Haiku for a Pandemic

Early April snow flurries are keeping many of us indoors this Spring. So has COVID-19. With “stay-at-home” and “social distancing” directives, the imposed quarantine on all but essential workers and businesses has created more than uncertainty and fear — it has created a new normal.

on empty roads at
rush hour, no ribbons of lights…
just the rising moon

by Rosalyn M. Carroll (Manlius 2020)

When news of the Coronavirus first came to us from China, followed by reports of its rapid spread through Italy and Europe, we were horrified by its crushing destruction of life.

A thief in the night,
Preying on vulnerables.
Who is this creature?

by Patricia Rickard (Syracuse, 2020)

As we were waiting for any good news about the virus slowing down overseas, the pandemic slammed our shores with a fury all its own. A number of stressful decisions had to be made rather quickly to meet the unknown ramifications of the virus. Spring vacations and long-awaited events were cancelled indefinitely; schools and universities suspended classes and scrambled to find a way to reach students online; grocery store shelves were stripped bare by anxious citizens; and small businesses were left stranded.

Syracusans pause —
Flightless birds upon a wire —
Waiting for the Spring

by Donald Sheridan (Syracuse, 2020)

Since the end of March, we’ve all worked hard to find new ways to go grocery shopping, conduct businesses, teach or work remotely, exercise, and stay connected. Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp and YouTube have become the go-to platforms for many of us to gather around.

University
Fair in our hearts and minds
Evermore, Zoom U

by Travis Hayden (Manlius, 2020)

And, while Spring hasn’t stopped blooming–despite the constant wind, rain and snow–neither has COVID-19 stopped the squirrels from playing tag or the birds from gathering at the birdfeeder! Nor has it kept us from creating, reflecting or finding new ways to connect with one another.

With free reign of house
and windowsills, indoor cats
know no quarantine

by Wendy E. Kaplan (Villas, N.J., 2020)

With Spring as the one constant we can depend on right now, our featured poster, from our 2019 Series, seems to fit these past few weeks of April, 2020 pretty well. The gorgeous illustration was created by Marianne Smith Dalton, a Fine Artist, Curator and Archivist whose other works can be found here. Thoughtfully written by frequent haiku contributor, Marilyn Shelton, her haiku reflection parallels our stay-at-home status and inspires us to be hopeful: “….To me, the Lily of the Valley is such a tiny thing to have strength, even when hibernating, to overcome harsh winters to be reborn….[and] holds the full sensual promise of the approaching Spring.”

Snow melts to lilies / Of the sweet valley, reborn / In sensuous spring

Among the many events cancelled this Spring is our annual Poster Series unveiling event. As much as we like the festive togetherness of this traditional treat, we’re doing our part to “flatten the curve” by hosting the event online. Please join us Thursday, April 23 at 6 p.m. for a virtual evening of fun on YouTube where our our newest haiku posters will be featured along with video clips submitted by the poets and artists talking about their work. There is also a chance for you to participate: during the premiere, you’ll be able to comment by chat and we’ll be able to chat back. The video and chat stream will then be archived on our YouTube channel where you can see it again and share with your family and friends. You can check out and subscribe to our channel here.

In the meantime, we hope you are taking some time for peaceful reflection, long invigorating walks and finding ways to take care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. Be sure to breathe in the beauty of Spring blooms and listen to the beautiful voices of nature all around us. Most importantly, have patience–we are, each of us, in this together.

Wishing you well — stay safe!

If you’d like to submit a haiku with your own reflections on COVID-19, please add them to the comments below or email them to us, c/o Jim Emmons at jim@posterproject.org.

Haiku For Spring 2020

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Spring arrived early
splashing against my window
dreams interrupted

by Lynn McDonald (Ogden 2004)

Spring officially arrived this past week. So did COVID-19. And with it, a new normal has taken over everywhere with schools and businesses closing, social distancing, working remotely while sequestered to our homes in self-quarantine. A troubling disruption, with its own uncertainties, to say the least.

