National Poetry Day

August 26 is National Poetry Day in New Zealand – I’m not attending anything today or tonight so was excited to have a Poems in your Pocket booklet given to me by Linda at Books A Plenty when I popped in at lunchtime. It’s a photocopied page of 4 poems folded into a booklet (instructions in the middle) but I’ve had it in my pocket until a moment ago. This is the second stanza of the first poem I read when I opened it:

Jun

one of the most linguistically difficult things i did in japan
was to memorise how to say in japanese i am so sorry
to hear about your son jun dying and here is 3000 yen
for flowers for his grave

– Johanna Aitchison, from her book Miss Dust (Seraph Press, 2015)

Here are some haiku by New Zealanders you may not have met before, some poems for your pocket.

winter morning
the lame goose lagging a little
behind its gaggle

– Cyril Childs (1941-2012)

morning chill –
the dog curls
into a perfect circle

– Aalix Roake

summer heat
overripe plums
spill into a bowl

– Anne Curran

magnolia shade
cicadas
in both ears

– Tony Beyer

Random bookshelf haiku

I was so impressed by one set of haiku bookshelves I saw on my recent US journey that I decided to pull mine apart and start again … unfortunately, the pulling apart has happened and not much else!

So, just to spur me over into the books, I have decided to post some haiku chosen at random from random books in random piles.

my husband gone –
from the bluest of skies
spring snow falls

– Takeshita Shizunojo, 1887-1951
from Haiku Love, editor (and translator of this haiku) Alan Cummings (The British Museum, 2013)

The poet was born in a rural community in Kyushu and worked as a schoolteacher and, following her husband’s early death, a librarian. Her poetry, the book says, often drew upon images of life in impoverished rural Kyushu.

winter moon the church bell an octave below

– Lorin Ford
Presence haiku journal, number 55 (UK)

Lorin Ford lives in Melbourne, Australia, and was the haiku editor for the recently closed online journal, A Hundred Gourds.

separating itself
from a tangerine
the cabby’s voice

– Michael Fessler
Modern Haiku 45.2, but I met it in the Haiku 2015 anthology, edited by Lee Gurga & Scott Metz (Modern Haiku Press, 2015)

Spend yourself now!
Spring winds blowing
before cherries bloom.

– Noa, 1397-1471
from Haiku Before Haiku
translated by Steven D Carter (Columbia University Press, 2011)

Noa, the book says, was a Buddhist monk, painter, renga master and renga steward at Kitano shrine, curator for the Ashikaga shogunate, and of Sogi’s Seven Sages of Linked Verse.

frost moon
pairing his wool socks
from the dryer

– Carolyn Hall
from her collection Water Lines (Snapshot Press, 2006)

wild boars too
are blown along:
autumn windstorm

– Basho, 1644-1694
from Haiku Animals, editor Mavis Pilbream (The British Museum, 2010)
translated by DL Barnhill

Jane Reichhold 1937-2016

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Jane Reichhold – poet, editor, translator and much more besides.

Jane’s body was found on a beach near her home between Gualala and Point Arena on the northern California coast on July 28. Her husband, Werner, says she took her own life as symptoms of her fibromyalgia worsened. He has been quoted in a newspaper (not available online) as saying that she wished to depart this life at a time of her choosing and had written her own obituary 2 months ago.

jane reichhold

Jane Reichhold, photographed at her home on July 9, 2016. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read about my recent visit to Jane in Postcard from Gualala and read a well-written (apart from the misspelling of Lynx) 2015 profile of her from the Ukiah Daily Journal – she has done so much in her life that it’s difficult to understand just how much she has achieved in, for instance, haiku so needs must this is a personal appreciation.

Jane had worked with the Ukiah Haiku Festival for many years and a couple of years ago the festival renamed its international section the Jane Reichhold Prize. In the 2016 booklet of prizewinners, judges and committee members were each represented by a haiku.

romance
in a humdrum life
the orchid

– Jane Reichhold, 14th ukiaHaiku festival, 2016

Jane was also a popular and busy figure around the Gualala Arts Centre where she instigated a short haiku walk (see the Postcard for more) and, since 2006, had operated and moderated the online AHAForum where poets could meet and discuss their work. She and husband Werner established AHA Poetry in 1996 and although the site is still active, it is now an archive, last updated in 2014 when they decided to close their journal Lynx.

