Episode 8: A Tour of My Favorite Saijiki

Where to Find the Three Saijiki
Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac by William J. Higginson can be purchased at many used bookstores, including AbeBooks: https://www.abebooks.com/9784770020901/Haiku-World-International-Poetry-Almanac-4770020902/plp

The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words by Kenkichi Yamamoto is available at: https://thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/items/show/821

A Dictionary of Haiku Classified by Season Words with Traditional and Modern Methods by Jane Reichhold is available at: https://thehaikufoundation.org/omeka/items/show/1798

Join the Conversation
I’m seeking guests for December! If you’d like to be on the podcast, visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/ and fill out the form. My life is a little hectic right now, so if I don’t follow up in a timely manner, send me a reminder.

Support the Project
You can make a one-time or recurring donation to the Culinary Saijiki at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki. You also can help by sharing this episode with people you think will love it!

Theme Music
“J’attendrai” by Django Reinhardt,  performing at Cleveland Music Hall, 1939. This recording is in  the public domain. Hear the whole song at https://clevelandhistorical.org/files/show/6045.

Boozeku

Those familiar with the history of haiku know that the style emerged from the longer, collaborative form called renga. Renga were typically written at social gatherings, which often involved tea or sake. In my podcast episode with Jennifer Hambrick, we spoke a bit about alcohol in the haiku tradition, and acknowledged the challenges of celebrating what is a genuinely toxic substance that can lead to serious health issues, including addiction. I believe it’s important to acknowledge these complexities, and recognize the fact that, whether we like it or not, people have written, and are going to continue writing, libation haiku and senryu. I think it helps that these poems also are complex, and address sensuality, taste, pleasure, and problems.

So far in my research, I haven’t come across many alcohol terms that are clearly seasonally specific. Certainly, they exist; I’ve referenced Oktoberfest beer before, and that is certainly a fall term. Eggnog and hot toddies could correspond with winter, and if I find any of those, I’ll add them to my database. At this point, though, much of my collection includes drinking words that could best be described as all-year; all of the seasonal poems in this post include kigo not specifically related to drinking.

All Year

a friendship—
the whole universe drowned
in a wineglass

Franjo Ordanić, Failed Haiku 70

The loss of a friendship can be at least as devastating (if not more) than the end of a romantic relationship. I interpret this senryu as one in which drinking leads to a friendship’s tragic demise. Certainly if you know the pain of losing a close friend, it really can feel like drowning. In my interpretation of the poem, resentment has been building for some time, and one night after a drink too many, things blow up. As with many senryu, there’s no explicit seasonal referent. We would either need a standard kigo, or perhaps the name of a specific wine, to place this at a particular time of year.

ramen and beer . . .
the self-checkout lets me
avoid speaking

Joshua Gage, First Frost #1

Going out for ramen and beer can be a social activity, but in the second line of Joshua Gage’s haiku, we see it turned into a solitary venture. The second and third lines indicate that this solitude is a choice; the self-checkout lets him avoid speaking. The speaker of the haiku doesn’t just want to eat and drink alone; he wants to avoid conversation with the cashier as well. Ramen can be eaten any time of year, and I maintain that beer is an all-season word (more on that in the summer section of this post), so I consider this an all-season piece.

priest holding a chalice and communion bread
Photo by gabriel manjarres on Pexels.com

Holy Wafer
all sins forgiven—
I still get drunk

Eve Castle, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 10

Communion is an all-year act (more on that in the winter section of this post), so without a further seasonal word, this is an all-year senryu. Written in homage to Jack Kerouac, Eve Castle’s poem speaks to the desire for transcendence and the limits of human fallibility. Even with the rituals that absolve us, we turn around and go back to our bad habits.

Summer

beer with a bourbon chaser
a wasp disappears
under a shingle

Kristen Lindquist, bottle rockets #46
clear glass mug filled with yellow liquid
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

While William J. Higginson lists beer as a summer kigo in Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac, as I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t inherently agree with that assessment. Beer and bourbon are consumed year-round; it’s the presence of the wasp that makes this clearly a summer haiku. I’m also intrigued by the first image, because it inverts what I understand to be the usual drinking lineup. I admittedly have never had a chaser, and it was my understanding that people drank liquor first, and chased it with a beer. In my interpretation of Kirsten Lindquist’s haiku, the inversion of the standard order (beer coming before bourbon) mirrors the wasp as it goes upside-down beneath a shingle. (If you disagree with my interpretation, please let me know in the comments! Maybe I’m just seriously ignorant in the ways of drinking.)

