folks. Jeff came with me to the reading Saturday night and got to hear me read a few poems as well. It was a friendly, laid-back audience. We enjoyed 15 or so sharings of haiku, haibun, tanka, and even Japanese music combined with poems.

This was only my second time to an HSA meeting, and it was a treat catching up with folks I'd met in Atlanta a year and a half ago as well as making new acquaintances. To think haiku poets gather around the world like this sharing their passion and knowledge is a wonderful thing, much like we gather in our virtual meeting places here on Poetry Friday.

Marching to his own energetic beat is our Poetry Friday Rounder-upper today, Matt - go check out all the great offerings at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

Poetry Friday - OOPS - Student Winners from the United Nations International Haiku Contest coming in June...

May 14, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, Student Poet of the Month, haiku, contests, poetry


Oops...

Update: My apologies, but we needed to wait until after June 6 to celebrate the Haiku Student Poet of the Month writers who placed in the United Nations International School Student Haiku contest. Click here for the link!

Speaking of haiku, our own amazing master of haiku and soooo many other things, Diane, has rounded up Poetry Friday this week at Random Noodling. Thanks, Diane!

Poetry Friday: Haiku Student Poet of the Month Dylan Levy

May 7, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, Student Poet of the Month, student work


Happy Poetry Friday!

Can you believe another school year is coming to a close? Neither can I.

We will ring it out in style, though, with several oh-so-talented student haiku poets for these last few weeks of this month. In fact, today’s special guest is our Student Haiku Poet of the Month for May, Dylan Levy.

Dylan is a seventh-grade student at The Paideia School in Atlanta. She claims her life is like any other typical teenage girl’s, full of volleyball and writing. She says she is always thirsty for something new and is never satisfied, noting that her words “tremble and soften” when she reads in front of a group. Her days are spent at home, using her free time to write. Dylan “never keeps secrets” because “her blue eyes and wide smile always tell the tale” -- her words do as well, as you'll see.

Why haiku? Here are Dylan’s thoughts, with some insightful "how-to's" folded in:

In appearance a haiku is just a few words on a page, but in reality haiku is much more,” she says. ” A good haiku is not choppy or too wordy; it should flow. Haiku doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s simple. Haiku cannot be forced; it is something you find and can be difficult in this way; each word painting the picture of an image.

Here is a sampling of Dylan’s poetry, which I think you’ll agree demonstrates those characteristics.



silence broken
the little girl hums
a lullaby



classical music
my palm to the air
catching each note



red bird
softly cooing
fire in my hands



thunder storm
the deaf lady
covers her ears



one-way road
a downpour
carries the leaves



Poems ©Dylan Levy. All rights reserved.


Many thanks to Dylan for sharing these fine poems here this week. For more posts in this series featuring talented students, please click here.

Our Poetry Friday host today has been known to wrangle a haiku or two. Please visit Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty for all the great poetry posted around the Kidlitosphere!

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