Haiku fellowship

One of the things I like most about the haiku community is the sense of fellowship among writers – we’re all pursuing perfection in an artform that to outsiders looks ‘easy’ – so getting together with fellow haikuists (who understand the pain of creating a poem in only a few words) is always a pleasure.

I’m rather tardy in posting this, but poets from either side of the Kaimai Range met for a misty, but enjoyable, walk round a park in Matamata in May, followed by lunch and then a round robin reading/discussion session in a nearby cafe.

From left: Shirley May (Tauranga), Mac Miller (Hamilton), Sandra Simpson, Harry Frentz (both Tauranga) and Barry Smith (Hamilton). Still to come were Jenny Fraser (Mt Maunganui) and Deryn Pittar (Papamoa). Photo: Keith Frentz

We hope it will be the first of many such get-togethers – an idea sparked during the launch of number eight wire in Tauranga in March – to deepen the connection between two clusters of poets who as the crow flies don’t live very far apart (drat that mountain pass) but who number among them many excellent writers.

The cafe wall motto seemed appropriate, clockwise from left, Barry Smith, Sandra Simpson, Keith Frentz, Harry Frentz, Shirley May, Mac Miller and Deryn Pittar. Photo: Jenny Fraser

It was a pleasure to re-establish my acquaintance with Barry Smith – I used to run into him at poetry weekend get-togethers in the 1990s – and to meet Mac Miller, someone I’d only known by email until then but whose work I like.

See you all again (and many others from our respective areas, it’s to be hoped) soon!

A New Year!

Along my journey
through this transitory world,
new year’s housecleaning

– Matsuo Basho

Many sajiki (dictionary of Japan season words) have five seasons, the fifth being “new year” (from The Haiku Seasons by William J Higginson, Kodansha International, 1996). Bill goes on to say that: “In Basho’s day the New Year roughly coincided with the beginning of spring; when Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar [in 1873] the two-week-long New Year celebration came to be treated separately.”

Along with many other traditions associated with the new year (special tea, etc), the first dream of the year was/is considered particularly important in Japan, and you can read more about that here.

For us in the West, it’s about looking back and looking forward at the same time, about making resolutions to stand us in good stead for the coming year – and, if you’re Scottish, having a dark-haired man be the first to step through the front door on January 1, carrying a lump of coal, whisky, small cakes and a coin! First-footing, as it’s called, apparently dates back to the days of Viking raids on the east coast of Scotland – a fair-haired man stepping into your home would be very bad luck indeed!

New Year’s Day:
some breaths are long,
some breaths are short.

– Stuart Quine (from The Haiku Seasons)

toasting the new year –
a puriri moth
hits my glass

– Sandra Simpson (Kokako 6, 2007)

My haiku is as the moment happened, I haven’t changed a thing. Puriri moths, native to New Zealand, are large (15cm wingspan) and green; striking, so to speak … and mostly emerge between October and December.  See some photos here.

And read a blog post by poet and outdoorsman Barry L Smith about his encounter with the moths.