WHR March 2013‎ > ‎

Editors Choice, March 2013

March 2013



        late spring –

        in the kid’s crayon box
        the green has run out

Radka Mindova


For whatever reason I know not, the quality of poems submitted to this Issue soared to the sky like a skylark ascending. When this happens it makes a haiku editor ascend too to be in seventh heaven, with all manifestations of happiness everywhere like those of spring. It also makes his/her task of selecting one poem only for special comment as Editor’s Choice very arduous. But what splendid pleasure in disguise this torture is!


In the case of this Editor and in terms of this Issue, such agony was particularly felt strongly as he struggled with so many good poems to choose from, at the very least the following (he has decided to go against the convention and to disclose them, which he thought would be the best way to illustrate his point):


        late spring –
        in the kid’s crayon box
        the green has run out

Radka Mindova

[What a sweet and original way of describing spring!]

        born in still water –
        a frog rests on the surface 
        of a restless world


Priscilla Lignori 

[“Frog haiku” or “Old pond haiku” is always interesting but nearly always fails for obvious reasons but this one is special.]


        eight plates 
        six chipped 
        another year gone by 

Cathy Drinkwater Better

[Life (i.e. the passage of time) is depicted in such a concrete, vivid and specific but humorously profound way.]


        spring break –
        a new life begins


Carmel Lively Westerman

[Once again, what a wonderful way of depicting spring, and life itself!]


        blizzard on the way
        my immigrant past


Chen-ou Liu

[Serious topic rendered in a “natural” and dispassionate manner, speaking volumes about the author’s chequered life.]


        butterfly chasing butterfly
        who knows 
        what dreams may come? 

Rebecca Drouilhet

[Reminiscent of ancient Chinese poetry, this maintains karumi (lightness) without making the poem laden with un-haiku-like heavy philosophy. It has made this pessimist slightly optimistic about life. Perhaps, dreams, once there, should remain dreams. Troubles start when we want them come true.]


        In every flower
        the hidden I Am
        looks at me

Riitta Rossilahti

[“I see your face in every flower.” Buddha is intrinsically in every person. You are only wafer-thin from nirvana. Haiku is in everybody’s heart and soul. All too often what we know least is ourselves. And yet how often and how blatantly we project our ego to the annoyance of others and of ourselves! Tell me, what “You Are” is looking at you, Riitta?]


        how things don't matter 
        when I sit down to explain 
        how things don't matter


Martin Esposito 

[There is GBS here. He might have said you don’t need to sit down nor do you need to explain it because it is self-explanatory. Ancient Indians might have said nothing matters. And yet we cling to the demon of EVERYTHING MATTERS, OR SHOULD MATTER]


        doctor’s office
        staring at the book 
        I still plan to read 

Cathy Drinkwater Better

[What is going on in a patient’s mind, especially the fear of knowing the truth, or how much to know and how much not to know and when, is graphically painted on this little haiku canvas. Compare “the” book not in the waiting room but on the doctor’s shelf with the all-pleasant and innocuous magazines or children’s books in the former.]


        shaving off my beard;
        the scar from the war 
        appears in the mirror 

Ty Hadman

[What made the author to decide to shave off his beard, one becomes curious indeed. This haiku reminds one of novels by Haruki Murakami. In fact, in The Winding-up Bird Chronicle, Murakami’s hero gets a weird black mark on the skin of his right cheek which he cannot remove. He learns to live with it without hiding it, and, one suspect, he grows fond of it. All of us have some kind of a scar or mark in our heart or past behaviour, not necessarily the original sin but each of our ongoing sins.]



* * *


After a long deliberation, I have chosen what I chose as this issue’s Editor’s Choice. So, let me talk a little bit more about it.


         late spring –
         in the kid’s crayon box
         the green has run out

Radka Mindova

 I don’t know much about this poet. She (I assume she is she, and let it be) is a Bulgarian and her haiku contains art, painting or colours often. So, I augment my assumption by guessing she is an artist, or at least somebody who loves art. Look at another haiku by her:


        light wind 

        only the painted flowers are left 
        on the paper fan


If I were to behave as if I was a haiku Sherlock Holmes, the child mentioned in the haiku under review would be Radka’s own. Otherwise, it would be in plural in other circumstances such as a play ground or a kindergarten. Also, “late spring” suggests that the author has been observing the child all the time since “early spring”, which would not be easy if it was not her child. The child may take its talent for art after the mother and/or the mother is naturally keen on her child to learn drawing and painting. This poem is a very good example of what haiku can do to depict so much by so little.


I am an artist myself and would admit that I may have been slightly biased in favour of this haiku. However, as I mentioned in one-line comment above, it is an excellent way to narrate the passage of spring in one of the best haiku ways: try to say something without conspicuously, directly and explicitly mentioning that something. In the haiku in question, it is talking about the rich and changing greens of the spring and by extension beauty and vivacity of life itself and lots more.


To depict a crow, or crows, perched on a withered tree branch is much better than to mention such abstract notion as loneliness or desolateness of things. To say that ice cream is melting fast is better than mentioning the very word, hot or heat. So, what are not mentioned directly, explicitly or conspicuously in the Editor’s Choice haiku but still either obvious or within the reader’s easy grasp and imagination?


That the author is the mother of the child (yes, still only a guess but good enough to appreciate and enjoy the poem);

That the child has been doing the crayon pictures, many of them are depicting trees, plants and grasses needing a lot of green colour, all through the spring season;

That the child has been doing it since early spring;

That the child has not reached the age when it would do watercolours or oil paintings. 


It is certain that there are many other things which are either obvious or implied but not directly written in the poem. Even what the poem is actually saying is clear and specific it has the impact on the reader to know, imagine, associate, sympathise, agree and intuit over and above it.