hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman & Vidya Shankar
A Thursday Feature.
poet of the month: Richard Grahn
19th October 2023
This month we are extremely excited to present the work of Richard Grahn, founding editor of Drifting Sands. We hope that you enjoy reading his work and are stimulated by the use of language, pace, mood and energy within the themes Richard explores in his writing.
Richard Grahn Richard grew up in the bucolic atmospheres of Wisconsin, Maine, and Indiana. His travels and many adventures provide much grist for the mill in his mind. His work derives primarily from life experiences or is loosely based on real people or events. He has been writing haibun since 2018, embracing the form and writing in general as a means of coping with illness. He is the author of several poetry books, the most recent of which is, Longevity: Poems in the Key of Helen, a collection of haibun and tanka prose. His other artistic passions include sculpture, painting, photography, and making music.
Sam adjusts his tie and steps off the porch, the light blue feather tucked in his hatband—a gift from a friend. The sidewalk is alive with shoes today. His cane taps along as he sets off to work.
Miranda meets him at the corner, clutching her pink handbag. He greets her with a smile. They chit-chat over old times as they walk together to his office. They discuss plans for dinner and agree to meet after work. He goes inside.
She continues two more blocks to the school crossing, where the guard waves her across with a batch of children. She smiles at the man and offers a thank you.
The man holds up his sign until all are safely across. Stepping to the curb, he explains to one girl how he had to cross the street all by himself when he was young. The story makes her happy that he is there.
The girl heads into school and her classroom. The teacher calls her name and she responds with a cheerful chirp, “I’m here.” The teacher smiles and puts a gold star in the roster next to her name.
After school lets out, the teacher is busy grading the day’s assignments when the principal stops by. "I had a wonderful day with the class," she tells him.
He smiles, leaves her to her papers and heads out to the parking lot where he encounters a boy on a bike. The boy is ecstatic about his booming home run at baseball practice this afternoon. The principal gives him a high-five and the boy whizzes off.
Waiting at the light, the boy watches a couple cross the street, he with a cane, she with a pink purse tucked under her arm. The man tips his hat and the boy smiles back, catching a glimpse of what was once his feather.
quiet moon . . . thank you for taking the time to shine
Haibun Today 13:4, December 2019
Source: Longevity: Poems in the Key of Helen, Red Moon Press
Observation: This haibun is full of a childlike energy and joy that just makes me smile each time I read it. I don't often come across writing that lifts the spirit like this. It is like a celebration or like a note of gratitude.
SP: What I found interesting and very unusual was the way you start this haibun with a specific character who has a name and as the narrative develops, you abstain from naming the others. Any specific reason?
RG: I wanted to show that interactions between people—whether familiar to one another or strangers—produce ripples in the fabric of humanity. In the end, it’s just a boy watching a couple crossing the street but we know there is a connection, two actually: the friendship between the boy and Sam, and the positive energy that started with Sam and carried through the entire day to reach the boy. I wanted to show the randomness of this.
SP:Your writing demonstrates a deft control over language and narrative evoking a specific emotion and tone colour in your haibun. How do you work on developing pace and mood in your writing?
RG: Reading out loud is essential for pace, rhythm, and flow. It has to sound good to my ears. I think as far as mood goes, one has to go into the subconscious, immerse oneself in the story. It’s not an intentional act on my part, usually; it comes from living the words as they go onto the page.
Prompt for members: 'The sidewalk is alive with shoes today.' Notice the language, how it calls to attention a detail using synecdoche. In this week's haibun, I want to see you draw images that come from a different way of looking at things. Play with imagery and language. And, of course, haibun outside this prompt can also be posted!
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt. 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.