Winter’s Grey Hue

The promised light of December’s Winter Solstice seems to have temporarily disappeared behind grey clouds this January in Central New York.  Along with cold temperatures, lingering patches of icy dirty snow have also made for some rather bleak days here.  But for the brief moments of morning sun, or the colorful flight of cheerful Cardinals and noisy Blue Jays, cloudy skies remain the dominant trademark of Winter in Syracuse.  While a backdrop of grey is not wholly unexpected this time of year, we certainly could use some clear, blue skies!

As you might expect, writing haiku brings a whole new perspective to cloudy and grey.  And, it’s a perfect antidote for cabin fever.  Digging through our archives of wonderful haiku contributed over the years by Central New York poets, we found a few which might give you pause to reflect before going completely stir-crazy!

Frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Jay Cox (Pompey 2007), vividly taps into our search for blue skies while braving the cold on a wintry Syracuse day:

     Blue sky illusions                                                                                                                                                               scrape Winter’s gray haze—slogging                                                                                                                          numb down Salina

Pamela Lynch’s (Oneida 2013) graphic haiku brings an artist’s eye to this discussion of grey Winter skies which can indeed be quite stunning at times:

     Fronts collide to paint                                                                                                                                                       Phenomenal cloud skyscapes                                                                                                                                        Swirling overhead

From Elizabeth Patton (Elbridge), the ominous feeling of another impending storm is quite striking in this evocative 2005 haiku:

     Iron sky holding                                                                                                                                                                back the snow; the roar of rail                                                                                                                                       cars, then grave quiet

Frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Janine DeBaise (Kirkville 2002) and Associate Professor of Printmaking at Syracuse University, Holly Greenberg, worked together to create this remarkable poster from our 2006 Series.  Clearly, you can find beauty on a stark Winter’s day.

Snow sweeps the sidewalk / Piles fluff onto bare branches / Turns gray to glisten

2006debaise_greenberg

Frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Sherry Chayat (Syracuse), finds both beauty and a kind of acceptance of Winter’s hold on us with her captivating 2009 haiku:

     geese skim the river                                                                                                                                                          as clouds gather overhead                                                                                                                                              bittersweet season

Hope you’ve enjoyed these few samplings from our archives.  It’s wonderful how writing Haiku provides a way of expressing deep emotions and seeing nature from a variety of perspectives with just a few words.  So, when Winter’s grey is making you blue, write a Haiku!

It’s Winter…and, it’s Cold!

It’s only the first month of Winter, and already, it’s cold, grey and snowy!  But, inbetween thick bursts of Lake Effect snow, we’ve had occasion to soak in brief periods of sunshine.  Sometimes,  just seeing blue sky is enough to warm up and brighten one’s mood, but overall, it’s been just plain cold!  Living with snowy, cold Syracuse Winters has been the subject of numerous haiku contributed by Central New York poets.  We’ll try to warm you up with a few of them!  

Despite the cold, getting outdoors is one way to tackle Winter.  Can you picture yourself in Rachel Brown’s (Baldwinsville, 2008) fine haiku?

     I bundle up warm                                                                                                                                                              laced up tight, feet on the ice,                                                                                                                                        the cold air at me

As cold as it is, sometimes, just standing in the falling snow can be something wonderful. Syracuse poet, William Neumire’s (2012) haiku beautifully depicts such an occasion:

     Snow in lamplight stills                                                                                                                                                   the streets until we all stop                                                                                                                                            and reach out our hands

Our featured poster from our 2007 Series exemplifies ‘cold’ in its many forms.  By using the proximity of Clinton Square’s Ice Skating rink with Syracuse’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Skaneateles poet and regular contributor to the Syracuse Poster Project, Mary L. Gardner, paints a vivid picture.  Former Syracuse University Illustration student, Chris Cascianonow a professional Illustration Artist, beautifully captures the essence of Mary’s words with his poster.

