Royal Canal haiku

Gilles Fabre of Haiku Ireland has sent me this photo of my haiku painted on a wall beside the Royal Canal in Dublin (part of my prize for winning the contest celebrating the canal and its clean-up).


I was disappointed the sign-writer took it upon him/herself to add capital letters and a full stop – but I’m not complaining!



LA Weekly

When Sophia and I went at Haiku North America in California, she was interviewed by someone from LA Weekly, an arts and entertainment paper, and had a special photo session. Well, the piece finally appeared – just 2 months after the event! Read it here. 


Sophia Frentz at the regional reading at Haiku North America. Pictured beside her are Margaret Beverland (left) and Sandra Simpson.


Apologies to Margaret Beverland, who is quoted in the piece as Margaret McGee! Not quite sure how that happened except that the reporter had a brain fade.

Good news x2

October 18: An email dropped into my inbox overnight on Tuesday to say that I had won the Royal Canal Haiku Contest run by Haiku Ireland and celebrating the renovation of the Royal Canal in Dublin. Part of the prize is to have my haiku painted on a wall alongside the canal for Royal Canal Day on November 12! Read the three prizewinning poems here, but here’s mine anyway:

early nightfall –
the lock key warms up
in my fist

And the other part of the good news is that a wee project I’ve been working on quietly for the past few months has today got the green light – projecting haiku on to the inside of the Crystal Palace before shows during the Tauranga Arts Festival (October 26-November 3). This is the kind of public exposure haiku so rarely gets so I am very excited. The work being used in by poets who are more or less all members of the Fantail Haiku Group that is based in Tauranga-Western Bay of Plenty (the “or less” are generally family members or other close associates of members). The work has been selected on merit.


The post below isn’t very haiku-like is it? It’s always concerned me that updates to my News page may not be registering with my followers (yes, I have at least one!) so I’ve decided to now put News on the Home page. Okay?

News (one long post)

October 9 (2013): Heard yesterday that a writing team I was part of has won the Einbond Renku Competition, run by the Haiku Society of America. Entries closed at the end of February, and we were up against the deadline all the way – so we’ve had a long wait for the results. The form this year was a 20-verse nijuin, a new form to me, but luckily we had the steady hand of John Carley (England) as sabaki.

The other members of the writing team were Lorin Ford (Australia), Cynthia Rowe (Australia) and William Sorlien (US). Well done us! Read the renku here.

Coincidentally, a press release about John’s much anticipated The Renku Reckoner book arrived today too. I would urge anyone even a little bit interested in renku to grab a copy of the book when it’s available.

October 4: My son, Harry Frentz, and I have made a splash on P6 of this week’s Bay News in Tauranga (no weblink, sorry). I decided to get proactive about letting the paper know about his success – first in the secondary section and overall winner of the Junior Haiku Contest run by the NZ Poetry Society – mostly because it’s the last year he qualifies for the junior award.

Harry is a natural at haiku, so I’m always pleased when he does well and always sorry that he doesn’t write more. He won his first contest when he was five years old!

I spent an intense few days writing an article for Haiku NewZ that deals with plagiarism, all the thorns around that and the many other reasons why a haiku by one author can sometimes seem very like a haiku by another author. I’ve received some compliments on both tackling a tough topic and doing it well. Please feel free to pop on over and have a look.

Oh, and I’ve had two haiku accepted for Modern Haiku and one for A Hundred Gourds! Happiness ensues.

September 18: In response to a query, I can recommend buying Haiku in English through the Book Depository in the UK as shipping is free worldwide! What’s being offered on the site in New Zealand dollars is about the price I paid for it at HNA, so good value for a hard-back book.

Parcel postage in the US has gone up considerably in the last 12 months so if you’re buying from an online store there do check the costs carefully. I’ve always found The Book Depository to be easy to deal with, even half a world away.

September 14: Got submissions away to A Hundred Gourds and The Heron’s Nest, and was very brave and sent one to Modern Haiku too! Having met so many editors at HNA has helped me gain some courage so I shall try and spread my wings a bit.

In the meantime I have had two haiku accepted for the next issue of Presence (hard copy journal, UK).

The latest editon of Kokako arrived in my letterbox this week, containing three of my haiku – although, unfortunately one had developed an error between being accepted and being printed. Pat and Margaret have been very nice about it and it will be reprinted with an apology in the next issue.

So here’s one from Kokako 19 that is error-free:

rainbow –
the whitebaiter’s net
tilted towards the sky

Whitebaiters (who are trying to catch tiny little fish, almost transparent) use two kinds of net – set nets (ie, set in the river while they sit on the bank) or scoop nets (which they operate on the end of the a long handle). Here’s a picture of someone using a scoop net (scroll down to it). What I really wanted, and couldn’t find, was a picture of someone carrying a net on his/her shoulder.

Whitebait are getting harder and harder to catch, around where I was brought up anyway, so the idea of them being a “pot of gold” isn’t too far fetched. Personally, I never much cared for them …

September 6: Still tidying things away after HNA – have got some solid haiku reading to do too – and thought I would share that I sold six copies of breath through the conference bookstall, which was extensive, interesting and well-run.

I know who two of the buyers were because they approached me to sign their copy; the other four remain a mystery … but thanks to you all.

