On the radio

Won myself a chat with the delightful Jesse Mulligan this week, on his Summer Days slot on RNZ National. At my end the interview flew by and I thought it must have been about 5 minutes long – when I listened to it on podcast, turned out to be 10 minutes!

The basis of the interview was the Katikati Haiku Pathway but Jesse asked lots of questions about haiku in general and even started the interview with a haiku about the pathway that he’d written. Unfortunately, I wasn’t patched in and didn’t hear it which is why I don’t comment on it, not even to acknowledge his effort, shame.

Listen to the interview here.

Had some fun feedback too … an email this morning from Margaret Beverland, chairwoman of the Haiku Pathway Committee, who was contacted by a woman from Christchurch – and former resident of Katikati – who heard the interview. She’s off to Japan with 16 others on a Friendship Force International trip and they have decided to have a go at writing haiku before they leave. Excellent.

New Haiku Pathway poem: Part 2

It’s a pleasure to be able to announce the completion of the 45th poem on the Katikati Haiku Pathway – hopefully plenty of holiday visitors have already discovered this delightful haiku, especially with the first of the summer’s concerts having taken place.

Photo: Sandra Simpson

The poem is by Ron C. Moss of Tasmania and the plaque adorns a boulder behind the year-old stage built by the Twilight Concert Committee – the committee not only made a cash donation to the pathway project after last year’s summer concerts but also provided the rock for the poem and have planted around the stage.

outdoor concert
the toddler asleep
kicking stars

– Ron C. Moss

As with the other boulder completed in this 2-haiku project, the metal plaque inscribed with the poem has been made by Stainless Downunder, a Katikati company, and fitted into the rock by fourth-generation stone mason Paul Gautron who has inscribed many of the pathway’s poem boulders.

Ron hails from Tasmania in Australia (with Kiwi connections in his immediate family) and is a talented – and award-winning – poet, photographer and artist. See some of his artwork here. Ron’s first book-length collection of haiku, The Bone Carver, was published by Snapshot Press (UK) in 2014.

He works as a reprographic services technician at the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, as well as being a volunteer firefighter. Ron was awarded the Tasmania Fire Service Volunteer Medal (for diligent service) in 2010 and the National Medal in 2013.

Honey harvest

The beekeeper arrived, unannounced on December 19, and harvested honey for us, leaving it in a big bucket for us to dispense into jars which Haiku Son and I duly did, Haiku Husband being away for a couple of days (he’d done it by himself last year).

As a two-person operation it all went quite smoothly – he operated the dispensing nozzle while I held the jars underneath and called ‘stop’. We finished with a couple of empty jars to spare, whew, and not too much sticky mess to clean up.

sunlit jar
the beekeeper’s gift
on the doorstep

– Carmen Sterba
The Heron’s Nest 3:6 (2001)

Photo: Sandra Simpson

on the honey
a slight scent of the forest — 
lengthening daylight

– Tsugawa Eriko, tr Kato Koko
A Vast Sky: An anthology of contemporary world haiku (Tancho Press, 2015)

I spent a couple of days tasting they honey, trying to work out what it tasted of, if anything in particular, but no such luck. A bit of a fizz on the tongue, though, that’s about the best specific I can do.

Oh, yes, 10kg, same as last year!

honey bee –
at last the budding weeds
have meaning

– Ben Moeller-Gaa
Mystic Illuminations 3 (2016)

The bees are smoked to quieten them before the comb is removed. Photo: Sandra Simpson

on hold with the help desk a sound of bees swarming 

– Sandra Simpson
Presence 51 (2014)

end of a love
honey hardens
in the jar

– Polona Oblak
Notes from the Gean 3:4 (2012)

Botan shibe fukaku wakeizuru hachi no nagori kana

A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

– Matsuo Basho, tr Robert Hass
Basho’s haiku originally from Skeleton in the Fields (Nozarashi kiko)
a travel journal of 1684-5

Another translation is:

from deep within 
the peony pistils — withdrawing
regretfully the bee

Season of goodwill … & haiku

Merry Christmas to all those who read breath – it’s been a pleasure having you along  over the past year of haiku musings. And my very best wishes for a healthy and productive New Year.

Here are a few seasonal haiku to see us on our way to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and beyond!