Autumn

will you, too, sink
into tonight’s last whiskey?
full moon

Joshua Gage, Haiku Pea Podcast, Series 5, Episode 4
selective focus photo of a shot glass with tequila near a slice of lime and salt
Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

tequila dreams
the half-moon floating
in amber

Mark E. Brager, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere (and as is mentioned in a number of saijiki), the moon is an autumn kigo. Neither whiskey nor tequila have their specific seasons (though aficionados should leave a comment correcting me if I’m wrong!), but the presence of the moon means I interpret these two haiku as taking place in autumn. What interests me about both of them is the way the moon appears to be immersed in liquor. In Joshua Gage’s poem, the full moon might sink. In Mark E. Brager’s poem, the half-moon floats suspended in the glass. Perhaps the drinkers are holding their glasses up to the sky. Perhaps they are slumped across tables, so the perspective of the moon appears low. I think Joshua’s poem is a little more morose, while Mark’s poem is a little more mystical, so in the first poem, I see someone slumped, but in the second, I see someone holding a glass.

Winter

crunch of snow
in the crosswalk
dirty martini

Jennifer Hambrick, Kingfisher 3

A dirty martini is one one which a splash of olive brine is added to the cocktail. The end result is a martini that is cloudy with a tinge of green. There’s nothing inherently seasonal about this particular cocktail; it’s the first image in Jennifer Hambrick’s haiku that places this poem in winter. When I read this poem, I picture a late winter snow, one that is icier, and a little gray from foot traffic and tires. Unlike fresh, early snow, this snow has been adulterated, and is less visually appealing. Of course, those who enjoy dirty martinis might not agree with the comparison, but I nonetheless think it’s a striking image.

vodka martini in cocktail glass
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

his bartending story
while I set up the cups
winter communion

Dan Scherwin, bottle rockets #46

While a child’s first communion typically takes place in the spring in Western countries, the general act of communion happens year-round. Dan Scherwin specifically names the season here, which in my reading, enhances the sense of intimacy. The speaker of the senryu is setting up cups for the formal ritual, while someone keeping them company tells a story. The speaker of the poem and the teller of the story are in their own form of communion, being present with each other, keeping the bleakness of winter at bay with each other’s company.

As always, I look forward to your comments and questions! Feel free to also suggest post topics of you have them. While I do keep a list, I’m also curious about what people want to read on this site!

Jennifer Hambrick: Saving the Crust for Last

More from Jennifer Hambrick
You can order Jennifer’s haibun collection, Joyride (Red Moon Press, 2021) and her newest collection, In the High Weeds (National Federation of State Poetry Societies, 2022) from her website: https://jenniferhambrick.com/order/

Watch Jennifer’s interview with violinist Zina Schiff and conductor Avlana Eisenberg for WOSU Public Media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT-vMwvZQCI

Read more of Jennifer’s haiku in the Living Haiku Anthologyhttps://livinghaikuanthology.com/index-of-poets/374-h-poets/hambrick,-jennifer.html

Three poems by Jennifer Hambrick in Sequestrumhttps://www.sequestrum.org/three-poems-by-jennifer-hambrick

O–H–I–O
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbdXgAWuU_E

Join the Conversation
I’m seeking guests for October, November, and December! If you’d like to be on the podcast, visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/ and fill out the form. My life is a little hectic right now, so if I don’t follow up in a timely manner, send me a reminder.

Support the Project
You can make a one-time or recurring donation to the Culinary Saijiki at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki. You also can help by sharing this episode with people you think will love it!

Theme Music
“J’attendrai” by Django Reinhardt, performing at Cleveland Music Hall, 1939. This recording is in the public domain. Hear the whole song at https://clevelandhistorical.org/files/show/6045.

Food in Classical Haiku: First Thoughts

While saijiki generally focus on contemporary haiku, I also felt called to take a look at classical haiku to see how poets of the past incorporated food into their work. Since I have to rely on translation, and no two translations are the same, I plan to revisit this topic from time to time, exploring different translations of the same poem when I can. For this post, all poems come from The Sound of Water (Shambhala Centaur Editions, 2000), which is Sam Hamill’s collection of classical haiku translations.

Earlier this year, I wrote about how I detected three primary ways that food relates to haiku seasons:

  1. Food words that are a definite seasonal referent;
  2. Food words that are not part of any specific season;
  3. Food words that become seasonal with an additional modifying word

In The Sound of Water, most of the haiku I found fit into the first two categories. I also found that most of the poems connected to food were summer poems. Of course, this is just one small book, so I’m not making definitive statements yet. At the very least, it was interesting to see what turned up in the context of this anthology.