Read some of Jane’s haiku that she chose to demonstrate her thoughts on haiku principles. Read a set of Jane’s favourite haiku by other people with her commentary. In 2009 Jane spoke to the Commonwealth Club of California about haiku – watch the video here (1:03) – and she kindly allowed me to transcribe portions of the text and form it into an article for Haiku NewZ, Building an Excellent Birdcage. You can find several other articles by Jane in the Archived Articles section of Haiku NewZ (put ‘jane’ into the page search).

She was a generous poet who deliberately didn’t copyright any of her work so it could be shared freely. It was also her ambition to have haiku and mainstream poetry ’embrace one another’ and she was happy, she told me, to have mainstream poets write haiku ‘their way’. She didn’t want a situation such as in Japan where haiku poets and tanka poets don’t mix and, she said, where tanka poets look down on those who write haiku.

Jane made her lesson plans freely available as the Bare Bones School of Haiku, Bare Bones School of Renga and Wind Five-Folded School of Tanka.

I’ve been trying to write a memorial haiku since I heard the news of Jane’s death yesterday evening but don’t believe I have managed it. However, I did come up with something that is directly based on my meeting with her, so that will have to do for now. The first line is taken from one of Jane’s own poems in her 2013 A Dictionary of Haiku (second edition) which is a large collection of her work presented in sajiki form. I’ll add her poem to this when I find it again!

black ink painting of the moon –
she rests her chin
on his shoulder

– Sandra Simpson

Jane always signed her emails ‘blessings’, so that’s what I’ll leave you with too.

Katikati Haiku Contest

The biennial Katikati Haiku Contest is open for entries!

Thanks to the good people at Kings Seeds, there are cash prizes on offer – $NZ100 for first, $NZ50 for second and $NZ25 for third. Plus, the contest offers a book prize for the Best Local Haiku. The junior section (17 & under) is offering $50 for first, $25 for second and $10 for third. All proceeds go to the Katikati Haiku Pathway project.

I’m judging the senior contest – in case you’re wondering, the entries go elsewhere to be sorted and judging is done ‘blind’ – and Catherine Mair the junior section.

Here are the rules:

  • Poems should preferably be typewritten, otherwise clearly handwritten. Several poems on one sheet are fine.
  • Submit 2 copies of each haiku with 1 only including your name, address, phone number (NZ only), e-mail address, and for the junior section only, age.  Junior entrants should be 17 or under on October 31.
  • Haiku should not have been previously published (including on the web or broadcast).
  • Entry fees: Senior, within NZ: $5 for every 3 haiku or $2 for 1 haiku. Overseas: $US5 for every 3 haiku or $2 for 1. Email Margaret for how to enter using PayPal. In the event that winners are from overseas, cash prizes will be transferred via PayPal.
    Junior, within NZ: $1 for up to 2 haiku. Please do not decorate or illustrate entries. Schools are welcome to send bulk entries.
  • Any entry not accompanied by the correct entry fee will be disqualified. Entrants send cash at their own risk. Make cheques payable to: Katikati Haiku Pathway Committee. No cheques drawn on banks outside New Zealand will be accepted.
  • Entries in hand by October 31. Post to: Katikati Haiku Contest, PO Box 183, Katikati 3166, New Zealand. Results announced in November.

If you’re new to haiku or are a teacher wanting to learn more for the classroom there is the excellent Learning to Write Haiku booklet prepared by Katherine Raine for the NZ Poetry Society.

If you’d like to read more deeply and/or brush up your skills, I recommend Haiku Techniques by Jane Reichhold, Guidelines for Editing Haiku by Lee Gurga and the practical advice of How to Write Haiku by Jim Kacian. There are many more useful essays in  Archived Articles at Haiku NewZ.

No excuses, get out there and write!

Just published

Had Presence 55 (UK) waiting for me when I got home and the final edition of Paper Wasp (Australia) arrived soon after I got back.

Very pleased to have a haiku voted ‘best of issue’ for Number 54 by the readers of Presence, “a clear winner”, according to the editors!

stored in her phone the unborn child

– Sandra Simpson,  Presence 54

“The poem seems to play with ideas of electronic immortality but perhaps also offers satirical comment on the increasing involvement of phones in our lives.”

