A mosaic haiku

Received the lovely news last night that mosaic artist Greta Doo has been inspired by one of my haiku to create a piece of new work which will be shown at the second A Palette of Poetry exhibition in Dunedin, October 14-28, at the Resene Colour Shop in Crawford St. (Click on this link to see what Greta did last year.)

Funds raised from the exhibition will go towards the Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) project which every quarter creates trifold poetry pamphlets – about 7000 of them – and distributes them to medical centres, hospitals, rest-homes, hospices and prisons. People can read them while they wait or or take them away. Ruth Arnison, the moving force behing PitWR and the exhibition, received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to poetry and literature in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The haiku which inspired Greta to create Autumn Table is

end of harvest
we pull out the leaves
on the dining table

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 13.2 (2011)

Greta says about the choice of this haiku: “It all started when I grew my first cucumber last year in the new glasshouse. I was so proud of it I put it on the kitchen table with a tomato to show off the size, plus some other produce that made a good arrangement for a photo shoot. I revisited the photo after reading Sandra’s haiku and they resonated together to form the artwork.”

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Autumn Table by Greta Doo. Image: Greta Doo

Autumn Table is 1.1m long and 0.5m high. It comprises 3 panels glued and screwed together to emulate the leaves of a dining table, thus the middle panel is slightly raised. The work should be hung flat upon a wall.

The exhibition opens at 2pm on Saturday, October 14.


Brilliant bookshops & a statue

One of the fun things about travelling is popping into bookshops and browsing – we took some second-hand books bought at market stalls and book fairs to read and leave, but ended up bringing back more books than we’d left with!

Partly this is unavoidable because I love buying souvenir books from places like The Hermitage in St Petersburg and Hidcote Manor garden in Gloucestershire, so the weight starts to stack up from there.

But let me loose in a good bookshop and it’s hard to leave without something. Let’s follow our trail through bookstore purchases …

Haiku Husband ploughed through Northmen: The Viking Saga, purchased in Bergen, Norway – the book starts in 793, the year of the bloody raid on Lindisfarne (Holy Island) just off the northeast coast of England. As we were planning to visit Lindisfarne, it seemed a nice dovetail. The helpful young man behind the counter (red hair!) offered several Viking histories in English for us to choose from.

The fabulous NK department store in Stockholm also has a range of English books – we snagged a Michael Connelly thriller for the equivalent of $NZ12, very cheap for us (in New Zealand we pay about $35 for a new paperback). Established in 1915, the store is well worth visiting for the architecture alone, if not the ‘build-your-own-Magnum icecream stand! (We didn’t, the queue was too long.)

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The Maigret statue in Delfzijl. Georges Simenon and four of the actors who had played Maigret on television attended the unveiling in 1966. Photo: Sandra Simpson

In the small coastal town of Delfzijl in the northern Netherlands we chanced upon a statue of Maigret, the famous detective from the Quai des Orfevres in Paris. His creator, Georges Simenon, had stayed in Delfzijl in 1929 while his boat was being repaired and published Maigret in Holland 2 years later. In 1966 the Dutch publisher Bruna commissioned the statue for Delfzijl. Read more about Simenon and the Delfzijl statue.

Although Hatchard’s in London (booksellers since 1797) didn’t have A Crime in Holland (as it’s now been published in English), the helpful staffer checked her computer stock list and sent me a few metres down Picadilly to Waterstone’s.

When I lived in London in 1980s I went to a night class about the history of the city – our teacher Wilf was a taxman by day and a fount of arcane knowledge about the city the rest of the time. Most of the people in the class, including my work buddy Anita who introduced me to it, had been going for years. How to Read London by Chris Rogers (Ivy Press, 2017) is a guide to some of the city’s architecture, while London’s Oddities by Vicky Wilson (Metro Publications, 2018) does what it says on the tin – and answered a question after we’d seen a dingy sign for ‘Roman Baths’ in a side street. Not Roman at all, but an 18th century entrepreneur wanting to cash in! (The Bryant and May series of crime novels by Christopher Fowler contain many things I learned from Wilf and many other strange facts and pieces of almost-forgotten history about London.)

We also stumbled in to Stanford’s in Longacre one evening, thrilled to purchase a road atlas for England just a day or two before we took charge of a vehicle (which came with a SatNav – never mind, we probably did half and half).

Barter Books is a treasure trove of secondhand books housed in an old railway station in Alnwick, Northumberland, that comes complete with unfolding literary quotes and a model railway running round above your head! It’s also the home of the re-emergence of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster (and everything else). Read more about that here.

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Barter Books in Alnwick. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Burford is a beautiful small town in the heart of the Cotswolds (shame about the permanent traffic jam in the main street, but beauty comes at a price) – and home to the Madhatter Bookshop.

The assistant said the owner, Sara Hall, was looking for something to do with the extra floor space “and Burford has enough tea rooms” (it does!). Sara’s daughter reminded her that her great-grandmother had been a milliner so why not combine the bookshop with a hat shop? All the hats are made by British manufacturers.

