Tag Archives: published

‘match countdown’ on Per Diem: Daily Haiku

Thrilled to have my poem featured on Per Diem: Daily Haiku, The Haiku Foundation site. The poem will be up all day today the 23rd of September 2018 here
Many thanks to editor Rob Scott for selecting it!

This poem was written for the AFL Grand Final Kukai 2017 and included in The Tigers’ Almanac 2017, p. 187 (Malarky Publications)

haiku,poem,

‘Of This World,’ receives HSA Merit Book Award (books published 2017)

Delighted to announce that my book Of This World (Red Moon Press) was awarded a merit book honorable mention in the Haibun category by the Haiku Society of America! 

HSA Merit Books Award

Heartfelt thanks to Michelle Elvy, Jim Kacian, Clare MacQueen and Johannes S. H. Bjerg for their help and support with bringing this book to life.

While waiting for the judges comments and public announcement by the Society, here is more information and praise for the book:

Of This World

Stella Pierides has cultivated a terse, idiosyncratic style in her haibun that is instantly recognizable, and as a consequence is one of the shining lights of this burgeoning genre. Of This World certainly is, but it also takes us out of the world at large and into private spaces we feel privileged to witness. A unique and satisfying read.

 

Red Moon Press
Amazon Europe
Amazon UK

I am grateful for the generous comments:

This is how it’s done! Stella Pierides — in a hushed voice — takes me through what it is to be human — and part of the human history from the roots of Western culture in Diogenes’ tub to the ‘modern’ human — with all the questions and doubts, the uncertainties that come from that.

— Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Writer

Of This World’s marvelous, emotionally resonant haibun are steeped in the grace of the garden, rooted in a physical reality so sensuous that you can smell the fragrance of baking bread, of olives and garlic, of lemon and magnolia blossoms — and yet they also spiral on the updraft of metaphor as poet Stella Pierides ‘put[s] our hearts in the shoes of the hummingbird.’

— Clare MacQueen, Editor-in-Chief, KYSO Flash

A treasure trove of language and image. Pierides walks through dark streets of history, through alleyways of memory – emerging in shiny, unexpected places. Compact, urgent and closely observant, these minute offerings will captivate readers of both poetry and short fiction. An enormously engaging collection.

— Michelle Elvy, Writer and Editor

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Of This World
ISBN: 978-1-936848-80-5
Pages: 124
Size: 6″ x 9″
Binding: perfect softbound

‘Of This World’ receives HSA Merit Book honorable mention

The Haiku Society of America has announced the names of winners of its Merit Book Awards for books published in 2017.

I am delighted and honored to see my book Of This World (Red Moon Press) included with a honourable mention in the Haibun category! Congratulations to all winners!

And heartfelt thanks to Michelle Elvy, Jim Kacian, Clare MacQueen and Johannes S. H. Bjerg for their help and support with bringing this book to life.

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So, excellent news! It becomes  64/100 #The100DayProject #100daysnewthings

HSA Merit Books Award

The BHS Haibun Awards Commentary in Blithe Spirit

In March  2018 I judged the British Haiku Society’s Haibun Contest (and announced it here in a brief post ). The contest was reinstated this year, and honouring two outstanding members of the Society, was named The Ken and Noragh Jones Haibun Award.

Following is the report of my choices and commentaries published in the Society’s Journal, Blithe Spirit, 28:2, May 2018.

A PDF of the British Haiku Society’s announcement of the awards (haiku, tanka, haibun sections) as well as winning entries can be found here, as well as in the Society’s Journal Blithe Spirit.

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In reinstating the Haibun Awards, the BHS continues to encourage both, the creation of new work and the exploration of the possibilities offered by the form as it develops over time.

It was a great privilege to read the 50 haibun in a range of styles and lengths submitted to the British Haiku Society’s Ken and Noragh Jones Haibun Contest 2017. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the work, and wish to thank the poets for their submissions and the Society for entrusting me with this task.

British Haiku SocietyThe BHS Ken and Noragh Jones Haibun Awards 2017

The winner is David Bingham (UK): Sleight of Mind
The runner up is Jean James (UK): The Visit

Winner: Sleight of Mind, by David Bingham, UK

Sleight of Mind refreshingly starts with placing the reader in the magician’s audience. Our minds’ eyes are glued to the shining light bulbs coming out of his mouth, his miraculously escaping from the straightjacket. The title, and the opening main clause, have warned us: this is a trick! Yet, in focusing on the ‘what,’ rather than the ‘how’ posed in the question, in a momentary suspension of disbelief, we fall for it, allowing the magic world centre stage.

