Recent success

It felt like I was starting 2019 on the right foot when an email arrived advising I had won the Iris magazine Little Haiku Contest!

twilight —
humming as i weed
around the hive

Organised by the Three Rivers Haiku Association in Croatia, the contest was judged by haiku maestro Jim Kacian. Among his comments, which I’m guessing will be published in the next issue of Iris, Jim says:

What raises this poem above the other haiku here, however, is something more. I think it important to recognize that the poet is not humming to the bees, or imitating the bees. The poet is humming because she is employed in a fruitful and welcome occupation. Bees, after all, do not hum, but we can hear their wingbeats when they fly, or when they vibrate their wing muscles to shake pollen from a flower. While we interpret it as a kind of music, what we actually hear is exertion.

Our poet is wholly engaged in her task, and her humming, too, is the by-product of her effort. And if again we hear this effort as music, then our lives are that much richer for it.

It’s always fascinating to see what other people mine from your work. Yesterday I sent my judge’s comments to the organisers of the Martin Lucas Haiku Award so hope contestants and readers of issue 63 of Presence haiku journal will find them interesting.

beehive

My haiku is based on experiences around the two beehives we have in our suburban garden. This summer has been exceptionally hot and dry and the bees have been making the most of it. The other evening I could feel the vibration coming from the boxes even standing a few metres away! We harvested from one hive this past week – and the honey is sensational, very sweet and caramel this year.

And I have a haiku in the latest (rolling) edition of Wales Haiku Journal.

too fast
to read the station’s name –
buddleia

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Hamilton celebrates KM

Hamilton is on a bit of a Katherine Mansfield binge just now, thanks to the opening of the new Mansfield Garden at Hamilton Gardens. There’s a lovely big parcel of delicious events coming up:

I was given a sneak peek of the Mansfield Garden in 2017, but largely sworn to secrecy, so must get over and revel in the finished garden – Hamilton Gardens has never had so many sponsors for a project – and enjoy some of these associated events.

The Garden-Party by Katherine Mansfield, published in 1922

And after all the weather was ideal. They could not have had a more perfect day for a garden-party if they had ordered it. Windless, warm, the sky without a cloud. Only the blue was veiled with a haze of golden light, as it is sometimes in early summer. The gardener had been up since dawn, mowing the lawns and sweeping them, until the grass and the dark flat rosettes where the daisy plants had been seemed to shine. As for the roses, you could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden-parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing. Hundreds, yes, literally hundreds, had come out in a single night; the green bushes bowed down as though they had been visited by archangels.

Read the full text here.

KM was born Kathleen Beauchamp in Wellington in 1888 and died in France in 1923. Read a biography here.

 

NZPS Contest Update

tango

The 2018 NZPS anthology is not only out – it has sold out! But there may be a reprint of The Unnecessary Invention of Punctuationread more here. So I can now share the haiku that was placed First and won the Jeanette Stace Memorial Award:

cloud lichen …
too late now
to learn the tango

Sandra Simpson

This was written well before I began a six-week course of ballroom dance lessons … turns out it might also be too late to learn how to foxtrot!

roadside blackberries –
the book I wore out reading
to my brother

Sandra Simpson, Commended

kingfisher

by the time he says kingfisher –

Sandra Simpson, Highly Commended

League of Nations

Presence 62 is the final edition for the year and, as usual, is a thoroughly good read featuring voices from around the world. Read more about the journal (including how to subscribe).

an inchworm’s stretch
                  I pull the next leaf
           towards it

Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy (UK)

setting sun –
in the ashtray the butt
still glowing

Minh-Triet Pham (France)

clouding over
the conversation turns
to cancer

Andre Surridge (NZ)

shotgun blast –
so strangely green
these winter fields

David Bingham (UK)

half-open window
the splatter of raindrops
on a child’s palm

Indra Neil Makala (India)

country village
on each house roof a crow
crowing

Anna Maris (Sweden)

heat in the city
a swallow’s repeated dives
to the riverbank

Polona Oblak (Slovenia)

dust storm
the desert bloodwood
holds its ground

Gregory Piko (Australia)

heroine’s grave –
the screech of seabirds
never-ending

Sandra Simpson (New Zealand)

Fourth NZ Haiku Anthology

It’s getting closer, folks. My co-editor Margaret Beverland and I have been working away steadily at this new volume and are now quite close to engaging with the print process.

Haiku have been selected and shuffled into some sort of narrative flow; biographical notes have been collected (alas, there’s a couple still dragging the chain); an ISBN number has been applied for; fore and aft papers created; permission gained for the re-use of illustrations on section separators; and a title selected.

Once we have a quote we feel happy with, then begins the process of cover design, choosing a paper weight and colour, typeface, perhaps an adjustment of the type sizes we’ve chosen, page numbering style and, doubtless, a few other things I’ve forgotten about.

In about September we gave ourselves permission not to have to have it out by Christmas and I think that has helped the process immeasurably. If it’s being feted somewhere on February 6, that would seem about right (Waitangi Day, the closest New Zealand comes to a national day).

Waitangi Day squall –
         the Governor-General’s representative
              grips his necktie

Eric Mould, winner of the 2002 NZPS Haiku Contest
published in A Savage Gathering (NZPS, 2002)

By the way, our anthology surveys New Zealand haiku from 2008-2018 so this haiku won’t be part of it … but we are very excited about the poems we do have. More anon.

