Peace

Photo: Sandra Simpson

underneath the hammer
of the peace bell –
rutherford’s atom

– Sandra Simpson, Kokako 24 (April 2016)

We were in the Peace Park in Hiroshima when our guide Nobu asked if anyone would like to ring the Peace Bell. About six of us went up, various ages and from various backgrounds (including first-generation migrants). We made the bell ring and I daresay we all sent thoughts about peace out into the world with the sound.

Ernest Rutherford. Photo: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress), via Wikipedia

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) was born in New Zealand but did most of his great scientific work in Britain. He is best remembered for “splitting the atom” in 1917, although had already won a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1908. His face appears on our $100 note.

Hiroshima –
the museum
full of shadows

– Sandra Simpson, Honourable Mention,
Jane Reichhold International Haiku Prize, 2016

Someone was waiting for the bank to open, sitting or standing on the steps. At 8.15am on August 6, 1945 an atomic bomb was detonated 600m above the ground in Hiroshima and the person simply vanished, leaving only a ‘shadow’ on the stone steps – the steps are now on display in the Peace Memorial Museum.

We don’t know if that person was a man or a woman, we don’t know their age and we don’t know their name.

Swans in winter

using the headlines
to practise origami –
swans in Fukushima

– Sandra Simpson, NOON 11 (March 2016), Japan

Haiku Husband noticed the “goodie box” headline in The Japan News delivered to our hotel room in Hiroshima on November 20, 2015. Swans herald winter, it said. “Swans have been spotted in Lake Inawashiro in Fukushima Prefecture, marking the arrival of winter. A conservation group representative says they arrived a week earlier than usual.” Read the full story here. It ends by saying there would be about 3000 swans at the lake by the end of February.

Bewick’s swan. Photo: Dick Daniels, Wikimedia Commons

On October 12, 2015 the Gloucester Citizen newspaper in the UK reckoned the early arrival of swans from Siberia foretold a bitter winter, saying the Bewick’s swan (Cygnus bewickii) sets off with the raw Arctic cold hot on its tail – the first swan arrived 25 days earlier than in 2014. Read that story here.

a moment before sunrise –
     ice singing
            beneath the swans’ feet

–  Martin Lucas (UK), winner of the Katikati Haiku Contest, 2010

a full moon
resting on hoar-frost meadows
tundra swans

– Jane Reichhold (US), from her AHA website

I’m slowly reading Basho: The Complete Haiku translated and edited by Jane Reichhold but the index of haiku content shows nothing for swans! Read more about the book here.

mute swan
at the base of its neck
a tracking device

– Kathleen O’Toole (US), Honourable Mention, Turtle Light Press Contest 2010

A mute swan in flight. Photo: Pjt56, Wikimedia Commons

To complete this sampling of swan haiku I consulted Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku (Snapshot Press, 2008) edited by John Barlow and Matthew Paul.

snow light …
meltwater falls
from a swan’s bill

– John Barlow

This is the other excellent swan haiku in the book, which I couldn’t resist, despite being in the ‘wrong’ season. Both haiku are about mute swans (Cygnus olor).

summer clouds –
two swans passing
beat for beat

– John Crook

incoming tide

Catherine Mair with her new collection. Photo: Sandra Simpson

I’m very pleased to announce that Catherine Mair, founder of the Katikati Haiku Pathway, has published her first volume of collected works – haiku, tanka and haibun – with the title incoming tide.

Catherine, who was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2008 for her services to poetry and the community, was also the founding editor of winterSPIN when it began publishing the Japanese forms/ short poetry, a publication that evolved into Kokako, New Zealand’s only journal dedicated to haiku, tanka, etc.

indian summer
sea fills the slack
in her old togs

– Catherine Mair

incoming tide is 75 pages and sells for $25 (including P&P within New Zealand) – send ordering information and cheques to Catherine at PO Box 62, Katikati 3166.

People outside New Zealand who wish to purchase a copy should email Catherine to inquire about rates. The book, which shows Catherine and her siblings as children on the front cover, has been handsomely produced by Kale Print in Tauranga. ISBN 978-0-473-35061-1.

while he sleeps
in another room
for some reason
I want to
write again

– Catherine Mair

Disclaimer: I have been involved with the production of this book so don’t feel able to review it. My general view that it’s a worthwhile collection from someone who has been writing haiku for almost 40 years.