One of my three haiku in Presence 55 is:

summer rain the eel inside me stirs

I was pleased to be able to contribute to the final edition of Paper Wasp as many years ago – 1996 (2:4), the bookshelf reveals – Janice Bostok while guest editor encouraged me in my haiku ways. Other Kiwi names appearing in that 16-page edition included Catherine Mair, Patricia Prime, Ernest J Berry, the late Bernard Gadd and John Allison.

The final volume is only 20 pages but there are many more poems packed into it than the 1996 version. Paper Wasp founders were John Knight (1935-2012), Jacqui Murray and Ross Clark with Jan Bostok (1942-2011) and Katherine Samuelowicz joining the team later. “We kept each issue small, not only to be economical, but also because it embodied the pared down form within,” the editors write in their farewell.

“Our stable of haijin will find publication elsewhere. Other Australian journals of haiku will begin, and (sort of) thrive. As well as this handful of breath we call haiku.”

crabapple harvest –
the best neighbour tells me
he’s moving

– Sandra Simpson, Paper Wasp 20.2

And I’ve work in a new (for me) publication, the online senryu journal, Prune Juice (just be warned that it’s a massive file if you choose to download it).

dictator’s tomb –
rose petals stick
to the bottom of our feet

– Sandra Simpson

Postcard from San Francisco

Well, here it is folks, the final postcard from my North America trip.

Carolyn Hall (see Postcard from Santa Rosa, below) drove with us to San Francisco and was a great guide, pulling us off the highway for lunch at Book Passages (a glorious book store too) near San Rafael.

We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge – is there any better way to enter a city? – and I, for one, was as excited as a little kid (I may have been the only one in the car skipping about on the inside. Carolyn’s done it many times and the driver was, well, driving).

Then she tested our driver’s skill, and nerve, by sending him up one of those terraced streets that San Francisco is renowned for. Every block was either an uncontrolled intersection or lights – you want to be the leading car when you reach the intersection as that’s the only flat place to stop, and not 3 cars back on the steep slope! But we wouldn’t have swapped the experience for the world, and next day, when riding one of the famous cable cars, saw a street – or didn’t see a street – that seemed to disappear off the edge! Filbert Street has a 31.5% grade … Stephen von Worley has written about driving such streets and compiled a list of what he considers to be the 10 steepest.

summer solstice
the measuring tape reels back
into its case

– Carolyn Hall

Carolyn had more haiku fun in store for us with a group gathering at her apartment and then strolling round the corner to a great Thai restaurant.

sanfran

Dinner party, from left back: Keith Frentz, Carolyn Hall, Buck Hall, Sandra Simpson and Betty Arnold. From left front, Richard Goldberg, Sharon Pretti, Patricia Machmiller and Richard Bruns. Photo: The waiter

Patricia Machmiller is a well-known name in haiku and I was pleased to sit in on her session at Haiku North America in 2013. She began writing in 1975 with Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi, founders of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, and was the society’s president from 1978 to 1981, and is currently treasurer. Patricia is also a talented brush painter and has held exhibitions of her work. Her delightful sense of humour came to the fore during our meal and I was amazed to hear that she’s not long recovered from a broken neck, a dreadful injury that occurred when she was hit by a vehicle while out walking.

squash blossoms
the ribbon on her dress
unravelling 

– Patricia Machmiller,  winner of a 2016 THF Touchstone Award
published in Frogpond 38.2

Betty Arnold is editor of the Yuki Tekei’s magazine Geppo, as well as being a member of Haiku Poets of Northern California. She was introduced to haiku by Christopher Herold when he was still living in California and well remembers the serene atmosphere he created for his guests. A retired paediatrician, Betty also enjoys writing tanka but isn’t too bothered about getting her work published. She writes for her own pleasure.

welcome home surprise –
all along the driveway
forget-me-nots

– Betty Arnold

Sharon Pretti, who is a social worker in a care facility for adults, is relatively new to haiku but has already had poems appear in such august publications as Modern Haiku and Frogpond. Her partner, Richard, is a visual artist. See his website here.

in remission
acacia dust brushed
from the windshield

– Sharon Pretti, Second place in the 2015 Porad Haiku Award

Richard Bruns had told me the day before that although he didn’t write much haiku, he was nonetheless interested in it and liked hanging out with haiku folk! His write-up of our visit revealed a little more … he has in fact been interested in haiku since the 1960s and been writing poetry of all sorts off an on ever since! Joining HPNC after he retired in 2012 “forced a complete reassessment of my own work in the face of 21st century haiku standards”. Richard is attempting to meet that challenge and has had some success and is also enjoying writing science fiction poetry.