How is it done? How does magic work, and how does the magic of haibun work to enable us to re-experience the writer’s epiphany and emotional truth? There is no answer here, only a question well put. Hopefully, there won’t be an answer anyway soon – though the poet, as well as we, know that there are perfectly ‘mundane explanations’ for the magician’s conjuring tricks and, to some extent, the haibuneer’s craft!

This is the haibun that kept me going back to read and re-read, finding new things as I followed its vertical axis. From the child-like awe (‘switching off the rational mind’) in the beginning of the prose, to nature brought in by the snowdrops in the haiku at the end, it leads the reader from illusion and mystery (the stage) to questioning and reflection (snowdrops and pondering what is) putting flesh on the bones of an old question about reality, perception and the mind. From associations to the Allegory of the Cave to reference (in the title) to wizardry as well as a neuroscience book on magic and perception, this brief haibun affords a variety of possible readings and stretches the reach of the form.

In having the narrator directly address the reader in short, sparse sentences the piece achieves immediacy, reinforcing the illusion of involvement. Weaving skilfully together the constituent elements of haibun (title, prose, haiku, content), it engages this reader on so many levels, and wins!

Runner up: The Visit, by Jean James, UK

The haiku at the beginning of the poem, through the ‘hare’s cry,’ warns us of painful content, getting the heart pounding. Yet in the prose the subject is handled delicately, drawing a picture of a family visiting the grandparents’ grave. The mother fetches water for the flowers she brought and is arranging in a jug, the children lark about, the father waits outside in the car. Then the children come across the grave of a baby, with violets in a jam jar under the inscription: ‘Mary Millicent, only a year in this world.’ The idyll is interrupted. Here lies the mystery of the poem. What happened, why? In the reader’s mind, the associations branch out: an unlived life, illness, suffering, poverty, the famine… From the individual to the social to the political dimension…

In the middle of what may be seen as a family idyll lies the dead baby, forever open to our interpretation. Yet life continues for the living. Hearing the crows’ caws, the children ‘come alive again’ and start cawing back. Life, learning and death in a nutshell.

I enjoyed the consistent voice of the child narrator in the prose, and the parallels in the poem: the beech and the violets, the hare’s cry and the soft murmur of voices, the bronze jug and the jam jar, the haiku in the beginning and the end – though the end haiku could have been stronger. I also liked the way the text, sandwiched between the haiku, moved the healing process between the beginning and end haiku: from the hare’s cry to the soft voices murmuring to each other, we glimpse a real family in its encounters with death as it becomes a fact of life, part of the life cycle.

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Honourable Mentions:

1. Games People Play, Gautam Nadkarni, India

Games People Play, by Gautam Nadkami, India, describes a childhood memory of playing cricket without knowing anything about the game. The haibun works well in a light-hearted, good-humoured way, with local children attempting to make sense of unfamiliar objects, cricket stumps, by inventing a use for them based on their environment: keeping cattle from straying onto the pitch. At the same time, the choice of game in this haibun, cricket, connects to colonial themes. The title too points to layers of meaning.

2. Fake News, by Marietta McGregor, Australia

Fake News, by Marietta McGregor, Australia, inserts a surprisingly modern take into the form, whisking the reader on a whirlwind journey of tracing how it all came to pass. The haiku at the end adds an interesting change of tone that helps contain the energy and drive in the prose. I liked the contrast between the ‘mechanical’ sounds in the beginning of the prose and the ‘ethereal’ song in the haiku at the end.

3. Last Autumn Apples, by Marietta McGregor, Australia

Last Autumn Apples, by Marietta McGregor, Australia, relates the story of a lonely ten-year old’s memories of living in a house on an apple orchard where her mother worked, their moving to the city and eventually hearing about the place years later. This haibun – about place, belonging, and loss – has a sensuous, cinematic quality to it. I enjoying reading the monoku in this piece: two monoku in the middle read as if dividing the prose into ‘chapters,’ while a third, at the end, punctuates the theme of a lost childhood.

