Changing calendars is a good time to think about the year gone and the one to come – when I look back over 2014 I feel like I didn’t achieve much with my haiku so it has been good to look through my record of poems that got published.

January: Frogpond (1); Haiku and Humour, a collection by Rangitawa Press (3). March:  A Hundred Gourds (3); The Heron’s Nest (2). April: Kokako (3, no website); Frogpond (1). June: A Hundred Gourds (2); Presence (2); The Heron’s Nest (1). September: A Hundred Gourds (2); The Heron’s Nest (2); Kokako (4). November: New Zealand Poetry Society’s anthology, Take Back Our Sky (2). December: A Hundred Gourds (1); Presence (4, still coming, due date was December) = 33.

January 2015: Speedbump Journal (1) and cattails (2).

Coming up: Modern Haiku (1); A Hundred Gourds (2); Wild Plum (1) with a couple of submissions still out there …

An Honourable Mention in the Betty Drevniok Award (Haiku Canada) was my only contest result, although I was named Poet of the Year and had the Poem of the Year at The Heron’s Nest! (A pretty big honour but I have to note that this was for work published in 2013.) This year I also had a photo selected in The Heron’s Nest illustration contest for the annual anthology.

water rising
to my thighs and beyond –
gamelan music

– Sandra Simpson, from Speedbump Journal

See and hear a Balinese gamelan performance here.

Meanwhile, the final selections have been made for big data, the Red Moon anthology for 2014 (I’m the South Pacific editor). The work of three New Zealanders is included and six Australians from a total of 148 poets.

I intend to try and write more this year and to work my way back through my unpublished folder and do some editing, which will be good for the soul, if nothing else!


Year of soaping fabulously – the end!

And so it’s come to an end, my year of soaping fabulously – and with impeccable timing my most recent soap is wearing wafer thin. Not sure that I’ll go back to supermarket bars (or maybe I can’t go back) but maybe I won’t be so adventurous in my soap hunting either.

summer twilight
a woman’s song
      mingles with the bath water

– Patricia Donegan
from Haiku Poetry Ancient & Modern (2002)

I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey, and here are my final three reviews …

New Zealand Chardonnay Fine Wine Soap from Banks & Co Botanicals comes in a luxurious lidded box with the round, generously-sized soap sitting in a fitted sleeve. The soap is part of the company’s Vineyard Collection that also includes Australian “flavours” and, on the box at least, has an over-reliance on capital letters. The website promises fragrance notes of passionfruit and honey lingering long after use but I can’t say I noticed that. The scent of the soap when new was delicious and occasionally the scent re-emerged. The round soap is large, too large for my hands, but once it had shrunk a bit was fine. Very pleasant, long lasting and felt luxurious.

Cost: $15.50 (I bought mine on sale for $12.50) for 200g. Rating: 4 stars.

Visiting Bali was a chance to pick up a soap – the one that I kept for myself was Outrageous Orange purchased at the newest Sari Organik store and restaurant in Ubud (the link to Sari Organik’s own website doesn’t work). Soap maker Island Mystk uses “saponified” coconut oil in its products but I notice palm oil in the ingredients too – the palm oil industry causes environmental concern for several reasons, not least the burning of virgin jungle to plant a monoculture. Although the Island Mystk website doesn’t show Outrageous Orange, it is packaged like Island Spice, except in orange hand-made paper. The soap also contains rice milk, honey, orange and essential oils. This soap has a beautiful scent, lasted well and was pleasant to use.

Cost: $3 (Rp30,000) $1.50 for 120g. Rating: 4 stars. (I found the receipt after posting this, it was Rp30,000 for two bars!)

Browsing the stands at the Feilding Farmers Market (well worth a visit if you’re in Manawatu on a Friday) I decided to make my final soap purchase of the year – a bar of coconut soap from The Soapman. The soap contains only coconut oil, coconut pieces and coconut cream yet for all that doesn’t smell at all coconutty, one of my favourite scents. The pieces give the soap a nice abrasive quality and although it doesn’t lather up much, it still feels like it’s doing a nice job.

Cost: $3.50 for 100g. Rating: 3 stars (would have been 4 except for the scent thing).

Read Part 4
Read Part 3
Read Part 2
Read Part 1