hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman & Vidya Shankar
A Thursday Feature.
poet of the month: Richard Grahn
5th 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.
The eight-year-old boy can’t reach the first branch of the largest of a pair of maples in the front yard so he settles for the lowest branch of the smaller tree. He easily pulls himself up into the first crotch and pauses there, planning his route to the top of his favorite aviary. He knows each branch like the back of his hand, every step, every handhold. He starts to climb, one limb at a time.
As the boy ascends, the branches get smaller and more flexible. He can feel himself now swaying gently in the wind. He can almost (but not quite) poke his head out of the leaves at the top of the tree before he’s forced to stop climbing. Here he tucks a leg into the fork between two branches and settles in. First he senses the breeze gently evaporating the sweat from his climb. Then he feels the sun poking through the few leaves hovering above his wandering eyes. Eventually, the sound of those rustling leaves bleeds into his awareness. All would be silent if it weren’t for the rhythm of the leaves and the chirping of an unseen bird. The boy is where he needs to be. A robin lights on the branch beside him. He wishes he could fly.
dancing with a cricket… moonrise
Haibun Today 12:2, June 2018
Source: Longevity: Poems in the Key of Helen, Red Moon Press
Observation: There's such tender attention to pace and mood. It brought to mind a recent art lesson, where the facilitator invited us to draw objects by looking at them continuously and not peeking at the paper even once as the pencil moved. On another occasion she had us draw the same pieces as just patches of light and dark. I found your voice similarly attentive or meditative.
SP: As an artist who works with different forms, what influence does art have on your writing?
RG: As art, in general, is a means of expression, each form (music, painting, sculpture, photography, writing) provides the opportunity to reflect on the world as interpreted by my inner world. In this sense, these forms are mechanisms for communicating in varying degrees of specificity. I enjoy abstraction in all these forms but also realism. With the exception of purely instrumental music, these forms allow for direct transmission of ideas, and all of them offer the opportunity to convey emotion and sensation. The tools are different and the final product is in a different form but the results of all of these are universal. The Arts enhance each other. By learning different forms we become more versatile in our means of expression. I find each enhances the others, and my muse likes to bounce me from one to the other to keep from getting stuck in a rut. There is no such thing as writer’s block when you can turn to the piano and start plunking or pick up a brush and start slinging paint.
Prompt for members: Dig into your photographs and find a picture where there is some sort of movement or distinctive action or intensity of emotion. You can even select one that's not one of your own. Focus on the intensity of that emotion and/or movement and write your haibun. 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.