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Kukai - Call for Submissions

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  • Kukai - Call for Submissions

    Haiku Sanctuary February 2020 Kukai
    Call for Submissions


    The topic for the inaugural February 2020 kukai is given below.

    Poems must be submitted via email to (with Kukai for the subject line.)

    Poets may submit ONE poem that displays a disjunctive element, as is usually present in haiku, via email for entry in the February 2020 Kukai. Besides haiku, visual ku, asemic, atomistic and contrapuntal poems, haiga, photoku, tanka, gembun, and haibun (up to 500 words for haibun) will be accepted for entry in the February kukai. Sequences and linked forms will not be accepted for inclusion in the kukai.

    If your poem has irregular formatting please include an image showing how you wish it to appear amd we will do our best to present it that way. All images (including haiga, photoku, visual ku) should be in JPG or PNG format with the wider dimension not exceeding 1024 px.

    No revisions will be considered after receipt of your submission has been acknowledged via email.

    Poems that have been previously displayed in any form (in print or digitally), on personal web sites or blogs, social media platforms, public video and/or photo sites, public forums, are not eligible for kukai participation. Any work that can be found via a web search will be excluded. Poems submitted must be the original work of the submitting poet. In the interests of fair play, we also request that you do not submit any poems that have been workshopped in any manner or seen by any other person who may be entering the kukai.

    Eligibility to submit a poem to the monthly kukai is open to everyone except the kukai organiser for the month. The organiser will collect the submitted entries, ensure submissions meet kukai criteria, assemble them for all participants to vote on, and keep the identity of authors anonymous until the voting is completed.

    The deadline for submissions will be noon Pacific Standard Time on Saturday the 15th of February.

    YOUR KUKAI ENTRIES MUST REMAIN ANONYMOUS until the results are posted.
    • Submission deadline -- Noon, PST, Saturday, February 15th.
    • Voting deadline -- Noon, PST, Saturday, February 22nd.
    • Results will be posted by Friday, February 29th.


    "Beauty captivates the flesh in order to obtain permission to pass right to the soul."
    "Among other unions of contraries found in beauty there is that of the instantaneous and the eternal."
    "The beautiful is that which we desire without wishing to eat it. We desire that it should be."
    ~ Simone Weil (Gravity and Grace)

    "It is a common experience—and well established experimentally—that music can engage us emotionally in a compelling manner. The mechanisms underlying these experiences are receiving increasing scrutiny. However, the extent to which other domains of aesthetic experience can similarly elicit strong emotions is unknown. Using psychophysiology, neuroimaging and behavioral responses, we show that [...] poetry can act as a powerful stimulus for eliciting peak emotional responses, including chills and objectively measurable goosebumps that engage the primary reward circuitry. Importantly, while these responses to poetry are largely analogous to those found for music, their neural underpinnings show important differences, specifically with regard to the crucial role of the nucleus accumbens. We also go beyond replicating previous music-related studies by showing that peak aesthetic pleasure can co-occur with physiological markers of negative affect. Finally, the distribution of chills across the trajectory of poems provides insight into compositional principles of poetry."
    ~ (Abstract from The emotional power of poetry: neural circuitry, psychophysiology and compositional principles by Eugen Wassiliwizky, Stefan Koelsch, Valentin Wagner, Thomas Jacobsen, and Winfried Menninghaus)

    A peak experience of the beautiful manifests itself in the welling-up of a tear from our eyes and our body breaking into goosebumps. Being caught up in Gregorian Chant, viewing a vast landsape, reading a poem, observing an infant hesitantly returning a smile, can overcome us with such physical manifestations of aesthetic raptness. We quieten down in something akin to la petite mort. In fact, Roland Barthes spoke of la petite mort as the chief objective of reading literature, the feeling one should get when experiencing any great literature.

    As Arthur Koestler writes in The Act of Creation -

    "To be 'overwhelmed' by love, wonder, devotion, 'enraptured' by a smile, 'entranced' by beauty -- each verb expresses a passive state, a surrender; the surplus of emotion cannot be worked off in action -- it can be consummated only in internal, visceral and glandular, processes. The purely self-transcending emotions do not tend towards action, but towards quiescence, tranquillity, and catharsis. Respiration and pulse-rate are slowed down, muscle-tone is lowered; 'entrancement' is a step towards the trance-like states induced by the contemplative techniques of Eastern mysticism and by certain drugs. The experience of 'the blending of the finite with the infinite' can become so intense that it evokes Faust's prayer: "O Augenblick verweile -- let this moment last for eternity, let me die." But there is nothing morbid in this; it is a yearning for an even more complete communion, the ultimate catharsis or samadhi. Awareness becomes de-personalized and expands into 'the oceanic feeling of limitless extension and oneness with the universe'."

    Without using the words beauty or beautiful, kukai entries should represent each poets' expression of an experience of the beautiful making the entry an evocation of the beautiful in its own right (write). What does the experience of the beautiful feel like for you?