Red piano & others

I made the post below with the picture of Michael Parekowhai’s red piano and woke up this morning and remembered this haiku:

ants out of a hole —
when did I stop playing
the red toy piano?

- Fay Aoyagi, from In Borrowed Shoes (Blue Willow Press, San Francisco) 2006.

Fay’s haiku are always interesting as she ploughs a course different to most with her work. Read her blog, Blue Willow World, where she daily translates a haiku from Japanese into English.

And then this one … (red in her father’s face perhaps)

piano practice
in the room above me
my father shouting

- Roberta Beary, from The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, UK, 2007)

And because it seems right to have haiku in threes, here’s another.

rain at last!
I ask the piano salesman
to riff a little Bach

- Carolyn Hall, The Heron’s Nest XVI: 2 (2014)

It was my pleasure to meet each of these talented poets in Long Beach last year.

Haiku reading

Advance notice of me reading some haiku – Tauranga Art Gallery, Thursday August 21, doors open 5.30pm for a 6pm start. I have baggsed the first spot after the interval as most of the others (5) will be reading longer poems and I wanted to give my little ones room to breathe.

The event has been organised by the gallery to celebrate the “Black Rainbow” exhibition, which features some of Ralph Hotere‘s black paintings, as well as Michael Parekowhai‘s in-cred-ib-le red piano.

Black Painting XV by Ralph Hotere. Image: Courtesy of Te Papa.

The painting features the words “malady” and “melody” taken from a poem by Bill Manhire. I thought a two-word painting behind me would lend power to my three-line haiku.

I wish I could find a better photo of the piano – He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river - but all the other images I can see are copyrighted. Read about the piano’s $1.5 million purchase price here. It’s nice that Te Papa is prepared to share.

The carving is exquisite (if I read the information correctly, designed by Parekowhai but not executed by him) and the lacquer finish makes it, well, sing!

Winners & a loser

Heartiest congratulations to my mate Vanessa Proctor, winner of this year’s NZPS International Haiku Contest with:

all that I am mountain spring

I’ve just finished reading the report by judge John O’Connor and right at the end he mentions my name followed by the words “one of our leading haiku poets”. Gulp. Thing is, I haven’t won a brass razoo in this year’s contest! No mention of any sort, except that fulsome praise. Bet you can you all see my red face from where you are.

So here’s an earlier one that has done well – winning the 2008 Kokako Haiku Contest. This haiku also appears in breath and is featured on the Katikati Haiku Pathway.

pausing also
at the sacred matai …
a wood pigeon

- Sandra Simpson

Matai, or black pine, is a conifer native to New Zealand. Read more here.

The wood pigeon or kereru is a beautiful bird, but is also a greedy and rather stupid bird that will eat until it can no longer fly which made it easy game for Maori and early settlers. Apparently it’s quite good eating, my grandmother (born about 1903) could recall having it in a pie when she was young. Some of the trees in our native forest rely on the kereru to distribute seeds so it plays a unique role in forest regeneration.

A kereru in a kowhai. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This link tells you a bit about the spot beside Lake Rotoiti that inspired the haiku.

Winter holiday

Raining again, and turning cold too after what has so far been a very mild winter. Still, we had time this morning to rake a mess of leaves off the garden and on to the lawn for Haiku Teenager to mow over and throw into the leaf mould bins. Haiku Husband pruned the hydrangeas down to the ground and I set to and weeded the new garden.

We’re all on holiday this week but decided on a “stay-cation” when we saw the weather forecasts – not nice anywhere in the North Island all week. Today’s treat was High Tea at a local, smart hotel. As we left Haiku Husband suggested I should recommend it only to people I didn’t like! So, as nobody here qualifies for that appellation, I shall instead recommend High Tea at Chateau Tongariro and High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate near Hamilton, the former more traditional, the latter more innovative with its use of tea-flavoured food – and both delicious!

