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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It’s Our Annual April Event!

2002Stebbins & Theiller
Suddenly flowered
dresses everywhere. Hurray!
The snow has melted!

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On Thursday, April 19, please join us in celebrating the unveiling of our 2018 Syracuse Poster Project Series!  Beginning at at 6 p.m., you’ll find us in our usual spot in the City Hall Commons Atrium, located at 201 E. Washington St., Syracuse. Wondering how to find City Hall Commons? Here’s the map.

The 2018 Series includes 14 posters created the traditional way–poster illustrations created by Syracuse University students and inspired by haiku written by Central New York poets.  This year, students had 483 haiku to choose from: we had submissions from 81 returning participants and 56 new participants. With each participant submitting up to three haiku, we received a total of 251 new haiku. We then added haiku still active in our archives for a total of 1,101 active haiku, and then selected one haiku from each poet to pass along to the student artists.  Many of the haiku selected by students for the 2018 Series were written by new participants!

In addition, we commissioned two specially themed posters this year, and invited poets to write haiku to complement the theme: Syracuse as a place of welcome to all people and cultures.  We received 64 haiku submissions in response to the beautiful poster created by Nicora Gangi and chose a haiku by Jean Fahey to complement it.  For the other poster, beautifully illustrated by Nada Odeh, a haiku by frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Vinh Dang, was selected by the artist.

On Thursday evening, along with congratulating our 16 poets and artists, Darren Chavis, of Creole Soul Cafe, will be serving up some vegetarian jambalaya, blackened sausage, and creole chicken to munch on. We’ll also have tasty contributions from The Sweet Praxis and Wegman’s.  Adding to the overall vibe of our festivities will be D.J. Bella, also known as Jasmine Coan, a LeMoyne College graduate who earned her D.J. credentials at Scratch Academy.

So, please do join us on Thursday evening, in Congratulating the 2018 Poet – Artist Pairs:


Omanii Abdullah (Syracuse) and Claudia Lewis
Travis Bartlett (Brewerton) and Alena Sceusa
James Bush (Skaneateles) and Ariel Dinero
Rosalyn Carroll (Manlius) and Mya Parker
Sean Conrey (Syracuse) and Jake Penman
Vinh Dang (Syracuse) and Nada Odeh
Jack Davis (North Syracuse) and Eduardo Figueroa
Terry Eckert (Syracuse) and Kim Truong
Jean Fahey (Syracuse) and Nicora Gangi
Laura Feldman (Jamesville) and Anna Schwartz
Mary Huling (Baldwinsville) and Elise Beauchamp
Dennis Kinsey (Syracuse) and Jake Navarro
Mary Ann Laidlaw (Syracuse) and Zoe Karikas
Sara Marsh (Syracuse) and Victoria Thomas
Devon Moore (Syracuse) and Shawna Stevenson
Lorraine Piazza (Syracuse) and Bernardo Rodriguez

The evening promises to be a great opportunity to see all the new posters in one spot, meet the poets and artists, and mingle with friends of poetry and public art.  So, dress up, come out, and party with the rest of our poster peeps!

See you there!

The Syracuse Poster Project

Our featured poster above is from our 2002 Series with a cheerfully Spring illustration and haiku by Jennifer Theiller and Mary Taitt, respectively!

 

 

The March to Spring!

It’s been a chilly, rainy “March” to Spring this year.  Much different than what we experienced last year–a cold, snowy, and seemingly interminable journey!  But still, Spring has sprung at last, and when mornings awaken blue and bright, it’s as wonderful as this 2015 haiku by Syracuse Poster Project contributor Sean Conrey (Syracuse):

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

Depending on where you live, you may still have patches of snow on the ground.  But that hasn’t stopped the green shoots of tulips and daffodils from pushing their way up through the soggy Winter ground just as imaginatively described as in this 2012 haiku by Jane Woodman (Syracuse):

    Syracuse snow banks                                                                                                                                                          cover heat-seeking missiles                                                                                                                                             of Spring daffodils.

No doubt you’ve also seen colorful blooms of crocuses cropping up everywhere you turn.  More than Winter’s white and grey, these sweet hints of Spring colors to come is delightful–as is this 2011 haiku by Sam Donnelly (Syracuse):

    Blossoms in short shorts                                                                                                                                                   Sunbathing between snow banks,                                                                                                                                  Blooming in the thaw

…Or this 2014 haiku by Andrew Schep (Syracuse):

    forsythia arms                                                                                                                                                                     sleeved in little bursts of sun                                                                                                                                           shoveling the snow

While the earth is renewing itself, our fine-feathered friends are returning home, too.  Robins, of course, among the first signs Spring has arrived.  Surprisingly, even Gulls, as vividly described in this 2008 haiku by Alexa Carter (Fulton), herald hope:

    Gulls like drifts of snow                                                                                                                                      Gather on the shores in spring                                                                                                                         Harbingers of fun to come

One of our many favorite posters from the 2009 Syracuse Poster Project Collection, written by longtime Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Jay Cox and illustrated by teacher and former Syracuse University Illustration student, Devin Scannell aptly describes this taut time between Spring and the last of March snows.  

A blackbird sways on / a goldenrod stalk covered / with afternoon snow

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Finally, a fitting tribute to Spring by another of our haiku contributors, Marilyn Shelton (Dunmore, 2005):

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

 
What is your favorite sign of Spring?