Martin Lucas Haiku Award

Excited beyond belief to learn that not only have I won the Martin Lucas Haiku Award but have also been placed Third equal and received a Commended! Many thanks to the organisers and to judge Simon Chard for supporting my haiku and his comments.

skylark song – 
the name on her headstone
almost gone

– Sandra Simpson, 1st

harriet simpson grave - Copy

The grave of my great-great grandmother Harriet Simpson inspired the winning haiku. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read the judge’s comments on all the winning poems.

sickle moon –  
somewhere, his name
on the Menin Gate

– Sandra Simpson, 3rd equal

Oddly, it was only after I saw the results that I realised these two haiku were so close in tone and content! I’m going to visit the Menin Gate this year, and will try and find one headstone in Ypres/one name on the Menin Gate among the many. Although my family has no  blood connection to this man, he named one of my great-grandmothers as his next-of-kin and we have kept the black-edged telegrams and his medals. I’m not sure he would have had anybody else visit.

thunder close by – 
a shearer holds his comb
to the emery wheel

– Sandra Simpson, Commended

So pleased that this one was picked out, it’s a memory-packed haiku for me and one that I’ve been writing in my head for years, although – amazingly – this was my first attempt at writing it down. If you don’t know what it looks like when a shearer holds a metal comb to an emery wheel, have a look here. A comb is fitted into the handpiece and is what clips the fleece. Important to keep it sharp.

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International Women’s Haiku Festival

The multi-talented Jennifer Hambrick – classical musician, singer, radio host, poet and photographer – is running the second International Women’s Haiku Festival on her blog, Inner Voices and posted three of my haiku for the March 20 entry. Her commentaries  are insightful and sensitive so I am grateful to have been included.

This haiku has been rejected previously – by male editors. Jennifer understands exactly what I was saying and which life stage I was at!

heat wave –
holding the soft part of my wrist
under the tap

Sandra Simpson

The term “heat wave” has a wonderful double resonance as the natural phenomenon of a period of scorching outdoor temperatures and as a metaphor for the hot flashes that often come with the equally natural process of menopause. Either way, one can imagine seeking relief from the external or internal heat by holding the sensitive flesh of the underside of the wrist beneath a trickle of cool water, a common remedy for the discomfort of hot flashes.

– Jennifer Hambrick

Here’s another on the topic that was published in NOON 13 (Japan) last year. The editor of this journal is a man so I wondered if he’d experienced this from the other side! The build-up to menopause is recognised as a condition all on its own (perimenopause) and certainly there were times when I’m sure no jury would have convicted me. Demented was about right!

menopause
a swan hisses
dementedly

Sandra Simpson

Those Women who Write Haiku by Jane Reichhold is available as a free download and is well worth a read. In it, she surveys the earliest known women writing haiku in Japan through to 1990 and English-language poets.

stopping
my work in the sink
voice of the uguisu

Chigetsu (1632-1708), translated by RH Blyth (uguisu is a bush warbler bird)

Chigetsu’s son was a student of Basho and she was able to meet the master over a period of about 2 years. Uko was married to one of Basho’s closest friends, the doctor and haiku poet Boncho.

the fancy hairpins
along with the combs useless now
camellia flowers fall

Uko (died in the 18th century), translated by Blyth

summer   beneath my breasts

Marlene Mountain, published 1977

And finally, a tribute to Marlene Mountain (b 1939), who died earlier this week. Born Marlene Morelock, this distinctive and unique voice in haiku was married to haiku poet John Wills (1921-1993). She changed her surname to Mountain to celebrate the mountains of her home state of Tennessee. An activist feminist, Marlene began writing haiku in the 1960s and her work was experimental from then until her death – she was one of, if not the, earliest practitioner of one-line haiku in English. Read her work here. Her first book was old tin roof, published in 1976. Read an essay by Jack Galmitz in appreciation of her work.

old turtle pushes her shadow to sea

Marlene Mountain, published 1976