Here are some haiku to whisk us away to sunnier climes and warmer times …

all the umbrellas proceed
at the same pace

- Greg Piko (Australia), Modern Haiku 37:2, 2006


                                                                         afternoon breeze 
                                                                         the pace of paddle boats 
                                                                         in the park

- Ben Moeller-Gaa (US), The Heron’s Nest XV:3, 2013


green and black lizard
curled in a stone nostril:
summer in Rome

- Sandra Simpson, winterSPIN, 1995


reef sharks
the black eye
of the hibiscus

- Sandra Simpson, Simply Haiku 4:4, 2006


And a senryu to end on …

After pushing the lawnmower at noontime, the simple taste of water is satisfying

- Anon, from Gardeners’ Pioneer Story (Southern California Gardeners Federation, 2007)

The book’s editor, Sankyaku (Sunny) Seki, spoke about senryu at last year’s Haiku North America conference in Long Beach, California. The book is about the senryu of the Japanese gardeners who at one time dominated as domestic gardeners in Los Angeles and what the poems reveal about their lives through the 20th century from 1907. It was originally published (in Japanese) in Rafu Shimpo, a Japanese-language newspaper in Los Angeles. No author names are attached to the senryu, and all are presented as single lines.

Here is another article about the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation which had thousands of Japanese members when it started.

Soaping fabulously 2

Here’s part 2 of my Year of Soaping Fabulously … read the earlier review here.

Ginger & Lime Luxury Soap is billed as “naturally European and “savon de luxe” on the cellophane wrapper – made in Portugal with the company based in England (the eccentric-sounding Chew Magna which may, or may not, be near Chew Bacca!). The website listed on the wrapper has been “parked” (ie, it no longer works, but the above link will take you to some information).

I bought this from a Life Pharmacy, attracted by the light but invigorating scent that was apparent through the wrapper and knowing that Haiku Husband loooves ginger so figured it would at least appeal to him (I’m not such a fan of the root spice).

But I fell in love with it as soon as I used it. The soap retained its delightfully zingy scent almost to the end and was a pleasure to use – although as always with larger bars my little hands have problems holding on to start with. The bar was sudsy without feeling like it was leaving a film on my skin and despite having a long list of ingredients, only a few are unpronounceable so maybe the “natural” appellation isn’t too far off. It contains ginger (extract and oil), lime (extract and oil) and extracts of lemon, orange, mandarin, plus poppy seeds, the last being well distributed right through the bar for a bit of gentle exfoliation.
Cost: $12.99 for 230g. Rating: 5 stars.

In the interests of sourcing my soaps far and wide for this survey, the next bar came from The Cargo Shed in Dive Crescent, Tauranga, a weekend arts and crafts market through the winter (more days in summer). I am assuming that the soap is made in the Tauranga area as the market is for locally-produced goods but there is no address on the label, apart from the name “Naturally Native Bath & Body Treats”.

Orange, Petitgrain & Calendula Cold Process Soap is, the label says, hand-made in New Zealand and uses no palm oil or animal products. The scent lasted well and small pieces of peel emerged on a regular basis (although peel isn’t listed on the label, only essential oils). The ridging on the top of the bar gave a kind of pleasant scrubbing effect. Again, it felt soapy without being filmy.

Petitgrain, in case you’re wondering (I was), is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of the bitter orange (Citrus aurantium). This plant is also known as the Seville orange, where the marmalade comes from. When I was much younger and in Seville I couldn’t work out why all the oranges were left on the street trees. So I pulled one down and tried a piece. Instantly, there was no saliva in my mouth and my face felt like was turning into a prune! Yep, it was bitter.
Cost: $6 for 110-130g. Rating 4 stars.

my mother’s breasts
we both giggle

- Joanna Preston, from the haibun “Shoulder Reconstruction”, winterSpin, 2000.

Read Joanna’s blog here, and more of her haiku here.

Haiku to suit the weather

                                    night birth a lamb shakes fluids into the sleet

- Pamela Brown, Haiku Presence Award 2009


on the axe-head
           the smell
out of kindling

- Geoffrey Daniel, Haiku Ancient & Modern (MQ Publications, 2002)


two-quilt night –
creak of the firebox
as we settle

- Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest VII: 3 (2005)


along with wind and mud and whatever that means if anything

- Marlene Mountain, Haiku 21 (Modern Haiku Press, 2011)