News & books

Here we are in the middle of February already and I’m making only my second post for the year. Truth be told, a) it’s been so hot that sitting at a computer has held little attraction and b) I’ve been proof-reading two books which has left me little brain space for thinking about haiku.

The annual Red Moon anthology – a collection of English-language haiku, haibun, sequences and essays published in the previous calendar year – was first off the rank. As you may know, I am also one of the anthology editors (one of 11) so throughout the year am nominating poems and voting for nominations (done blind).

We have a couple of voting rosters at the end of the year to make sure we catch as many poems as possible in the net. The journals that publish on December 1 are okay, but some publish later in the month and if they’re print-only it means hoping they’ll arrive in the letterbox before we cut off.

This year’s volume (for 2015 haiku) is galaxy of dust, as always a terrific collection – and the 20th anniversary publication! Included are 147 poems (haiku and senryu), 16 linked forms (haibun, renku, rengay and sequences), and 4 critical pieces on the reading, writing and study of the genre. Click on the link for ordering information.

Kiwi poets featured in galaxy of dust are Marion Moxham, Elaine Riddell, Sandra Simpson and Barbara Strang; and from Australia Nathalie Buckland, Jo McInerney, Ron Moss, Vanessa Proctor and Jennifer Sutherland. David Terelinck and Hazel Hall (Australia) are two-thirds of a sequence poem, and Els van Leeuwen (Australia) has a haibun included. As the South Pacific editor, I’m always pleased to see a good number of poets from Australasia make it through the voting process.

snowflake
my breath
takes it away

– Marion Moxham (from scattered feathers, the 2015 NZ Poetry Society anthology)

stacking a dry stone wall the curve of tomorrow

– Ron C Moss (from Presence 52)

The volume takes its name from this excellent haiku by James Chessing of California in the US (from The Heron’s Nest 17.2):

it begins …
a galaxy of dust motes
in the projector’s beam

The other book, which took much more time, is the second edition of Juxtapositions, a somewhat scholarly look at haiku and its related genres from The Haiku Foundation – my ‘Snapshots: Haiku and the Great War’ article will be appearing in it! The first edition came out last year (go here to read it) and will shortly be available as print on demand, while volume 2.1 is due out on the THF website shortly.

As well, I’ve had a look over and commented on a very useful piece of work by Katherine Raine on behalf of the NZ Poetry Society, more about that once it’s available.

Yesterday, salvation arrived in the form of a parcel tied up with string – I haven’t had one of those for a long time. It was an anthology of haiku, a gift from a poet’s widow and something I shall treasure. Already, I’m beginning to sketch a few lines …

A lifting of spirits

February has been an unkind month, one way and another, with some anguish still to come as my baby leaves home … being a mother has its joys and its definite downsides, the anxieties being one of the latter. Being the child of an ageing parent,  I’ve discovered this the past week, requires physical as well as emotional stamina.

So the surprise news from the annual Readers’ Choice Awards of The Heron’s Nest has come at a good time – not only did I win the Favourite Haiku of 2013 title, but was also voted Poet of the Year! So, as voted by THN readers from 490 contenders, the Favourite Haiku of 2013:

receding tide the gasps of little shells

– Sandra Simpson

The news and the emails of congratulations from around the world lifted my spirits and brought a big smile to my face (and, just between you and me, a little tear to my eye).

The Heron’s Nest was the first of the “big” journals to publish my work and I have had a pleasant and ongoing relationship with it and “my” editor Paul MacNeil ever since. Being published there is a privilege.

Waiting for me at home was the latest Red Moon anthology, Fear of Dancing. As you may be aware I am the South Pacific editor for this anthology so am always pleased to see New Zealand and Australian writers well represented in the series that aims to be “a celebration of the best haiku and related work published in English around the world each calendar year”.

I don’t nominate everything written by poets from the South Pacific – quality is key –  but I try to read as widely as possible and keep an eye out for work wherever it may be published. This time there are seven New Zealanders included (all haiku) and four Australians (haiku), plus two more Australians in the linked forms section.

Three of my haiku are included (if you get your hands on an anthology you can read about how the nomination and voting process works – there is no advantage in being an editor).

striking a match
against his boot
approaching storm

– Sandra Simpson

This is a reworking of a haiku I started in a workshop at Haiku North America last August. We were asked to compose something in 5-7-5 and I offered mine for sharing. I couldn’t understand why Sophia was nudging me in the ribs … I had managed 5-7-6, even though I was sure it had worked when I counted it in my head. Oh, the embarrassment!

I liked the poem enough to rewrite it and had it accepted for publication in, you guessed it, The Heron’s Nest.

Living in a country area, neighbours stay neighbours for generations – this haiku is about Peter, who lived across the road from my grandparents and then my parents. As a child I was fascinated with a) his height (tall) and b) the way he struck matches for his pipe on his work boots, fence posts or even his corduroy trousers! He was working his father’s farm, while his uncle had the farm across the road and built the house my grandparents bought. Peter’s son is now my mother’s neighbour.