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Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kenya, Africa: The Stars & Night Sky Challenge Haiku Competition Results!

Top left photo©David Kimani Mwangi
(all unnamed photos are ©Isabelle Prondzynski)

The Stars & Night Sky Challenge Haiku Competition all started when I challenged students in Nairobi to write haiku poems about the stars and night sky!

To find out even more please make a visit to:
The Kenya Saijiki home page
Saijiki is a kind of poetry almanac for haiku!
A saijiki contains many keywords
and phrases for the seasons called kigo and kidai:
The World Kigo Database Home Page

In March 2007 I posted a challenge to the discussion site of the haiku clubs of Nairobi: WEBLINK: The haiku clubs of Nairobi

Photos©David Kimani Mwangi
[NOTE: Patrick Wafula is in the purple shirt, and as you will see further down in the Adult section, also a very fine haiku poet!]

My Challenge!
"Can I ask something? Can I in fact, challenge you?! ;-)

I don't know how much clear night sky you can see, because of city lights, but where I live, in Bradford on Avon, because I am near the country, there are fewer street and house lights and I can see the Milky Way, and Orion's Belt, very clearly, can you see them?

Do you have different words for stars and groups of stars?

I would love to get to see haiku that involve the stars, from very local names to regional names, maybe your own names for stars too."

Photos©David Kimani Mwangi

[NOTE: Anthony Njoroge is in the cream shirt and a great community leader, and he acts as Master of Ceremonies, as well as being a very fine haiku poet too!]

This is what happened... a full-blown haiku competition for Nairobi students culminating in a prize giving!

These teenagers are from Kayole slum -- I hesitate to say they are slum children, because the students, who come from very poor backgrounds, are rich in life and attitude that constantly leaves me humbled and inspired. They are also very well educated, and I have learnt more from them and their teachers than I can ever teach them.

So, the challenge was met, and 142 haiku were collected by Isabelle Prondzynski (Moderator of the discussion group, Kenya Saijiki) and handed over to me for judging, with the support of Gabi Greve (Director of WHC Worldkigo) in Japan.

Finally, the prizes were announced and awarded at the Outing of the Haiku Clubs in May 2007 -- read more here :

It was a beautiful day, and much fun was had by all, as you will see from the pictures of the ginko that followed the prize giving.

The student prize winners of the Stars and Night Sky Challenge
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

Comments by Alan Summers :

1st Prize

around the bonfire --
a shooting star

~ Anne Njoki (Bamboocha, Form 1)

Storytelling is such an important part of culture in any country, and here we have other strong words that carry so much weight, in "bonfire" and "shooting star". What a lovely atmosphere is evoked here, and that is a very important part of haiku, evoking (showing) not telling, not putting everything onto the page, yet it's all there to be read if you look for it.

2nd Prize

pointing at the full moon --
the baby stops crying
as she watches the moon

~ Catherine Njeri Maina (Bamboocha)

The other person doesn't need to be mentioned in any more words, because we can all imagine it is either our older brother or sister, an aunt, an uncle, or a parent, sharing the wonder of the moon with a child. Wonderful!

3rd Prize
a thief stealing
from our neighbour's shop --

~ Caren Cheptoo (Bamboocha, Form 1)

This has a good allusion to a classic haiku, and I can imagine more than one meaning here. It could be a straight meaning of a thief stealing or trying to steal from a shop at night, or a thief "window shopping" at night and all he can steal is the moonlight. A good haiku is where readers can take different meanings from the poem and add a little of themselves, so a haiku is not only the shortest poem in the world, but when people share their own meanings it also becomes the longest poem in the world!

EXTRA NOTE: this also works as an allusion to a famous haiku from Buson...

the moon-
even a thief stops
to admire

trans. Alan Summers

Please consider visiting this weblink to see more prize winning entries from the schoolchildren, they really are good!
The Kenya Saijiki results page

We even had a section created for adults!

The Adult Section Prizewinners
With the comments of Alan Summers :

Adult prizewinners of the Stars and Night Sky Challenge
Photos © Isabelle Prondzynski

1st Prize

a twilight girl
running on the street --
glittering stars

~ James Macharia (Bahati)

I love the stunning "a twilight girl" which falls headlong into a great poem!

2nd Prize
moon and stars
the only witnesses --
two lovers eloping

~ Patrick Wafula (Patron, Bamboochas [In the middle])

Very very atmospheric!

3rd Prize
clouds move
some stars are covered
it darkens

~ Adelaide Luvandale (Patron, Peacocks)

A very chilling, moody, atmospheric last line, I love it!

Please consider visiting these weblinks also:
The Kenya Saijiki home page
The World Kigo database home page



Gabi Greve said...

Thanks for a great challenge!
And thanks again to all who contributed!


. World Kigo Database .


Patrick Wafula Wanyama said...

This was one of the best haiku outing I have ever had. I enjoyed teaching the young upcoming haijin as well as writing my own haiku and I won second prize in the Adults Category. Alan san, that was a fabulous effort and opportunity for all of us. Please keep up the great work!

_kala said...

It was such a pleasure reading all your haiku poems! It shows great imagery and keen observation.
May you all grow with each season in good health, peace and creativity!!

Haiku on children!

Kala Ramesh

iamnasra said...

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