Merry Christmas & Haiku Wishes

My very best seasonal greetings to all those who pop in to and read this blog – some of you will celebrate Christmas, some won’t, but I hope that if you live somewhere that has a holiday just now that you have a peaceful and safe time, and a healthy, prosperous and productive 2020.

Here is a selection of seasonal haiku which I hope you’ll enjoy.

long wait backstage –
the evil giant reads
a self-improvement book

Catherine Bullock, number eight wire

moonlight
the pear tree
turns to tinsel

Shirley May, number eight wire

Christmas Eve –
the neighbour comes round
to borrow some data

Owen Bullock, number eight wire

number eight wire: the fourth New Zealand haiku anthology was launched in March, one of the highlights of my haiku year (I’m co-editor). We have only a few copies left but we’d love to have no copies so if you’d like to read more haiku by New Zealand writers (70 of them of all ages), please read the ordering details here.

Christmas Eve
searching for the beginning
of the Scotch tape

Alan S Bridges, Another Trip Around the Sun

sleigh bells
the hayloft rustles
with deer mice

Debbie Strange, Another Trip Around the Sun

Another Trip Around the Sun: 365 days of haiku for children young and old, edited by Jessica Malone Latham, was published by Brooks Books in November. Click on the link for further information.

the Christmas
after we told him
artificial tree

Joe McKeon, A New Resonance 10

Christmas light test
trying to untangle
last year

Deborah P Kolodji, A New Resonance 4

The New Resonance poems have been taken from the reading done at this year’s Haiku North America conference – How I Found my Voice Again – which celebrated every poet  in the biennial collections that gather new voices in haiku and are published by Jim Kacian’s Red Moon Press. The reading, which featured some of the poets present and others represented by Julie Warther, was filmed. Click on the link above to see/hear it. The most recent iteration of the series is A New Resonance 11.

Reviews: Surridge & Bullock

Two nice volumes have come across my desk recently – one hundred petals, the first collection of haiku by André Surridge (Hamilton), and summer haiku, a collection from Owen Bullock, once of the UK, a long-time resident of the Western Bay of Plenty in New Zealand and now working in Canberra, Australia.

Update: André passed away on December 23, 2019.

Cover art, a collage, is by Jenny Kippenberger.

First of all, a disclaimer: I wrote the Foreword for André’s collection. So you might think that I would be well disposed towards André and his work, and you’d be right!

One hundred haiku and senryu have been arranged into chapters reflecting the four seasons, a traditional approach from a poet who doesn’t always conform to the traditions of haiku – the non-conformity appears as a fifth (middle) chapter of senryu. André, who began writing haiku in 2002, has won many awards along the way and is  regularly published around the world.

I’ll let his work speak for itself by choosing one of my favourites from each season.

gentle rain a ripple runs along
                                              the foal’s flank

small crack
the albatross chick whistles
inside its shell

(I particularly like the sensory elements in these two haiku above; tiny details, but what impact!)

dark side of the moon
the stepbrother
I never met

autumn sunset:
the double bounce
of a persimmon

by the stile
a heel print
inlaid with ice

Having undergone some serious, and debilitating, treatment, André is facing an uncertain future healthwise, the prompt to gather this collection together. Yet there is no sentimentality in these poems, no self-pity … just an ongoing engagement with the world around him as he moves through it. I particularly like his quiet, but acute, observations in poems like these:

physio
the pillow
still warm

lavender stalk
the weight of one
white butterfly

“My thanks to Cyril Childs who showed me the haiku way and to Patricia Prime for steadying me on that path in those early years,” the author writes.

The 64-page book is printed on recycled paper and costs $20 within New Zealand (includes postage) and $NZ25 elsewhere. André is now kindly donating proceeds to Kokako journal. To order a copy please email Elaine including your name, postal address and how you’re paying. Payment for New Zealand orders may be made by bank transfer to Kokako 12 3071 0355785 00 using ‘petals100’ in the reference line. Unfortunately, due to changes in NZ’s banking system cheques cannot be accepted. International orders may be made using PayPal, Elaine will reply with payment details. ISBN 978-0-473-48250-3.

Cover artwork is by Dianne Firth, Canberra Tales III.

Owen keeps up a regular output of books, which is nice to see as most of us seem to work on single-poet collections maybe once in a decade.

A small-format book, Summer Haiku is published by Recent Work Press and follows Owen’s earlier books with the same publisher, Urban Haiku (2015) and River’s Edge (2016). In an email to me this month Owen revealed there are many previously unpublished haiku in this collection giving us plenty fresh to enjoy, among them:

teeth marks
in the soap
hedgehog-sized

yellow butterfly
from piece of air
to piece of air

In his Afterword, Owen explains the collection was written over three summers while camping on land he and his partner own in New Zealand and which they’re developing along permaculture principles – “and one winter sojourn there in our newly built gypsy wagon”.

she calls me cute
tears come easily
this winter holiday

3pm
ducks already folded
into their bodies

Owen has a knack of creating haiku that might seem ordinary at first glance, but that glance becomes a longer look and then one begins to think about the words and images and … Here he perfectly – and calmly, almost wonderingly – describes something I’ve experienced often, but always find frightening until my rational mind can take over.

not a man
but some kind of shadow –
daybreak

And the sound in this haiku is everywhere but, beautifully, is nowhere stated:

farm tour
a llama cleans its teeth
on the wire fence

Summer Haiku, 68 pages, is available from Recent Work Press for $A8.95. ISBN 9780648404279.

Recent successes

Delightful surprise yesterday when I saw the results of the Martin Lucas Haiku Award – Second place! Apparently my letter of congratulations is still in the post (true statement, it seems they really have mailed the results).

Christmas eve –
the pop-up book’s manger
missing its baby

– Sandra Simpson

Judge Vanessa Proctor had this to say about my haiku: ‘Christmas eve’ presents the reader with a familiar domestic scene. It’s the night before Christmas when family members pull out those special Christmas books to read before the big day. Pop-up books are particularly magical, but this particular book is missing baby Jesus who is central to the story. How easily things can be lost. The wider message here is that in many ways the true meaning of Christmas has been lost too.

I’d almost decided not to enter many more contests, my results having been poor over the past couple of years so this result has helped boost my confidence.

And I’ve had a haiku published in a journal I haven’t tried before – Right Hand Pointing, an online US publication which has put out a couple of winter haiku editions collated by Eric Burke.

holiday cottage  –
the empty fruitbowl
at dusk

– Sandra Simpson

And the latest Red Moon anthology is out – dust devils – which includes three of my haiku published in 2016. As you may recall, I’m a nominating editor for the Red Moon anthologies so what happens when it comes to editors’ own work is: The haiku we vote on are without names or publication points (so judged ‘blind’) and we may not vote for our own work. The work of editors must receive at least 5 votes from the other 9 editors to merit inclusion – meaning our own work is held to a slightly higher standard than general nominations which need at least 5 votes from 10 editors.

All three of my haiku in dust devils have already been featured on this blog so I won’t bore you by repeating them. Instead let me include this one by a fellow Kiwi:

I would have given up
so many times …
we mend the tent

– Owen Bullock, Second place, Betty Drevniok Award (Canada) 2016