Recent publications

The quarterly issues of A Hundred Gourds and The Heron’s Nest are out, with the news that AHG is to cease publication after its June issue which will mark 5 years. Sad news as from its inception A Hundred Gourds has been a benchmark publication, not an easy thing to achieve. But editors have lives too and running a large publication, whether online or in print, demands a time commitment that not everyone is willing to give. In other words, they’ve earned a lie down and a cuppa!

deep in the fjord I no longer

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 5.2

Managing editor Lorin Ford assures readers and contributors that the AHG archives will remain available once publication ends, which is excellent.

half my life gone the violence of mating butterflies 

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 18.1

I don’t think I’m writing more one-liners than usual so the appearance of two at the same time is just a coincidence. But to keep the vibe going …

Leaving the Red Zone is an anthology of poetry written after and about the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and was launched on February 29, a week after the fifth anniversary of the deadly quake that shattered lives and the city of Christchurch. The cover image is of one of the footbridges across the Avon river, buckled by the second quake.

Edited by James Norcliffe and Joanna Preston, the book has been published by Clerestory Press. The book is large format (172mm x 245 mm) softcover, 180 pages, with the work of 87 contributors from across New Zealand, with a few offshore as well. You can read some snippets of poems on Helen Lowe’s blog. Or you can hear the editors talking to Radio NZ’s Wallace Chapman (14:52).

getting in everywhere the dust of everything

– Sandra Simpson, Leaving the Red Zone (2016)

I was so pleased the editors accepted this one, which was first published in a fine line, the magazine of the NZ Poetry Society in March 2012. The late John O’Connor reckoned it was one of the best poems about the earthquakes that he’d read!

In the broadcast linked to above Joanna says that she and James were searching for ‘poetic truth’ and that some quite good poets with poems that were ‘perfectly okay’ had been left out because there was no ‘little electrical spark to make you sit up’.

To purchase a copy, go here to find an order form, bank transfer details and the publisher’s contact details. The book costs $39.95 with free delivery within New Zealand. All profits go to the Mayor’s Earthquake Relief Fund.

News & books

Here we are in the middle of February already and I’m making only my second post for the year. Truth be told, a) it’s been so hot that sitting at a computer has held little attraction and b) I’ve been proof-reading two books which has left me little brain space for thinking about haiku.

The annual Red Moon anthology – a collection of English-language haiku, haibun, sequences and essays published in the previous calendar year – was first off the rank. As you may know, I am also one of the anthology editors (one of 11) so throughout the year am nominating poems and voting for nominations (done blind).

We have a couple of voting rosters at the end of the year to make sure we catch as many poems as possible in the net. The journals that publish on December 1 are okay, but some publish later in the month and if they’re print-only it means hoping they’ll arrive in the letterbox before we cut off.

This year’s volume (for 2015 haiku) is galaxy of dust, as always a terrific collection – and the 20th anniversary publication! Included are 147 poems (haiku and senryu), 16 linked forms (haibun, renku, rengay and sequences), and 4 critical pieces on the reading, writing and study of the genre. Click on the link for ordering information.

Kiwi poets featured in galaxy of dust are Marion Moxham, Elaine Riddell, Sandra Simpson and Barbara Strang; and from Australia Nathalie Buckland, Jo McInerney, Ron Moss, Vanessa Proctor and Jennifer Sutherland. David Terelinck and Hazel Hall (Australia) are two-thirds of a sequence poem, and Els van Leeuwen (Australia) has a haibun included. As the South Pacific editor, I’m always pleased to see a good number of poets from Australasia make it through the voting process.

snowflake
my breath
takes it away

– Marion Moxham (from scattered feathers, the 2015 NZ Poetry Society anthology)

stacking a dry stone wall the curve of tomorrow

– Ron C Moss (from Presence 52)

The volume takes its name from this excellent haiku by James Chessing of California in the US (from The Heron’s Nest 17.2):

it begins …
a galaxy of dust motes
in the projector’s beam

The other book, which took much more time, is the second edition of Juxtapositions, a somewhat scholarly look at haiku and its related genres from The Haiku Foundation – my ‘Snapshots: Haiku and the Great War’ article will be appearing in it! The first edition came out last year (go here to read it) and will shortly be available as print on demand, while volume 2.1 is due out on the THF website shortly.

As well, I’ve had a look over and commented on a very useful piece of work by Katherine Raine on behalf of the NZ Poetry Society, more about that once it’s available.