Spring snow–heavy, wet
downing tree limbs, power lines,
darkening our hearts

by Robert Stone (Baldwinsville 2015)

At this point, it might be hard to imagine how reading or writing haiku might make a difference to what’s going on. Reading poetry, prose, or even a good book, offers an escape from our daily worries as well as a chance to see new perspectives outside ourselves. Besides making us feel better, writing–whether you’re writing poetry, prose or journaling–can give us a sense of control and purpose and can help us make sense of difficult times. Writing also offers us an opportunity to reflect on all the things we love. It’s a place where we can freely express our thoughts and feelings, observations and experiences.

Red brick, gray concrete
plant pushes up through the gap
life blooms overnight

by Peter Allen (Syracuse 2016)

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2018 Series. A wonderful reflection of Spring, Sean Conrey (Syracuse 2015) crafted his noteworthy haiku while observing: “We’re always waiting for that moment for spring to begin; a leaf coming out, one little bud, it’s going to happen at some point.” Beautifully illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Jake Penman, who chose this haiku “…. because I feel like it speaks to the kind of person I am, or at least the kind of tonality that I like to illustrate in my work. I really enjoy drawing trees, life, and images of nature. A lot of the work I do is in pen and ink, and a lot of natural structures—branches, roots, and trunks—do very well in pen and ink. I feel like the complexity of the roots is visually similar to cardiac vessels or streams running through hills. It’s just the way the line moves between, like if you’re following a river downstream, or if you’re following a tree branch from a trunk’s base—it’s very similar. Whatever is causing that similarity is what I try to get at, not just visually, but emotionally.”

A spring breeze still cold / All nerves beneath the black oak / A new leaf unfurls

We hope these few reflections on the arrival of Spring have cheered you and given you some food for thought. Unlike the unsettling throes of a pandemic, Spring is certainly one constant we can depend on year in and year out. The interesting thing is, what kind of Spring will it be?

March into April,
Shed the outer cloak, breathe and
Take the umbrella….

by Michelle M. Miles (Israel 2016)

Wishing you well — stay safe!

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Haiku for a Rainy Spring

To the chagrin of many, rain has predominated the weather this Spring. In fact, it’s hard to believe it’s mid-June already, what with Summer officially beginning in a few days! One has to ask, where, oh where, is the sun?

To cheer you up, we’ve dug out some haiku dedicated to Rain…yes, Rain…

From Jeanne Viggiano (Syracuse, 2009) comes a haiku which perfectly describes a rainy workday and the promise of a dry, sunny evening!

Rain pelts the sidewalks.
Lunch hour is a duck and dash.
Forecast: sun by five.

You’ve heard that phrase, “We need the rain”? Well, one benefit of all the rain this Spring has been the lush greens and gorgeous colors of its slow-blooming flowers. Renee-Noelle Felice (Syracuse 2011) says it well in her haiku:

After weeks of rain,
hollyhocks–deep pink and red–
big as salad plates

Have you ever just sat and listened to the rain falling? Frequent haiku contributor, Anne Mackenzie (Skaneateles, 2014), hears something beautiful:

woodland canopy
raindrops tap-dancing on leaves
ageless lullaby

Listening to the rain takes another shape in this delightful haiku by poet, Nicholas Petrone (Syracuse, 2010):

wooden boards beneath
Ruskin front porch rocker creak
steady rain keeps time

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2004 Series. The bright haiku was written by long-time contributor, Marilyn Shelton; the illustration colorfully created by former Syracuse University
student, Marlene Heuer.

silver drops of rain / suddenly, a bright garden / of umbrellas blooms

Of course, when all else fails, there’s nothing like getting your Gene Kelly on, like Rosalyn Carroll (Manlius, 2016) does in her haiku:

With a steady beat,
rain strikes my umbrella—I’m
dancin’ in the rain

Stay dry! And, as the old song goes, “let a smile be your umbrella”!

Posted by Rosalyn M. Carroll for the Syracuse Poster Project


Haiku for a Slow Start to Spring

Pink clouds dot the sky                                                                                                                                                                            Black crows fly past crescent moon                                                                                                                                                       A change of weather

                                                                                     by Peter Allen (Syracuse 2013)


Whether or not you care much about the weather, it is one of the major topics of conversation anywhere, anytime, anyhow, no matter the day or the time of year.  It pretty much affects everything around us and everything we do.  We, at Syracuse Poster Project, would rightfully guess that we receive more haiku written about weather–like the fine poem above–than about any other subject!