I also took my spare four copies of The Little Book of Yotsumonos in which I was a co-author with John Carley (and he with several others). At the end of the Renku Reading, in which I was invited to be the voice for Ferris Gilli who couldn’t make it, I cheekily promoted LBoY and immediately sold two copies!

So sold three and gave the last one to someone who had been extraordinarily generous to me at the conference.

My fear was the weight of my case – 21kg going over. Subtract the books I had taken … but add the books I had bought, plus conference giveaways (pamphlets, bookmarks, postcards, etc) … and I had another week in LA which would naturally involve the odd bit of shopping.

Getting ready to leave I packed some books into a handbag in my case so Plan B was to extract that and pack it in Sophia’s bag. For some baffling reason, although her bag was smaller and she seemed to have a new piece of clothing every day, she was well under the 23kg limit. My books would have ended up in Dunedin, but, oh well.

I held my breath (as if that would help) as I put the bag on the scales at LAX – 22.6kg. Yay!

Also glad I had taken Sophia’s advice and not attempted to take my daypack and handbag on the plane. At the boarding gate at LAX they were checking carry-ons carefully and anyone with more than one bag was being sent off to check it in (and presumably pay for it).

Sorry, this started off being about book sales and has wandered off …

And yesterday I received an order from the US from someone who has been exploring this website and Sandra’s Garden.

September 3: August was a whirl of rushing to get ready to go to Haiku North America in Long Beach, California, actually attending the HNA and then writing about it when I got back. Rather than repeat all the ins and outs here, why don’t you head on over to Haiku NewZ where I have posted a long roundup of the event and a few photos.

One of my haiku has been chosen as an Editor’s Choice in the latest issue of The Heron’s Nest. Yay! I don’t often have my work chosen for this section, but have had two this year. Have to live up to that now …

July 26: I can now reveal that one of my haiku has been placed Second in this year’s New Zealand Poetry Society International Haiku Contest. My best result yet, hoorah!

drought year the ground in the cemetery opens up

Read the top five poems and the comments of judge Nola Borrell here.

Disconcerted to read a piece in the Otago Daily Times yesterday about the presentation Sophia Frentz and I are making at Haiku North America. Not only was my actual name not used anywhere, I was referred to in the past tense! Made me feel quite odd, even as I was pleased to see the coverage.

I wasn’t “was” a haiku poet, I is one!

July 20: News this week that Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years has come back from the printer. This book, edited by Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland and Allan Burns, will be officially launched at next month’s Haiku North America in Long Beach, California with pre-ordering from Amazon.

One of my haiku has been included so I feel very privileged to be in among the luminaries of the haiku world from the past century. The anthology contains more than 800 poems by more than 200 poets from around the world and features an introduction by former US poet laureate Billy Collins (my poetry hero!). The selections range from the first fully realised haiku in English, Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”, to plentiful examples by people writing in the 21st century.

The book has been a labour of love for Jim for some 15 years!

Have also this week heard that I have two haiku going in the new “world anthology” being co-ordinated by Bruce Ross, with local selector being Pat Prime.

July 7: Ron Moss has been in touch to ask permission to use a haiga he created for one of my haiku in A Hundred Gourds during his presentation on haiga at Haiku North America. I loved it and still do so permission was happily given.

As far as I know there will be three Kiwis and two Australians at HNA so I have proposed we form a tight scrum around the bar one evening! (Ron, by the way, was brought up in Dunedin.)

Have got my votes away from the haiku section of RMA, just have to finish the “other” vote – haibun, linked verse, essays, etc.

July 4: So much has happened in the past few days …

First my Heron’s Nest editor Paul MacNeil emailed to say he had become a grandfather – identical twin girls, no less. Much excitement.

Then yesterday an email from Barry Morrall‘s partner to say that Barry died suddenly at home last week. Barry has a poem on the Haiku Pathway in Katikati and I first met him at the pathway’s opening in June 2000. He was such a sweet man, very kind, full of fun and full of life. He lived near my mother until relatively recently and I occasionally visited him there. Always a warm welcome, a cup of tea and some fruit cake (his mother’s recipe) and lots of good talk. The last time I saw him, in 2010, he gave me a lily bulb which has given me a great deal of pleasure ever since with its tall stem and big white flowers.

Have had some acceptances this month too … 3 haiku to appear in September’s A Hundred Gourds (read the current edition here) and 2 for The Heron’s Nest (current edition), also September.

Meanwhile, I have been working on one of my presentations for Haiku North America – The Science of Haiku – and am just about to begin on the other one, The Katikati Haiku Pathway. Sophia Frentz is co-presenting the Science one with me but we have yet to meld our two sets of commentary. She’s a busy young woman so I’m dreading hearing her say that we can do it on the plane!

And I have our first voting round of the year for the Red Moon Anthology. Managing editor Jim Kacian thinks it’s the largest set yet nominated which he takes as being the editors doing their jobs well and that more and more haiku of good quality are being written (and published).

Hi-ho, off to work I go.

June 7: Just as I posted the entry for June 7 below my son (17) came home from school with the April issue of English in Aotearoa, a journal put out by the NZ Association for the Teaching of English. His English teacher had spotted some haiku in it and thought he may be interested.

He flicked to the article and thought, “hey, I know those haiku”.

