Recent publications

This year is all about co-ordinating and completing a large family history, as well as undertaking any paid work that comes my way over and above the ‘regulars’, so haiku is having to take a bit of a back seat, sadly. Some days I feel like I’ve puffed my way through a marathon, only to look at my to-do list and see I’m not really much further ahead. However, there are a few haiku-related things to report …

Delighted to hear that I’d won Second in the Sharpening the Green Pencil Haiku Contest with:

longest night –
the clay bowl’s
whorls and ridges

Sandra Simpson

Judge Julie Warther said: “Working a tactile sensation into haiku can be a difficult task, but here we can almost feel a lump of clay spinning on a wheel, taking shape in the potter’s hands. It is a slow process and one that requires patience. “Whorls and ridges” could describe the design of the bowl itself or contours of the artist’s fingertips. When fingerprints are found in a finished piece, there is no mistaking its individual nature and the care with which it was created. This alone is a striking image, but a resonance emerges when this image is paired with ‘longest night’ – a time when the seasons themselves turn, taking on more and more light – in the unique nature of time itself.” Click on the link above to see all the winning haiku.

The latest issue of Kokako (34) has arrived featuring an eclectic mix of poets and their work, including three pages of pandemic-theme haiku. The link takes you to submission / subscription details.

Photo: Sandra Simpson

eucalypt breeze
the rattle
of a cicada’s husk

Gavin Austin

eddies of dust
the rooster’s comb blends
into sunrise

Debbie Strange

winter sun –
a pair of waxeyes
chest to chest in mid air

Sandra Simpson

haunted house
the carnie flicks his butt
and waves us in

Greg Schwartz

Gilles Fabre, the editor of seashores journal, sent me a copy of the latest issue (6) as thanks for my essay ‘Cracks in the Pavement’ about urban haiku that appears in the volume. I’ll post the piece here towards the end of the year.

hill walking
whether to get a dog
at our age

John Hawkhead

to accept my baldness
dandelion flight

Adej Agyei-Baah

the silence
of the blinking cursor
winter stars

Jackie Chou

Earlier this year I judged the British Haiku Society’s David Cobb Haiku Award, renamed this year to honour one of the BHS founders (1926-2020). The award has two judges, my colleague being Charles Trumbull in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and we were under strict instructions (which we followed!) not to talk to one another until given the go-ahead by the contest secretary (ie, when she’d received both of our reports).

We did correspond by email once allowed and were delighted to find that we’d each chosen different haiku, although our short lists were pretty near identical. Subjective, much! Read all the winning haiku and our judge’s comments. A useful byproduct of the work was thinking about what I seek in a poem, which also informed my writing for seashores as the two were almost concurrent.

carrying the drift
of rain into dusk

Joanna Ashwell (Sandra’s choice for First)

wind in the tamaracks
the sound of a screen door
sixty years past

Earl R Keener (Charlie’s choice for First)

Finally, a delve into the latest copy of the always-readable Presence journal (issue 69).

ebb tide
a limpet returned
to its home scar

Thomas Powell

dry leaves
scattering across the path
quail chicks

Margaret Beverland

woodsmoke –
I am that child
kicking leaves

Susan King

westering sun
a skein of geese banks
into a glide path

Sandra Simpson

The storks of Kinosaki Onsen

Kokako 25 landed in my mailbox at the weekend – cover art courtesy of yours truly.

Image: Sandra Simpson

I took the photo – which has been manipulated into black and white and slightly touched up – in Konsaki Onsen, a town on Japan’s west coast which is renowned for its bath houses.

Near the town are the wetlands of Toyooka, which provide an important habitat for the oriental white stork. The bird became extinct in the wild in the 1970s after its habitat had been changed by modern farming practices. However, it was decided to try and bring the birds back and a captive breeding programme was started – with the  first chick born in 1989. In 2005 five captively bred storks were released, which then bred successfully in the wild. As of June 2015 there were 72 wild oriental white storks in Toyooka.

But the birds have a special link to Kinosaki. It is said that the location for the town’s oldest bath house – presumably the building beneath this metal sculpture – was discovered when a stork was seen bathing its wounds in a hot spring.

Natural hot springs supply a number of public bath-houses and hotel onsens and the relaxed atmosphere is enhanced by people wandering from bath-house to bath-house in their yukata robes (which might otherwise equate a dressing gown!).

Casual dress is just fine in Kinosaki Onsen. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Some bird haiku from Kokako 25:

parting clouds
a pair of cranes startle
from the barn roof

– Gavin Austin

crane silhouettes
i practice the kanji
for my name

– Debbie Strange

losing my way
in the rushes
runnels of birdsong

– Mark Miller

Kokako is raising its subscription price to cover the increased cost of postage within New Zealand – $NZ30 / $A30 / $US30 for 2 issues a year. Over the past 5 years, the journal has grown from 60 to 80 pages per issue so we mustn’t feel like it’s all bad news!

Send subscriptions to Kokako, 42 Flanshaw Rd, Te Atatu South, Auckland 0610 (New Zealand). For Kokako 26 send submissions – up to 8 pieces per poet – between November 1 and February 1 in the body of an email.