Flattening the Curve – the poetry pandemic continues

April 6, 2020

One of the ways I’ve been keeping connected with friends while staying apart is through sharing haiku (and getting together through video chats). Here are a few pandemic-inspired haiku from poets in Canada, Croatia, the USA and UK.

Covid-19-haiga_Djurdja Vukelic-Rozic

– Djurdja Vukelić-Rožić

empty streets
feeling the warmth
of spring sun

– Carole MacRury

lining her new home
with stolen tissue
momma squirrel

– Grant D. Savage

corona virus –
the magpies build nests
just the same

– Juliet Wilson

social distancing
kites spread out
across the sky

– Jacquie Pearce

the tiny buds
I wouldn’t have noticed
shelter in place

– Deborah P Kolodji

masked up
my glasses fog
defog

– Alan S. Bridges

girls’ night out
clinking wine glasses
through a computer screen

– Jacquie Pearce

waiting
for the curve to flatten . . .
cherry blossoms

 – Terry Ann Carter

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More pandemic poetry here:

Borders: Real and Imagined (guest post by haiku poet Carole MacRury)

Poetry Pandemic (haiku)

An Abundance of Caution (a longer poem by haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch)

Ways to enjoy the cherry blossoms while social distancing:

Virtual community events through the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (including international haiku contest)

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival blog

Virtual cherry blossom walk around the Historic Joy Kogawa House neighbourhood (Marpole, Vancouver), with haiku by Sally Ito

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Borders: Real and Imagined (Poetry Pandemic continued)

March 17, 2020

Guest Post by haiku poet Carole MacRury of Point Roberts, Washington, USA (originally shared on Facebook March 2, 2020 ─before the sh*t hit the fan, so to speak). Carole offers a balanced perspective that encourages us to see moments of light and beauty without ignoring the darker context and the health and safety protocols we all need to follow. Carole is also a talented photographer whose photos remind us that in these times of anxiety, uncertainty and physical isolation, nature offers a sense of continuity and solace. Thanks, Carole ❤

eagles_CaroleMacRury

[photo by Carole MacRury]

Covid-19—
a deer grazes both sides
of the border

Living in an isolated community such as mine [Point Roberts is located on a small peninsula connected to Canada, with access to the rest of the USA requiring crossing two borders], it’s easy to forget the pandemic spreading across the country as we watch eagles building nests, the patient herons waiting for a fish and the female deer bringing out their yearlings to graze. All things I saw just yesterday. All of it brings a sense of hope, of light, of Spring around the corner, but of course, we know the dark side is never far away. While we have one grocery store, one postal office, we can only rely on one small clinic that lacks a full-time doctor and is not open every day. Otherwise, we must cross borders to get to our primary doctors. There is no huge infrastructure available in our small community, except for community itself, and our fire department, ready and able to do everything possible with their a-class medics. Yet, across the border, businesses are already suffering, through fear, not reality, yet. No state of emergency has been declared in BC, but it has however, been declared in Washington State with the death toll increasing, specifically in one nursing home. I straddle both scenarios living on the 49th parallel between US and Canada.

Covid-19—
the dim-sum crowd
disappears

A large Asian population lives just across the border in the lower mainland of Vancouver. A place I love to visit. All the signs in Chinese, the food opportunities, of course offer a culinary delight. However, even the Chinese Canadians are avoiding their own markets. Business is down. The only reason, fear. People need to eat, so to not support local business will hurt us all. The Asian malls, too, suffering. Well, we can put off buying unnecessary items, but what will it do to the store owners? Then there are the beautiful open markets with their colorful displays of fruits and vegetable. Such a waste. Fear is keeping people away. As we hunker in our homes, remember the homeless, living and breathing on the streets.

the homeless. . .
hungry eyes pass by
rotting produce

Yet, despite it all, life somehow goes on. People do their best to get to get to work, after all, bills won’t stop arriving in the mailbox, unless the postal workers gets sick. Our hero’s ─ ambulance drivers, health workers, doctors, nurses, policeman, firemen continue to come to our rescue. Yet, it’s hard to live in a cave of one’s making. To think of our homes as a prison, so we venture out with caution.

a tiny cough . . .
the tai chi class moves
six feet apart

Carole MacRury

[Note: The World Health Organization accessed the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic on March 11, 2020, after Carole’s original post. Check your local health service for the most recent advisory. Click here for the Canadian link.]