The article by Owen Bullock reviews breath as part of an article about haiku – both its brackground and what is happening in New Zealand. “Sandra Simpson’s first haiku collection, breath, is a landmark in New Zealand haiku”. Wow!

It’s an extremely generous article and I’m humbled at Owen’s praise and his insight into my work.  Owen showed me a copy after he’d written it, but the whole thing had slipped my mind.

Owen quite rightly says that my work would not be possible without this country’s enthusiastic haiku community, and finishes with: “Simpson’s writing is something for a whole country to celebrate, like an individual sprinter from a small nation whose achievements may become a touchstone for future success.” Double wow!!

June 7: Deadlines, deadlines. I’ve written a list of the ones I want to hit and have tried to be realistic about how many decent haiku I actually have.

A Hundred Gourds and The Heron’s Nest are both open for submissions until June 15. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational has extended its deadline from June 2 to 24. The Haiku North America anthology and contest both close on June 30, as do submissions for the one-line haiku anthology (previously published only) at Snapshot Press. Kokako’s submissions close on July 1.

Shame is, I’m not even writing one a day at present. Lucky I’ve got a bit stack of unpublished poems/work at draft stage that I can flick through.

For a great list of haiku journals go here (yes, all right, I made it), and here for current contests.

May 27: Surprise envelope in the post today – an Honourable Mention in the Anita Sadler Weiss Award (US). They have sent a certificate and judge’s report.

smoothing out her instructions for polenta finches work the grass

Interesting to read those comments too … a judge (an’ya) who liked the winning poem for a series of reasons, including “absence of self” and who chose a single-line haiku for Second: “Normally I stick to a three-line haiku format.”

May 26: Gosh, didn’t realise I hadn’t been here for so long, sorry about that. Got a bit to report too …

Commended in the HaikuNow! contest (US) with

sucking marrow from the bone – autumn drought

I had a lovely email from a spokesperson for the president of the company that runs the amusement park next to the Highland Hotel, where I stayed last year when in Japan. We had a marvellous view of Fuji from every bedroom, and through the floor to ceiling glass in the dining room. The guide for that tour, Robyn Laing of Auckland, said everyone in Japan would “get” my haiku because the resort is so famous. The haiku was posted on February 24, but I will repeat it here:

Honourable Mention in the Fuji-san Contest  (Japan) with

forgetting to scream at the top of the roller-coaster – Fuji-san

Second in the Haiku magazine contest (Romania) with

one more harvest moon – on the cancer ward someone sings an old love song

A contest for 5-7-5 haiku, not something I write very often.

And this weekend, amid much panicking, second-guessing and frustration with an unhelpful printer, I have got my entries packaged up for the New Zealand Poetry Society Haiku Contest, which I have high hopes of winning … one day. Best result to date is Third and that was back in 2009!

I’m also pleased to report that I’ve sold some more copies of my book and have a bookstore order in the pipeline. One of my work colleagues said the other day, quite unprompted, that it was a marvellous book and such good value for money! I suggested he walk about in front of me saying that loudly and I would follow behind with copies for sale.

Finished the tankako on Issa’s Snail (it may be published in A Hundred Gourds); found not one but two very distant and “long lost” cousins in Canada; had some haiku postcards printed to take to Haiku North America in August; sent off two “regional” haiku for a pamphlet that HNA is producing; plus actually did some paid work!

Being busy is good, right?

April 16: Rain, rain, rain! (Our first rain since February 5, which wasn’t much).

Am in the throes of trying a new form (for me) of linked verse over at the Issa’s Snail site – a tankako. Read our progress here or more about the form here (click on the tankako button on the left-hand side). Willie Sorlien is performing his usual trick of keeping us all on our toes with his direction and verse choices while a nice poem begins to take shape.

April 3: Some pieces of good news over the long weekend …

One of my haiku is among the numerous runners-up in the Haiku Calendar Competition (UK):

your name carved with someone else’s – the scent of gorse

Read the list of winners’ names here. Also among the runners-up are Vanessa Proctor and Quendryth Young of Australia.

I have received an Honourable Mention in this year’s Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest (Romania) with:

evening breeze – tiny crabs move the beach grain by grain

Read all the winning poems here.

And one of the haiku I submitted to the Matsuyama Photo Haiku Contest (the poems were inspired by photos provided on the website) was selected as one of nine written in English for display in the main exhibition hall of the Shiki Memorial Museum in Matsuyama, March 2013  (822 haiku entered).

her swollen lips – rainwater collects in a broken cup

Read all the winning poems here.

March 20: Heard yesterday from the Haiku North America organisers that two proposals for presentations at the conference have been accepted. Sophia Frentz and I will present The Science of Haiku, looking at poems that attempt to illustrate/demonstrate a scientific point; and I will do a small presentation on the Katikati Haiku Pathway.

Sophia and I have also been invited to read in a session presenting linked verses, standing in for poets who can’t be present. Co-ordinated by Paul MacNeil, it will also feature Ron Moss from Tasmania who in turn is presenting a session on haiga, something I’ve been interested in for ages but have never really tried.

March 5: The last couple of weeks have been like someone lit the fuse to the rocket … but amid all the rushing and being controlled by events there have been a couple of happy haiku moments.

