An editor’s choice!

Lovely to be included in the Editor’s Choices for the latest issue of The Heron’s Nest. Amazingly enough – to me anyway – this is the first dragonfly haiku I’ve had published!

torpid heat the small breeze a dragonfly makes

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest, 18.3

Another nice surprise came through the ether all the way from Angelee Deodhar in India, who created this haiga:

Beautiful photo, isn’t it? My attempts at dragonfly photography are very mediocre by comparison.

The appearance of a dragonfly in Japanese haiku tradition is a signifier of autumn but as you can see from my poem, I haven’t necessarily bothered about that. It might be high summer, it might be an Indian summer, you figure it out!

a round melon
   in a field of round melons
          – resting dragonfly

– Robert Spiess (1921-2002)
from Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years

Number one on a list of 14 ‘fun facts’ about dragonflies is this: Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wingspans of only two to five inches (5-12cm), but fossil dragonflies have been found with wingspans of up to two feet (61cm). Read the rest of the list here.

the dragonfly
on mother’s gravestone
something of her

– Jane Reichhold (1937-2016)
from A Dictionary of Haiku: Second Edition

We have a ‘giant’ dragonfly in New Zealand (Uropetala carovei) which has a yellow and black body that can be up to 86mm (3.4 inches) long, with a wingspan up to 130mm (5 inches). Read more about it here and listen to a radio talk about it and our other large dragonfly here (11 minutes 30, not all dragonfly). And no, I’ve never seen one.

.とんぼうのはこしているや菊の花

tombô no hako shite iru ya kiku no hana

the dragonfly
takes a crap …
chrysanthemum

– Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)
translated by David Lanoue and from his website Haiku of Kobayashi Issa

Another Issa haiku to finish – the cartoon by talented Canadian Jessica Tremblay from her Old Pond Comics collection.

The storks of Kinosaki Onsen

Kokako 25 landed in my mailbox at the weekend – cover art courtesy of yours truly.

Image: Sandra Simpson

I took the photo – which has been manipulated into black and white and slightly touched up – in Konsaki Onsen, a town on Japan’s west coast which is renowned for its bath houses.

Near the town are the wetlands of Toyooka, which provide an important habitat for the oriental white stork. The bird became extinct in the wild in the 1970s after its habitat had been changed by modern farming practices. However, it was decided to try and bring the birds back and a captive breeding programme was started – with the  first chick born in 1989. In 2005 five captively bred storks were released, which then bred successfully in the wild. As of June 2015 there were 72 wild oriental white storks in Toyooka.

But the birds have a special link to Kinosaki. It is said that the location for the town’s oldest bath house – presumably the building beneath this metal sculpture – was discovered when a stork was seen bathing its wounds in a hot spring.

Natural hot springs supply a number of public bath-houses and hotel onsens and the relaxed atmosphere is enhanced by people wandering from bath-house to bath-house in their yukata robes (which might otherwise equate a dressing gown!).

Casual dress is just fine in Kinosaki Onsen. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Some bird haiku from Kokako 25:

parting clouds
a pair of cranes startle
from the barn roof

– Gavin Austin

crane silhouettes
i practice the kanji
for my name

– Debbie Strange

losing my way
in the rushes
runnels of birdsong

– Mark Miller

Kokako is raising its subscription price to cover the increased cost of postage within New Zealand – $NZ30 / $A30 / $US30 for 2 issues a year. Over the past 5 years, the journal has grown from 60 to 80 pages per issue so we mustn’t feel like it’s all bad news!

Send subscriptions to Kokako, 42 Flanshaw Rd, Te Atatu South, Auckland 0610 (New Zealand). For Kokako 26 send submissions – up to 8 pieces per poet – between November 1 and February 1 in the body of an email.

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