The greatest little poetry conference in the world

We have done it again! Haiku Canada Weekend took place May 17 – 21, 2018, and one highlight was this presentation to editor Steve Luxton in celebration of a special anthology. On the cake was the poem silence, and a deeper silence, when the crickets hesitate, a haiku by Leonard Cohen. The carrot cake was baked by Angela Leuck, organizer of the 2018 Haiku Canada Weekend.

The anthology was of haiku on the topic of Mr. Cohen and launched on our Weekend at Bishop’s University, Lennoxville.  In the photo is Mike Montreuil of Éditions des petits nuages, Montreal, who published the collection as Gift of Silence: A Haiku Tribute to Leonard.

You will note that we were not the cast of thousands of which many conferences boast, but we can boast of thousands of poems being highlighted, read, written and edited during these three or four days, for though originally the conference ran from Friday until Sunday noon, there were several events that took place after the conference, including some workshops and a hike up Mount Orford.

Anyone who has not been to one of our conferences, (and ‘Weekend’ instead of conference is intentional…) can have any idea of the poetry, the workshops (small book making, origami haiku lantern folding, haibun, tanka, haiku, publishing online, and many of these in French as well as in English), the distances travelled, the presentations, the long-into-the-night renku, book launches, cafeteria meals (Wonderful meals at Bishop’s cafeteria and thank you to the staff of that cafeteria! Stanford Forrester and Philomene Kocher at lunch).

There was a banquet and ginko walk, and the gift of just plain walking on that beautiful campus with its super presentation rooms, banquet facility and food, sleeping accommodations…The flowers!  The venues, complete with grand piano and gigantic golden fan! Oh Angela, you have been a great organizer! Thank you!

Angela has been writing and publishing haiku and related forms for many years. The day before the conference, she’d just returned from a five-week residency teaching haiku in Labrador to students in elementary and in high school classes, yet spent the next day baking the cake. First of all, can you imagine that residency, during which she had feedback such as this from the coach of a sports team ― roughly the teacher said: I couldn’t believe it. On the bus to the game, the players were writing haiku!

Just to top things off, if you haven’t been taking haiku seriously, One of our haiku poets, Katharine Munro from Whitehorse, Yukon, has just been short-listed for the Vallum Chapbook award with her submission of a haiku sequence the distance!

When haiku poets get togther in local groups or at these larger events, the concentration is on writing better haiku and related Japanese form poems, three days, or in this case five days, of learning, and Kathy’s poems are the proof of it.  We are serious about showing that haiku is not just a counting game for children, but the ongoing development of the Japanese form. Soon the lyric world will be taking us seriously too!

On to the fun!  On Friday afternoon, there was a reading of Secrets du Femmes, a collection published in France, edited by Danièl Duteil, with the Afterword written by Janick Belleau.

A highlight of Friday evening is always the reading for the launch of our annual anthology. This year, editors Marco Fraticelli and Philomene Kocher decided to dedicate the collection to LeRoy Gorman, who has just retired from the volunteer position of Publications Editor which he took over temporarily 22 years ago.

LeRoy brought the newsletter out of the dinosaur age of a page or two, typed, stapled containing some news of the very new Haiku Canada Association, to our current varied-part journal The Haiku Canada Review, with its French section along with English poems, its book reviews, its haiku from all over the world, its renku and articles, and its Haiku Canada Sheets.  Thank you again, LeRoy. He was presented with a framed cover of the issue called a far galaxy with his haiku two hours/ to a far galaxy and back/ same old movie. Here is Philomene Kocher (editor), LeRoy, Claudia as cover designer and anthology publisher, and Marco Fraticelli, (editor).

The next morning and on Sunday morning the first presentations were the anonymous workshops, an important feature of our weekends. Unsigned haiku are dropped into a box or other container and these are pulled out and critiqued by the group without knowing whose poem they are working with. As the AGM took longer than usual, and those listed to handle the Sunday event were still at the AGM, Marco and LeRoy stepped in.  We are that kind of organization, the personification of flexible.