The first came when I received an order for three books from a Palmerston North poet, and the second when the latest edition of The Heron’s Nest came out and I found my haiku had been chosen for the Editor’s Choice commentary. I’ve had two poems chosen previously as one of the set of three choices, but have never been the Editor’s Choice before. (The other delightful thing about this honour is that this is only the third issue that has featured single-line haiku.)

And I also have three haiku in the latest edition of A Hundred Gourds.

Could March be my favourite month?

Feb 24: Have received received an Honourable Mention in the Fujisan Haiku Contest (Japan) with:

forgetting to scream at the top of the roller-coaster – Fuji-san

On my tour of Japan last year I was fortunate to see Mt Fuji clear two days in a row (our local bus driver said it was quite rare for spring). The hotel we stayed in had beautiful views of the mountain and we each got a room with a view. It was also right next door to an amusement park and that oddity stayed in my mind even though I didn’t visit the park. When I came to write a haiku for this contest I played with several ideas before using the viewpoint of someone on a roller-coaster.

I always thought that Mt Taranaki (Egmont) was very much like Fuji – it is, in that it’s an almost perfect cone, but Fuji is surprisingly bulky and much bigger, 3776m to Taranaki’s 2518m.

Feb 23: An email this week from American editor Robert Epstein asking to use two of my haiku in a new anthology, Now This: Contemporary Poems of Beginnings, Renewals, and Firsts. Permission granted!

Also had word from the Haiku North America organisers that a paper proposal from myself and Sophia Frentz has been accepted: The Science of Haiku. Now all we have to do is finish writing it …

Feb 18: Finished our renku this morning with the last text query sorted. My role was then to email the definitive text in two forms, along with permission slips to William Sorlien, who is printing the lot out, packaging it up and shipping it off to the contest. We’ve had a lot of fun writing it and while John Carley, our sabaki (leader), isn’t terribly well, he had a new verse chosen every 24 hours on almost every occasion. Hats off to him.

Have also been reading Windfall, a new journal that publishes once a year and features only Australian writers. Editor Beverley George has done a bang-up job. For a subscription for those living outside Australia please email publisher Peter Macrow.

Feb 11: Have been enjoying a shiny new copy of nothing in the window, the Red Moon anthology of English-language haiku in 2012. This covers my first year as editor for the South Pacific region and I’m pleased to see a sprinkling of Kiwi and Australian names in a volume generally heavily dominated by American writers (not that I have anything against them, of course, but there are good haiku being written elsewhere too and it’s nice to see that acknowledged).

NZ: Margaret Beverland, Elaine Riddell (whose poem comes from the When North Meets South exhibition), myself and Andre Surridge have haiku included and Nola Borrell and Owen Bullock have haibun.

Australia: Lorin Ford, Graham Nunn, Kieran O’Connor (who was at HFA last year), Scott Terrill and Quendryth Young have haiku in.

nothing in the window costs $US17 + shipping and is the largest volume yet in the long-running series.

Feb 3: Am busy contributing to a nijuin (20-verse) renku over at Issa’s Snail, feel free to drop in and have a look. We’re moving along at a fair old lick because we’ve got a deadline to meet.

Just had an email from tinywords, somewhere I submit to on a very irregular basis, to say one of my haiku will appear in issue 13.1.

Wrote myself a list the other day of contest and submission closing dates and then almost forgot to send the selection I had made earlier to Kokako! Although I had the British Haiku Society contest on the list, I left it too late. Never mind, plenty of others coming up and I suppose I’m getting used to the fact that many contests now allow email entries and payment (if any) online.

So it was a bit of a surprise that when I enquired about the best way to pay my registration fee for Haiku North America I was told to get a bank cheque and post it! They don’t do PayPal. Margaret and I managed PayPal for the Haiku Festival Aotearoa last year so you’d think a big deal like HNA would be on to it…

The other weird thing came when I went on line to change my seat allocation for the flights to and from LA – being in the 50th row doesn’t add to my travelling experience. Anyway, it turns out that  I can change my seats – for a price. For instance, one by the emergency exit with nothing in front will cost $75, while the one directly behind that (a row of 2, not 3) costs $30! I was telling my brother, he who travels frequently,  and he said that on domestic flights you can move forward for an extra $10. Good grief! Air New Zealand must be doing it hard for this sort of penny pinching.

Jan 14: Spent up large at the weekend, all in the name of haiku! Yours truly is off to this year’s Haiku North America in Long Beach, California – on the Queen Mary, no less. I’m looking forward to being inspired and challenged in about equal amounts … oh, and meeting lots of those names I know so well. My Heron’s Nest editor Paul MacNeil says he is only attending so he can meet me (no pressure, then)! We have got to know one another well over the years, all by email, so it will be nice to finally meet in person.

Jan 5, 2013: News today that I have had a haiku accepted for the March edition of The Heron’s Nest – and it’s a one-liner! THN has only recently started accepting single-line haiku so that’s pretty exciting.

A nice boost to the confidence too, as I missed out on the December issue. A nice way to start the year.

Further to the December 11 posting re the Janice Bostok Haiku Award anthology, a review of  the book has been posted on the HaikuOz website. Read it here.

Spent some time yesterday proof-reading the new Red Moon anthology, nothing in the window. It’s going to be a nice collection. I’ll post further details when it’s published.

Dec 24: A very Merry Christmas to all those who find their their way here – and here’s to a bountiful and productive 2013.

