I am travelling by train to Delhi. I’m taking my tanpura, an instrument used in classical music, for a concert in Delhi. One elderly woman asks “Do you sing Sant Kabir’s bhajans?” I nod my head. She asks “Do you know Jhini jhini bini chadariya? Isn’t the meaning profound?”
I explain to her that I’m Tamizh and Hindi is not my mother tongue, so the nuances in Kabir’s bhajans are...I shrug my shoulders and my voice trails off.
“No problem,” she says, “not every weaver can make a good chadar. Nowadays everything is done by machines. Kabir was a 15th-century mystic poet and saint who was also a weaver by profession. He understood that the threads should be loose and not too tight—there should be space between the threads. Only that will allow the give and take that happens in life.”
a love song
“In Jhini jhini, Kabir compares the creator to a weaver.... He weaves a fine tapestry, free of impurities. Using veins and breath as his threads, he weaves using all five elements: ether, wind, fire, water, and earth. It takes him ten months. This tapestry is worn by gods, saints, and human beings alike, but they all invariably defile it. His humble devotee Kabir has worn it with care and returns it unblemished as it was given.”
after a while
i touch ground
is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, a mentor, an editor and anthologist, an artist, and a renowned pioneer in the field of haikai literature in India. She is the Founder/Director of Triveni Haikai India, the Founder/Managing Editor of haikuKATHA Journal, and haiku editor of Under the Bashō.
Her book of haiku and haibun Beyond the Horizon Beyond (Vishwakarma Publications, 2017) was shortlisted for the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize in 2019, and her book of tanka, tanka prose, and tanka doha The Forest I Know (HarperCollins India, 2021) was launched at the Jaipur Literary Festival on 13 March 2022. She co-edited Wishbone Moon: A Women’s International Anthology with Roberta Beary and Allen Crompton (Jacar Press, 2021). Kala’s ebook one-line twos in collaboration with Marlene Mountain was published by Bones Journal in 2015.
With 17 years of teaching, Kala has been instrumental in bringing Indian school kids, undergraduates, and adults to haiku and Japanese short-form poetry. She is the author of haiku, an introduction for children (Katha Books, 2010; reprint, 2017). She has organised eight haikai conferences in India since 2006. A speaker at many international haiku conferences, Kala conceptualised the three-month intensive Triveni Gurukulam Mentorship Program 2021, and the Virtual Utsav on “Haiku for Healing” in June 2021. She received the WE Trailblazer Poet Teacher Award 2020, from Women Empowered-India.
Kala was the winner of the Genjuan International Haibun Contest, 2012: An (Cottage) Prize for her haibun “The Blue Jacaranda,” and her haibun “On Slippery Ground” was nominated by Modern Haiku (51.3) for a Pushcart Prize. In 2021, she was guest haibun editor of Narrow Road (October), co-judged the haibun contest conducted by the Haiku Poets of Northern California, and served as the sole final judge of the International Book Contest for Women 2021 for haiku, haibun, and tanka conducted by Sable Books, USA.
⚡ Kala Ramesh: WE Trailblazer Poet Teacher Award 2020, featured in Yugen Quest Review, journal of the WE [Women Empowered] literary community
⚡ New to Haiku: Advice for Beginners - Kala Ramesh, Part 1, interview by Julie Bloss Kelsey at The Haiku Foundation (10 January 2021)
⚡ New to Haiku: Advice for Beginners - Kala Ramesh, Part 2, interview by Julie Bloss Kelsey at The Haiku Foundation (17 January 2021)
⚡ New to Haiku: Advice for Beginners - Kala Ramesh, Part 3, interview by Julie Bloss Kelsey at The Haiku Foundation (24 January 2021)
⚡ Kala Ramesh, haiku poet, interviewed by Mike Rehling, founding editor of Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu (16 April 2021)