This was a reading full of imagistic poetry. There was few spoken word rants. As an open mic reader, I was allowed three poems. Originally, I planned to read a cinquain, “Infidelity,” my poem from unfinished book, which two reviewers have now specifically mentioned, and a sequence of haiku grouped together under a title so that I could get away with reading 5 of them as “one poem.”
However, after D.J. Clowes read a series of fantasy and horror poems, I decided to ditch “Infidelity” in favor of “The Last of the Lost,” a science fiction sonnet which was originally published in Rogue Worlds # 4 in January 2002 and is included in Symphony of the Universe. I dedicated the cinquain I read (“Mood Swings”) to featured readers Gary, “M”, and Steve Williams, all of whom I’ve published in Amaze, the sf poem to D.J Clowes, and the haiku sequence to Lois P Jones.
It was the haiku that really seemed to have the best response in this particular crowd, something that I found interesting because haiku is difficult to read to a non-haiku writing poetry audience at a poetry reading. I called the sequence of haiku I read that evening, “Life Blooms” and I read three of the rose haiku from unfinished book (“he picks a rose”, “stray rosebud”, “dozen red roses”), followed by my broken rosebud/miscarriage haiku from World Haiku Review, and ending with my premature baby/blooms haiku from Canadian Zen Haiku.
When I read
dozen red roses
she examines the bruise
in the mirror
there were audible gasps in the audience, which was followed by more gasps from
on a broken stem
Afterwards, several people told me that they’d never heard haiku read at a poetry reading before and that they were very moved by it. This experience gives me hope about reading haiku at mainstream poetry readings. I believe that the key is to (1) mix things up a bit – throw in some longer poems between groupings of haiku, (2) group haiku together loosely, perhaps titling such groupings for reading purposes, and (3) read each haiku slowly & look around at the audience when delivering, for a lack of a better term, “the aha moment.”