Changes in the weather often signal a change in the season, too.  For instance, in Central New York today, while the calendar may say Spring, the weather these past few weeks has been mostly cold, dismally grey and, well…cold.  In fact, on St. Patrick’s Day–usually a fine day to celebrate the imminent arrival of Spring–there were snowbanks here that were as high as an elephant’s eye! The tulips and daffodils that had started to peek out from the cold March ground were quickly sent packing.  

Moving from March to April isn’t always easy or fast.  Thank goodness for Haiku to put this change of season into perspective!  Take, for example, this poignantly expressive haiku from frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Jay Cox (Pompey, 2001):

Treetops’ sprawling arms                                                                                                                                                                        tremble, holding pale gray sky–                                                                                                                                                           snow patches linger.

Or, consider the perspective found in this uplifting haiku from Anton Ninno (Syracuse, 2008):

Last snow of the year                                                                                                                                                                                crashes down, heavy and wet                                                                                                                                                                 young buds shake it off

From Craig Overbeck, (Fayetteville, 2015), a stirring haiku with an artistic glimpse of what awaits us this Spring:

To the south, rain falls.                                                                                                                                                                  Gray brushstrokes sweep from dark clouds                                                                                                                                        To paint the hills green.

We think you’ll agree, this warm and delightful haiku by Rachel Guido deVries (Cazenovia, 2001) enriches any conversation about the weather or change of season.  Her words create a feeling beautifully captured in this poster from our 2015 Series by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Lise Sukhu.  To see more of Lise’s artwork, click here.

Dog sleeps safe from rain, / nestled in blankets, my feet / warm up, beneath her

2015Guido_de_Vries_Sukhu

Over the past several months we’ve highlighted many fine haiku written by our contributors about the weather and the change of seasons in Central New York.  Our accompanying featured posters beautifully underscore and accentuate the fine work we receive.  We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these poems as well as the few highlighted here today.  

And, remember, as we move from snow to rain this season, keep this cheerful haiku, written by Michelle Miles (Amman, Jordan 2016), in mind:

March into April,                                                                                                                                                                              Shed the outer cloak, breathe and                                                                                                                                                         Take the umbrella….

Until again, stay warm, stay dry! Happy Spring!

A Taste of Summer

Though the Summer Solstice is still three weeks away, Memorial Day Weekend and the first week of June, essentially welcomes Summer! And now with the season of fun in the sun officially underway, so are its many celebrations, including outdoor festivals, concerts, craft fairs, art shows, field days, Highland Games, baseball games, boating events…we could go on forever!

And, believe it or not, there are haiku from our archives that fit nearly every summertime occasion imaginable!

For instance, during the first weekend in June, the Taste of Syracuse event in Clinton Square has celebrated the opening of Summer for the past 20 years.  Food tasting and music dominate downtown Syracuse for two days and two nights.  Our illustrated haiku poster from the 2011 collection gives you an idea of the crowds that have enjoyed this annual event.  The poster was created by former Syracuse University illustration student, Rebekah Mackay, and written by frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Robin Gross.

Craft shows, concerts, food / Taste of Syracuse so fine / Dance to the music

228_10_Gross_MacKay

Meanwhile, in the nearby Village of Chittenango, Oz-Fest celebrated its 39th year this first weekend of June by again painting the town yellow—er, green!  This Oz-stravaganza celebrates the birthplace of L. Frank Baum with parades, hot air-balloon rides, munchkin races and Dorothy look-alike contests.  Manlius writer, Sylvia O’Connor, describes this bright occasion with her 2014 haiku:

 Immoderate Spring                                                                                                                                                           Bursting into leafy green                                                                                                                                                 Emerald as Oz

History lessons and re-enactments are part of the 24th annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend next weekend.  The home of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum and the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, Peterboro was an important  stop on the Underground Railroad.  The legacy of the abolitionist conductor’s use of codes–such as the North Star–on the freedom trail is one interpretation of Judith McGinn’s (Skaneateles) brilliant 2007 haiku:

  Hearing freedom’s call                                                                                                                                                    heroes boldly save the day                                                                                                                                              guided by a star

Whether you’re out on Cazenovia Lake with the Caz Rowing Club or preparing for the Onondaga Cup and Lakefest in July, you will like Sheila Forsyth’s (Fayetteville) beautiful 2005 haiku:

  Peaceful lake morning                                                                                                                                                      Sculls glide over the water                                                                                                                                                Leaving V-Shaped wakes

What’s your favorite Spring into Summer festival?

