FULL CIRCLE Haiku Contest
Hosted by: ZO Magazine & Sonic Boom
Judge: Shloka Shankar
Theme: Full Circle
We received a total of 115 entries from around the world, and we would like to thank everyone who participated. One of my criteria for judging was to see how each poet interpreted the theme Full Circle, and how fresh and exciting their perspective was. All the winning haiku and senryu do just that, and I heartily congratulate the authors for their thought-provoking and insightful pieces.
to hold the whole moon and the parent of my inner child
— Kat Lehmann, USA
Given the theme of this contest, we received a fair share of “moon” poems. This monoku instantly stood out and I grew to love it even more as I peeled back its many layers. As haiku poets, we all have a dozen or more poems about the moon in its various avatars. It represents a sense of mystery, the divine feminine, and cyclical change.
The poem begins with the preposition “to,” and, in some way, poses the question: what would it be like to hold the whole moon and the parent of my inner child? The feeling of wholeness versus that of brokenness comes to the forefront with the elongated “o” sounds in the first half of the poem. The moon will never remain “whole” for more than a few days at a time and must go back to its phases, embracing its waxing and waning. Thus, the moon as a standard for wholeness seems incongruous.
But the poet reminds us that healing, like grief, is never linear. We are constantly trying to become complete and make peace with past traumas. Reparenting your inner child is a gift only you can give yourself, as you willingly, mindfully, and compassionately learn to let go of that which no longer serves you. This act is both residual and continuous as you go deeper within and reconnect with your authentic self, stripped of emotional baggage and accumulated impressions. By holding the “whole moon” and the “parent of my inner child,” there is room enough for the poet to embrace the various stages of their inner child, even if it feels like an uphill battle on certain days.
In essence, this poem slows the reader down enough to put a spotlight on their own healing journey.
Artwork: Shloka Shankar
what choice do I have Thumbelina
— Susan Burch, USA
I have read few haiku that make use of fairytales as exceptionally as this five-word monoku. All fairytales are wont to have a happy ending; in the real world, not so much. We are often pitted against circumstances that make us feel diminutive or confront people who question our self-worth.
In the story Thumbelina, the protagonist is forced to marry the ugly mole but is swooped away by the swallow, whom she nursed back to health after an injury, and is then united with her prince. Even when life bogs you down and you feel “less than,” an alternate ending is made possible through good deeds that pay their dividends, or, simply, divine intervention. We sometimes forget that we are the product of our choices, and at any given point, we do have the freedom to make a different choice. Throughout our lives, by choice, we cross those self-made barriers, break several cycles, and de-condition ourselves.
By reversing the tale and showing us that all things do indeed serve the greater good, this monoku emphasizes the role of free will and reminds us to take responsibility for our actions.
the praxis of what I am in death spiral
— Surashree Joshi, India
This monoku distils the theme to its bare bones. The most important goal of realization, or the pinnacle of spiritual growth, is recognizing that we, as human beings, are supreme consciousness. Once we understand the fundamental principle of going through the infinite cycles of birth and death, and that the soul is eternal or infinite, we transcend the material/physical plane. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna expounds that just by surrendering to the truth that the body, mind, and intellect are living on “borrowed time,” we evolve as spiritual beings. Here, the poet acknowledges this ultimate truth: the “death spiral” that we all find ourselves in can only end once the Self is realized, sans the ego.
In another reading, the notion of who one really is evolves with time. We are not even the same person we were a week ago. It is this repeated shedding of identities that defies any one strict answer to the question: who am I?
the isotopic half life of my pseudo identity
— Teji Sethi, India
This interesting circular/looping senryu made me come back to it repeatedly. Radioactive half-life is the time required for a quantity of an isotope to decay by half. It possibly alludes to chemotherapy and radiation here. Oftentimes, when the prognosis is bleak, the disease tends to overpower and overshadow all aspects of our life, making us identify with the sickness. This could be the persona’s own perceived identity or one forced on them in the form of social labels. We cease to exist as who we truly are and become synonymous with the disease/disability.
Coming to the structure of the poem itself, were we to place the phrase “my pseudo identity” at the beginning and end of the monoku, it creates a disturbing, jarring effect:
my pseudo identity / the isotopic half life of / my pseudo identity
I chose to award this poem with an honourable mention for its presentation and a unique, personal take on the theme.
seeking god out a fish in need of wings
— Vandana Parashar, India
On the surface, this senryu might be called playful but it has a strong spiritual undercurrent. Life began in the oceans. The fish found land, grew limbs, grew wings, and soared. Like that primordial fish, when we are no longer happy with our immediate surroundings or station in life, we aspire for something better—we seek out greener pastures, we grow our wings, we seek out our god.
This poem also made me recall a quote by Albert Einstein, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Here, are we tempted to judge the fish by its ability to fly? Sometimes, where you are is exactly where you are meant to be.