As the pandemic continues and more and more people are self-isolating or social distancing, let’s unite through sharing poetry, art and acts of kindness (and the creative ways people are finding to create, inspire and help each other across “social distancing”). I’ll share more pandemic prompted haiku in my next post.  -Jacquie

Poetry Pandemic

March 13, 2020

First off, my heart goes out to everyone adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

How are you coping with social distancing or self-isolation? Has it prompted any poetry (haiku or otherwise)? As a writer who spends a lot of time working alone at home, the health scare hasn’t changed my routine a lot. But I will go stir crazy if I don’t get out of the house for walks and occasionally get-together with family and friends. I’m not sick, so I can go out, but it’s hard to maintain distancing on public transit, which means I’m either staying home, or trying to avoid peak times for crowds (plus, of course, doing a lot of hand-washing).

crowded Skytrain
a new awareness
of shared air

[Update March 18, 2020: now staying at home and not using public transit]

I’m also going for more lone walks closer to home, enjoying the spring blossoms and bird songs, and I just experienced my first video-chat meeting today (via Zoom), which was actually kind of fun. With the cancelling of upcoming conferences and travel plans, I’m travelling vicariously through getting back to working on the train haiku anthology (after temporary derailment by other work commitments). I’ll be posting an update later in the spring and should have a book cover image to share soon!

If you have any pandemic poetry, or creative ideas for weathering the Corvid-19 precaution period (while staying safe and keeping others safe), please share.

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Call for train haiku . . .

March 25, 2018

Call for submissions_train(2)

I’ve always loved trains (the lonely call of a whistle in the night, the view of passing landscape from a train seat, the rocking rattle of an overnight berth, conversations with strangers in the dining car…), and have been thinking for some time about putting together an anthology of haiku about trains. Well, the project is finally getting on track.

You are invited to submit haiku, tanka, rengay, and haibun with a train theme (including experiences and imagery related to steam trains, bullet trains, cross-country journeys, commuter trains, freight trains, the passing landscape, human interaction on trains, internal journeys, etc).

Please submit:

– up to 20 haiku

– up to 5 tanka

– up to 3 rengay

– up to 3 haibun

Unpublished and previously published work will be considered. Please include submissions in the body of the email, and provide previous publication credits, as well as your name, email and postal address. Please put “train anthology submission” and your name in the subject line of your email.

Deadline for submissions: June 30, 2018 [Submissions now closed. Info on upcoming book will be posted in spring/summer 2020]

If you’re coming to this blog for the first time and would like more information about who I am, I write haiku and other poetry, short non-fiction, and novels for children (my website: jacquelinepearce.ca). My haiku, tanka and haibun have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, and two of my haiku recently co-won the League of Canadian Poets inaugural haiku contest. I also co-edited The Jade Pond, a collection of haiku by the Vancouver Haiku Group published earlier this year, and I’m a co-judge for the 2018 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational.

You can read something about my family’s train legacy here.

My year of Joy Kogawa House and Haiku

November 26, 2017

For me, 2017 has been a year connected to Joy Kogawa House.

Historic Joy Kogawa House is the childhood home of Canadian author Joy Kogawa, who wrote the ground-breaking novel Obasan, a fictional story based on Joy’s memories of being interned as a child during WW II, along with thousands of other Canadians of Japanese descent. Located in the Marpole neighbourhood of Vancouver, the house was built in 1912-13. Joy and her family lived there from 1937 until they were interned in 1942. During the war, the house was confiscated and sold, and Joy’s family was not able to return to Marpole. Years later, however, Joy lent her support to a community campaign that saved the house from demolition. Today, the house is a space for author residencies, literary events, as well as remembering the injustices experienced by Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, and moving toward healing and reconciliation.

Joy Kogawa House c 1938

Joy and her brother at the front (west side) of the house c. 1938

 

I was grateful to be offered a writing residency at the house, which was initially planned for February. Since February is National Haiku Writing Month (the shortest month of the year for the shortest form of poetry), and haiku is one of my passions, I decided to focus on haiku, and to partner with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF), preparing for the spring blossom celebration and the festival’s international haiku contest. Plans shifted slightly, and rather than staying at the house in February, I organized a poetry reading and haiku workshop, and worked with the VCBF on koinobori scale-painting activities in preparation for Sakura Days Japan Fair without staying at Joy Kogawa House (which I was able to do since I live in the Vancouver area). (More on these activities in an earlier blog post.)

