hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman & Vidya Shankar
poet of the month: Lorraine A Padden
3rd August 2023
A Thursday Feature The team at The Haibun Gallery is pleased to feature Lorraine A Padden this month. You are in for a real treat!
Lorraine A Padden is an award-winning poet whose work does not shy away from the gritty, shadow-side of humanity. When she writes about suffering in her haiku, her work pulls at the heartstrings and makes one stop to ponder the real world issues inspiring this particular focus.
Lorraine was recently awarded the The Haiku Foundation Touchstone Award for Individual Poems. She is also the recipient of awards/recognition from Tricycle Magazine, the Haiku Society of America, the Bloodroot Haiku Competition, the Modern Kigo Project International Competition and the National Endowment for the Arts.
A former professional ballet dancer, Lorraine has two degrees in art history, is a vipassana meditation practitioner and a student in the Zen Peacemakers Order. Her first collection of poetry, UPWELLING - HAIKU, SENRYU, TANKA, and HAIBUN was published by Red Moon Press, September 2022.
Given your background in the performing arts, was writing a natural progression for you or did your interest in poetry/haibun evolve over time?
I first became interested in contemporary haiku just a few years ago when I started following my dear friend Kristen Lindquist’s blog where she publishes a daily haiku. I remember studying the form in grade school and at that time we were introduced to its more formal 17-syllable structure which I liked very much. Decades later, reading Kristen’s explorations of a much briefer style of compellingly focused images, I was immediately intrigued by its freedom and nuanced resonance. For me, contemporary haiku is both foundation and springboard to explore haibun and other related forms.
My husband asks if I happen to know why the distance between the World Trade Center Twin Towers was slightly greater at the top than at the bottom of the two buildings.
from the couch to the floor
He says, “You can’t see it, but the towers were actually designed that way.”
they close their eyes
I flash back to a memory of standing in Tobin Plaza, craning my neck to follow the lines of the tower as far as I could. Then it hits me. “The curvature of the earth.”
Frogpond 44:3 Autumn 2021
Contemporary Haibun 17, 2022
9/11 impacted people across the globe. I can remember phoning an American colleague as I watched the news. I didn’t want my colleague to turn on their TV and have to face the news alone. It was gut wrenching. I can’t imagine how this would have impacted the people living in New York or those who lost friends or family that day.
The flow with Vanishing Point struck me. How you interspersed the before/after. Though you touch on the horror, you do so in a quiet, less traumatic, in-your-face way (in my humble opinion).
Can you tell us about how you crafted this haibun? Did it flow, did it require revisions?
I first learned about the distance between the towers in a trivia contest years ago, and I guess it offered me another lens of awe through which to view human invention, and in this case, destruction. That tiny yet significant distance between the tops of the buildings was another way to know just what a magnificent feat of engineering they were. That detail we know by measuring, of course, and it also exists through juxtaposition with what we perceive about the earth through visual representations of its roundedness–it’s not a felt sense of knowing. It’s abstract and small but also incredibly monumental. So, the ways we take in reality had a lot to do with that haibun which also influenced the haiku in the suggestion of distance between a piece of furniture and the floor. I had read that people trapped at the top of the burning towers sometimes jumped, and they often did so together. The idea that in our final moments of extreme confrontation we might choose community and relationship over isolation is so very powerful, I think. Perhaps it’s these unthinkably devastating circumstances that truly reveal the monumental strength of human compassion in the small gesture of an embrace–an embrace that perhaps dwarfs even our most stunningly impressive built environments. I wrote several versions of that haibun before submitting it, and Lew Watts graciously suggested a title edit which fit the piece perfectly.
Write about a real-life event that shaped you or impacted you in some way.
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.