VALLEYS KIDS CHRISTMAS NEWSLETTER
THE HAIKU CHALLENGE
Watching my tan fade
She tells me Christmas is coming
I turn white overnight.
Summer in the Valleys Kids office in Penygraig and a dreamy conundrum hangs languidly in the air. Shall we ask Larry to pen the Christmas newsletter, or shall we ask a turkey to write a recipe for chestnut stuffing? Speaking as someone who finds Christmas Eve far too early for buying presents, I think the denizens of Valleys Kids would have found the turkey far more acquiescent. But Valleys Kids are a persuasive organistion particularly when their enforcer on this occasion also happens to be my wife, which is why I find myself outside Dinas flats on a balmy September evening armed with a flip chart and a sprig of holly.
To begin at the beginning. That was the problem; and the middle bit, acres of print full of newsworthy information and festive cheer. What did I know about Valleys Kids and I’m about as festive as a trappist monk. Why couldn’t I begin at the end. Save a lot of time and a whole bunch of paper. It didn’t have to be a Christmas newsletter, it could be a Christmas sentence, or a phrase, or even better a Christmas word; a slip of paper that could double up as bookmark. As Allen Ginsberg the beat poet said, ‘maximum communication, minimum words.’, the definition of the haiku the abbreviated Japanese poem. And in a flash of epiphany I had it, stuff the newsletter, I’d write a Christmas haiku.
High Command at Penygraig were never going to buy that, a newsletter written as a three line poem on the back of a bookmark. They trusted me, they’d put their faith in me as a writer of stature, integrity and commitment. The fools; how were they to know my work to date was a delicate blend of shortcuts, deception and outright plagiarism. And I didn’t intend to change tack now. So if there were lots of haiku, in fact if I managed to cajole everyone in Valleys Kids to write one, it would preclude me from doing a scrap of work myself. Just stroll up to some workshop, introduce myself as some neo-japanese valley wordsmith and before you could say haiku I’d have an epic sprawl of pithy poetry like some modern mabinogion. Perfect. It was like believing in Santa all over again. And as I unhitched my sleigh and prepared myself for a jingle bell journey around the valleys I swear I could hear a familiar chuckle behind my shoulder. Ho Ho Ho.