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)

Advertisements

Recent poems

Lovely surprise this morning – the results of the new European Haiku Prize landed in my inbox. No monetary reward, unfortunately, but I had a haiku selected in the Distinguished Poet category (a Commended?) which will appear in the contest anthology.

tea from a rough bowl
             we open the window to rain

– Sandra Simpson

Tea-time at Eikando Zenrin Temple in Kyoto. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Staying at a traditional Japanese hotel is a lot of fun – especially when it includes an onsen (in Kiwi parlance, hot pools). Fresh tea and a small ‘cake’ is brought immediately after you’ve arrived in your room and served at the low table. My favourite tea ‘cake’ is the chestnut-paste square, known as tochi-mochi (栃もち), which is, naturally, an autumn treat.

Tochi is Japanese for horse chestnut but – as we should all know – horse chestnuts are the ones that can’t be eaten because they’re toxic. The clever Japanese, though, have found a way around and you can read about that here.

This haiku was written last year while staying at the Yumoto Fujiya Hotel in Hakone and is pretty much as it happened.

Farewell to A Hundred Gourds, an online journal that I shall miss greatly. Lorin Ford has been an excellent haiku editor and her final selection is well worth a read – including three of my own humble efforts. The archives will be available for the foreseeable future so do have a look if you don’t already know this publication.

bull kelp
sliding in and out of sight
a fur seal

– Sandra Simpson

Fur seals frolicking in Otago Harbour. Photo: Sandra Simpson

NZ fur seals were almost obliterated by the coming of people to these islands – the few the Maori left were soon hunted down by European sealers after their skins and blubber. Read more here. Fortunately, sanity finally prevailed and in 1978 kekeno became a protected species. They are now the most common seal sighted and their numbers are growing. Read more here.

Finally, two haiku in the latest issue of The Heron’s Nest, a red-letter day!

cumulonimbus —
the slow grind of continents
beneath my feet

– Sandra Simpson

I’ve had this one around for a little while, but couldn’t get any recognition for it so entered it into an online kukai* that I belong to. One of the participants, whose work I admire enormously, said: “Coming from California I have written many haiku on earthquakes and unsteady ground, and even this knowledge of grinding continents. I will stop. L2 and 3 say it perfectly. The contrast between the smooth glide if clouds is wonderful.” Woohoo!

So I sent it off again, and what do you know? The haiku was written while on a ginko** at Te Puna Quarry Park.

*Kukai = peer-judged contest or workshop. Poems are entered anonymously and participants vote for their favourites (you can’t vote for your own), offering constructive comments as to why they like a haiku or why they think something doesn’t work.

**Ginko = a group walk to observe, take notes, make word sketches and write haiku. Often a kukai at the end.

Recent publications

The quarterly issues of A Hundred Gourds and The Heron’s Nest are out, with the news that AHG is to cease publication after its June issue which will mark 5 years. Sad news as from its inception A Hundred Gourds has been a benchmark publication, not an easy thing to achieve. But editors have lives too and running a large publication, whether online or in print, demands a time commitment that not everyone is willing to give. In other words, they’ve earned a lie down and a cuppa!

deep in the fjord I no longer

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 5.2

Managing editor Lorin Ford assures readers and contributors that the AHG archives will remain available once publication ends, which is excellent.

half my life gone the violence of mating butterflies 

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 18.1

I don’t think I’m writing more one-liners than usual so the appearance of two at the same time is just a coincidence. But to keep the vibe going …

Leaving the Red Zone is an anthology of poetry written after and about the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and was launched on February 29, a week after the fifth anniversary of the deadly quake that shattered lives and the city of Christchurch. The cover image is of one of the footbridges across the Avon river, buckled by the second quake.

Edited by James Norcliffe and Joanna Preston, the book has been published by Clerestory Press. The book is large format (172mm x 245 mm) softcover, 180 pages, with the work of 87 contributors from across New Zealand, with a few offshore as well. You can read some snippets of poems on Helen Lowe’s blog. Or you can hear the editors talking to Radio NZ’s Wallace Chapman (14:52).

getting in everywhere the dust of everything

– Sandra Simpson, Leaving the Red Zone (2016)

I was so pleased the editors accepted this one, which was first published in a fine line, the magazine of the NZ Poetry Society in March 2012. The late John O’Connor reckoned it was one of the best poems about the earthquakes that he’d read!