Summer

Breakfast enjoyed
in the fine company of
morning glories

Matsuo Bashō

I begin each day
with breakfast greens and tea
and morning glories

Takarai Kikaku

Breakfast is an all-year word. You either eat breakfast, or you don’t. While the Muslim observance of Ramadan requires fasting during the day, this holy period isn’t tied to a specific season. Even the image of “breakfast greens” in Kikaku’s poem doesn’t inherently create a specific season; there are bitter herbs in spring, abundant greens in summer, and hardy greens in autumn. Only in winter is it tough to find fresh greens. Even then, the poem might be referring to pickled greens. It’s the word morning glories in each poem that signify summer.

sweet healthy sliced melon in white bowl
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Wet with morning dew
and splotched with mud, the melon
looks especially cool

Matsuo Bashō

All by itself,
that beautiful melon,
entirely self-sufficient

Hattori Ransetsu

Melon is generally a summer kigo. While there can be some early spring melons, and some that appear in autumn as well (you could get a decent cantaloupe shockingly late in Texas), they are generally at their best in the summer. These 17th-century haiku have a timeless feel to them. While there are some stylistic elements that indicate they are classical rather than contemporary, they don’t seem stodgy or old. I love that haiku poets have been writing about cool, beautiful melons for centuries. The above poems show me how food really does connect us to ancestors, whether they be family members, or our artistic lineage.

Singing, planting rice,
village songs more lovely
than famous city poems

Matsuo Bashō

With the noon conch blown
those old rice-planting songs
are suddenly gone

Yosa Buson

My noontime nap
disrupted by voices singing
rice-planting songs

Kobayashi Issa

For rice-planting women
there’s nothing left unsoiled
but their song

Konishi Raizan

Rice was the food I found referenced the most in The Sound of Water, yet in this collection, poems about it are entirely related to agriculture. Many poets wrote specifically about rice-planting, and about the songs that the field workers sang. (I’m sure it’s an effect of the translation, but Bashō’s rice-planting poem has a certain Whitmanesque quality to it . . . or perhaps “Song of Myself” has a certain Bashōesque aspect.) These poems also illustrate the value of not just having a saijiki, but having a few different ones on hand! It’s easy to make assumptions about a time of year based on your own experience, which is necessarily limited. I associate planting of all kinds with spring, which isn’t even accurate in the United States! There are a number of crops and flowers that get planted in the fall to winter over, and bloom in spring. At first, I was putting these classical rice-planting haiku in the spring category. Then, however, I consulted with Yamamoto Kenkichi’s The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words. There, I found that rice-planting related to summer! It would have been so easy for me to assume these were spring haiku, and I’m glad I had reference material on hand to guide me in the right direction.

Without a sound,
munching young rice-plant stalks,
a caterpillar dines

Hattori Ransetsu

The only haiku I found related to eating rice didn’t involve humans, nor the grains of rice that make up a staple of the human diet. Rather, a caterpillar is dining on the fresh, young stalks. The young stalks, as well as the caterpillar that is not yet a butterfly, ground us in summer.

When the wild turnip
burst into full blossom
a skylark sang

Kobayashi Issa

While I’ve never seen a wild turnip in real life, Issa’s haiku reminded me of the giant squash blossoms that appear in the summer, and how glorious they are. Whether in a domestic garden, or something you might forage, the vibrancy of summer is something that endures over the centuries in the haiku tradition.

Autumn

Autumn breezes
spin small fish hung to dry
from beach house eaves

Yosa Buson

While certain species of fish are best harvested at certain times of the year, that level of specificity doesn’t appear in Buson’s haiku. Rather, the direct naming of the season tells us where we are in the year. The general concept of fish is an all-year term, but the seasonal referent can lend clues to what type of fish they might be. Perhaps Buson is referring to sardines, which are in season late summer and through the fall. The image of the drying fish also reminds the reader that this is the time to preserve food for the long winter ahead.

cooked ramen
Photo by Cats Coming on Pexels.com

In this mountain village,
shining in my soup bowl,
the bright moon arrives

Kobayashi Issa

Here in Shinano
are famous moons, and buddhas,
and our good noodles

Kobayashi Issa

Neither soup nor noodles are inherently seasonal. As with fish, specific types of soup or noodles better correspond to certain parts in the year. A chilled soup is more appropriate in the summer. Soba noodles are part of the New Year’s ritual. Yet the words “soup” and “noodles” in and of themselves need modifiers. I place these two haiku in autumn because of the presence of the moon, an autumn kigo.

Spring

Plum blossoms in bloom
in a Kitano teahouse,
the master of sumo

Yosa Buson

As I mentioned in my June post “The Seasons of Tea,” people consume tea year-round. In formal tea ceremony, the dishes you serve varies from season to season. The presence of plum blossoms in Buson’s haiku indicate that we’re at a teahouse in springtime.