Joy Kogawa House events

February poetry reading, plus haiku workshop & koi scale painting

In May, I visited the house for a reading and performance of “A Suitcase full of Memories” by Joy Kogawa and Soramaru Takayama of Japanese Poets North of 49, and was delighted to meet and briefly chat with Joy afterwards.

In July, I was able to live at the house and work on my own writing projects, finishing a verse novel for children, and co-editing an anthology of haiku poetry written by members of the Vancouver Haiku Group. I started the month by hosting a book-making workshop given by poet and book artist Terry Ann Carter from Victoria, which brought together many creative people, and was an inspiring kick-off to my in-house residency. Staying at the house by myself gave me time and space to focus on writing without my usual distractions, making a big difference to my writing pattern and productivity. I also enjoyed the opportunity to explore and get to know the Marpole neighbourhood, including its tree-lined streets, housing mix, history, and changing local culture, and to relax in the peaceful stillness of the backyard where a young Joy Kogawa once played.

four images

I returned to the house to live and work at the end of August, and also hosted a presentation by my friend and colleague Jean-Pierre Antonio, a professor at Suzuka University in Japan, who gave us a fascinating account of the life of Japanese immigrant Masayuki Yano through the translation of Mr. Yano’s pre-WW II diaries.

Jean-Pierre's talk

At the end of September, my haiku activities at the house concluded with the hosting of An Evening of Japanese Poetic Forms: from the Tokaido Road to the World Stage, with Terry Ann Carter reading from her new book of haibun (prose with haiku), Tokaido (Red Moon Press), Rachel Enomoto sharing haiku, and Kozue Uzawa reading tanka and leading participants in a short tanka-writing workshop.

Japanese forms reading

An Evening of Japanese Forms, a Word Vancouver event (with thanks to Tracey Wan for the bottom right photo)

In early November, Joy Kogawa returned to the house to read from her children’s picture book, Naomi’s Tree, which was a treat for all of us who came out to listen and celebrate the old cherry tree in the laneway behind Joy Kogawa House. The tree now has a plaque, encouraging people to seek it out on their neighbourhood walks.

So now, I seem to have come full circle, enjoying the house in each season, and again, looking ahead to early spring when the cherry blossoms will bloom again.

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My workspace while in residence at Joy Kogawa House (looking out at the old cherry tree behind the back fence)

 

To close, here are a few simple haiku written during my stay:

 

no need

for an alarm clock

early morning crows

 

picking the last

ripe raspberry

evening robin

 

And from my evening walk past the elementary school young Joy Kogawa attended:

 

fading daylight

the empty swing

still swinging

 

 

Trees I Have Known

February 23, 2017

I just spent about an hour trying to find an old photo of my daughter on a swing in a big old cherry tree that used to be in our backyard. I couldn’t find the photo, but refound this post and thought I would reshare (I can’t seem to find the time to write these kinds of posts lately).

wild ink

Anyone else have a favourite tree from childhood? The tree in the photo is one of several Broadleaf Maples that I grew up with. Its branches have held a Tarzan swing (placed there by my dad) for over 40 years, entertaining neighbourhood kids for two generations.

The branches of one Maple reached right to my top floor bedroom window, its broad green leaves playing with sunlight in summer, rustling orange-yellow in fall –always nourishing my spirit.

Another Maple tree supported a sturdy playhouse built by my dad, with the trunk of the tree growing up through the middle of the house and offering the perfect climbing route to the playhouse roof and from there further up to where my brother later built a smaller, more precarious-looking tree house. The small tree house was like a crow’s nest at the top of a ship mast, offering views of all the neighbouring…

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Breaking the ice (haiku reading and upcoming workshops)

February 5, 2017

For the month of February (which is National Haiku Writing Month), I’m partnering with Vancouver’s Joy Kogawa House to celebrate haiku with events leading up to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Last night, I was joined by other members of the Vancouver Haiku Group, as well as visiting poet Carole Glasser Langille, to kick off the month with a reading of prose, haiku and other poetry.

vhg-reading-feb-4-2017

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The weather was more wintery than I expected when I picked the theme (there were more hints of spring in Vancouver by this time last year), but despite the snow, the house was full, and by the end of the evening we’d fully moved into the spirit of spring.

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Cherry preserves in anticipation of the blossoms to come . . .