Sculpted heroes stand / guard on the icy square where / cold blades dart and glide

2007_gardner_casciano

Baldwinsville poet and frequent Syracuse Poster Project contributor, Martin Walls (2012), finds warmth in one of Winter’s many sounds:

     Snowflake settles on                                                                                                                                                         The skating rink with the sound                                                                                                                                    Of children laughing

And, Jay Cox’s (Pompey, 2001) haiku vividly describes a typical Winter’s day in Syracuse: 

     Skaters swirl around                                                                                                                                                         Clinton Square—Lake Effect snow                                                                                                                              blankets the city

Stay Warm!

Celebrating Black History Month With Haiku

February may be the iconic month of Winter Celebrations. There’s Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, the first lunar day of the Chinese New Year, and Winterfest.  February is also Black History Month.  

We are celebrating Black History Month with two haiku posters from our 2008 Collection. Both haiku, at once, powerful and beautiful, were written by Syracuse poet and educator, Omanii Abdullah.  One poster was illustrated by Dusty Herbig, a Syracuse University Associate Professor; the other by Rod Martinez, also a Syracuse University Associate Professor.  Both posters can be found on and purchased from our Shop page.

I am from the hood / The hood did not enslave me / I am my master   15_02-Abdullah-&-Herbig

I have no boundaries / In this city of my birth / I, too, roam freely

14_01-Abdullah-&-Martinez

It may surprise you to learn that the celebrated American author, Richard Wright (1908 – 1960), also wrote haiku – thousands of them!  Better known for his novels, (Native Son, Uncle Tom’s Children), short stories and non-fiction (Black Boy), his haiku were written between 1959 and 1960 – the last year of his relatively short life.   A collection of his haiku was first published in 1998 as Haiku: This Other World and again in 2012 as Haiku: The Last Poetry of Richard Wright.  We’ve chosen a few of these beautiful pieces to share with you. We think you’ll agree, they aptly celebrate both Winter and February!

  Standing in the field                                                                                                                                                       I hear the whispering of                                                                                                                                                 Snowflake to snowflake

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

   In the falling snow                                                                                                                                                            A laughing boy holds out his palms                                                                                                                            Until they are white.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  From across the lake,                                                                                                                                                     Past the black winter trees,                                                                                                                                         Faint sounds of a flute.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

   Standing patiently,                                                                                                                                                          The horse grants the snowflakes                                                                                                                                  A home on his back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you have a favorite haiku by Richard Wright?  Send us your comments, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

It’s Winter – isn’t it?

Well, it’s officially Winter – or so the calendar says.  The Season of Light, the Winter Solstice, New Year’s Eve – all behind us now.  But for the balmy 50 degrees weather we’ve been having on and off since Thanksgiving, you wouldn’t know that it is January in Central New York.  So, where’s Winter?

Equating snow with Winter – as most of us do in CNY – frequent Syracuse Poster Project haiku contributor, Gary Weinstein (Syracuse NY), mused this question in 2004:

Strange…I miss the snow.                                                                                                                           The endless blanket that tucks                                                                                                                             us in all winter.

From the sound of the howling wind tonight, one can only imagine Winter as we know it will soon be here.  Scott Austin (Brooklyn NY) anticipated Winter with his 2011 haiku:

Listen to the wind                                                                                                                                            And you can hear snow approach                                                                                                                       Moments before flakes

CNY’s first major snowstorm of the 2016 season, (post New Year’s Eve weekend), has already been washed away by warm weather, high winds and lots of rain after only a few days on the ground.  Tom Westpfal, (Fayetteville NY), captures this somewhat muddled Winter we’re having in his 2013 Syracuse Poster Project haiku contribution:

Grass poking through snow                                                                                                                           Has winter just ended—nope                                                                                                                                It has just begun

Thankfully, it doesn’t seem we will be having the long, bitter cold Winter we did last year – or like folks are now having in the Midwest.  Regardless, this beautifully illustrated 2005 Syracuse Poster Project haiku poster – written by Ellen Agnew and illustrated by former SU Illustration student, Ivy Hickam – sums up the ‘warm’ side of Winter.

Nature's gift of snow allows us to slow our pace, take time to reflect
Nature’s gift of snow, allows us to slow our pace,  take time to reflect

 

Here’s to Winter and a Happy New Year!