Yesterday, salvation arrived in the form of a parcel tied up with string – I haven’t had one of those for a long time. It was an anthology of haiku, a gift, from a poet’s widow and something I shall treasure. Already, I’m beginning to sketch a few lines …

Lost in translation

I thought I’d share with you my first dream of the year – a tradition in Japan. But although I knew I had been dreaming on the night of December 31, I couldn’t remember what on earth it was when I woke! So I’ve been scratching my head ever since, trying to come up with something momentous, portentous or just plain interesting for my first post of 2016 …

Why do we treat one day (January 1) as being different from the day before or the day after? As being a day of significance? For those of us in the southern hemisphere the undercurrents of the pagan celebration to mark ‘the light coming back’ are lost in translation – we’re in the middle of summer.

This year I have promised myself, quietly and out loud, to focus more on my writing. What I have learned from the past couple of years is that I need a certain amount of calm in my life to do that and at times in 2015 I couldn’t write a single decent line, let alone a complete haiku.

To help re-immerse me in the world of haiku, I bought two books before Christmas – A Vast Sky, an anthology of contemporary world haiku (all published between 2000 and 2014), edited by Bruce Ross, Koko Kato, Dietmar Tauchner and Patricia Prime; and John Carley’s Renku Reckoner, the distillation of his writing and thinking on this ancient verse form.

I’m dipping in and out of them both so don’t have much to report yet, except that as I already know several of Carley’s essays, I know he is a delight to read. A Vast Sky includes a good selection from Japan, so that’s interesting, while the other ‘interesting’ thing is that the editors have more haiku included – 3 each – than most other writers. Only Richard von Sturmer of New Zealand is accorded equal status. Most poets are represented by a single haiku, while a few have 2. There is no information in the General Introduction by Bruce Ross as to how the selections were made.

The anthology is ambitious in scope but, sadly, there is no mention of who has translated the various haiku from their original languages (presumably Kato for the Japanese section, but only one translator is acknowledged for one haiku in the Europe section). So let me give my personal thanks to the translators for allowing me to read haiku from such diverse sources.

tussen regenschermen
wandelt een natte hoed
eenzam door de straat

between umbrellas
a wet hat walks the street
all by itself

– Willy Cuvelier, Belgium

itanoma ni cho no utsureru gokusho kana

on the wooden floor
a butterfly reflected –
so terribly hot

– Masako Yamanishi, Japan

vintersolverv
tyngden
av gamle argumenter

winter solstice
the weight
of old arguments

– O. G. Aksnes, Norway

year’s end
her skipping rope
too short

– Maria Steyn, South Africa

Happy Haiku Christmas

Merry Christmas – or happy holidays – to my readers near and far. I hope you find some happiness in this season of goodwill and festive cheer. A stranger gave me a ‘Merry Christmas’ this morning as we passed one another crossing the road. Easy to do but worth a lot.

A summer-theme Christmas star. Photo: Sandra Simpson

We attended a family funeral this week and arrived early enough that we had to wait at for a group of children to finish practising their Christmas songs ready for a performance. It was an odd juxtaposition.

Sonia’s loss is felt keenly by all her extended family, she was a very warm and loving person, but in reality we had started grieving her some time ago as continuing strokes steadily eroded her physical capabilities until she was unable to speak, write or move.

terminally ill –
and her nails beautiful
by the wooden heater

– Sanro (Dokotsu Iida, 1885-1962), from haiku mind

When I was cleaning out a room at my mother’s I found a dance card from a debutant’s ball of about 1955. My father, who was Sonia’s cousin, had accompanied her and his best friend was there too with his name also on the card. I brought it back and gave it to Sonia who was thrilled to see it after all this time. (My mother was apparently a natural archivist as she’d stored away all sorts of interesting bits of paper.)

heat lightning –
Christmas beetles
spangle the fly screen

– Lorin Ford, The Heron’s Nest 13.1 (2014)

There are about 35 species of glossy Christmas beetles (Anoplognathus genus) in Australia, so named because the adults emerge close to Christmas period. They are attracted to bright lights. Read more here.

afternoon heat
there is nothing to do
and I’m doing it

– Michael Ketchek, from a vast sky anthology (2015)

Christmas week weather has been hot, hot, hot with Victoria’s heatwave blowing over to New Zealand, although that is starting to ease back a little. No rain in sight though and with the strong winds that have come with the heat the ground is drying out fast.

December already –
        the clock
has scissors for hands

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 2.1 (2012)

This time last year I spent an early morning at A&E (hospital emergency department) in great pain wondering what on earth was wrong with me. My GP had been unable, at that stage, to pinpoint what was causing the repeated stomach pain I’d been having since about August … turned out to be a kidney stone … and my early morning dash to the hospital was when I passed it. Still had to have a couple more tests to rule out things as we had no proof it was a kidney stone. But all has been quiet on the western front since.

Enjoy your season of giving, stay safe and see you back here next year!