Only the shoots
of new green leaves, white water,
and yellow barley

Yosa Buson

The shoots of young plants, whether leaves or grasses, is a common spring kigo. None of the plants are fully formed. The water is frothy with melted snow and spring rain. There is nothing yet to harvest, whether that be mature barley or fruit from the tree. Yet this haiku points to the sheer amount of potential inherent in springtime.

barley field
Photo by Filippo Peisino on Pexels.com

People, more people
scurrying through spring breezes
along the rice-field dikes

Ichihara Tayo-Jo

Rice fields once again appear in spring. Here, the emphasis is on humans coming and going on their journeys, walking along the fields that grow their food. The verb “scurrying” suggests that these people are busy, inattentive, perhaps not even noticing that the source of a staple crop is all around them. It turns out it’s not only the modern age that takes people out of the present moment!

Winter

Through frozen rice fields
moving slowly on horseback,
my shadow creeps by

Matsuo Bashō

One of the things I found interesting while rereading The Sound of Water is the extent to which rice fields can appear in all seasons, but no haiku about people eating rice. That’s not to say those types of haiku don’t exist in the classical tradition; they just didn’t make their way into this book. I’m curious to reread more classical anthologies to see what differences I find. The above haiku also points to how a rice field in and of itself isn’t inherently seasonal; it’s other words, such as frozen, that ground us in a specific time of year.

yellow latex gloves on dish rack
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Walking on dishes
the rat’s feet make the music
of the shivering cold

Yosa Buson

Maybe the dishes are lying dirty in a basin, because it’s so cold, nobody wants to deal with them. Or maybe the dishes are clean and put away, but the rat is rattling around on them, looking for some warmth. While my mind initially went to the first interpretation, the second is just as valid. Either way, I delight in this haiku because it reminds me that something as simple as doing the dishes are worthy of poetic moments.

Episode 6: Matt Defibaugh: On Sorghum Stilts

In Gratitude
Thank you to our anonymous donor who bought me a total of six coffees in August! I’m now 20% of the way toward my goal of covering website costs for the year. Those who want to support the podcast financially can do so at: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki/.

Join the Conversation
I’m seeking guests for October, November, and December! If you’d like to be on the podcast, visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/ and fill out the form. My life is a little hectic right now, so if I don’t follow up in a timely manner, send me a reminder.

More from Matthew Defibaugh
Daily Haiga, January 13, 2022: https://www.dailyhaiga.org/haiga-archives/3072/-autumn-moon-by-matthew-defibaugh-usa
Daily Haiga, May 13, 2022: https://www.dailyhaiga.org/haiga-archives/3139/-old-station-wagon-by-matthew-defibaugh-usa
Haiga in collaboration with Penney L. Mellen: https://thehaikufoundation.org/thf-galleries-haiga-of-penney-l-mellen-and-m-r-defibaugh/
Matthew’s poetry collection, Hurricane Warning: https://www.amazon.com/Hurricane-Warning-Matthew-Ryan-Defibaugh/dp/1690788275
Audio edition of Hurricane Warning: https://imusic.co/books/9781690788270/matthew-ryan-defibaugh-2019-hurricane-warning-paperback-book

More from Christina Chin
Christina’s blog: https://christinachin99blog.wordpress.com/
Christina’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyt3h9T41ckjXuqqgvArXJQ/videosYou can find Christina on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/Christina_haikuChristina’s feature in the 2021 World Haiku Series: https://akitahaiku.com/2021/12/20/world-haiku-series-6-haiku-by-christina-chin/
Five haiku in Lothlorein Poetry Journal: https://lothlorienpoetryjournal.blogspot.com/2022/03/five-haiku-by-christina-chin.html

More About Sorghum
Information from the Oldways Whole Grain Council: https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/grain-month-calendar/sorghum-june-grain-month

Theme Music
“J’attendrai” by Django Reinhardt,  performing at Cleveland Music Hall, 1939. This recording is in the  public domain. Hear the whole song at https://clevelandhistorical.org/files/show/6045.

Bonus Episode: Community Open Mic: Transitioning from Summer to Fall

In Gratitude Thank you to our anonymous donor who  bought me three coffees this month! I’m now 20% of the way toward my goal of covering website costs for the year. Those who want to support the podcast financially can do so at: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki/.