Christmas recipe – all the ingredients except my mother’s hands

Dec 22: Heard this week that I will have three haiku in the March edition of A Hundred Gourds. That’s a nice way to finish the year …

And today came the news that I will have one poem in the Red Moon anthology for 2012. (Yes, I’m an editor of the anthology; no, we’re not allowed to vote for our own work.)

Dec 16: One of the images I submitted to The Heron’s Nest competition for illustrations for its annual print anthology has been selected for the Winter separator. It’s a shot of Cape gooseberry pods that have dried on the bush with the morning sun shining through the papery pods turning them silver – and was taken in winter in a friend’s garden. See it and the other winning images here.

I’m delighted as winter is definitely my weakest category, what with the lack of snow and ice in these parts. In past years the choices for this season have always been snow scenes so sometimes I haven’t bothered trying for this one.

Dec 11: My copy of the Janice Bostok Haiku Award anthology arrived today – a gorgeous little book edited by Jacqui Murray. It takes its title, Evening Breeze, from the winning haiku by Andre Surridge of Hamilton. So New Zealand did a one-two with a Canadian poet third.

The anthology is really nice, well made, simple but effective illustrations and nice to hold, as well as containing work by some great poets. Copies are available for purchase – $A10 each or $A25 for three (plus postage) or $US15 each (including airmail post). Email Jacqui Murray for further details.

The judges’ comments about my second-placed haiku:

hoar frost the click of a safety being released

“This haiku has the feel of straight reportage but contains so much that is not stated yet evident, and does it without being moralistic. Again the shape of the poem [they commented on the shape of the haiku placed First], with its straight line which aids in the speed of arriving at its import , as well as being suggestive of a gun barrel, aids the overall effect.”

Dec 10: While he was here for the Haiku Festival Aotearoa Jim Kacian filmed an interview with me for the, at that stage, proposed Video Archive at The Haiku Foundation.

He’s done a great job of editing my meanderings down to 7 minutes, 55 seconds. Notwithstanding the fact that I look like I’m in a dungeon and I wave my hands round constantly, I think it’s a fair summation of my thoughts on haiku. Watch it here.

Dec 7: Forgot to post a mention of the HFA junicho appearing in the December 1 edition of A Hundred Gourds. Click on “Cold Sun” to read the poem.

There are also a few of my haiku in that section.

December already – the clock has scissors for hands

Dec 6: Heard from the organisers of the inaugural Janice M Bostok Haiku Award that I have won second place in the contest. Yay and double yay!

I am such an admirer of Jan’s work – and feel so privileged to have known her – that I really wanted to do well in this contest. For me, that often means that I won’t (refer to the annual NZPS contest results) but when I wrote this poem I had a feeling it would see me through:

hoar frost the click of a safety being released

There’s a contest anthology coming out this month.

Dec 1: Got my haiku selections away for the second round of the Red Moon anthology voting. This is my first year as a Red Moon editor so I’ve been feeling my way a bit. My primary responsibility is for the South Pacific, but I can also include selections from journals, blogs, etc, published in other parts of the world. It will be interesting to see how many of my NZ/Aust. nominations make it through the voting process.

At this stage, our second round of voting for the year, editors are also invited to send off what they’ve had published through the year. It was a pleasant surprise to see a good number of haiku, a couple of articles and a linked poem or two, especially as I feel that my fallow periods are getting longer.

Nov 27: The imachi-form renku I’ve been involved with at Issa’s Snail has been finished. In the end our team (led by William Sorlien) was well behind that of John Carley’s group, partly due to the punishing work schedule of Willie and partly due to Hurricane Sandy that put one of our number out of action (power outages).

It’s planned that both imachi will appear in the March issue of A Hundred Gourds. Publishing them together will give a good insight into how a renku develops a life of its own that flows directly from the group of people writing it.

Nov 25: Received an email from Ron Moss to let me know that one of the haiku I entered in the Maple Moon Contest run by Seinan-jo Gakuin University in Japan had received an Honourable Mention. Yay!

red moon I keep having to double-back in the story

Ron won the contest – he’s an excellent writer so I’m happy to bow to him. The judge was David McMurray, who edits a regular haiku column for the Asahai Haikuist Network and who quotes some of the winning haiku, including mine, in this article. There is to be a contest anthology of winners and selected others.

At some point I suppose I must confess that I wrote both my entries (there was a 2-haiku limit) directly on to the e-form in the middle of the night and sent them! And I’ve done the same with the Setouchi Matsuyama Photo Haiku Contest. Don’t know if it’s a good way to do it or not. I agonise over my entries to the NZPS contest each year and very rarely make the top 5 …

Nov 18: Have been immersing myself in some wonderful haiku this weekend as not only did I have the NZPS anthology (see below) but on Friday a packet arrived from Dunedin containing the When North Meets South exhibition book – a photo of each artwork and the haiku that provided the inspiration – and the concertina book made by John Holmes, this year’s printer-in-residence at Otago University.

‘Haiku 2012’ made by John Holmes. Photo: Ruth Arnison

He has made a real treasure and I am honoured that it includes two of my haiku, one of which relies on its layout on the page to convey the image. I was so pleased a printer had chosen that one. The book folds down flat and closes with the aid of ribbon ties.

The books are available for sale and the exhibition runs until November 26 at Bellamys Gallery in Macandrew Bay, near Dunedin. There are heaps more details on the exhibition blog.

