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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A Haiku For Black History Month 2020

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Before we leave February behind in the snow, we wanted to add one of our illustrated haiku posters to this year’s celebration of Black History Month.  As we’ve posted on these pages before, what began as the brainchild of Carter G. Woodson in 1926 to celebrate “Negro History Week”, Black History Month was expanded in 1976 to include the entire month of February. And, for each year’s month long celebration, ASALH, or the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, focuses on a central theme based on the Black experience, race relations and the many accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans throughout our history.  

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For this year’s theme, African Americans and the Vote, ASALH “. . . . marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement.  The year 2020 also marks the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) and the right of black men to the ballot after the Civil War.” What a fitting theme indeed for this Election Year!

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Our featured haiku poster from our 2008 Series beautifully depicts one aspect of a struggle many people fight for.  While Poet, Kali Huff’s words provide the hopeful message, James Ransome’s strikingly poignant illustration beautifully embodies her words. As Mr. Ransome states, “. . . . I wanted to illustrate something emotional. So I thought it would be best if I found a poem that symbolized African Americans’ struggles, or women’s struggles, or some group’s struggles. That’s what got my attention, this idea of struggling and succeeding against the odds.

Like the red lotus / I bloom from mud. A symbol / for struggle; new life

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To read other haiku from our archives highlighting Black History Month, Click Here! If you’re interested in purchasing this poster, its matching Note Card Collection, or any of our other Syracuse Poster Project haiku posters, Click here!

Thank you!

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Haiku for Valentine’s Day

Ambling with “the one”
my neighborhood is lovely
steal a quick kiss–now!

by David Pasinski (Fayetteville 2010)

Valentine’s Day! A day for stolen kisses, red roses and candy hearts, candle-lit dinners, whimsical cards and love poems. From our trove of wonderful haiku, we thought we’d come back to these very special Valentine Day haiku from our talented contributors:

From Meg Catanzarita, (Syracuse 2010), a whimsical haiku whose word-play has Valentine’s Day written all over it:

Alphabet clusters
beget confabulation
P.S., I Love You

Oubon Phommanyrath’s (Syracuse 2013) poem beautifully elicits love and transcends the ordinary:

I chase the song of
life. My heart knows the hidden
path where love finds me.

Marilyn Shelton’s (Dunmore 2003) haiku sweetly catches a merry and colorful moment between two sweethearts:

Young opera moon,
you caught us stealing kisses
Under red awnings!

Speaking of sweethearts, our featured haiku poster is from our 2009 Series. Brightly illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration student, Emily Meluch, now an illustrator and designer living in Cleveland, Ohio, the haiku was written by frequent contributor, Janine DeBaise. Inspired by the many small coffeehouses and restaurants found here in Syracuse, Janine writes, ”I like the sounds in those places — the clinking of the plates and mugs, the swirl of chatter as friends gather over steaming cups of tea or coffee. I was thinking about the way people have to lean close in that setting, to hear each other’s voices. I like the intimacy of that gesture, being close in a room crowded with people.”

Amidst the chatter / and clink of white coffee mugs / I drink your voice in

Check out our other “love” themed haiku posters by clicking here.  If you haven’t picked up a Valentine’s Day card yet, create something original for your sweetheart by using one of our free, downloadable Valentine’s Day cards like this one from one of our graphic designers, Jiaqi Liu, a native of China, who exercised her dual language skills to come up with this cute Valentine’s Day card featuring a punning owl. “Punny”, isn’t it? 

Click here to download this colorful card!  Click here to see some of our other do-it-yourself Valentine’s Day cards! You add the words, we’ll do the rest!

Wherever love finds you on this Valentine’s Day, enjoy and live, laugh, love!

Trees roots growth love home
Sisters shouting in the yard
Laughing joyously

by Sylvia O’Connor (Manlius 2014)

Our 2020 Series Selected

In case you missed it, we recently announced the poet / artist selections for our 2020 Syracuse Poster Project Series! To help create our Annual Series of illustrated haiku posters, we reached out once again to our faithful haiku contributors and independent artists from throughout the community.

In addition, we also commissioned a special poster on the theme of “Healthy Living”. The poster has been illustrated by Meaghan Arbital of Bella Figura, a Syracuse Letterpress and Wedding Design Company; Meaghan selected a “Healthy Living” haiku written by frequent contributor and manager of our Blog, Rosalyn M. Carroll, Manlius NY.

As always, to be selected for a Series poster, poets and artists had to beat challenging odds. For the first round of submitted haiku screening, we turned to our Development Intern, Chris Barnes, a Doctoral Student in English at Syracuse University. Chris reviewed 1,300 haiku–that’s 191 fresh haiku as well as hundreds of “active” haiku from our archives. He selected and passed along 250 haiku for artists to consider. Each of 28 artists then selected a single haiku to illustrate.

