Updated: Oct 27
Hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman and Reid Hepworth
27th October 2022
This week we bring to you the fourth haibun in the series featuring Keith Polette and a bonus.
It seems, these days, my body is made of clay: as common as a department store cup, as crude as an ashtray formed by a child. Each morning, the spider cracks and fault lines of my mind, the missing fragments of my heart, become more pronounced. It's then I recall the times I’ve slid off the shelf, been deliberately dropped, or have unwittingly hurled myself to the ground. I would like to take the damaged pottery of myself to a Kintsugi master, who would use his special mix of resin and gold dust to painstakingly repair all of me that is broken. And after his work is done, and after I have paid what I owe, I would stand in the sun, my scars gleaming, resplendent and beautiful.
a new crack
in the turtle’s shell
Note: Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery using resin mixed with gold dust.
I feel that a writer is drawn to some themes more than others. 'How we see ourselves' repeats in many of Keith's haibun, each distinctly refreshing, so I had to ask him on how he manages to engage with themes that keep coming back.
Keith shares, 'I suppose that one aspect of poetry is a kind of self-reflective move, and since I hold with Jung and Heraclitus that the “self” is not confined to the conscious “ego,” it is always worth investigating repeatedly and from multiple imaginative perspectives. In this way, the overlooked, ignored, misunderstood, and the nascent may come into relief.'
Here's a bonus haibun from Keith's amazing repertoire.
The last time I saw hope, it was thumbing a ride north to Albuquerque, leaving me with a stack of overdue bills and unanswered letters. Doves and other feathered things have settled in the surrounding trees, preening themselves and stretching their wings in anticipation of a wind-rushed entrance.
end of spring . . .
the river streaming
from the eyes of fish
And on this long dog day of summer, there is only the fist of the sun beating down so hard that time itself has gone belly up like koi fish in rancid water.
each of us waiting
Often, I find that a writer's work is not merely the crafting of an idea, but the chiseling of it into its precise shape. I invited Keith to explain how he approaches editing once a piece is written.
'When I have finished a few drafts of a poem, I let it “rest” for a few days before I look at it again.
This rest period allows the poem to ripen and for me to gain a remove from it, so that when I take it up again, I may be able to do so with a more objective eye. After that, I read the poem aloud a few times, so that I can get a sense of the rhythm, the sounds of the words, and the sense of how it operates as a whole. In this way, I am able to revise and edit by following the poem’s urgings and failings.'
For the prompt this week, I invite you to write
1. about how you see yourself using the tangibility of a more concrete idea such as a tattoo, a sheet music, a clock or whatever you identify with. Or,
2. use an abstract noun such as love, anger, hope, joy, and present them as a character in your haibun.
As always, a good haibun will find its way into the next issue of our fabulous journal. Reid and I are eagerly looking forward to reading your haibun.
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt.
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.