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‘unfurling fronds’ translated into Chinese

unfurling fronds
my digital legacy
in the cloud

Gratitude! Originally included in Robert Epstein’s Beyond The Grave: Contemporary Afterlife Haiku, 2015, this haiku
has been translated into Chinese by Chen-ou Liu, 劉鎮歐 and included in Butterfly Dream!

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

展開的蕨葉
存儲在雲端平台中
我的數位遺產

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

展开的蕨叶
存储在云端平台中
我的数位遗产

 

‘Lullaby’ in Wales Haiku Journal

It’s at its loudest in the early morning hours. Before light dissolves darkness, before the neighbour leaves for work, before the birds start singing, his laboured breathing comes over the baby monitor whispering, gurgling, rattling, spluttering…

I lie awake listening to the crack of thunder, the roaring waterfall, the sounds of the sea emitted from his chest. A car starting, the exhaust backfiring, the train leaving station. The boat reversing in the harbour. Light rain. A soft mieow. His breathing renders a whole world. In this soundscape, I make out the stories he told me when years ago he put me to bed.

Soon, light dispels the apparitions, and his breath comes over the monitor soft, steady, regular, lulling me to sleep.

music of the spheres
how we became
human

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In the inaugural issue of Wales Haiku Journal, Spring 2018

In ‘old song’ The Red Moon Anthology of ELH 2017

Honoured to be included in ‘old song,’ The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2017, edited by Jim Kacian and the Red Moon Press Editorial Staff:

old song, red moon anthology,The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku assembles each year the finest haiku and related forms published around the world in English into a single book. old song, the twenty-second volume in the most honored series in the history of English-Language haiku, includes 151 poems (haiku & senryu), 17 linked forms (haibun, renku, rengay and sequences), and 5 critical pieces on the reading, writing and study of the genre.

refugee child—
folding and unfolding
his paper boat

p.54

(This poem had received First Prize in the Sharpening The Green Pencil Haiku Contest 2017)

International Women’s Haiku Festival 2018

Delighted to have two poems featured on Jennifer Hambrick’s  blog Inner Voices, for a second year hosting the International Women’s Haiku Festival 2018! This is how Jennifer introduces them in her blog:

Two laser-sharp senryu by poet Stella Pierides explore women’s age dynamics and the eternal question of women’s dress and sexuality.

dressed to kill
she asks
if I’m retired

Jennifer says:

Well. Why not just ask about her final wishes? The picture is this senryu is crystal clear: a younger woman, in full heat of professional and/or personal ambition and wearing the clothes to prove it, asks the poetic speaker, whom I read to be an older woman, if she’s retired – read: no longer competition, no longer someone to be concerned with. To be charitable, maybe it’s just an observation: the older woman looks older, looks perhaps comfortable in her own skin, and the younger woman just doesn’t get a) that retired doesn’t equal out to pasture, and b) that remarking, even obliquely, on someone’s age is at best insensitive. And what if the poetic speaker actually is retired? Picasso said it best: “It takes a very long time to become young.”

International Haiku Women's Festivaland:

 

knee-length skirt
the extent
of her rebellion

.

Jennifer writes:

This little senryu is situated perfectly between the rock and the hard place that, eventually, every woman encounters. Look sexy, be sexy, the world instructs. But not too sexy. In this poem, rebellion against the social expectations that a girl or woman be prim and proper results in a shorter skirt. But rebellion against social expectations doesn’t necessarily eliminate the expectations. There is potentially a price to pay – the demise of one’s reputation – for breaking the rules, hence the “extent of her rebellion” is defined by the knees. It could be fear from social pressure that keeps everything north of the knees covered, or it could just be the poem subject’s authentic assessment of her own comfort.

Many thanks to Jennifer Hambrick for including my poems!

I am very much looking forward to reading and enjoying the rest of the month’s contributions with Jennifer’s insightful commentaries.