Armistice centenary

We split up yesterday to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1. Haiku Husband and I were in Wellington (where the weather was absolutely, positively gorgeous) and Haiku Son was in Tauranga.

I went to a LitCrawl session at the National Library: The Eleventh Hour on The Eleventh Day, where writers young and old – and including two teenage Syrian refugee brothers – responded to the topic.

Haiku Husband headed off to the National Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and came back speaking of it in glowing terms, and with an official programme.

armistice wreath - Copy

The cover of the beautifully produced programme.

The inside back cover records the plant material used to make the Wreath of Remembrance: Olive, pohutukawa, Turkey oak (Quercus cerris), northern rata, a native fern (it doesn’t specify which one), Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), eucalyptus, kōwhai, rosemary, and mānuka flowers.

sprigs of rosemary
something about the tea urn
makes me cry

– Beverley George, from Pearl Beach Village Hall April 25, 2006, a haiku sequence (Blithe Spirit 16.2, 2006).

Haiku Son was minding the hacienda and went to a Tauranga screening of They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson’s compilation of documentary footage from London’s Imperial War Museum that has been cleaned up and colourised.

It doesn’t start or end in colour, instead it’s only when the soldiers get to France that it becomes colour. He described it as informative, thought-provoking and very moving. (I’m going tonight.)

In case you have an interest in reading about Haiku in the Great War, please click on the link to visit a 2015 article I wrote on the topic.

Des croix de bois blanc
Surgissent du sol,
Chaque jour, ça et là.

– Julien Vocance (1878-1954), read more of his haiku (in French).

white wooden crosses
bursting from the soil,
each day, here and there 

Wishbone Moon

Wishbone Moon, edited by Roberta Beary, Ellen Compton and Kala Ramesh (Jacar Press, 2018), 104 pages.

This anthology of women’s haiku features 108 poets from around the world – eight from New Zealand (including me) – and is dedicated to the memory of pioneer American haiku poet and feminist Marlene Mountain (1939-2018).

The editors themselves nicely span the globe and all are highly esteemed poets and editors – Roberta Beary (living in Ireland, American by birth), Ellen Compton (US) and Kala Ramesh (India) – while contributors come from five continents.

A brief “editors’ introduction” appears on the back cover of the book and explains that the poets appearing in the anthology were invited to submit work for consideration – there was no open call. “We asked the nominees to send us their very best work. We did not suggest a theme or topic. We wanted to showcase work representing the haiku aesthetic at its best…”

Wishbone Moon is billed as an “a groundbreaking anthology of haiku by women”, but it seems to me that it’s groundbreaking only in the sense this the first women-only haiku anthology. The poems themselves, while of a high standard and very readable, aren’t particularly experimental (with a couple of exceptions) nor “in your face” feminist.

Critics may well argue that an anthology of women writing about any old thing might as well be an anthology of writers of any gender. Do women intrinsically have a shared view of the world – no matter where they come from, their age, education or economic class? Do women have insights that other genders don’t possess?

There are plenty of haiku in Wishbone Moon to prove that, naturally, women write on any topic. (Try covering up the names in any quality haiku journal and see if you can discern the author’s gender with any certainty.)

communal riots –
trying to find myself
in the ruins

Iqra Raza (India)

a yellowing
of leaves on the oak …
I turn fifty

Anne Curran (NZ)

cowlick
some part of me
still wild

Annette Y Makino (US)

evening dusk
geese above the meadow
on the way to somewhere

Riet De Bakker (Belgium)

But there are also plenty of haiku that detail women’s life experiences.

casual embrace –
suddenly conscious
of my breasts

Harriot West (US)

miscarriage
my little girl
names her sister

Marianne Paul (Canada)

now we can talk 
of what might have been –
menopause

Geethanjali Rajan (India)

mastectomy
the surgeon’s word massive
in my mouth

Ruth Yarrow (US)

I’m always happy to read outstanding work and Wishbone Moon has that in spades by both new (to me, anyway) and established names.

tasting the word husband for the first time

Agnes Eva Savich (US)

petition for divorce
the period 
in every sentence

Anna Mazurkiewicz (Poland)

cello solo the owls in my bones

Tanya McDonald (US)

full moon –
the singers’ faces
turn skywards

Amanda Bell (Ireland)

However, I find the layout of the book unfortunate and wish it had been otherwise as the paper is a lovely weight and has an attractive silky feel, while the cover is a model of understatement.

There are three poems per page but they don’t have room to breathe, being concentrated in the top half to two-thirds of the page with, oddly, the rest of the page left blank. It feels unnecessarily crammed, especially as the author name, em dash and country of residence below each haiku is the same size as the poem. The other odd choice was to right justify all the right-hand pages. It works all right for single-line haiku but this isn’t the way they would have originally been written.

the leap
that pulls a muscle …
housefly

Elaine Andre (US)

Each contributor has a bio note, but there’s no index to show which authors appear where (I don’t mind this – perhaps it was intended as a democratising effect or to make sure readers actually read every page rather than heading to a particular name).

So don’t buy Wishbone Moon for its looks but do buy it for its contents. The poems are honest, sometimes startling, sometimes funny, sometimes wistful – but always top-notch.

breastfeeding
the slow drip of rain
on the roof

Vanessa Proctor (Australia)