Kala Ramesh – WE Trailblazer Poet Teacher Award 2020

haibun . haiku . senryu . tanka . gembun . haibun . tanka prose

tanka prose

The Artist

                 thirty years
                 just painting
                 lilies . . .
                 a story behind each stroke
                 of Monet’s white paint

Maya remembers her first concert, which she performed ten years back and which is still as fresh as the breath she inhales: She begins with a slow composition in raga Shyam Kalyan. As she unfolds each note and works around the permutations and combination of the raga, she sees heads nodding; she’s eager to give her best. Her glides with sweeping gamaks turn out well. Her fast passages quicken the pulse of the audience. That perfect note, which when she was a student seemed like a razor’s edge, suddenly flattens out like a table-top. Sprawling and vast is the space. Her play with the lyrics and the synchronisation of the raga with the rhythmic cycle all blend into one whole, coming together effortlessly. It is an open air auditorium and it is as if the night has turned into an inverted stage, with stars keeping the beat. She feels each note run through her fingers, like touching good old mother earth. The warmth it lends to one’s being. The expansive freedom, yielding more space within and without.

Maya takes a fresh, deep breath and holds a high note in perfect pitch and in perfect balance and rhythm. The tabla player, her percussionist, nods his head. A deep surge of emotion blinds her vision. Her eyes close, disconnecting her from the world around her while she remains alive to the void that fills her being.

                    with feet
                    pushing the ground,
                    she takes wing . . .
                    the sky of a thousand ragas
                    draws her in like magic

Contemporary Haibun Online – 16:3. December 2020

haiku . senryu . gembun . quartet

spring breeze
the sari slides down
her shoulder                                                         
Golden Triangle Haiku Contest 2016: 
1st prize

how little
I know of bird calls
distant thunder
The Akita International Haiku Award 2013: 
1st prize

Gita chanting
     birds become
the ellipsis
The Akita International Haiku Award 2014: 
Honourable Mention

 a barn owl hoots
 the stillness of the lake
 before dawn
Akita International Haiku Award 2015: 
Honourable Mention

the unevenness
of his shallow breathing …
summer river
Acorn: # 43 fall 2019


Devi temple...
along with the ants
I enter barefoot     
Sketchbook: May 2008

wild bamboo
the pencilled darkness
shimmers in rain
Simply Haiku: Winter 2011

midnight jetty
the sound of water
slapping water                                                    
A Hundred Gourds 1:3: June 2012

spring breeze —
     I catch the tune
she leaves behind
# 1 Editor’s Choice – The Heron’s Nest Award: 
Volume VIII, Number 2: June 2006

rain forest
   the lives
I step on
The Heron’s Nest Vol XIX, No 1: March 2017

a tornado spiralling thoughts to the sky
Under the Basho, 1:1 September 2013

scented twilight …
the reason dragonflies
pause in flight
8th Akita International Haiku Contest 2020.
1st Prize

a hundred black wings cluster a cawing horizon

           a fork in the road
           in our lives
           these autumn decisions
Prune Juice March 2021 issue #33

does our thirst play tricks on us

          in the ground fog
          I become the answer
Prune Juice March 2021 issue #33

did Ganga dream of being the city's sewage   .?
Bones Poetry Journal # 19. March 2020

montage and the god of small things

            bouncing shadows
                            in dialogue
                with sunshine
                           long corridor
Bones Journal # 19. March 2020


and . . .

                  hammering rain
                  if only the I
                  would dissolve

a zen master was asked, how do you practice zen?

the master replied, when you’re hungry, eat; when you’re tired, sleep.

the student asked, isn’t that what everyone does?

the master replied, not at all ... most people entertain a thousand desires when they eat and scheme a thousand plans when they sleep.

               mud-covered carcass
               all that remains
               of an eagle's flight
Contemporary Haibun Online - cho 16:1  
December 2019


for months
I go without writing …
this urge
to become a leaf
rising with the wind

I were looped
to a string …
one red kite fluttering 
across the twilight sky

I stand up
eager to discover
the new woman
taking shape 
deep within me

in the silence
of my stilled mind 
                I hear 
     the whisper
of raindrops 
the forest i know: HarperCollins 2021

tanka doha

for the first time
         shaping snow 
                  into a ball
I become the grandchild
I’m waiting for

             mango blossoms 
             all over 
             how soon 
             how very soon 
             spring has come! 
the forest i know: HarperCollins 2021

I Me Mine

Up in the sky, two kites flutter, one red and the other multi-coloured. They seem to gather the hues of twilight in their wake. Oohs and aahs resound from the terrace — all from my own family, but they betray a trace of tension. A fight is on, not of bloodshed and vengeance but of two kites — one mine and one my brother's — competing for that wide expanse of the blue sky.
               crossing decades
                    I piece together
               a torn letter
Failed Haiku. November 2020

Kala Ramesh, a Pushcart-Prize nominated poet (haibun), is an editor, anthologist, and an external faculty member of Symbiosis International University Pune, where she has been teaching a 60-hour haikai course since 2012—a first in India. Her book of haiku and haibun Beyond the Horizon Beyond was shortlisted for the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2019. Her book of tanka – The Forest I know –  was just published by HarperCollins (July 2021.)

She is the Founding Editor & Director of TRIVENI as well as Conceptualiser of the Triveni Gurukulam Mentorship Program 2021. She was the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Naad Anunaad: An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku (Vishwakarma Publications 2016) and is also the author of Haiku! (Katha Books 2010). She teaches a 3-month course on Japanese Aesthetics as seen through haikai lens.

Kala has organised seven haikai conferences in India since 2006. To bring haiku into everyday spaces, she has initiated several projects, notably haikuWALL and haikuDHYANA. She created the ‘Rasika’ form, an eight-verse renku (collaborative linked verses) fashioned after Matsuo Basho’s non-thematic style. A speaker at international haiku conferences, she was long listed for the We Kamala Das Poetry Award ‘20 and received the WE Trailblazer Poet Award 2020, from Women Empowered – India.