From these, our guest panel of four judges presided over the blind selection of 13 posters and the subsequent awarding of first-, second-, and third-place posters. Our panelists this year were: Bethany Holbrook, Marketing and Events Coordinator for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse; Alice Maggiore, Director of Communications for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse; Kimberly McCoy, Community Engagement Organizer at ArtRage Gallery; and Cjala Surratt, Promotions Coordinator at Light Work.

Our Board then added two “Board Picks.” This, plus our specially themed poster, brought the total count to 16 haiku posters for our 2020 Series!

By the way, our guest panel of judges awarded first place to the poster created by Peter Allen and Melquea Smith; second place to Anna Morley and Lucie Wellner; and third place to Garrett Heater and Rebecca Miller. Visit our web page or our Facebook Photo Album for photos of this year’s panel at work. In addition to perusing the selected haiku and list of poet/artists below, visit our Facebook Photo Album for photos from our October meet-and-greet social gathering of the poet-artist pairs.

Please join us in congratulating these 16 poet-artist pairs (see list below) and consider being our guest at the 2020 Series event Celebration tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 23rd.

Many thanks again to all our talented haiku contributors and artists. Your skill, creativity, and insight into local culture convey the special character of Central New York. Thank you also to our devoted Board members and panel judges, our generous sponsors and supporters—we couldn’t do this without you!

Listed below are the 2020 poet-artist pairs, ordered by poet’s name first. Former, contributing poets or artists are underlined; by clicking on their name, a link will take you to their previous work with us.

Bright sunlight switches
to soaking rain – we all run
as saxophone plays.

Peter Allen, Poet
—Melquea Smith, Artist

Salt city sunrise
Reflecting off cool water
Morning fog dissolves

Deb Bateman, Poet
—Susan Murphy, Artist

Coffee in hand I
Watch the sun dance through the trees.
I drink in birdsong.

Rosalyn M. Carroll, Poet
Meaghan Arbital, Artist

I went to the fair
For a glass of milk and ah,
The butter sculpture.

—Gerard Crinnin, Poet
Kathleen O’Dell, Artist

cool air hangs quiet
sleepy morning reflections
Onondaga Lake

—Bobbi Dean, Poet
—Sally Stormon, Artist

Languid lavender
dances slowly in the breeze―
Honeybees rejoice

Joan Dear-Houseman, Poet
—Ryan Wood, Artist

Gleaming silver skates,
Swish of the quick, black puck:
Goal wins cheers… or jeers.

—Wendy Everard, Poet
—Joyce Backus, Artist

Snow spins through streetlights,
delicate silver threads of
downtown’s winter cloak.

Laura Ferrel, Poet
Alexandra Grant, Artist

Adirondack chairs
positioned dutifully
worship mother sun

—Christina Finn, Poet
William Padgett, Artist

Lingering summer
Light fades-fireflies check in
For the evening shift

Sheila Forsyth, Poet
—Amy Cunningham-Waltz, Artist

Strathmore’s park for all
Where a reservoir once reigned
Gazebo stands tall

—Tim Gorman, Poet
—Julie Gratien, Artist

The ghosts of yester
Sequestered in their oak grove
Welcome each new dawn.

Garrett Heater, Poet
—Rebecca Miller, Artist

Winter’s white blindfold
blankets fields of dormant grass.
Blue jays bloom in trees.

—Gloria Heffernan, Poet
Alyssa Dearborn, Artist

Bubbling fountains
Ripples glide across water
Light dances on each

—John Landers, Poet
Tyler Hill, Artist

Walk the Green Lake path…
Lush and open, Earth to sky.
Whispers: “You and I”.

—Ana Morley, Poet
—Lucie Wellner, Artist

yellow rounds of hay
cast shadows in stubbled field
sun slips behind hills

—Philip Nast, Poet
—Tammra Cook, Artist

Holiday Haiku

The Holidays! Oh, the excited anticipation of it all! There’s the planning and the decorating, the ever-changing shopping lists…two miles long. Then, there’s the food and the get-togethers, the writing out of Holiday Greeting cards and the wrapping of gifts. And, don’t forget the lighting of candles and the Yuletide tree or the sounds of music in the air — at the school concert and in stained-glassed churches everywhere!

Phew! So, between the stress and the laughter, the rain and the snow, we’d like to offer you these few haiku from our archives to brighten your celebration of this season of light and love, hope and peace!