Episode Contributors
Christine Wenk-Harrison
Listen to Christine’s previous Culinary Saijiki episode: https://anchor.fm/culinarysaijiki/episodes/Episode-4-Christine-Wenk-Harrison-One-Jam-Harvest-e1m0e2a

Agnes Eva Savich
Listen to Agnes’ previous Culinary Saijiki episode: https://culinarysaijiki.com/2022/06/21/episode-1-agnes-eva-savich-the-redemption-of-the-pear/

M.A. Dubbs
View M.A.’s webiste here: https://melindadubbs.wordpress.com/

Peter Schmidt
Read Peter’s contest-winning poem here: https://allysonwhipple.com/2021/02/27/february-poetry-contest-winner/

Mark Scott
Hear Mark’s appearance as community judge on the Poetry Pea podcast: https://poetrypea.com/s5e8-original-haiku-senryu-with-punctuation/

Join the Conversation If you’d like to be on the podcast, visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/ and fill out the form. My life is a little hectic right now, so if I don’t follow up in a timely manner, send me a reminder.

On the Blog Visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/2022/08/23/meat-in-haiku/ for the latest post, about meat in haiku.

Theme Music “J’attendrai” by Django Reinhardt,  performing at Cleveland Music Hall, 1939. This recording is in the  public domain. Hear the whole song at https://clevelandhistorical.org/files/show/6045.

Meat in Haiku

Thank you to the anonymous donor for another three coffees! I’m now 20% of the way toward my goal of covering this year’s website costs. Readers and listeners can support The Culinary Saijiki by buying a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki.

Remember to send me your recordings for the August 30th bonus podcast open mic! Please review the guidelines here: https://culinarysaijiki.com/2022/08/08/podcast-community-open-mic-on-8-30/. The deadline is Saturday, August 28th at 11:59 p.m. CST. Record your haiku at https://anchor.fm/culinarysaijiki/message, and please contact me if you run into issues.

Of the 212 haiku and senryu I’ve collected so far, I only have five that mention meat. Of course, I know that there are more out there. Still, I find it interesting that on the whole, meat does not seem to show up as frequently as vegetables, fruit, eggs, coffee, tea, or sweets. While I know my fair share of haijin who are vegetarians or vegans, many of us eat meat as well. Even those of use who avoid meat in adulthood were raised with it as the foundation of the main meal. I don’t have any compelling theories as to why meat doesn’t seem to show up in haiku as often. In addition, who knows what the proportion of meat haiku will be once I have collected 1,000 poems, which is my goal.

Another thing I have noticed in my initial work is that meat appears to be an all-year word. However, historically, meat consumption is tied to the seasons. My partner, John, grew up on a farm, and I asked him to clarify the seasonal nature of slaughtering and eating meat. Pigs and cattle are normally slaughtered in autumn, after the summer heat has broken, but before winter has set in. Hunting seasons generally occur in autumn. Even freshwater fish and seafood have their ideal harvesting seasons, ranging from late spring to late autumn, depending on the species. Chickens are a bit different; you don’t slaughter a chicken and cure it to last through the winter. Poultry is more likely to be slaughtered and eaten throughout the year, though again, autumn was often a more advantageous time than others. John also noted that, in prior generations, it was common to eat a quasi-vegetarian diet (excluding rendered animal fat) for at least part of the year, usually in spring and sometimes into summer, when the previous year’s meat stores had been depleted.

Of course, thanks to refrigeration, industrial farming practices, and global trade, all types of meat are available year-round in much of the world, meaning our meat consumption is divorced from any sense of the seasons. While that’s true of produce as well, I think fruits and vegetables still retain more of a seasonal rhythm. Even if you live in a city, you can probably manage some sort of small-scale garden, which tunes you in to the seasonal nature of produce. It’s not feasible to keep a pig or cow in an urban or suburban back yard. Even those city dwellers who are able to keep chickens usually have them just for eggs. Plus, I know more than a few people who eat meat, but would prefer not to think about where it comes from. It’s easy to see how meat gets divorced from the seasons not just at the industrial level, but on a personal level as well.

cholesterol a steak through the heart

Keith Evetts, Failed Haiku Issue 70

Keith Evetts’ humorous poem relies on the pun of steak and stake, and though cholesterol and heart disease are serious issues, this piece makes me chuckle every time I see it. Perhaps the pun puts the haiku in autumn, referencing Halloween, but based on my limited knowledge of vampire fiction, they exist year-round. This is an effective senryu (or could possibly be classified as zappai), but there isn’t a clear seasonal referent.

shallow focus photography of meat dish and leaves
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

steak night
I ask about
the vegan options

Louise Hopewell, Failed Haiku Issue 76

Louise Hopewell’s senryu provides a sense of juxtaposition, between a meat-eater and their vegan dining companion. However, this doesn’t take place in a specific season. I’ve had steaks grilled outdoors in the summer, cooked in an oven in winter, and fried in a skillet just about any time of year. In fact, the method of preparation might influence the sense of a season rather than meat itself.

