John O’Connor 1949-2015

It is with sadness that I write about the passing of my friend John O’Connor of Christchurch, a leading figure in haiku in New Zealand. Read something of his life and about his work here.

John was an extraordinarily able poet and his appreciation of my work meant a great deal to me … although I was able to tease him after his judge’s report for last year’s NZPS Haiku Contest. In it, he wrote: “To go further [with your haiku] have a look at the Poetry Society’s website – it has plenty of excellent advice put together by Sandra Simpson, one of our leading haiku poets” … but he omitted to choose one of my haiku for the (lengthy) prizelist! We decided we were both red-faced, as he genuinely thought there was something by me among his choices. It was always good hearing him laugh.

obit page –
the face of an old friend
stares out

– John O’Connor

                        Looking back through mist – 
unable to see who passed.

– John O’Connor, after Shiki

In our last phone call just a few days before he died, we did plenty of laughing. I will miss his friendship and his kindness but, above all, I will miss the poems he had still to write.