Oh, so hot

Where is the rain that keeps being forecast? With all the technology that surrounds weather forecasting now you think they’d be a bit better at it – but every night the rain is shoved back a day or two and the sticky heat continues.

record heat –
a song thrush beats
against the tomato cage

– Sandra Simpson, Daily Haiku, 2011

humid afternoon
the chained dog
doesn’t run out of bark

– Paul MacNeil, Kokako 5, 2006

And just to put me in my place …

it’s summer; then
‘oh, let’s have winter’
some men say

– Uejima Onitsura, from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse, 1964.


A lifting of spirits

February has been an unkind month, one way and another, with some anguish still to come as my baby leaves home … being a mother has its joys and its definite downsides, the anxieties being one of the latter. Being the child of an ageing parent,  I’ve discovered this the past week, requires physical as well as emotional stamina.

So the surprise news from the annual Readers’ Choice Awards of The Heron’s Nest has come at a good time – not only did I win the Favourite Haiku of 2013 title, but was also voted Poet of the Year! So, as voted by THN readers from 490 contenders, the Favourite Haiku of 2013:

receding tide the gasps of little shells

– Sandra Simpson

The news and the emails of congratulations from around the world lifted my spirits and brought a big smile to my face (and, just between you and me, a little tear to my eye).

The Heron’s Nest was the first of the “big” journals to publish my work and I have had a pleasant and ongoing relationship with it and “my” editor Paul MacNeil ever since. Being published there is a privilege.

Waiting for me at home was the latest Red Moon anthology, Fear of Dancing. As you may be aware I am the South Pacific editor for this anthology so am always pleased to see New Zealand and Australian writers well represented in the series that aims to be “a celebration of the best haiku and related work published in English around the world each calendar year”.

I don’t nominate everything written by poets from the South Pacific – quality is key –  but I try to read as widely as possible and keep an eye out for work wherever it may be published. This time there are seven New Zealanders included (all haiku) and four Australians (haiku), plus two more Australians in the linked forms section.

Three of my haiku are included (if you get your hands on an anthology you can read about how the nomination and voting process works – there is no advantage in being an editor).

striking a match
against his boot
approaching storm

– Sandra Simpson

This is a reworking of a haiku I started in a workshop at Haiku North America last August. We were asked to compose something in 5-7-5 and I offered mine for sharing. I couldn’t understand why Sophia was nudging me in the ribs … I had managed 5-7-6, even though I was sure it had worked when I counted it in my head. Oh, the embarrassment!

I liked the poem enough to rewrite it and had it accepted for publication in, you guessed it, The Heron’s Nest.

Living in a country area, neighbours stay neighbours for generations – this haiku is about Peter, who lived across the road from my grandparents and then my parents. As a child I was fascinated with a) his height (tall) and b) the way he struck matches for his pipe on his work boots, fence posts or even his corduroy trousers! He was working his father’s farm, while his uncle had the farm across the road and built the house my grandparents bought. Peter’s son is now my mother’s neighbour.

Removals Inc

As you can see from New Book(s) post below, some changes have been made to a review I wrote of Where the River Goes, editor Allan Burns (Snapshot Press 2013). Well, only one change really, the review has been removed from Haiku NewZ and won’t be reposted.

The editor wrote one of those more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger letters basically telling me I had screwed up by not understanding this, that or the other. He has a PhD in English and I have a degree in nothing. He wanted a better review and I had none to give as I believed I had written my piece honestly in the first place. He disliked the opinion in the review, I believe a review should contain opinion. Etc and so on.

Let me say clearly Dr Burns wasn’t unkind, and he wasn’t shouty. But we were not going to meet in the middle on most things.

The way things are at the moment with me personally (and I don’t want to sound melodramatic because it isn’t) I haven’t got the energy, the will or anything else to get into a debate. So the easiest thing is just to remove it and wish the book well. Yeah, it’s censorship but I’m doing it to myself.

Which brings me to the next point.

Haiku NewZ will no longer publish reviews. It was never intended as a point of first publication and so I will stick to that first principle. Books being published may or may not be noted, the Reviews archive will remain (minus the review in question, of course), as will the list of books that are free to download or read online.