A Walk Through the Cypress Grove

We die alone. We disembark on the Isle of the Dead with our heads filled with illusions. Vague memories of loves and hurts, envy and resentments. Perhaps holding hands with those who still can bear us, but alone with our regrets. Turning around for a last look, our eyes, swimming with sadness, rest on the ramshackle boats we leave behind.

white light beyond the crucible

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In Modern Haiku, 49:1, 2018

snow,haibun,

The Surface of Things

haibun On its 50th anniversary, the Museum received a gift towards establishing a Collection of Lost Words. The three curators entrusted with this project, feeling an overwhelming sense of responsibility and apprehension, set about their work immediately. At their first meeting, the youngest of the three suggested they might place an ad in the national press, or even tweet about it asking for submissions. The oldest suggested they go on a retreat together with hand-picked etymologists, philosophers, and linguists, in other words experts, to brain-storm. The woman on the team suggested they search online catalogues for words no longer in use. Words written on tablets and papyri, words from extinct languages. For weeks they discussed the relationship between words and the worlds they described; words and the worlds they gave rise to. Forbidden words, or overused words that lost their meaning. As a result of intense deliberations, a special linguistic search engine was built capable of scouring for lost words. It didn’t take long for results to start coming in. The first word to be returned was ‘love’.

cracked earth
last year’s seedling
yet to sprout

Frogpond 40:3,  p.63, 2017

‘Squares with Circles’ in Ekphrasis, The BHS Members’ Anthology 2017

squares with circles –
listening to the colours
sing
.
After the painting Color Study. Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913, by Wassily Kandinsky.

Poem appears on p. 51 of Ekphrasis, The British Haiku Society Members’ Anthology 2017.

Ekphrasis, British Haiku Society Members' Anthology 2017 One of Kandinsky’s favourite descriptions of his work had been ‘making the colours sing.’ It is said that Kandinsky’s synesthesia — a condition in which one sense such as vision, triggers another, for instance, hearing — allowed him to hear the colours he worked with and . . . make them sing. In this poem, I admit hearing them!

Photo: copied from FB image posted by Shrikaanth Murthy.

‘End Note’ in Haibun Today

Haibun Today The handwritten letter is long, the paper creased, stained. The stamps on the envelope, though, are glued perfectly straight, indicating help with the posting. It takes me time to decipher the spidery handwriting infested with blank spaces, as if the sender had taken breaks in between. I stumble repeatedly, especially after the first couple of sentences, when the handwriting grows smaller.

What are you trying to say, I want to ask him. Why didn’t you phone me? I reach for the phone, then stop myself. He wanted me to read this letter. I take off my glasses and bring the paper close to my face. I see better now, and I can smell the paper. A sweet fragrance mixed with acetone.

day lilies
at the hospice . . .
wilting

In Twos

Gnarled Oak, Haibun, Her glasses are on the night table. Propped up on two cushions, she is asleep, her mouth half-open, a bubble of saliva shifting on her lip with every breath. The ceiling fan purrs. A quiet room, otherwise. Tiptoeing near her bed I see a tiny fly approach her face. As if sensing it, she raises her arm, brushing against her forehead. I stop breathing. But she continues in her sleep, as if she is on a journey and this moment that just passed was but a momentary stop, a blip, a slight distraction.

no one
in the mirror
night of ghosts

*

In Gnarled Oak 30 November 2017

 

‘From the Deep’ in Haibun Today

Haibun Today

 

I’d stopped writing haibun for a while. It was that moment thing. Every time I tried to write in the moment I found it difficult—nay, impossible—to stay in it. All sorts of ideas bubbled up: memories, associations, judgments; my need to appear clever. I wrote about the past, about objects, about regrets that sat in the heart like stones. Too much luggage, too much heaviness, too much of this world. Weighed down I stopped. I hoped for a prompt, a muse who would give me the push I needed.

Then one day, in Finsbury Park, sharing a bench with a woman talking to herself, my wish was granted. Dishevelled, wild-eyed, looking at all directions at once, thin as if she never ate, muscle fibers moving all at once, mumbling continuously. She turned and took a quick look at me, fell silent for what must have been a whole minute, and then started again. I tried to make out what she was saying. I realized she was reciting Homer’s Odyssey. In ancient Greek! I tried to follow. I could not make out whole passages, got lost in translation then caught up with her again. The holes in the recitation made by my absences did not matter. I sat with her for a long time. Darkness fell without me realising. A chill crept up from the soil. The sounds of the city surrounding the Park changed to an indeterminate, persistent buzz. Dark figures approached and slank away. Every now and then she wiped her nose, rubbed her forehead, played with her earring. I followed her recital long into the night. Long after the guards locked the Park gates and the full moon bathed us in silver.

deeper than the wine-dark sea urchins
.
Haibun Today, Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017

In ‘New Resonance 10’

It’s been a few months since I shared the good news about New Resonance 10. Well, now it is out and I am in it!