In the broadcast linked to above Joanna says that she and James were searching for ‘poetic truth’ and that some quite good poets with poems that were ‘perfectly okay’ had been left out because there was no ‘little electrical spark to make you sit up’.

To purchase a copy, go here to find an order form, bank transfer details and the publisher’s contact details. The book costs $39.95 with free delivery within New Zealand. All profits go to the Mayor’s Earthquake Relief Fund.

Recent haiku

L’escargot by Henri Matisse, 1953. Image: Wikipedia

mid-spring under my boot matisse’s snail

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 5.1

Photo: Sandra Simpson

white wisteria –
honeybees queue
at the hive

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 18.4

And a nice surprise recently – a haiku selected for inclusion in the 2014 Capoliveri Haiku Contest anthology (Italy), which has been made available this month. Nice to see the poem translated into Italian too (I rather like that ‘a flock’ of swallows is ‘uno stormo’). The contest is for 5-7-5 haiku.

the tin-tin of bells
restless in a clear blue sky
a flock of swallows

il tintinnio delle campane
agita in un limpido cielo azzurro
uno stormo di rondini

– Sandra Simpson

Ruminations

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!

Doctor, doctor

If you’re expecting a gag punchline then I’m afraid you’re out of luck. One of the reasons I’ve been a little absent has been a week of pain, not the searing sort, but the uncomfortable sort. And it arrived just in time for some paid work that required me sitting at a desk for prolonged periods …

Anyway, back to the doctor this afternoon (I’ve seen more of him in the last 3 months than I have in the last 3 years). He has his suspicions and I have a docket for an ultrasound. If that proves inconclusive I have a second docket for something a bit more complicated, but let’s not talk about that yet.

at the risk
of a relapse…
plum blossoms

– Christopher Patchel, The Heron’s Nest XVI:4 (2014)

My doctor told me a terrible story about someone (with what he thinks I have) who almost died! And then said that wouldn’t happen to me because I was sensible – a very heavy responsibility, given I tend to think things will be “all right” and generally only realise how sick I’ve been afterwards. What’s normal, again?

paper-bark daphne –
my fever breaks
under a crimson quilt

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds, 2.1 (2012)

Fortunately, my doctor is a good diagnostician. He listens and he thinks and he’s not afraid to poke and prod. But he seemed a little flat this afternoon, not his usual bouncy self, so I asked if he was all right. “Yes, yes,” he said, “I’m just a little distracted because there’s someone in the corridor having a heart attack.

“Do you want to go?,” I asked (thinking I’d just been sitting there with three people and none of them appeared to be doing that). “It’s okay,” and he grinned a bit. “She’ll be fine.”

sunlight through leaves
the nurse in search
of a vein

– Alison Williams, A Hundred Gourds 4.1 (2014)

when I am unwell
how small life becomes –
pink cherry blossoms

– Kirsten Cliff, Pulse, voices from the heart of medicine (April, 2014)

A garden of haiku

I’ve spent the past few days immersing myself in our biennial Garden and Art Festival (still 2 days to go!). There’s something magical about walking into a stranger’s garden, exploring its pathways and knowing that it’s waiting to show me its treasures, if only I have the wit to see. A good number of the gardens I visit now are not the gardens of strangers, but that doesn’t dim the excitement one iota – new beds may have been created, interesting new plants put in, new “garden art” or, as happened today, a property may have changed hands.

I shared a bench at lunchtime with an older couple I’ve known for a while. They sold their very large country garden last year and moved into a small town with a decent-sized garden but much, much smaller than they had been used to. Had they ever been back to their old place? No, they said emphatically, and we won’t. They think there’s probably been lots of change (because no one will tell them) but they have decided to be philosophical. That’s life, they said, everything changes all the time. Gardens don’t stand still and nor are they meant to.

nobody rebukes
more softly than blue violets,
nobody louder

– Helene Kesting (translated from Afrikaans)

from The Haiku Seasons by William J Higginson (Kodansha International, 1996)

violet

gentle rain
scent of the seedbed turning
a deeper brown

–  Katrina Shepherd

from Before the Sirocco anthology (NZ Poetry Society, 2008)

summer rain
the poppies keep their thoughts
to themselves

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 2.4 (2013)

rose fence

across a rose fence –
a cat lover,
a cat hater

Kazuo Sato (translated from Japanese)

from Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan (Shambhala, 2008)