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In partnership with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (VCBF), renowned haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch (from Sammamish, Washington) will be teaching a “How to Haiku” workshop at the Terry Salman branch of the Vancouver public library February 18. More info on the VCBF site.

I’ll be teaching a “Haiku Secrets: beyond the basics of writing haiku” workshop at Joy Kogawa House on Feb 25 (move away from 5-7-5 and learn how these tiny poems can express powerful experiences in both nature and urban life). More info on the events page of Joy Kogawa House. To register contact info@kogawahouse.com.

Both workshops are followed by an opportunity to decorate a giant koi “scale” with haiku for a koinobori installation at Sakura Days Japan Fair, which will be held at VanDusen Garden April 8-9 (2017). We’ll also be encouraging participants to submit haiku to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival international haiku contest.

for-haiku-workshop_jp

koi-installation

(Above photo courtesy of the VCBF and Powell St. Festival)

 

West Coast winter haiku

December 5, 2016

One thing I actually enjoy about Vancouver’s winter rain and early darkness is the neon reflections.

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(A version of the above photo-haiga was published in the last issue of A Hundred Gourds)

Today, we even got some snow. It’s days like this that I’m happy to work at home.

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A taste of Japan – through photos, haiku and food

July 7, 2016

Reminiscing, I decided to repost this haiku-photo collaboration from 2010. Sad to say that Ruriko, the owner of the cafe-gallery exhibit space, died of cancer a few years ago.

Note: Yokan is a winter citrus fruit. Also, I feel compelled to point out that my haiku have progressed since this time, and these older haiku have some problems, though I still like the yokan haiku and the collaboration with Jean-Pierre’s photos.

wild ink

Recently, Jean-Pierre Antonio, a friend who has lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years, asked me to write some haiku to accompany a series of photographs he took in Tokyo and Kyoto this past December. Usually my haiku is inspired by personal experience, and I wasn’t sure if I’d have any success trying to write in response to someone else’s photographs, but Jean-Pierre’s multiple images of  bright winter yokan fruit, calligraphic wisteria vines, and mysterious crows immediately evoked a strong feeling of place and mood, and the first haiku quickly took shape. Writing something to go with Jean-Pierre’s photos of young people engrossed in manga-reading and close-up sections of ancient fabric took a little more thought. To write about the fabric, I had to, in a sense, reach back across time to imagine what was going through the minds of the long-ago fabric artists…

The result of our collaboration is currently…

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West Coast flash fiction

January 30, 2016

I love flash fiction (very short stories that you can read in one quick gulp). Here is my attempt at one, inspired by summer camp memories and a First Nations legend of the west coast forest:


D’Sonoqua

I scrunch deeper into the salal, loosening the sweet scent of ripening berries, letting the thick leaves close around me. The twitter of birds stops suddenly, and I freeze as footsteps pound down the forest path. No one sees me. From further up the trail, girls’ voices drift through the trees.

“I see you, Cara!” Olivia, the girl who is IT, calls shrilly.

“Home free!” another voice shouts.

Then silence. It’s as if the sounds have been smothered by the thick moss that covers everything.

Something snuffles on the other side of the salal. A wild animal? No, it is probably that girl from cabin 6 who breaths through her mouth. I keep as still as possible, holding my breath.

“I see you, Madison!” Olivia’s voice is a thin thread, tangled and lost among the big trees, the ancient ferns and the absorbing moss.

The snuffling beyond the salal moves on.

Then Madison’s theatrical scream pierces the forest. It’s the same scream she used to end the lame scary story she told in the cabin last night. As if the scream was enough to make it scary. No murderer with a bloody chainsaw. No crazy knife-wielding hitch-hiker. Just some Wild Woman of the Woods who catches children who wander into the forest. Not much of a story, but the other girls in the cabin hang on Madison’s every word.

I listen for another shout from Olivia, or Madison’s triumphant laugh. Ha Ha, I scared you. But there is nothing.

I consider emerging from my hiding spot and running for Home. But I don’t move.

The forest is silent. Even the birds remain quiet. Waiting.

D'Sonoqua-crop2

 *  *  *

For more flash fiction, check out author kc dyer‘s Festive Flash Fiction Advent Calendar posted in December, which includes flash fiction by kc and other authors. Here are the links to the flash fiction I shared there:

Fight or Flight

The Small Green Snake

Yarn bombing