fish and chips
in yesterday’s news
yesterday’s news

Susan Spooner, Charlotte DiGregorio’s Writer’s Blog, May 28, 2022

Historically, fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper. I’ve personally never experienced this, and ostensibly, the practice has died out for hygienic reasons. Still, Susan Spooner’s poem makes excellent use of the cultural knowledge of fish and chips, and I find the repetition of the phrase “yesterday’s news” to be effective and engaging. While the cod that usually comprises fish and chips peaks in winter (Pacific Ocean) or summer (Atlantic Ocean), the dish is available year-round, and so again, given the nature of modern life, we don’t have a clear seasonal referent here.

close up photography of french fries with cream
Photo by Gustav Lundborg on Pexels.com

Cat dreaming of man,
Man dreaming of cat, both
Craving fish fillet

Debbie Walker-Lass, Haikuniverse, May 9, 2022

Even if fish were only available at certain times of the year, you can dream about them in any season. Debbie Walker-Lass’ emphasis on dreaming takes the poem out of reality and into the world of the subconscious. You can also have a craving at any point during the year. Even if something is out of season and unavailable, you might desire it. This senryu, focused on dreams and desire, is applicable as an all-year poem.

Mother’s Day
the smell of bacon
from each apartment

Bob Redmond, bottle rockets Issue 46

Bob Redmond’s haiku is the only one I have collected so far that has a clear seasonal referent, but it doesn’t come from food. Redmond mentions the Mother’s Day holiday, which occurs in May, making it a spring haiku in the Gregorian calendar and a summer haiku in the lunar calendar. In this poem, multiple families are cooking bacon in celebration of the holiday, at a time of year when, historically, bacon might not have been available. Reading Redmond’s haiku in that light, a layer of profundity emerges. How amazing that we can honor our mothers with bacon . . . and, given the state of the world, let’s consider ourselves fortunate, because that might not always be the case.

As I reach the end of this post, I realize that this topic points me in a new direction for research: the ways in which certain words might once have been seasonal, but due to changes in human activity, are no longer connected to seasons. I welcome your thoughts on that!

Episode 5: Lorraine Padden: Sweating Onions

In Gratitude
Thank you to our anonymous donor who bought me three coffees this month! I’m now 13% of the way toward my goal of covering website costs for the year. Those who want to support the podcast financially can do so at: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki/

August Open Mic Bonus Episode
To participate in the August 30th open mic bonus episode, click this link: https://anchor.fm/culinarysaijiki/message. Recordings must be received by Friday, August 28th at 11:59 pm CST.

Guidelines:

  • Each poet is limited to two haiku
  • Before reading your haiku, please say your name or pen name and, if comfortable, where you’re writing from
  • Please read each haiku twice
  • Haiku should mention food, and connect to the transitional aspect of seasons, with an emphasis on autumn
  • Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will be disqualified

More from Lorraine Padden
Get updates about Lorraine’s haiku and other projects at https://www.lorrainepadden.com/

Listen to Lorraine talk about and read from her forthcoming collection, Upwelling, at https://zenpeacemakers.org/zpi-publishing/upwelling/

Join the Conversation
If you’d like to be on the podcast, visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/join-the-conversation/ and fill out the form. My life is a little hectic right now, so if I don’t follow up in a timely manner, send me a reminder. 

On the Blog
Visit https://culinarysaijiki.com/2022/08/09/seasonal-foods-of-the-american-southwest/ for the most recent post on food kigo of the American Southwest.

Theme Music
“J’attendrai” by Django Reinhardt, performing at Cleveland Music Hall, 1939. This recording is in the public domain. Hear the whole song at https://clevelandhistorical.org/files/show/6045.

Seasonal Foods of the American Southwest

First, thank you to the anonymous person who bought me three coffees this month! I appreciate your support of the project, and especially for covering this year’s website costs. I’m now 13% of the way toward my goal.

Readers and listeners can support The Culinary Saijiki by buying a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/culinarysaijiki.

Second, remember to send me your recordings for the August 31st bonus podcast open mic! Please review the guidelines here: https://culinarysaijiki.com/2022/08/08/podcast-community-open-mic-on-8-30/. The deadline is Saturday, August 28th at 11:59 p.m. CST. Record your haiku at https://anchor.fm/culinarysaijiki/message, and please contact me if you run into issues.

