hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh
poet of the month: Kate MacQueen
13th July 2023
A Thursday Feature Morningstar
Many people call these the dog days. In North Carolina we have our own names for the seasons and we call this one Hell’s Front Porch. Hot and humid August can make a dog inclined to hide under the porch. But that’s not why these are called dog days. The real story is that this is the time of year when Sirius, the Dog Star, first rises with the sun and is then the brightest star in the morning sky. Imagine the dogs with their backs up on an August morning, a little boy held in his grandmother’s embrace, the heat quickly rising, and Lucifer watching from the front porch.
that patch of dirt
where everything dies
Published in: Rattle Poet’s Respond, 4 September 2022 https://www.rattle.com/morningstar-by-kate-macqueen/
Author’s note published with the haibun: “Things have a way of heating up in August in the Northern Hemisphere. This week it was the Washington Post noting that ‘The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, Zaporizhzhia, lies in southeastern Ukraine. It has been held by Russian forces since March, but amplified fighting over recent weeks has led to an unprecedented fear of a nuclear catastrophe coinciding with a brutal war.’ I guess the fear of ‘a nuclear catastrophe coinciding with a brutal war’ could be described as unprecedented since few people knew they needed to fear such a thing until 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, when a bombardier from North Carolina dropped the first atomic bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, from a plane named for the pilot’s grandmother, Enola Gay, on Hiroshima. History doesn’t repeat itself, exactly, but it does provide inspiration in ways that really should be anticipated.”
The 10 Billion Incarnations of Hitler
We're talking about mosquitos and ticks. I say knowing a mosquito is Hitler reincarnated might alleviate guilt in killing it. Paul asks if reincarnation is impartible, if souls reincarnate whole and complete. Or partible, distributed across multiple beings, like genes to our children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews. If partible, then bits of Hitler could be incarnated billions of times over in the form of billions of mosquitos. That raises a new question. How many times would Hitler’s bits need to be incarnated as mosquitos to earn reincarnation in a higher state?
wasp cocoons dangle
from a caterpillar’s back
· Modern Haiku, issue 52.1, 2021
· The Best Small Fictions 2022, edited by Nathan Leslie & Claire Chiew, Alternating Current Press, forthcoming
We're delighted to share Kate's beautiful haibun with you this month; let us know your thoughts. We asked her a few questions and she kindly took time out to answer them. Here's the next.
Q. What is your writing process?
Kate: An essential part of my process is regular journal writing, which is where most of my poetry begins. Journaling gives my writing space to both rest and evolve. My journaling is all over the place, unstructured except for noting the date. Ideas, insights, quotes from other writers, and descriptions of day-to-day experiences are piled up like mulch in my journals. When something takes root, the hard writing begins. Once I choose what to cultivate, I generally transplant the text to a computer file to prune and shape. I don’t rush the process for haibun. I step away and back repeatedly so I can look at the work with fresh eyes. For me, some haibun can take weeks or months to grow strong.
My process is a kind of mindfulness through writing---like the way we bring mindfulness into breathing. I pay attention to what my body and mind are doing as I’m writing. That awareness is a technique for being honest with myself about the thing I’m writing about. This doesn’t mean I spill all the details of an experience. It means finding a way to distill the essential truth of it. For example, the prose part of labyrinth was inspired by a stress-related dream I’ve had many times, about getting hopelessly lost at large scientific conventions. What I wanted to capture was not the fact that these were dreams but rather the emotional reality of the stress that lay at the root of the dreams—the feeling of being lost in a labyrinth and the relief in seeing a way out. In her preface to Grandmother’s Pearls: An Anthology of Dream Poems, Alexis Rotella notes that “The main criteria [for inclusion] was that poems capture the dreams themselves—I didn’t want dreamlike poems or poems about dreams.” I think that is very good advice for translating experience into writing. Let the experience—your experience—speak its truth.
Kate MacQueen is an anthropologist and public health researcher; much of her writing is published in scientific journals and is decidedly unpoetic. She began her haiku journey in the mid 1990s; since then, her short poems (haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, haibun, tanka prose) have been curated by a variety of journals (Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Acorn, Prune Juice, Presence, Mayfly, Trash Panda Haiku, Rattle, and others) and anthologies (Snapshot Press Haiku Calendars, several Red Moon Press haiku and haibun anthologies, Haiku 2014 (Modern Haiku Press 2014), Nest Feathers (The Heron’s Nest Press 2015), Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press 2018), and The Best Small Fictions 2022 (Alternating Current Press, forthcoming). She illustrated two Haiku North America anthologies, Dandelion Wind edited by Michael Dylan Welch and Lenard D. Moore, 2008, and Sitting in the Sun edited by Michael Dylan Welch and Crystal Simone Smith, 2019. She is plotting retirement and compiling chapbooks.
Prompt for the week: Read the two haibun, see how beautifully the ku links then shifts away seamlessly. I posted these two haibun by Kate together because they carried a common thread: History. This week's challenge is about writing a haibun using a fact. It could be historical, scientific, or whatever you can think of. You can write outside the challenge as well. Now go and have fun. Kala and I look forward to reading your haibun.
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt, and only one haibun in 24 hours. Please put your name and country of residence under your poem, it makes the editors' work easier. Thanks.
2. Share your best-polished pieces.
3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written.
Let it simmer for a while.
4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.
5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.
We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.