All day the book room is open, the silent auction is going on, and other presentations continue. Poets relax in between sessions. We like each other.

  

Terry Ann Carter stepped down after many years as President and we served up a royal roast…(This on the day of the Royal wedding, but we had more fun).

Then some books were launched including Mike Montreuil’s collection of French Canadian Northern Ontario (Matawa) joual poems, Claude Rodrigue’s intriguing French haiku crossword book: entrecroisées haiku.  He promises it in English as well next year.No automatic alt text available.

. These are a memoir of sorts, how he remembers his grandparents speaking, the language he used with his friends, poems about hockey, food, family.  Marco, Terry Ann and I also launched books.

Terry read from Tokkaido, I from fish spine picked clean (after which Terry played on that grand, the fish spine suite, composed after reading my collection, and I feel very special because of that. Thank you, Terry!) and then Marco read from One Thousand Years, a collection of haibun in which he ‘becomes’ Chiyo-ni for the prose, and follows with Chiyo’s haiku.  You will probably hear a lot more soon about this collection!

Sunday morning we participated in the origami lantern workshop with Jeanne Painchaud at which we were allowed to try to make one of these lovely pieces. Some poets were very successful, and others of us, like me, were not, but the lanterns were hung and looked splendid! They looked enchanting strung in front of portarits, and with those umbrellas looking as if they were enchanted too.

Now, you’ve probably been to a making-small-books workshop before, the creation of small books perfectly suited to the collection of, or the writing of, haiku and other small poems. But you’ve never been in one hall with four masters of the art, given the time to see each one present her skills on how to make one or more specific books. Here are Terry Ann, Maxianne Berger, Ruth Mittleholtz and Marjorie each showing new ideas for these books, with some special creations.

More workshops on haibun and tanka: (Yes, Rubber Duck tanka. There’s no world like it.)

I should have taken more photos…There were so many wonderful things. Gifts of local cheeses and maple syrup for the presenters, the book sales tables, silent auction items, workshops by French haikuists, a presentation on science and the environment in haiku, one on haiku and mental health and an online course for those studying to be health care workers, the banquet, the ginko walk.  We played hard, but we also worked hard, if we so wished. The traditional after-hours renku was read on Sunday by renku masters Marshall Hyrciuk and Karen Sohne, and the gingko prizes awarded to Sandra Stevenson, Luce Pelletier and Lynne Jambor!

The winners of the international 2018 Betty Drevniok and Jocelyne Villeneuve Awards were presented, as were the current executive, with new President (moi) new Vice President Claude Rodrigue, new Publications Editor Mike Montreuil, and returning Secretary Lynne Jambor, returning members’ Secretary Kathy Munro, returning Web Page administrator Luminita Suse, and returning Haiku Newsflash editor Carole Daoust.

Luce Pelletier and I with Sharon Morrison in between Suzanne Doereg and Lynne admire lanterns.

You don’t see anyone bored at this conference; there was a river to walk to, poems to write, poets to talk with, tweets to tweet. Cake to eat! Sake at the renku, along with other treats like biscotti and squares and chocolate.  And then there were the other small precious things, like this box of haiku ‘chocolates’ made by Kathy Munro and found on the ‘free’ table. I saw it there, fell in love, stole it, thinking that if it was free, it was mine. It turned out she hadn’t yet put up the little sign that said ‘Take One’ of the teeny tiny origami-like twists.  But lucky me, Kathy came up at the end of the conference having refilled the cups and gave the box of ever-so-sweets to me after all.

Thank you, Pearl and Marco for several photos on this post. What would we do without those who actually remember to take pictures.  Again, thank you Angela, and giving much praise for her stalwart sidekicks Steve Luxton and Carolynn Rafman.

6 thoughts on “The greatest little poetry conference in the world

  1. ps Claudia Coutu Radmore has also been short-listed for the same Vallum Chapbook award for her lyric poetry submission ‘to see if it is still round’!! Congrats Claudia!

    Liked by 1 person

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