A Haiku Reflection on Memorial Day

A well-written Haiku can say a lot in only a few words and syllables–it can tell a story and even express deep emotions; it can also be political and make us pause to reflect upon the world around us. Like other forms of poetry, haiku can speak to war and peace, heroes and fallen soldiers, victory and defeat, freedom and sacrifice.

Among many things, this poster from our 2003 Syracuse Poster Project collection beautifully reflects the haunting memories of war. The haiku was written by poet, Bryan Wilbur, and illustrated by former Syracuse University illustration student, Robert Franceschini.

Emptiness echoes / around monuments. A man / remembers shadows.

16 Wilbur & Franceschini

Wherever you find yourself this Memorial Day–whether it’s laying a wreath or raising a flag, marching along with a parade or gathering with family for a barbecue, watching a ballgame or enjoying the evening’s fireworks–we wish you well!

 

 

 

Springtime Reflections



spiraling around                                                                                                                                                          
the mailbox pole, they climb, climb                                                                                                                       brief springtime neighbors!

Our thanks to Michelle Miles, (Amman, Jordan, 2016 and youngest sister of this blogger), for her comment on our last blog, (Waiting for Spring to Spring!), in the form of this richly evocative haiku.  We think you’ll agree, her words could easily describe the Clematis, Morning Glory or Honeysuckle you’ve seen lately snaking up mailboxes, lampposts and telephone poles–all reaching for Spring’s blue sky!

Around Central New York, you may have also noticed red-tinged Peony buds and purple-budded Irises shooting up in freshly mulched flower beds.  Frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Audia Denton (Ithaca) cheerfully describes how good the colors of Spring can make us feel in her 2011 haiku:

   Shoot forth stems of Spring                                                                                                                                            hues from every source waving                                                                                                                                    flowers smile at us

Fragrant and colorful Lilacs are making their appearance now, too, while Apple and Cherry blossoms are filling out many a bare-limbed orchard.  Another of our frequent contributors, Jennifer Groff (Lancaster 2013), celebrates all the blooming going on with this wonderful Springtime haiku:

   flowering trees flaunt                                                                                                                                                      voluptuous silky blooms                                                                                                                                                  of new spring dresses

Springtime in Central New York is also grey baby goslings vying for space with afternoon golfers on bright green golf courses.  It’s a family of  black turtles sunbathing on half-sunk tree logs along the Erie Canal.  It’s blue Robin eggs spied in a new nest.   Norma Odell’s (North Syracuse) 2014 haiku vividly describes another Springtime activity:

   Bobbing goldfinches                                                                                                                                                        Upon purple coneflowers                                                                                                                                                Ignore my feeders

Lest we forget, nothing says Spring like the smell of freshly mowed grass or the smell of rain after days of dry weather.  Our featured haiku poster is from our 2006 collection. Written by Sheila Forsyth and illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Elizabeth Black, it lends itself well to Spring musings, doesn’t it?

Rain beads on petals / Thornden among the roses / After passing storm

105_11_Forsyth_Black

Spring flowers, Spring smells, Spring sounds and Spring sites…ah, joy!

 

Waiting for Spring to Spring!

Around Central New York this year, Spring seems slow in showing up.  Digging through our large archive of wonderful haiku, this 2013 poem by Joan Dear-Houseman (Chittenango) is striking in its description of how unhurried a start to Spring it’s been this year:

 Mittens on my hands,                                                                                                                                                Contradicts the month of May.                                                                                                                                Will Spring ever come?

The sudden demise of early Spring flowers saddened many of us…thank goodness for the brilliant cheer of our fine-feathered friends as depicted in this playful 2013 haiku by frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Sam Donnelly (Syracuse):

On a frosted branch                                                                                                                                                          A love-sick chickadee croons–                                                                                                                                    You-hoo, babe, it’s Spring!