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The hat section of the Madhatter Bookshop in Burford, Oxfordshire. The books are in a room to the right. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Our final stop was Weybridge in Surrey where the friends we were staying with pointed us to The Weybridge Bookshop. Despite its independent-sounding name, it’s actually a branch of Waterstone’s. The staff were very helpful, there was a great selection of books (yes, we purchased) and THEY WERE ALL CHEAPER THAN NEW ZEALAND. Paperbacks for about $NZ20. Did I mention we pay upwards of $35?

Why is the price so different? Because Britain doesn’t impose a tax (VAT) on printed books while New Zealand does (GST). Britain is also civilised enough not to charge VAT on fruit and vegetables and children’s clothing.

Recent success

News of my First place in the New Zealand Poetry Society International Haiku Contest came while I was away, so exciting. Unfortunately, I can’t share the haiku with you just yet as NZPS has first publication rights and the anthology won’t be out until November. I also received one Highly Commended and one Commended. Big thanks to judge Katherine Raine and contest organiser Laurice Gilbert.

Katherine has written a Haiku Checklist for those new to haiku or teaching themselves. It’s well worth a read.

Waiting for me at home was Presence 61, another fine edition out of the UK.

coming to rest
on a nameless headstone
a slice of sun

– Patricia Prime

summer heat
the snap and crackle
of broom seeds

– Owen Bullock

genocide museum –
a pair of swallows
hunt for a way out

– Sandra Simpson

And Kokako 29 arrived in the letterbox yesterday – Pat Prime is co-editor of the journal, along with Margaret Beverland. The cover photo of two laughing kimono-clad Japanese women was taken by me at the teahouse in Hama Rikyu gardens, Tokyo (the back cover information is correct, that on P2 not so much!).

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It was one of those moments when our eyes connected and it all fell into place. Photo: Sandra Simpson

a photo reveals
what they didn’t notice then
ash on his face

– Celia Hope

speedwell by the path losing herself in blueness

– Barbara Strang

deepening cyclone –
the beekeeper’s
flowery language

– Sandra Simpson

Yes, these are all New Zealand poets. Not bad, eh?

Y & Z of Haiku

If you’re inspired to make your own haiku alphabet – and there are so many other poems I could have used, please share the link in the Comments section.


canyon dawn:
a bat folding dark
into a crevice

Ruth Yarrow, Lit from Within (Red Moon Press, 2016)



the tube of cadmium yellow
squeezed flat

D Claire Gallagher, Second place HPNC Contest, 2004




zinnias . . .
why yes my favourite
was Harpo

Scott Mason, The Heron’s Nest 11.3, 2009


never younger
than now
i zest a lemon

Marilyn Appl Walker, The Heron’s Nest 16.1, 2014


The End!

V, W, X of Haiku


Valentine’s Day —
she reminds me
to fasten my seatbelt

Michael Dylan Welch, Haiku Society of America Newsletter 15.4 , 2000


     the bullet-proof vest:
          the heat

Nick Virgilio (1928-89), Modern Haiku 14.3, 1983



that one kid
with the plastic whistle —
evening heat

Cherie Hunter Day, Modern Haiku 45.3, 2014



the weight of our grunts
breaks an axle

Chad Lee Robinson, The Deep End of the Sky (Turtle Light Press, 2015)



I send a fax
protesting the bombing
pages come out hot

Ruth Yarrow, from The Haiku Apprentice by Abigail Friedman (Stone Bridge Press, 2006)


          Listening …
After a while,
     I take up my axe again

Rod Willmot, Haiku (1969)

S, T, U of Haiku

If you feel inspired to make your own alphabet, please share the link in the Comments section.


shooting the rapids
even the back of his head
looks suprised

HF Noyes, Haiku Ancient & Modern (MQP, 2002)


choosing a swimsuit
when did I start seeing
through his eyes?

Mayuzumi Madoka, Haiku Love (The British Museum, 2013, tr Alan Cummings)



trail’s end
the taste of wild onion
still sharp on my tongue

Billie Wilson, The Heron’s Nest 6.3, 2005


tackle shop for sale –
a tide-chart on the wall
two years out of date

Rodney Williams, Windfall 5, 2017


in the rains of spring
an umbrella and a raincoat
pass by, conversing

Buson (tr Kenneth Yasuda)



Cherry Blossoms in Ueno Park, Tokyo by Hasui Kawase (1883 – 1957).


southern humpback –
     miles of ocean
     pushing back

Scott Terrill, A Hundred Gourds 2.1, 2012

P, Q, R of haiku

If you feel inspired to make your own alphabet, please share the link in the Comments section.


platelets —
the trip we were planning
to plan

Roberta Beary, Modern Haiku 41.2, 2010


unplanned pregnancy
the hum of a beehive       
beneath the porch

John McManus, Acorn 35, 2015


into the silence
of a Quaker meeting
the scent of roses

Jo Pacsoo, Presence 47, 2013


Queen Anne’s lace —
a childhood spent
in second-hand clothes

Mary Kendall, The Heron’s Nest 19.1, 2017


Roman road
I carry the dust
further north

Matt Morden, Martin Lucas Haiku Award 2017



prairie storm
the darkness disperses
as buffalo

Chad Lee Robinson, The Heron’s Nest 19.3, 2017