Postcard from Port Townsend

Port Townsend is a beautiful and historic small town on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State – and is the home of one of my haiku heroes, Christopher Herold.

We were lucky enough to have coffee with Chris and his wife Carol and I felt privileged to be able to meet face-to-face as Christopher was one of the first overseas editors to publish my work. He was the founding editor of The Heron’s Nest, running it as a monthly paper publication for many years. Eventually, he realised, it was taking over his life (Carol had possibly realised this a little earlier!). The first of the associate editors came on board and the highly respected journal finally morphed into the online quarterly journal that it is today, now under the guiding hand of John Stevenson and his team.

Chris had his interest in haiku fostered by one of America’s great haiku figures, James Hackett (1929-2015) – Chris, who already had a long-time interest in Buddhism, worked as his gardener. He’s turned to other forms of writing more recently but produced a small book of haiku, The Moon Unfazed (Kanshiketsu Press) in 2014.

almost dawn
cupped in the curve of the moon
the rest of the moon

– Christopher Herold

Chris has also had a long-time interest in renku and in 2009 he and Carol won the Haiku Society of America’s Einbond Renku Contest, having previously tied with themselves for first place in an earlier iteration.


Christopher Herold. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The following haiku was one of the first of Chris’ that I remember reading, and it is still one of my favourites.

we lower a kayak
into the sound

– Christopher Herold
second place, Harold G Henderson contest, 1999

Sadly, Chris lost his computer files of haiku written between 2004 and 2014, but has taken a philosophical attitude towards it, an equanimity I get the impression is par for the course.

I hope our paths cross again some time … maybe a Haiku North America in Honolulu, yeah!


Latest publications

The Heron’s Nest is marking its birthday with a beautiful hardback book, Nest Feathers, a selection of 248 haiku from its first 15 years of publication. Founding editor Christopher Herold has written an interesting foreword, including these statistics:

  • 102 issues published (THN was monthly in the beginning)
  • Some 100,000 haiku submitted for consideration
  • Fewer than 8,500 haiku published.

September sun –
a bubble wavers
between salmon bones

– Cindy Zackowitz (1965-2012), The Heron’s Nest, 4:12 (2002)

So being published in THN means you’re hitting the high notes with your work. I have 2 haiku in Nest Feathers, here’s one:

one egg
rattling in the pot
autumn rain

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 9:2, 2007

Cover artwork is by Ron C. Moss

spring sky
one twirl before the girl
settles in line

– Alison Woolpert, The Heron’s Nest 15:2, 2015

Click on the book’s title at the top to read ordering information.

A new issue of UK haiku journal Presence has also landed in my letterbox. Now being published three times a year, the journal is always a great read.

stirring the neighbour’s bull
to midnight bellows,
a petal-coloured moon

– Sandra Simpson, Presence 53, 2015

her cotton skirt
falls softly to the ground
steady rain

– Greg Piko, Presence 53

Presence has also rejigged its annual contest which is now the Martin Lucas Haiku Award, named in honour of its editor who died last year.

Don’t forget that there is an up-to-date listing of haiku, tanka and haibun contests at Haiku NewZ. You’re welcome.

Cool morning in the garden

Evenings and mornings are noticeably cooler now, starting right from March 1, although the middle of the day is still hot and little rain is forecast for the month.

I’ve been out watering my orchids, bromeliads, hoyas and things in pots this morning. A  pleasant job and very contemplative.

morning drizzle
my wife bends an orchid
to her will

Christopher Herold from his excellent 2010 collection Inside Out.
Read a review of the book here.


end of summer
the rust on my scissors
smells of marigolds

— Margaret Chula, from her 2004 collection the rust on my scissors
Read a commentary on this haiku here.


roadside stand
the last lilies
before sunset

                                                                     — Sandra Simpson
 published 2006 in the NZ Poetry Society magazine