Debating success

Sometime haiku poet Sophia Frentz was co-organiser of the recent Australs Debating Tournament at Otago University in Dunedin – and despite stressing to the moon and back, she can consider it a job well done.

The university is also singing the praises of Sophia and her fellow organisers, the team from the Otago University Debating Society and judges from OUDS. Read that here (low-resolution pic, but Sophia is glam in the blue dress in front). See more of Sophia and Australs here.

walking home –
the next bus stop
even brighter

– Sophia Frentz, Ice Diver (NZPS anthology, 2011)

Sophia has recently moved to Melbourne to begin another round of study.

While in Long Beach for last year’s Haiku North America, Sophia was interviewed by the LA Weekly about haiku. Read that story here.



Time for a cuppa

I don’t know who researches these things but apparently enough tea is drunk annually to reach to the Moon and back 12 times!

For a few years my preferred hot drink was hot water but, unless I’m at work out of the house, I’ve gone back to tea and when I’m at home can have several mugs a day in cold weather. As an aside, I’ve never drunk coffee except once, by accident, when I was too young and polite to say anything, yeuch (love the smell of it brewing though).

      friend’s funeral
      a stranger uses
      her teapot

– Nola Borrell, 2nd place, Katikati Haiku Contest, 2006

Nola prefers herbal teas (more properly tisanes) generally, a lemon and ginger being her favourite, but also drinks the well-known Earl Grey.


my teacup cooling
on the windowsill,
dark leaves of the magnolia

– Richard von Sturmer, Suchness: Zen poetry and prose (HeadworX, Wellington 2005)


steeping tea
the time it takes to lose a street
to snow

– Ben Moeller-Gaa, an editor’s choice in The Heron’s Nest, XV:2 (2013)

Ben is an American writer of haiku who prefers “an Irish Breakfast with just enough milk to turn the dark mug gold”. My favourite tipple is Lady Grey, weak and black, thanks. According to the link, I must have some Scandinavian blood because I too find Earl Grey bitter.

And, of course, we couldn’t have a posting about tea without something from “little cup of tea” himself, Issa.

na no hana ni yotsu no naru made asa cha kanaamid

rape flowers
till the ten o’clock bell …
morning tea

– translated by David Lanoue and from his Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website

Read more about tea in Japan here.

Red piano & others

I made the post below with the picture of Michael Parekowhai’s red piano and woke up this morning and remembered this haiku:

ants out of a hole —
when did I stop playing
the red toy piano?

– Fay Aoyagi, from In Borrowed Shoes (Blue Willow Press, San Francisco) 2006.

Fay’s haiku are always interesting as she ploughs a course different to most with her work. Read her blog, Blue Willow World, where she daily translates a haiku from Japanese into English.

And then this one … (red in her father’s face perhaps)

piano practice
in the room above me
my father shouting

– Roberta Beary, from The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, UK, 2007)

And because it seems right to have haiku in threes, here’s another.

rain at last!
I ask the piano salesman
to riff a little Bach

– Carolyn Hall, The Heron’s Nest XVI: 2 (2014)

It was my pleasure to meet each of these talented poets in Long Beach last year.

Haiku reading

Advance notice of me reading some haiku – Tauranga Art Gallery, Thursday August 21, doors open 5.30pm for a 6pm start. I have baggsed the first spot after the interval as most of the others (5) will be reading longer poems and I wanted to give my little ones room to breathe.

The event has been organised by the gallery to celebrate the “Black Rainbow” exhibition, which features some of Ralph Hotere‘s black paintings, as well as Michael Parekowhai‘s in-cred-ib-le red piano.

Black Painting XV by Ralph Hotere. Image: Courtesy of Te Papa.

The painting features the words “malady” and “melody” taken from a poem by Bill Manhire. I thought a two-word painting behind me would lend power to my three-line haiku.

I wish I could find a better photo of the piano – He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river – but all the other images I can see are copyrighted. Read about the piano’s $1.5 million purchase price here. It’s nice that Te Papa is prepared to share.

The carving is exquisite (if I read the information correctly, designed by Parekowhai but not executed by him) and the lacquer finish makes it, well, sing!

Winners & a loser

Heartiest congratulations to my mate Vanessa Proctor, winner of this year’s NZPS International Haiku Contest with:

all that I am mountain spring

I’ve just finished reading the report by judge John O’Connor and right at the end he mentions my name followed by the words “one of our leading haiku poets”. Gulp. Thing is, I haven’t won a brass razoo in this year’s contest! No mention of any sort, except that fulsome praise. Bet you can you all see my red face from where you are.

So here’s an earlier one that has done well – winning the 2008 Kokako Haiku Contest. This haiku also appears in breath and is featured on the Katikati Haiku Pathway.

pausing also
at the sacred matai …
a wood pigeon

– Sandra Simpson

Matai, or black pine, is a conifer native to New Zealand. Read more here.

The wood pigeon or kereru is a beautiful bird, but is also a greedy and rather stupid bird that will eat until it can no longer fly which made it easy game for Maori and early settlers. Apparently it’s quite good eating, my grandmother (born about 1903) could recall having it in a pie when she was young. Some of the trees in our native forest rely on the kereru to distribute seeds so it plays a unique role in forest regeneration.


A kereru or NZ wood pigeon. Photo: Sandra Simpson


This link tells you a bit about the spot beside Lake Rotoiti that inspired the haiku.

Winter holiday

Raining again, and turning cold too after what has so far been a very mild winter. Still, we had time this morning to rake a mess of leaves off the garden and on to the lawn for Haiku Teenager to mow over and throw into the leaf mould bins. Haiku Husband pruned the hydrangeas down to the ground and I set to and weeded the new garden.

We’re all on holiday this week but decided on a “stay-cation” when we saw the weather forecasts – not nice anywhere in the North Island all week. Today’s treat was High Tea at a local, smart hotel. As we left Haiku Husband suggested I should recommend it only to people I didn’t like! So, as nobody here qualifies for that appellation, I shall instead recommend High Tea at Chateau Tongariro and High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate near Hamilton, the former more traditional, the latter more innovative with its use of tea-flavoured food – and both delicious!

Here are some haiku to whisk us away to sunnier climes and warmer times …

all the umbrellas proceed
at the same pace

– Greg Piko (Australia), Modern Haiku 37:2, 2006


                                                                         afternoon breeze 
                                                                         the pace of paddle boats 
                                                                         in the park

– Ben Moeller-Gaa (US), The Heron’s Nest XV:3, 2013


green and black lizard
curled in a stone nostril:
summer in Rome

– Sandra Simpson, winterSPIN, 1995


reef sharks
the black eye
of the hibiscus

– Sandra Simpson, Simply Haiku 4:4, 2006


And a senryu to end on …

After pushing the lawnmower at noontime, the simple taste of water is satisfying

– Anon, from Gardeners’ Pioneer Story (Southern California Gardeners Federation, 2007)

The book’s editor, Sankyaku (Sunny) Seki, spoke about senryu at last year’s Haiku North America conference in Long Beach, California. The book is about the senryu of the Japanese gardeners who at one time dominated as domestic gardeners in Los Angeles and what the poems reveal about their lives through the 20th century from 1907. It was originally published (in Japanese) in Rafu Shimpo, a Japanese-language newspaper in Los Angeles. No author names are attached to the senryu, and all are presented as single lines.

Here is another article about the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation which had thousands of Japanese members when it started.