Photo: Menchi, via Wikipedia.

christmas eve
in the taxi cab
a scent of pine

– Tom Painting
bottle rockets 12 (2006)

toll booth lit for Christmas —
from my hand to hers
warm change

– Michael Dylan Welch
Second place, Henderson Haiku Contest (HSA), 1995

birthcry!
          the stars
          are all in place

– Raymond Roseliep
from haiku mind by Patricia Donegan (Shambhala, 2008)

summer solstice –
the flock passes into darkness
one by one

– Sandra Simpson
A Hundred Gourds 3.4 (2014)

Christmas eve
in the courtyard below
a flutter of wings

– Pamela Miller Ness
The Heron’s Nest 3.5 (2001)

Christmas night
the lights on the house opposite
blink      blink blink         blink

– Sandra Simpson
Prune Juice 19, 2016

shaving foam
Santa in my mirror
waits for wishes

– Alexey Andreev
Presence 56 (2016)

New Haiku Pathway poem: Part 1

Last night’s Katikati Haiku Pathway Committee meeting began with a visit to a brand-new pathway poem, our 44th haiku. Our delight in the organic, yet sophisticated, look of the work is tempered by the fact that poet Jane Reichhold is not alive to have seen it completed.

We had corresponded by email over a period after requesting permission to use her haiku and know that she was honoured and excited to have her poem used on the Pathway.

Haiku Pathway founder Catherine Mair with the new boulder. Photo: Sandra Simpson

As usual, the project has been a community effort. It has been able to go ahead thanks to a donation from the Twilight Concert Committee – the Pathway reserve is now a permanent home for the summer concerts.

The metal plaques inscribed with the poem have been made by Stainless Downunder, a Katikati company, and fitted into the rock by fourth-generation stone mason Paul Gautron who has inscribed many of the pathway’s poem boulders. The boulder was purchased from Carine Garden Centre and lifted into place, free of charge, by Tom of Fotheringhame Contractors who are working on the next-door stage of Highfields.

And none of it would have been possible without the support of Wayne Allchorne, our Western Bay of Plenty District Council parks officer, and his boss Peter Watson.

Photo: Sandra Simpson

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 45th haiku being finished! Read more about the Katikati Haiku Pathway, a free walk that is open every day.

Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize Longlist

Last night was the Tauranga event introducing the longlist for the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, worth $50,000 and part of the Ockham Book Awards. As you may remember from the inaugural announcement last year, it’s an anonymous Tauranga resident who has donated the $50,000 prize – in perpetuity – which the Acorn Foundation administers.

A recent Book Council survey found that New Zealand fiction is little read and offered some reasons why. Read the Booksellers NZ response to that report. In September The Listener quoted a 2014 figure of NZ fiction making up only 3% of total book sales in this country.

Chris Baskett, co-owner of Books A Plenty, gave us a great run-down of each book and noted that before the Acorn Award (ie, November 2015) the store sold 5.8% of NZ fiction from its total – now the figure is 11.2%. “That’s one of the great thing about awards,” she said. “They give readers a focus.”

Chris Baskett introduces ‘Tail of the Taniwha’ by Courtney Sina Meredith. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Catherine Chidgey, author of The Wish Child and a multi-winner of awards and prizes, came ‘over the hill’ from Ngaruawahia to talk about her book – which comes 13 years after her third novel, The Transformation – and to read from it.

Catherine Chidgey at last night’s event. Photo: Sandra Simpson

She said her first book, The Fishbone Church was set in New Zealand and written while living in Germany. This book is set in Germany and written while living in New Zealand. The Wish Child is set in World War 2 and told from the viewpoint of two children with a mysterious narrator – to reveal the identity of the “obscure historical figure from the 1930s” would, Catherine said, destroy the story. Anyone in the audience who had read it, nodded in agreement.

The longlist comprises:

The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press)

A Briefcase, Two Pies and a Penthouse by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson)

My Mother and the Hungarians by Frankie McMillan (Canterbury University Press)

Love as a Stranger by Owen Marshall (Penguin Random House)

Tail of the Taniwha by Courtney Sina Meredith (Beatnik Publishing)

Billy Bird by Emma Neale (Penguin Random House)

Deleted Scenes for Lovers by Tracey Slaughter (Victoria University Press)

The Name on the Door is Not Mine by CK Stead (Allen & Unwin)

Dad Art by Damien Wilkins (Victoria University Press)

Strip by Sue Wootton (Makaro Press).

Chris noted the number of poets represented among the authors – and it was also interesting that a number of the books are, effectively, short story collections, a genre that a leading literary figure told me in 2014 “no one wants to publish”.

Book sales were great on the night. Photo: Sandra Simpson

See the full set of Ockham categories and nominees here.

