Monday, 13 August 2007

The First Annual Haiku Slam of the Sydney University Writers' Society was held tonight in the Isobel Fidler room, Manning House. About thirty people turned up. All participated.

A poetry slam, pioneered at the Green Mill, a Chicago jazz club, in 1986, is a curious spectacle. But by being part of the action your heart starts racing especially, as happened to me, if you start winning your rounds.

To start, everyone pairs up and, after getting a word to include in the haiku, writes their piece. You then read it out at the mike. Two judges, in this case both officials of the society, decide who gets to go to the next round.

Haiku is quick to write because the limited number of syllables (17) make you condense an idea (preferably only one per poem) into its simplest form. The sudden impact of an image ("usually involving nature" our printed guide reads) is quintessentially Japanese.

My efforts follow, with a brief guide to my progress into the final four (our prize, a copy of the society's annual anthology, is pictured).

First round: lost
Mandatory word: 'leaky'

Leaky summer sky
Rains in gouts on the window
Delays laundry day

Second round: won
Mandatory word: 'unicorn'

Big blue truck passes
With cages stacked on the back
Three white unicorns

Third round: won
Mandatory word: 'gauntlet'

Toyko train packed
Tight so the doors barely close
My morning gauntlet

Fourth round: lost
Mandatory word: 'kiwi'

Antipodean
Competition in all things
Means we hate kiwis

The girl who won had an inspired idea using the word 'gypsy': the first refugees.

There were a lot of styles. A problem for me was hearing all the words. Impact is lost if a word is.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

So good! but "Rains in gouts"?? I only know gout as a condition of the big toe - will have to look it up.