Updated: Feb 25
Hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman and Reid Hepworth
poet of the month: Roberta Beary
23rd February 2023
Life is filled with numerous moments that create our individual book of memories.
Once we have captured these in a haibun, what advice does Roberta have for novice writers?
RB: When starting out, keep track of of journals which publish poets whose work you admire. Then submit some of your own haiku to those journals. If a journal’s guidelines says send between 5-15 haiku, remember it is better to send 5 strong haiku than a combination of 15 strong, middling and weak haiku. As soon as you get a rejection, and you will get many, send out that rejected haiku to another journal you admire.
My haiku that won the international “Kusamakura” Haiku Competition was rejected 15 times. My prize included an all expense paid trip to Kumamoto, Japan, a large cash honorarium, and a formal awards ceremony at which I gave an acceptance speech. It was a surreal experience that has become a wonderful memory. And it happened because I kept submitting that one haiku I believed in. My prose poem that won the 2022 Bridport Prize for poetry was rejected 60 times. Never give up. And don’t allow anyone to make you feel that your work is unworthy. The more haiku you write the more you will learn, including how to judge the quality of your own work.
For our final week, I bring a haibun that captures the intensity of such a moment.
WHEN I READ ABOUT JANIS IAN I AM THE SAME ONLY DIFFERENT
Smoking pot in the cafeteria with my friend Susan singing “Society’s Child” and I sing along our matching flower shirts like we’d stumbled into a field of buttercups and we’re staring at a sky of blue butterflies we don’t see the gum stuck under the table cause we’re stoned and the teachers don’t give a shit and I want to be Janis Ian strumming a guitar but today I have piano and when I get home Susan’s in the backyard crying and I sneak her into my room and her married brother bangs the front door screaming you tell my sister I’ll the beat the crap out of that guy if he ever shows up again and Susan and I hide out all afternoon playing “Society’s Child” on my big sister’s stereo careful the needle doesn’t scratch cause she’d kill me and when my sister beeps we take the steps two at a time and for once she’s nice and gives Susan a ride to her mom’s and the decades roll by and Susan and I lose track but I send her my book anyway and she calls and talks about the old days and I tell her Janis Ian says she’s done with music and writes haiku now and I am the same as I was that day in the cafeteria and different too which is hard to explain but after I find Susan’s address I pencil a paper with buttercups and three lines that say
the pebbled path
—from Poets Respond
January 25, 2022
Write a haibun that uses the catchphrase 'blue butterfly'. Have fun. Play with the idea and surprise us.
Capture a 'slice of life' moment to share through your haibun.
Here's a bonus haibun from Roberta that won an honorable mention in the Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2012.
It has been a fabulous month. We have been truly inspired by Roberta's work and craft. Thank you Roberta for your encouragement, guidance and time. We are very grateful. In addition, here's some exciting news for all haibun writers. We are soon going to be able to read a book on haibun craft. Please take note and keep an eye out for this fabulous guide into writing the haibun.
Haibun (craft book)
Haibun: A Writer’s Guide (forthcoming, Ad Hoc Fiction, UK)
by Roberta Beary, Lew Watts, and Rich Youmans
As always, a good haibun will find its way into the next issue of our fabulous journal. Kala and I are eagerly looking forward to reading your haibun. Keith Polette is the MENTOR for THE HAIBUN GALLERY from 16 December 2022. Thank you, Keith PLEASE NOTE: 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.