This week, I got inspired to explore the connection between region and food in haiku. When I wrote primarily free verse, I loved writing about the landscapes of Texas, and I also enjoy exploring the ways in which landscape connects to food. I decided to start with the Southwest in part because that is one of two regions (the other being the Midwest) where I have lived the longest, and have detailed understanding of regional food. I’d also been rereading Lifting the Seasons: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, and had added a number of the haiku to my Culinary Saijiki database. I decided to use it as my initial source text in my exploration of Southwestern food haiku. (There are a number of other good anthologies out there, but I didn’t have access to them this week . . . but that just means I’ll have to return to this topic again!)

As it turns out, I ran into a number of challenges with this post! I thought I was going to have any easy time talking about Southwestern food in haiku, but in fact, this was the most difficult entry I’ve done so far, which is all the more reason I’ll want to return to this topic.

1. The southwest is not a clearly delineated space. Arizona and New Mexico are the only definitive Southwest states, but parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and Oklahoma also get included. However, there isn’t a definitive map that delineates which portions of each state get included. For example, San Antonio is closer to Louisiana than it is to New Mexico, but the city seems more a part of the Southwest than the South. There’s a great deal of culturally and geographically liminal space that’s difficult to account for.

2. Southwestern food is not a clearly delineated category. While some foods, like nopales and tamales, are clearly Southwestern, I found myself struggling with many of the crops. For example, Texas has its own types of melon and peaches, but the places where those crops are grown appear in that liminal space. In addition, changes in farming practices over the years mean that produce I didn’t initially think belonged in the Southwest does grow there. I ended up pouring a great deal of research into produce to place poems accurately!

3. Disagreeing with some of the placements of these poems. Lifting the Seasons editors Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell worked hard to place the poems in this anthology, and I consider Scott one of my poetry mentors. So I didn’t feel great when I came upon a poem in a certain season and found myself disagreeing with its placement. I made notes in my saijiki database about why I disagreed, and tagged the poem with both seasons. I’ve also chosen to make note of my disagreements in this post, because I don’t want to mislead people who might have already read the collection and wonder why I deviated from the original placement. Ultimately, I hope these disagreements come across as respectful. There is always debate within the haiku community; not all saijiki align with each other. Disagreement is part of the process.

4. No autumn food kigo I hadn’t already used. I prefer to not use the same haiku in multiple blog posts. When going through my database, I’d already used the best examples of Southwestern autumn food elsewhere on the blog, so I don’t have any autumn entries this week.

For more information on Lifting the Seasons: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, visit the Dos Gatos Press website: http://dosgatospress.org/.

Spring

prickly pear salad
nopales skinned and shredded—
thornless spring

Katherine Durham Oldmixon, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

Nopales are the pads of a nopal, commonly referred to as a prickly pear. There are over 100 species of nopal in Mexico and the southwestern United States, and are a common cooking ingredient. However, the tiny spines must be removed first, and while experienced cooks can probably complete the process efficiently, many of us home cooks prefer to buy our nopales pre-skinned from Mexican grocery stores.While nopales can be in season for much of the year, spring is when they first peak. When other crops have just been planted, and the abundance of summer produce is a way off, nopales are a way to enjoy something fresh.

Nopal pads with five fruits on top
A nopal in Austin, Texas

across asphalt
truck tires scatter grit
and white pear blossoms

Sandra D. Lynn, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

Fruits were one of the primary challenges for me in putting together this entry. I hadn’t revisited this anthology in a number of years. I was surprised to find two haiku about pears in a book focused on the American Southwest! However, after doing some digging, I discovered that Southern California is a peach-growing region, and while the official states of the Southwest are Arizona and New Mexico, Southern California is also frequently included. I think that this haiku points to one of the challenges that practitioners and editors come across: geographical boundaries are not as well-defined as we might like. In addition, due to the ways in which humans have traveled, colonized, and globalized, a European fruit will thrive in a place not originally its home, complicating our understanding of what an appropriate kigo might be.

the pear tree’s
hesitant buds—
February

Sally Clark, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

Sally Clark’s haiku also presented me with a familiar challenge that I have not yet figured out how to reconcile: what it means to be a haiku practitioner writing in the age of the Gregorian calendar. Her haiku appears in the winter section of the anthology, which certainly makes sense for editors working in the United States. However, February is considered spring in the haiku calendar, and the image of actual buds on the tree further reinforces the spring image. Because of the presence of buds, rather than bare branches, I chose to place this haiku in the spring section.