Nov 15: I received my copies of Building a time machine, the latest NZPS anthology, this week but have been so busy have done the despicable thing and looked only at my own work. With any luck I will have the time this weekend to read it through more properly.

As you’ll know from an earlier entry below, editor Owen Bullock chose another six of my haiku beyond the two that won commendations.

the geisha’s song –
only her hands


This was written after my trip to Japan earlier this year. We had the pleasure of meeting a meiko, or trainee geisha, one evening in Kyoto and after she had performed a song/dance for us were able to ask her questions about her life. If you go here and scroll down a little to the picture of the cherry blossom you can read a little about the trip and plans (not mine!) for the next one.

Nov 9: More from the When North Meets South exhibition in Bellamys Gallery, Macandrew Bay, Dunedin (to November 26). The ceramic jug is by Judy Ringland-Stewart. The haiku by Sandra Simpson. The staging by Ruth Arnison.

just white daisies
in a white jug –
but, oh!
Ruth Arnison (left) and Imogen who did the food and drink at the exhibition opening.

Nov 5: Ruth Arnison has sent some fireworks by email! The opening of the When North Meets South exhibition (open until November 26 at Bellamys Gallery in Macandrew Bay near Dunedin) was last night and she writes:”We had the most wonderful exhibition opening last night. The Gallery was packed with over 120 cheerful, chatty people enjoying the art, the haiku, the sound of the harp, the haiku truffles …

“I minded the Gallery this afternoon and several people turned up for a repeat visit – they said it was too crowded last night for them to take in all the exhibits. A reviewer from the Otago Daily Times turned up yesterday, the community paper interviewed me today and the local TV channel are coming along to the Gallery tomorrow.

“My email box has been full with complements – apparently haiku aren’t well known down this part of NZ!

“Keep an eye on the blog as I’m planning to feature one art work and its haiku each night.”

In an aside, a ceramic jug inspired by one of my haiku sold on the opening night “and I could have sold it six times over”, Ruth says.

Nov 1: Ruth Arnison has emailed about Sunday’s opening of the When North Meets South exhibition in Dunedin – after reading it through twice I have caught her excitement!

In part she writes: “I so wish you could all be down in Dunedin right now. There’s a real buzz of excitement about Sunday evening – posters all around Dunedin, radio adverts, adverts in the University’s staff magazine, a photo of one of the artworks in today’s Otago Daily Times, TV and further newspaper coverage booked in for next week…”

News of the exhibition is on the Take 5 page of next week’s Listener. Well done, Ruth, such great coverage when we all know how hard it is to get the media to take notice of anything (don’t get me started).

She also sent photos of one of the exhibition pieces that I had really been wondering about. Donna Ryalls of Simply Flowers chose one of my haiku to work with:

kneeling to tie my shoelace – moss flowers

and has been inspired to create a giant shoe from coconut fibre, sphagnum moss and other plant material. Stunning!

Donna Ryalls with her (and my!) plant shoe. Photo: Ruth Arnison

Oct 31: New posting of Haiku NewZ up today, including my review of Another Country, the haiku/haibun anthology from Wales.

Oct 27: Sorry for the absence … I’ve been spending a fair bit of time knocking my new blog, Sandra’s Garden (please, go and visit), into shape … and working on a new renku at Issa’s Snail.

The set-up for this renku is a bit different. For starters, I’m participating in my first 18-verse imachi, invented by the same husband-and-wife team that came up with the 12-verse junicho. To read about the various types of renku go to John Carley’s neat site, the Renku Reckoner.

Then, site editor Ashley Capes, decided to have a “duelling renku” pitting John’s team of 4 (now 5) against Willie Sorlien’s team of 4 (now 5). I’m part of Willie’s crew (posse?) and you can read the drafts and discussions to date here.

As of right now we’ve completed 11 verses (despite a bit of a side discussion yesterday about ewes and lambs) and John’s team has completed 9. I guess there are honours for getting across the line first but the real glory will be in the quality.

Oct 17: Received an email from Ruth Arnison, curator of the When North Meets South exhibition that opens in Dunedin on November 4. From the six haiku I sent, four are being used – two by the Otago University printer in residence in a hand–made booklet, one by a potter and one by a florist!

I investigated the price of airfares ages ago, and again more recently. An arm and a leg only begins to describe it so I have asked my daughter to go and take photos.

If you’re in the area, here are the details of the exhibition:

And you can read all about the project here.

Oct 15: Spent a great deal of time yesterday starting a new blog, Sandra’s Garden. I’d been thinking about something like this for a while and – what with the wild spring weather – the timing seemed right.

A large envelope from Japan has arrived by courier today. It contains the anthology of poems from the Ito-en Oi Ocha New Haiku Contest. A letter in English lets me know that the 296-page anthology is called Free Talking – out of all those pages only 4 contain haiku in English and 2 of those pages appear to be poems by teenage Japanese! In fact, it seems that only 11 haiku are by non-Japanese.

election day –
the sparrows
full of opinions

– Sandra Simpson

And I’ve added a new page to this blog – Things I Like that will grow over time.

Oct 7: Have checked the proofs for the poems appearing in the NZPS anthology, Building a Time Machine, edited by Owen Bullock. The book is being launched on November 3 in Wellington but this year, for the first time in several years, I won’t be able to attend (launch details and ordering information here).

