April 22nd, 2010

Egrets Reading

Haiku Study

For the past decade the Southern California Haiku Study Group has been holding a monthly kukai workshop. For the non-haiku poets in my friends' list, a kukai is where a group of poets submit haiku, which are then anonymously distributed to participating poets who vote on their favorites. In our meetings, we've assigned a reader to read them aloud. I've also seen kukai by e-mail, by mail (for example, the Yuki Teikei Society's newsletter "Geppo," the late David Priebe's former "Haiku Headlines"), and by taping index cards around a table for people to walk around and read.

Although we're a "haiku study group," this format didn't allow us much time for actual study. So, a few other members and I have come up with an alternative schedule to try for the rest of 2010. We are still going to hold kukai meetings but will rotate between three different types of meetings:

1. Kukai Workshop
2. Anonymous Haiku Workshop (participants do a group critique of individual haiku submitted)
3. Program and Featured Reader

In March, we tried our first anonymous haiku workshop, which allowed us a chance to critique our own work. It went a bit long, so we may need to tweek the format, but ultimately we had a chance to discuss what was working and what was not working in various haiku-in-progress.

For our April meeting last Saturday, William Hart was our featured reader and he read from his four published chapbooks of haiku.

This was followed by an excellent program presented by Billie Dee, "Spinning the Classics: Exploring the North American haiku canon." Billie offered five examples of contemporary English language haiku, all from the first edition of Cor van den Heuvel's "The Haiku Anthology." We had a wonderful discussion of each haiku, analyzing each of them in depth.

Billie Dee, William Hart, Deborah P Kolodji