Volume 10 of “A New Resonance 10: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku,” edited by Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts, a much-awarded series, is out and it includes my poems. along with those of 16 other contemporary poets!

 

 

It is truly an honour to be a part of this wonderful collection!

I received 25 copies of the anthology, and have several available to order.

Price per copy is $17, including shipping, as well as a postcard with a reproduction of a painting by Maria Pierides (www.mariapierides.co.uk). Please email me for your copy: stella (at)stellapierides.com

‘Fish Bowl’ in KF7

 

The simulation hypothesis is not new. The idea that we are being held inside a complete, self-sustaining simulated biosphere, observed, and made to believe it is real has precedents in earlier times. Tweaking the basic idea here and there, we can trace it to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: chained prisoners presented with mere shadows of the real world take them to be the real thing and refuse to believe otherwise. Plato sowed the seed of doubt in the world of experience. Can we ever go beyond the chains of our existence and into the light of the sun? And at what price? Is our existence woven with elements of both, sun and shadows, reason and fantasy, fact and fiction?

Millennia later, we are still wondering. But here, now, with the Church tower bell ringing the hours, sunlight throwing the olives on the table into relief, and grilled sardines scenting the air, the question whether this is the real world can wait.

silver leaves—
the ebb and flow
of time

.

KYSO Flash Issue 7: Spring 2017

 

“refugee child” wins prize!

Delighted to learn that my poem “refugee child” received first prize in the Romanian contest “Sharpening the Green Pencil, 2017.”

sharpening the green pencil,contest,Romania,

Thank you to the judges, and especially Cezar Florin Ciobiza for his thoughtful commentary. And congrats to all participants!

refugee child–

folding and unfolding

his paper boat

A print book with all the poems entered is available from the contest organizers..

Please find the poem and commentary included in the (online) book of the contest, p. 13, here

Fight on! (in re:Virals 80)

What does it mean to wake up facing a fist pressing hard against your window?
How does one cope with such a threat, day in, day out?

The morning presses
its hot fist against the window:
the fight starts.

— Bart Mesotten, Haikoe-boek (self-published, 1986; translation by Max Verhart)

Pleased to share that my take on Bart Mesotten’s excellent poem is featured in this week’s re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s haiku commentary feature.
Take a look here 

And try your hand at writing a commentary on the poem I chose (as this week’s winner) to be discussed next: LeRoy Gorman’s “the good soldier.”

“Haiku and the Brain” in Juxtapositions

A week ago,  I mentioned in this blog a second paper, addressing the haiku community, Haiku and the Brain: an Exploratory Study, in Juxtapositions: The Journal of Haiku Research and Scholarship. Well, it is now online over at The Haiku Foundation. Do visit and check it out along with the other papers.

I am looking forward to reading the other contributions. And to receiving my own print copy of the Journal! Judging from the previous issues, it is a joy  to hold and leaf through. And a collector’s item. You don’t want to miss it! More information on how to obtain a copy, see  here

Meanwhile, here is the Abstract for this paper.

Juxtapositions
This paper presents the first results of an interdisciplinary project, bringing together haiku poets and neuro-/cognitive scientists, to investigate the reading of English-language haiku (ELH) as a potentially paradigmatic material for studying the reception of poetic texts. Our pilot study was based on the ‘eye-mind assumption’, that where and for how long we gaze at sections of text reflects processes of information harvesting for meaning construction. The results indicate that the interactive process between the poem and the reader gives rise to characteristic patterns of eye movements (saccades and fixations) across the text from which (i) the position of the cut (after line 1 vs. after line 2) and (ii) the type of haiku (context-action vs. juxtaposition) can be discerned. Finding (i) is of special importance: it provides evidence that the effect intended by the poet can indeed be traced in oculomotor behavior and that, thus, the cut is indeed a potent poetic/stylistic device with a specific effect in the reader. Moreover, readers’ recognition memory was found to be associated with more explicit, conscious-recollective experience of having read a particular haiku if the poem was self-rated to be understood. This suggests that the realization of the haiku’s ‘meaning gestalt’ in the reader’s mind, which may be associated with an ‘aha’ experience, is important for memory consolidation and remembering. Albeit tentative, these findings and conclusions open up interesting lines for future, interdisciplinary research.