I’ll take a small bow here as it was me who suggested to the organisers moving the launch from its traditional Thursday evening to Saturday evening, saying it would offer out-of-towners the opportunity to attend. The first Saturday launch (2005) saw a packed room in Turnbull House.

One of the nicest parts of the event comes afterwards when a group of us haiku-ists goes out for dinner. It’s always great fun. I’ve often had one of my children in tow and they have always been warmly welcomed too.

But this year the Tauranga Arts Festival Speaker and Workshop series is on November 3 and 4 and, as manager, I’m kind of expected to be here making sure everything runs smoothly. I’m also chairing the panel discussion on Saturday night that features three great speakers – Stephen Ryan (Australia), Margaret Barker (Larnach Castle, Otago) and Lynda Hallinan (rural Auckland). The theme? Gardening, a Life Sentence!

September 19: Wow and double wow – five haiku to appear in A Hundred Gourds, published on December 1! That’s 19 haiku accepted by editors in the past few weeks. What a great way to end the year.

Now I’m just keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I’ll manage to get one into The Heron’s Nest. This august journal has quietly started accepting single-line haiku (the first ones published in the September edition) so have tried two.

Just got to finish a write-up of the Haiku Festival Aotearoa for the next issue of AHG and I’ll feel like I’ve cleared the boards for a bit.

Had a nice surprise in the mail a couple of days ago – a review copy of Another Country, haiku poetry from Wales, the first national anthology from the principality. It includes quite a few haibun as well so is making interesting reading. And, yes, there is at least one haiku about rugby!

September 7: Martin Lucas, editor of Presence journal (UK), has accepted my piece for the Focus section for the next issue (#47, due out towards the end of the year) and has also selected six haiku for publication to go with it. This is my first submission to Presence so a strike rate I can’t hope to maintain.

And an update on the group junicho I have been leading (see entry for June 17) – accepted for publication in Notes from the Gean, along with my tomegaki (summing-up comments) in the September issue. Hurrah!

Then, at the end of August, came the news that NFTG managing editor Colin Stewart-Jones had pulled the plug … immediately. No final issue.

Submitted both pieces to A Hundred Gourds – accepted for publication in the December issue. Hurrah (times two and again)!

Fingers crossed Cold Sun will see the light of day this year.

September 5: I have my first blog follower, ta-dah! So then the pressure went on to produce something for that person to “follow” … at the end of last week I was notified that besides my two haiku which received minor awards in the recent NZ Poetry Society Haiku Contest, another six (so a total of eight haiku) have been accepted for the anthology. Wa-hoo, as Ms Frizzle would say.

I have been invited to write a short piece for the next issue of Presence journal (UK) about how I came to haiku, and a report on the Haiku Festival Aotearoa for the December issue of A Hundred Gourds. So, must get on. Welcome, follower.

August 11: Have just posted a new, glowing, review of breath from the UK haiku journal Presence. Pop on over to Reviews to read it.

July 27: A copy of breath has been resting in a window display at Books A Plenty in Tauranga this week, put up to mark National Poetry Day (today, in case you’re interested) … and guess what? It’s right next to a copy of Sam Hunt‘s new book. On. The. Same. Shelf.

Can’t help but think that that won’t happen very often!

Did a quick tot up today and have shifted just over half of my print run. Some have been given away (family, friends, review) but 70-odd have been sold. So it seems only fair and fitting to say a big THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who have purchased a copy – and not all of them are people I know, or indeed poets, which makes it all seem rather magical!

July 21: Received news this week that one of my haiku (it’s one that’s in breath) has been selected for an anthology being published in the US next year, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, edited by Jim Kacian (editor-in-chief), Allan Burns, Philip Rowland and Billy Collins (contributing editor)!

The email went on: … inclusion in this collection puts you in very distinguished company, 190 poets and nearly 800 poems from the early 20th century to the present. The book is a result of more than 8 years of work and consideration of hundreds of thousands of poems, and will appear in time to celebrate the centennial of the first great haiku written in English, Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro,” as well as the 50th anniversary of the founding of the first journal dedicated to haiku in English, American Haiku.

Cool, eh?

June 26: Just as the Haiku Festival Aotearoa (June 15-17) was happening I received an order for 2 books from Australia from a woman who had read about me in Creative Beat in April and followed that up by reading John Carley’s review and agreeing that more than one copy was probably necessary!

It’s always interesting to know how people find out about the book – a “briefly noted” review in the august journal Modern Haiku has elicited an immediate order from the US. To read the review, pop over to the Reviews page.

June 17: Changed mindsets today and tutored an hour-long class on the junicho form of renku for the Haiku Festival Aotearoa. On Friday, yesterday, and after the class today I was a participant and one of the two organisers so was worried if the gear shift would come through when I needed it – thankfully, it did. It was a fun class and helped that Vanessa Proctor was a group member as she also has renku experience and can speak Japanese (so we got the pronunciation of the terms right). The group is going to finish writing the junicho on the Issa’s Snail website where Ashley Capes has set us up a special page. This is the first renku I have done where we are all in the same time zone and hemisphere!

It was also very nice to see three of the women from my Hamilton haiku workshop – two newbies – come to the festival. I enjoyed seeing their smiles as the weekend progressed.