….the Holidays are Cookie Exchanges and Gingerbread Houses:

Gingerbread delights
The Erie Canal is trimmed
With giggles and smiles!

by Jane Verostek (Syracuse 2012)

….it’s the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree:

Horse-drawn sleigh ride to
Cut a Christmas tree just right–
We build traditions!

by Rosalyn M. Carroll (Manlius 2006)

….and, the hunt for the perfect gift:

Mom clutches my hand
We rush through winding traffic
Holiday shopping

by Mary Demetrick (East Syracuse 2004)

….the Holidays are Mistletoe and Holly and beautiful Poinsettias:

Crimson-tipped arrows
Pointing North, East, South and West
Christmas arsenal

by Michelle Miles (Jerusalem 2016)

….they’re a night time drive through darkened snowy streets for a visual treat; where Christmas and candle lights brighten neighborhood windows and lampposts, doorways and rooftops:

Levitating lights
Vivid vista sparkling home
Where the heart is full

by Ronnie Bell (Syracuse 2010)

For many, the Holidays are not complete without going downtown for the ceremonious “lighting of the tree”:

Huge pine in the Square
Anticipates the signal,
Then lights up Winter

by Marilyn Shelton (Dunmore 2008)

Our featured Poster Illustrates just such a scene. The haiku poster is from our 2009 Series. The cheerful haiku was written by Nancy Liccione (Clay 2003) and brightly illustrated by former Syracuse University Illustration Student, Yealim Kong, now a Home Textile & Graphic designer based in New York City.

Nighttime in the Square / Tree lighting and carols sung / Skaters mingle there

However you spend these last few days of 2019, Happy Holidays!

Ripped fingertip gloves
Cold keys and warm melodies
Fill dark streets with light

by Elizabeth Westfall (North Syracuse 2014)

Haiku: Setting the Stage for Halloween

It’s the last week of October and Halloween is just about here! Costumes are at the ready and the candy bowl sits waiting for trick-or-treaters. But first, let’s set the scene. October days have grown shorter, with mornings chilly and foggy; its nights are crisp and long:

Trees stand silently
In morning’s Autumn darkness
Soon bright with sunlight

by Anonymous (2019)

Most trees stand bare now, too, with Autumn leaves piled high or blanketing the yard. Yet, here and there, the striking beauty of a Burning Bush or a tall Oak tree still garners a “wow”:

The mighty oak tree,
last to lose its leaves in Fall
see the red colors!

by Nanette Scogin (Watkins Glen 2019)

Now, listen to the cackle of crows as they roost in those bare treetops. What a mood they set:

“Ha!” Crow says, airing
wings atop the dead maple
creaking in the wind

by Jay Cox (Pompey 2007)

And, as dry leaves rustle and fly in the wind, look for ghosts roaming the
shadows of Syracuse:

Walking on Water
Ghosts of ancient barges pass
Soaked in history

by Evelyn Ayers-Marsh (Syracuse 2006)

Our featured haiku poster is from our 2018 Series and fits well with the revelry of Halloween! Poet, Mary Huling, and former Syracuse University Illustration Student, Elise Beauchamp – now a Los Angeles-based Illustrator – have created a perfectly spooky theme for Halloween using their love of Autumn’s colorful fire and light!

Season of color / Scraping out seeds within /Lighted orange smile

And, at last, as Pumpkins are carved and lit, the stage is set for a ghoulish Halloween night:

Jack O’Lanterns grin,
Skeletons jangle and roll
Halloween is here!

by Rosalyn M. Carroll (Manlius 2009)

Happy Haunting!

Haiku For The Start of Autumn

The Autumn Equinox arrived quietly last week, and as if on cue, end-of-September days have become cooler and starry nights, longer.  From the Syracuse Poster Project archives, our haiku contributors have found interesting ways to describe Summer’s prelude to Autumn.

Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Maggie Iribarne (DeWitt 2012) observes this seasonal passage of time with her evocative haiku:

Green gorge glimmering
Summer’s last cold splash summons
Fall’s red-gold promise

And, Sharon Rorer (Syracuse 2007) gently describes how the days following the Equinox tend to be around here:

Single Leaves flutter
on delicate air currents
still feels like Summer

Meanwhile, Deirdre Tait’s (Syracuse 2013) haiku vividly describes what many of us look forward to with the coming of Autumn: 

Rolling hills surround
orchards hold the gift of Fall
crisp, juicy goodness

Our featured haiku poster is from the 2019 Series.  Illustrated by CNY Artist, Steven Peters, the poster beautifully complements the colorful haiku written by frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Sherry Chayat.

Hurled from their branches / Golden leaves swirl everywhere / Onondaga wind

Summer days are tough to leave behind, but as Mary Cappelli (Syracuse 2013) writes, there is beauty in the leaving:

a new slant of light
butterflies flit in gold leaves–
So long, sweet Summer!

Did you notice this year’s late arrival of the Autumn Equinox? Are you able to put your experience with a change of season into a haiku? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below–we’d love to hear from you!

Happy Autumn!