Thank you to everyone in these postcards who helped make my visit to the US so rewarding. It was a pleasure to spend time with you all!

Postcard from Santa Rosa

Our final haiku connection in our journey was made through Carolyn Hall who was the most fantastic hostess, putting us up in both Santa Rosa (in the Sonoma Valley) and in San Francisco.

Carolyn is an accomplished haiku poet and the winner of many awards. Among her many achievements are editor of Acorn (2008-2012), winning the HPNC Haiku Contest in 2011, winning a Snapshot Press Book Award (resulting in Water Lines published in 2006, which won a Haiku Society of America Book Award), winning The Heron’s Nest Readers’ Choice Poem of the Year in 2015 (and being first runner-up to the Poet of the Year), THN Poet of the Year in 2011, THN Poem of the Year in 2007, while her second book, How to Paint the Finch’s Song, won a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award in 2011. Read a review of that book here.

her death date
I pause the river
in my cupped hands

— Carolyn Hall, The Heron’s Nest Poem of the Year 2015

Carolyn was introduced to haiku about 17 years ago by a friend who was at the time writing haiku himself. “I bought everything I could find with ‘haiku’ in the title. I showed [her friend] my first haiku … I don’t know why he saw any hope in me.”

Carolyn then met Laura Bell and almost immediately started getting her work published “which got me really excited”. Other early support came from Jim Kacian and Christopher Herold.

Haiku is “an addiction I have no desire to break”, she says, and although fears she’s writing fewer haiku as time passes, Carolyn is contemplating a fourth collection.

santarosa2

Carolyn Hall and her equally sociable husband, Buck. Photo: Sandra Simpson

In Santa Rosa Carolyn invited members of Haiku Poets of Northern California and Yuki Tekei haiku groups to join us poolside for the afternoon and dinner, and we had a delightful time meeting Richard Bruns, Garry Gay, Patrick Gallagher and his friend Kathleen Wall, and Michael Sheffield. Some lived nearby while Patrick and Kathleen had made a 3-and-a-half-hour drive to be with us! Yuki Tekei, by the way, prefers haiku written in 5-7-5 with a kigo.

Many haiku poets in the area belong to both haiku groups as the meetings rarely clash – Yuki Tekei meets monthly and HPNC only four times a year. Patrick is president of Yuki Tekei, while Garry, who was an HPNC founder and its first president, is again leading the organisation with Carolyn as membership secretary. Garry is also a founding (and still active) director of Haiku North America.

patrick

Patrick Gallagher. Photo: Sandra Simpson

garry

Garry Gay (left) and occasional haiku writer Keith Frentz. Photo: Sandra Simpson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garry, a professional photographer, began writing haiku in the 1970s after meeting Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North! “I had been writing longer poetry,” he says, “but the poems kept getting shorter and shorter until they were only 4 lines. I didn’t know what haiku was but I gobbled up everything I could find. HPNC was founded because I was looking for people like me.”

Garry is also the inventor of the rengay form of linked verse, saying that he found the ‘rules’ of renku too restrictive so came up with his own form!

end of the world
I blow apart
a dandelion

— Garry Gay, winner of the 2013 Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award

Patrick, on the other hand, was driving his wife Claire (1941-2009) to meetings in San Francisco when he was invited in … and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, his new friend Kathleen is showing a lively interest in haiku (and has already written some) so watch this space!

first meeting you
a flight of balloons
above the summer river

— Patrick Gallagher

Michael, who is apparently something of a hula dancer among many other interests, is a featured guest at this year’s HPNC Two Autumns reading on August 28. “I want to get haiku out to the masses,” he says.

summer’s end
next year’s blossom
in the daylily root

— Michael Sheffield

santarosa

From left, Garry Gay, Carolyn Hall, Richard Bruns, Michael Sheffield and Patrick Gallagher. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Richard, who has also been a professional photographer, wrote up our visit as a photo journal for those who attended the dinners, a kindness that was much appreciated.