April 29: Spread the haiku “bug”yesterday when I led a day-long haiku writing workshop for the continuing education department of Waikato University in Hamilton. All the participants, from the knowledgable to the newbie, were enthusiastic and willing and we had some fun, as well as some serious learning. Go here to read some affirming comments from one of the course participants, Janet Keen.

April 17: “Breath is a triumph from every aspect: The size, the cover design, paper quality, font, spacing of haiku, grouping. I was really pleased to see that you had used your own photos. I relished seeing some of my favourite haiku, and others that were new to me. I read it right through in one sitting – something I’ve never done with a poetry book or journal before! A beautiful book to gift to those overseas, too. I’m so happy for you!” – Kirsten Cliff, haiku poet & editor (NZ)

April 1: “Breathless – can’t stop myself reading your haiku! I think in so many years behind me I never received a book with so many wonderful haiku. Congratulations! We will review breath with our June issue of LYNX 2012.” – Werner Reichhold, co-editor of LYNX journal (US)

March 11: “I found breath to be a re-affirmation of how resonant reality-based haiku can be. A wonderful collection – sure to get raves.” – George Swede, haiku poet & editor (Canada)

March 11: “The haiku are a delight and the whole production (photos, font, paper, etc) so well chosen. I agree with the reviewer who said that this is a book that would be a great gift for anyone wondering about haiku. Well done.” – Elaine Riddell, haiku poet (NZ)

February 22: “Your book is wonderful! It’s full of insight, the photos as well as the haiku. Congratulations!” – Owen Bullock, haiku poet (NZ)

February 14: “I have to admit that the poem ‘fifty-one summers’ made me cry!! Just the small selection I have seen are fabulous – I will be ordering a copy of the book. I have never really appreciated haiku before” – Coralee Standish, teacher (UK)

February 9: Have been approached by Total Library Solutions with a request to list breath on their website. They say they are the country’s leading supplier to libraries. Excellent!

Today is a bit of a red-letter day for sales … 7 copies sent to Wheelers (book distributors) in Auckland, 4 to a single buyer in the UK and 1 to Hamilton (NZ). Apart from my launch party, the most sold in a single day.

It may not be up there with Dan Brown and Alison Holst, but I’m happy.

January 29: With great sadness I record the passing on January 27 of Cyril Childs, editor of the first 2 New Zealand haiku anthologies, the second of which featured some of my haiku and made me feel that, yeah, maybe I was beginning to understand it. In more recent years he has been a good friend. Cyril, his wife Christine and I spent a fun time together at the Haiku Pacific Rim conference in 2009 and we spent an afternoon with them at their beloved Riverton bach last summer. I was looking forward to seeing them both at the Haiku Festival Aotearoa in June.

I have been asked by his son to write about Cyril’s accomplishments in haiku which my daughter Sophia will read at his funeral. Cyril was 70.

January 26: Delivered another 4 copies to Books A Plenty, an independent bookseller in Tauranga. They had sold 3 of the original 4 and requested more, saying they were very happy with the way it was going. It is also available from them online.

January 25: Having discovered that my local library won’t buy from me directly, I completed the (free) paperwork to have breath listed on the Wheeler’s Books website, New Zealand’s largest online supplier to schools and libraries.

January 20: “What a lovely book, breath-taking haiku & stunning photos … and I’ve only skimmed through. Thank you, I will enjoy reading and savouring each delightful creation” – Andre Surridge, haiku poet (NZ)

January 18: “I have now enjoyed breath through two readings – one immediately upon arrival and another more careful savoring. It’s a beautiful collection, beautifully assembled” – Billie Wilson, haiku poet (US)

January 12: “I enjoyed re-reading already admired haiku and meeting new haiku. And I very much liked the clear, fresh, uncluttered setting out, and selection and placement of fine photos” – Nola Borrell, haiku poet (NZ)

January 11: “You’ve put together a very impressive collection of the best of your work. I’ve always admired the consistent individual voice you bring to the haiku genre. Working within constraints, but making them your own in some very subtle, often physical poems. A real sense of presence.

“There are several established favourites here from my reading of Heron’s Nest, etc, but to have the book as a whole is an absolute delight!” – Tony Beyer, haiku poet (NZ)

January 9: “There are a number [of haiku] in breath that are favourite haiku for me: just absolutely delightful poems … Of course I expected the general standard to be high – and it was – but I didn’t expect a handful of favourites” – John O’Connor, haiku poet (NZ).

January 5, 2012: A half-page feature article about the book and author appears in the weekly Bay News (Tauranga, New Zealand). It’s a free paper with a wide distribution. Good feedback from it and, even better, a decent photo!

December 29: Breath is a pleasure: content, design, just to hold in the hand” – Paul MacNeil, haiku poet (US) & associate editor at The Heron’s Nest.

December 29: An article and photo about the book and author appear in the Katikati Advertiser, a weekly community newspaper that has a devoted readership. (Katikati is home to the Haiku Pathway.)

December 21, 2011: “Leafing through [the book] it struck me for the first time what might draw such a talented poet to this form. It’s the ‘getting-to-the-guts-of-it’, isn’t it? No flannel, no ego, no ‘personality’. Total self-deletion.

“I found a number of these [haiku] quite beautiful” – Leonard Lambert, (not a haiku) poet (NZ).