The shortlist will be announced on March 7 and the winners on May 16.

Something that Chris neglected to mention last night: Books A Plenty was the deserving subject of the winning Love Letter to Bookshops competition held in October by Booksellers NZ. Read the winning letter from Marcus Hobson of Tauranga.

Katikati Haiku Contest 2016 results

There were 360 haiku entered from 8 countries. The organisers would like to thank all those who entered for supporting the pathway project and Katikati-based King’s Seeds for sponsoring the cash prizes.

autumn moon
eclipsed for a moment
migrating geese

– Tracy Davidson, UK, First

A classic seasonal scene which offers two readings thanks to its pivot line – the autumn moon is eclipsed for a moment by migrating geese; the migrating geese are eclipsed for a moment by the autumn moon. Purists will know that in Japanese haiku tradition ‘autumn’ doesn’t need to be attached to ‘moon’ as ‘moon’ is recognised as signifier of that rich season – and an autumn moon is always a full moon or harvest moon unless otherwise specified. So this haiku has two season-setters – autumn moon and migrating geese – but I don’t find that to be burdensome as the poem is full of sound and movement (geese), calm (moonlight) and subtly asks us to ponder the mystery of the birds’ powerful urge to migrate at a certain time and uncanny ability to do so over long distances. The beauty of the moment is intact and shines as brightly as that moon!

clear sky
a refugee kisses
the café window

– Cynthia Rowe, Australia, Second

From classic to modern – a good demonstration of how haiku can be used for any topic, including Europe’s refugee turmoil. Has the word ‘café’ been chosen deliberately to place this poem in France, possibly even Calais where a notorious refugee camp was recently demolished?

There’s a good deal of mystery in this poem: Why is the refugee kissing the café window? Has s/he just got a job there, heard some good news, is doing something to reflect his/her good fortune at being accepted for settlement? Is the refugee awaiting settlement or has s/he been received into a new home country? Is s/he inside the café or outside? Whatever the answers each reader brings to this haiku – and its zany echo of Pope John Paul II kissing the ground whenever he arrived in a new country – I think we can safely say the future is looking good. The author has carefully chosen the words used – the hard ‘k’ sounds balanced by the soft sounds.

Although the lines between haiku and its cousin senryu are now often blurred or ignored, this poem is more properly a senryu as it’s concerned with the doings of humans rather than nature. Another clue is that there’s no immediately definable season, although online sajiki (list of season words) place ‘clear sky’ as autumn or winter. However, my gut instinct is that this is a spring scene, with ‘clear sky’ and ‘kisses’ combining to produce, for me anyway, an optimistic reading.

autumn garden
 my thoughts
a deeper green

– Scott Mason, US, Third

The surface dichotomy of this haiku puzzled and intrigued me at first – why would the poet’s thoughts in an autumn garden be green? Then the penny began to drop – it might be a reference to environmentally friendly practices. For instance, collecting all those beautiful leaves to make a rich mulch or just raking them over a bed that’s put to sleep for the winter,  or using pruned branches as stakes or to make a ‘bug hotel’, keeping beneficial insects snug for winter. Perhaps the poet is assessing a garden that’s fading and planning fresh plantings for the spring and summer to come. ‘my thoughts /a deeper green’ are very satisfying lines to read and say.

Best Local Haiku

pruning –                                                                    
I leave the twig
with the ladybird

– Catherine Bullock, Waihi (NZ)

Highly Commended

museum –                                                                  
in the artist’s ink stone
ancient  pines

– Andre Surridge, Hamilton (NZ)

unclipped forsythia                                                     
     all children
     can sing

– Scott Mason

hot morning:                                                              
the sister’s peaked hat
is an exercise book

– Robert Alcock, Spain

heavy traffic                                                               
the fragrance of jasmine
crosses the road

– Elaine Riddell, Hamilton (NZ)

Commended

tidal pool sea shapes glide past sea shapes              

– Cynthia Rowe

daytime moon –
the lightness
of plum blossom

– Catherine Bullock

name tapes                                                                
on boarding school clothes –
my mother cuts the thread

– Joanne Watcyn-Jones, Australia

a child                                                                        
hiding in a hayfield
cloud drift

– Elaine Riddell

flight arrival   
the slow descent and taxi
of a pelican

– Jan Dobb, Australia

garden concert
the aroma
of mozart

– Ernest J Berry, Blenheim

Judge’s report by Sandra Simpson.