Summer

what’s left of the moon—
a slice—ripe cantaloupe— set
on a chilled glass plate

Robert A. Ayers, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

This is the first haiku where I found myself disagreeing with the editors regarding placement. In Lifting the Sky, this haiku appears in the Winter section. However, cantaloupe is at its peak in summer, so for the purposes of this project, I have placed there. Various melons are popular in summer dishes, and make excellent agua frescas (refreshing fruit drinks) during the hottest months.

below the peach tree
flipping pages in a book
hummingbird flutter

Ellaraine Lockie, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

I spent a few hours mulling over Ellaraine Lockie’s haiku, and what season I felt it best represented. In Lifting the Sky, this haiku appears in the Spring section. Since we don’t know what state the peach tree is in, I understand the editors’ decision. However, depending on what saijiki you are using, hummingbirds are listed as either a spring or summer kigo. In my lived experience, hummingbirds tend to be more visible in the summer. In addition, unless a poet mentions blossoms or a bare tree, I picture it covered with fruit, which in that case, would make summer more appropriate.

hand grabbing fruit
Photo by furkanfdemir on Pexels.com

Winter

first frost—
icy vines
with one red tomato

Chris Ellery, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

While I debated a bit as to whether or not to keep this haiku in the winter category, as it appears in lifting the sky, a careful bit of research led me to agree that it was a winter poem. While in much of the United States, the first frost is likely to happen in autumn, in most of the Southwest, the first frost is not likely to happen until winter.

winter sunlight
our neighbors bring us
homemade tamales

Lynn Edge, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

When I lived in Texas, I knew Christmas was getting close, because people who made tamales would start taking pre-orders. Even grocery stores would do big tamale sales at Christmas! While tamales aren’t inherently a winter food (more on that below), they’re certainly a hallmark of the holiday season in the Southwest. While a Southwestern reader might not need the phrase “winter sunlight” to place the season, someone who has lived their whole life in Canada might not be aware of how tamales connect to the seasons, so I think Lynn made a good choice setting the poem explicitly in winter. Working on this project reminded me the extent to which much of haiku relies on shared cultural knowledge, and how we can’t expect every reader to have the same understanding of the world. I also don’t think that’s a bad thing. We can’t spend our whole lives limiting our writing to what we think people will understand. If haiku is the poetry of the moment, we have to write from our experience, without worrying whether or not a reader from the other side of the world will get it.

As a side note, the Mississippi Delta has its own tamales. You can learn more about those here: https://www.southernfoodways.org/interview/hot-tamales-the-mississippi-delta/

Mama’s gifts
filled, wrapped, tied with care—
tamales

Christine Wenk-Harrison, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

Tamales don’t have to just be a winter food. However, the labor-intensive process means that if you’re going to make them at home, they’re a special-occasion food . . . and a dish best made as a group. The last Christmas before COVID, John and I hosted a tamale-making party, and it remains one of my happiest holiday memories. I’m still sad I never had one more opportunity to host a Christmas tamale gathering in Texas. I associate tamales with winter holidays more than any other, and they are a gift that can last for months. With the filling wrapped in corn husks, they can be frozen and easily re-steamed (or microwaved) for a delicious meal in those last days of winter and earliest days of spring, when the holidays are long gone but things feel a little bleak.

Two tamales with a side of refried beans and red rice.
The fruits of our labor, Christmas 2019

Cheshire cat grin
between bare pecan branches—
the waxing moon

Sandra Cobb, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, ed. Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell. Dos Gatos Press, 2013.

Note: In Lifting the Sky, this haiku appears in the Spring section. However, I interpret bare branches as a winter kigo, and thus have placed it as such.

Although I encountered a number of challenges while working on this post, I feel inspired to keep going with the regional theme. However, I can’t possibly be an expert on all geography-specific foods, even in my own country! If you’re interested in putting together a guest post similar to what I’ve done here, please contact me. I’ll also put up a post with formal guidelines sometime in the next week or so.

Podcast community open mic on 8/30

When planning this project, I decided that I would publish posts and podcast episodes on Tuesdays. Since there’s a fifth Tuesday in August, that means an extra week for content. When there was a bonus Tuesday back in May, I did a blog post in which I published community submissions around a theme. For August, I want to do a bonus podcast, again featuring community recordings.

To participate in the open mic, click the link to my Anchor voicemail box: https://anchor.fm/culinarysaijiki/message. Record your haiku according to the guidelines below. If you run into any trouble, please contact me! I want to help you record your haiku and be part of the episode. The submission deadline is Saturday, August 28th at 11:59 pm CST.

Guidelines:

  • Each poet is limited to two haiku
  • Before reading your haiku, please say your name or pen name and, if comfortable, where you’re writing from
  • Please read each haiku twice
  • Haiku should mention food, and connect to the transitional aspect of seasons, with an emphasis on autumn
  • Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will be disqualified