THE 2015 HAIKU YEAR-IN-REVIEW
WHAT IS IT??
It's a writing contest, it's a collaborative grab-bag, it's a panoply of voices and visions.... it's the annual Haiku Year-In-Review (henceforth referred to as HYIR).
The purpose: to celebrate, examine, and honor the past year in poetry and art.
We asked you to send us Haiku responding to the big news events of 2015 then selected the best entries and collected them in this singular broadside.
EDITOR'S NOTE: ON ELECTRICITY & THE CONTRAPUNTAL POEM
Waves, currents, the movement of time and actions. 2015 was charged with many moments that felt big. Here, those currents surge up into poems, assert their energy, spark memory.
Looking at the submissions for this year's haiku, the conversation among the stories and issues—from natural disasters to climate change talks to the refugee crisis to Black Lives Matter and broader questions of social justice and responsibility—began to seem more and more connected.
What would happen if these concise, compressed haiku responses spoke to one another—creating a still compressed but also polyvocal conversation about 2015? We asked the poets if they would mind our presenting their haiku as a singular poem to be read either across or down. The result came together so naturally it almost feels as if the original authors intended it.
—Elizabeth Bradfield & Alexandra Teague
MEET THE POETS
A group that spans the continent, a group that loves poetry and works as trail builders, naturalists, and advocates. We asked them to tell us about themselves, and to also look back on 2015 and share their most memorable moment, be it personal or public.
2015 Memory: My Aunt Pat was my haiku buddy. She was a writer, a mountain climber, and a confidante. She loved following hiking trails wherever they would lead and seeing who she might meet along the way. Pat was a deep soul who taught me about patience, mindfulness, and kindness. Always kindness. And how much meaning you can make from 17 syllables. 102 haiku for Pat in 2015.
2015 Memory: A collective memory informs this haiku: my year-long reading of Black American poets and writers during a time of both rising racist violence and rising resistance. Claudia Rankine's Citizen was particularly profound. Interviews, performances, and pieces by Etheridge Knight, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Danez Smith, Audre Lorde, and important conversations with my friends and family members of color, helped me understand the effects of institutionalized racism in a more personal way than I ever have before.
2015 Memory: 2014 was a tough year for me. I lost two friends, my seventeen-year-old dog, and both of my parents. All of that grief made me feel skinned before the sorrow in the world in 2015. Each new horror, police brutality, racially motivated killing, terrorist attack, natural disaster, I no longer saw from the outside, but felt the very real grief of the individuals involved.
2015 Memory: In November I was fortunate enough to visit Easter Island and stand before the great stone heads, the moai. They gaze over a treeless island, stripped of its once-great palm forest. Their presence speaks undeniably of power—a power their makers were willing to destroy the island to maintain. As I stood in the wind-whipped grass, how could I not reflect on our own limited world, ever more in the grasp of a heedless, powerful few?
2015 Memory: In the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, I was struck by how indifferent we as Americans can be toward the tragedies that happen outside our own borders. This haiku was not only a way of honoring a fellow Wichita native who lost his life during one of the relief missions, but also a portrayal of how the human heart has grown numb and silent in a world inundated with suffering.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND, IF YOU'RE CURIOUS...
In the United States, from about 1720 to the early 1900s, newspaper carriers would present their subscribers with a poem on New Year's Day. These broadsides (ahem) were called Carriers' Addresses. Illustrated with engravings, they would chronicle the year's events. See images and information at Brown University's special collection.
The origins of haiku have a tie to the annual through their traditional seasonality. A mention of the moment is a critical element to classic haiku. For those unfamiliar with Haiku, here's a link to a site that discusses traditional formats.
Broadsided Press's commitment to street-worthy art and writing leads us to combine these forms into a modern incarnation that borrows a bit, too, from the graphic spirit of the comic book.
2015 GUIDELINES (if you want to know how it all happened)
We're doing things a little differently than in years past, so pay attention:
1) Think about this past year and the events that have dominated a given season.
2) Write a haiku that captures the essence of one of those moments, illuminating such an event. Below are some suggestions to get you thinking.
Your haiku should embrace the tradition of the form and be evocative, not didactic. Surprise us!
3) Send us your haiku via Submittable, using the "Haiku Year-in-Review" category. (Note: the HYIR submission category will not go live on Submittable until December 26, 2015.)
Paste your haiku(s) in the BODY of your Submittable cover letter (not as an uploaded attachment), along with a note and/or link to a news article that grounds the topic. Please include a date for your inspiring event.
4) Please limit yourself and send your best work—only 3 haiku per Submittable entry.
5) DEADLINE for haiku submissions: January 7, 2016.
We will choose the winners (we expect to feature 4 - 6 haiku on the final collaboration). We will read/judge with an eye to quality and to fair coverage of the entire year.
WHEN'S THE NEXT ONE?
On the cusp of 2017. We'll give you a shout then!