And, if you don’t see anything blooming brightly yet in your neck of the woods, look closer–as Robert Gaurnier (Syracuse) does in his illustrative 2003 haiku:

  Ducks in Webster’s Pond                                                                                                                                         dive under the Spring sunshine                                                                                                                             tail ends sprouting up

Still looking for Spring?  Check your lawn, where crazy as it may sound, dandelions have already begun to seed!  David Hitchcock (Fayetteville) vividly captures this disparaged Spring flower in his 2009 haiku:

  Dandelions spring,                                                                                                                                    disturb the tranquil green lawn                                                                                                                        with cheeky yellow.

One of our lovely Spring posters comes from our 2014 Syracuse Poster Project series. The haiku was written by James & Barbara Yonai (Syracuse) in 2011 and illustrated by former Syracuse University illustration student, Emily Rhain Andrews, now a Vermont based freelance illustrator.

Spring comes, flowers bloom / deer dine on floral buffet / gardeners must pay

374_17_Yonai_Andrews

Finally, as we wait for Spring to spring, consider the hopeful words of this 2010 haiku by frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor Joan Loveridge‐Sanbonmatsu’s (Syracuse)

  Spring rains gently coax                                                                                                                                               earth for purple primroses                                                                                                                                         to open anew

How do you wait for Spring to spring? Send us your thoughts in a haiku and we’ll add it to our blog!

 

 

Congratulations, Syracuse Poster Project!

On April 14th, we celebrated the unveiling of the Syracuse Poster Project’s 2016 poster series.  Our 15th annual event was a wonderful evening of art, haiku, hors d’oeuvres and music!  Congratulations once again to our 2016 poet-artist pairs–your creativity represents another year of fine work!  Our thanks also to all those who attended, and to our sponsors and the many volunteers who helped make this celebration a success.   

If you happened to miss this colorful celebration, do not fear: photos of this special evening can be found here; the names of the poet-artist combinations here; and you will find this new series of eclectic posters here–as well as in kiosks throughout downtown Syracuse.

Our featured poster this week comes from the 2016 series.  Written by Grace Carroll and illustrated by Syracuse University Illustration student, Madeleine Slade, this haiku-poster lightheartedly reminds us that smiles can be our umbrella–even on a rainy Spring day such as today!

Splashing in puddles / Umbrellas spin in the air / A childhood rainstorm

437_03_Carroll_Slade

Best Wishes!

April – Come What…May

April.  The word itself elicits all things Spring: April showers that bring May flowers, soft breezes and memories of April in Paris, cherry blossoms and lilacs, love poems and songs…think Simon & Garfunkel, April Come She Will and Frank Sinatra’s rendition of I’ll Remember April.  

Joan Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu’s (Syracuse) 2007 haiku easily describes an April scene some of us woke up to this morning:

 High walls of Spring snow                                                                                                                                            Line the roads of the city.                                                                                                                                        When will the tulips bloom?

April is also a month of celebration.  In fact, Syracuse Poster Project is celebrating its 15th year!  Bringing together community poets and Syracuse University artists and illustration students,  Syracuse Poster Project creates an annual series of poetry posters which are hung in kiosks throughout downtown Syracuse.  Be sure to catch our annual haiku-poster unveiling event on Thursday April 14 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall Commons, 201 E. Washington Street.  

Coincidentally, this April marks the 20th Anniversary of National Poetry Month; and it also marks the Smithsonian’s 14th annual celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM).  Speaking of Jazz, a Syracuse shout out to this year’s SAMMY’s Music Educator of the Year, jazz guitarist, Mark Copani and to Andrew Carroll on his Syracuse SAMMY Award for Best Jazz Recording for his debut album, Alliterations.  

April is also the start of fishing season and the first heady days of baseball season.  We think you’ll agree that our featured Syracuse Poster Project haiku poster from our 2007 collection beautifully depicts an April scene. The haiku was written by poet Claire Bobrycki and illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Wei Hsing.  

Cold hands, smoky breath / Brown trout jumping Nine Mile Creek / in the April dawn

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Our thanks to one of our readers, (Anonymous), for this wonderful Spring haiku:

March into April,                                                                                                                                                      Shed the outer cloak, breathe and                                                                                                                         Take the umbrella….

Responding to our recent question, What is your favorite sign of Spring?, we think you’ll agree, this beautifully descriptive haiku evokes all the hopes of Spring that April brings.  

Happy Spring!