How do we tell our story?

Honoured to be invited to join a women’s group last week as they visited the Haiku Pathway and the Mural Trail in Katikati. They all seemed genuinely interested in what I had (briefly) to say about haiku as strolled around part of the pathway. But it made me wonder about how we tell our story of haiku to people who know nothing about this form of poetry.

Some members of the group read one of the boulder poems on the Katikati Haiku Pathway. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Do we tell them too much? Or too little? Do we over-emphasise the ‘seriousness’ of haiku to compensate for the poems seeming trivial because of their brevity? How do we best convey our love for haiku without having our listeners’ eyes glaze over?

I hope I did haiku justice and the women all seemed to be active listeners, judging by the questions they asked as we went round. But I’d like to hear from others about experiences of talking to groups who don’t form part of a workshop and probably have no intention of ever writing a haiku. If you have time, I’d enjoying reading your thoughts, ideas and tips in the Comments section.


Haiku Down Under: Call for proposals

Haiku Down Under is a new, free gathering that will take place online from October 7-9. Until March 31, the organisers (of which I am one, along with Leanne Mumford, Carole Harrison, Sue Courtney and Sherry Grant) are calling for proposals for workshops and presentations.

We’re hoping that presenters will offer something fresh and vibrant to, primarily, the trans-Tasman haiku community, although we expect to have audience members from around the world. However, we want to ensure that haiku writers, new and established, in Australia and New Zealand feel that their experiences, environments, languages and cultures are front and centre in the programme.

Tentative running times for Haiku Down Under events:

  • Presentation/talk: 20-25 minutes, including questions (if the speaker is willing to take them, advise if not)
  • Workshop: 50-55 minutes
  • Prompted writing session: 5-10 minutes.

We are aware of what the time differences across our two nations may mean to those leading a presentation or workshop so are happy to consider pre-recorded items so long as both vision and sound are top-quality.

Presenters will need to be comfortable using Zoom (including sharing a screen if, for example, slides are being shown), have good audio and camera equipment (either built in to a computer or external), and have reliable connectivity. We hope that rehearsals will help catch and fix any last-minute bugs.

While the bulk of proposals we receive will no doubt focus on haiku, we are also open to include events that take in the related written arts of senryu, linked forms, haibun, tanka and haiga, so please consider those topics too.

If you decide to offer a proposal for consideration, please complete this confidential form on our website which asks about your format (workshop/presentation), for a brief description of your content and what you expect the take-away to be for the audience.

Please contact us if you have any questions. The deadline for submission of proposals is by 5pm (your time) March 31, 2022. Visit the Haiku Down Under website.

We look forward to hearing from you – haiku is a life-long learning experience so there’s no reason why newer writers shouldn’t consider this invitation too.