Honey harvest

The beekeeper arrived, unannounced on December 19, and harvested honey for us, leaving it in a big bucket for us to dispense into jars which Haiku Son and I duly did, Haiku Husband being away for a couple of days (he’d done it by himself last year).

As a two-person operation it all went quite smoothly – he operated the dispensing nozzle while I held the jars underneath and called ‘stop’. We finished with a couple of empty jars to spare, whew, and not too much sticky mess to clean up.

sunlit jar
the beekeeper’s gift
on the doorstep

– Carmen Sterba
The Heron’s Nest 3:6 (2001)

Photo: Sandra Simpson

on the honey
a slight scent of the forest — 
lengthening daylight

– Tsugawa Eriko, tr Kato Koko
A Vast Sky: An anthology of contemporary world haiku (Tancho Press, 2015)

I spent a couple of days tasting the honey, trying to work out what it tasted of, if anything in particular, but no such luck. A bit of a fizz on the tongue, though, that’s about the best specific I can do.

Oh, yes, 10kg, same as last year!

honey bee –
at last the budding weeds
have meaning

– Ben Moeller-Gaa
Mystic Illuminations 3 (2016)

The bees are smoked to keep them quiet. Photo: Sandra Simpson

on hold with the help desk a sound of bees swarming 

– Sandra Simpson
Presence 51 (2014)

end of a love
honey hardens
in the jar

– Polona Oblak
Notes from the Gean 3:4 (2012)

Botan shibe fukaku wakeizuru hachi no nagori kana

A bee
staggers out
of the peony.

– Matsuo Basho, tr Robert Hass
Basho’s haiku originally from Skeleton in the Fields (Nozarashi kiko)
a travel journal of 1684-5

Another translation is:

from deep within 
the peony pistils — withdrawing
regretfully the bee

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Season of goodwill … & haiku

Merry Christmas to all those who read breath – it’s been a pleasure having you along  over the past year of haiku musings. And my very best wishes for a healthy and productive New Year.

Here are a few seasonal haiku to see us on our way to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and beyond!

Photo: Menchi, via Wikipedia.

christmas eve
in the taxi cab
a scent of pine

– Tom Painting
bottle rockets 12 (2006)

toll booth lit for Christmas —
from my hand to hers
warm change

– Michael Dylan Welch
Second place, Henderson Haiku Contest (HSA), 1995

birthcry!
          the stars
          are all in place

– Raymond Roseliep
from haiku mind by Patricia Donegan (Shambhala, 2008)

summer solstice –
the flock passes into darkness
one by one

– Sandra Simpson
A Hundred Gourds 3.4 (2014)

Christmas eve
in the courtyard below
a flutter of wings

– Pamela Miller Ness
The Heron’s Nest 3.5 (2001)

Christmas night
the lights on the house opposite
blink      blink blink         blink

– Sandra Simpson
Prune Juice 19, 2016

shaving foam
Santa in my mirror
waits for wishes

– Alexey Andreev
Presence 56 (2016)

New Haiku Pathway poem: Part 1

Last night’s Katikati Haiku Pathway Committee meeting began with a visit to a brand-new pathway poem, our 44th haiku. Our delight in the organic, yet sophisticated, look of the work is tempered by the fact that poet Jane Reichhold is not alive to have seen it completed.

We had corresponded by email over a period after requesting permission to use her haiku and know that she was honoured and excited to have her poem used on the Pathway.

Haiku Pathway founder Catherine Mair with the new boulder. Photo: Sandra Simpson

As usual, the project has been a community effort. It has been able to go ahead thanks to a donation from the Twilight Concert Committee – the Pathway reserve is now a permanent home for the summer concerts.

The metal plaques inscribed with the poem have been made by Stainless Downunder, a Katikati company, and fitted into the rock by fourth-generation stone mason Paul Gautron who has inscribed many of the pathway’s poem boulders. The boulder was purchased from Carine Garden Centre and lifted into place, free of charge, by Tom of Fotheringhame Contractors who are working on the next-door stage of Highfields.

And none of it would have been possible without the support of Wayne Allchorne, our Western Bay of Plenty District Council parks officer, and his boss Peter Watson.

Photo: Sandra Simpson

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 45th haiku being finished! Read more about the Katikati Haiku Pathway, a free walk that is open every day.

Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize Longlist

Last night was the Tauranga event introducing the longlist for the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, worth $50,000 and part of the Ockham Book Awards. As you may remember from the inaugural announcement last year, it’s an anonymous Tauranga resident who has donated the $50,000 prize – in perpetuity – which the Acorn Foundation administers.

A recent Book Council survey found that New Zealand fiction is little read and offered some reasons why. Read the Booksellers NZ response to that report. In September The Listener quoted a 2014 figure of NZ fiction making up only 3% of total book sales in this country.

Chris Baskett, co-owner of Books A Plenty, gave us a great run-down of each book and noted that before the Acorn Award (ie, November 2015) the store sold 5.8% of NZ fiction from its total – now the figure is 11.2%. “That’s one of the great thing about awards,” she said. “They give readers a focus.”

Catherine Chidgey, author of The Wish Child and a multi-winner of awards and prizes, came ‘over the hill’ from Ngaruawahia to talk about her book – which comes 13 years after her third novel, The Transformation – and to read from it.

Catherine Chidgey at last night’s event. Photo: Sandra Simpson

She said her first book, The Fishbone Church was set in New Zealand and written while living in Germany. This book is set in Germany and written while living in New Zealand. The Wish Child is set in World War 2 and told from the viewpoint of two children with a mysterious narrator – to reveal the identity of the “obscure historical figure from the 1930s” would, Catherine said, destroy the story. Anyone in the audience who had read it, nodded in agreement.

The longlist comprises:

The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press)

A Briefcase, Two Pies and a Penthouse by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson)

My Mother and the Hungarians by Frankie McMillan (Canterbury University Press)

Love as a Stranger by Owen Marshall (Penguin Random House)

Tail of the Taniwha by Courtney Sina Meredith (Beatnik Publishing)

Billy Bird by Emma Neale (Penguin Random House)

Deleted Scenes for Lovers by Tracey Slaughter (Victoria University Press)

The Name on the Door is Not Mine by CK Stead (Allen & Unwin)

Dad Art by Damien Wilkins (Victoria University Press)

Strip by Sue Wootton (Makaro Press).

Chris noted the number of poets represented among the authors – and it was also interesting that a number of the books are, effectively, short story collections, a genre that a leading literary figure told me in 2014 “no one wants to publish”.

Book sales were great on the night. Photo: Sandra Simpson

See the full set of Ockham categories and nominees here.

The shortlist will be announced on March 7 and the winners on May 16.

Something that Chris neglected to mention last night: Books A Plenty was the deserving subject of the winning Love Letter to Bookshops competition held in October by Booksellers NZ. Read the winning letter from Marcus Hobson of Tauranga.

Update, May 16: And the winner is The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey!