Haiku of the moment, Part 1

Two great new collections of haiku have managed to wend their way across the world to my letterbox, both apposite for differing reasons.

For The Signature Haiku Anthology (Middle Island Press, 2020), editor Robert Epstein invited submitters to send the one haiku, senryu or tanka, published or unpublished, that they would like to be remembered by, and any comments they would like to share about the poem (although this remained optional). The only criterion Robert insisted on was that each submitter should have had at least one poem previously published.

The resulting 251 pages of poems and commentaries is a great read – there were many well-known names included, but also many that were new to me. Sometimes the commentary, if there was one, made me re-read the poem and helped deepen the experience of the haiku. Most of the poets are from North America, but there’s a good sprinkling of those from other countries too.

As if to emphasise his “democratic view of haiku poetry”, Robert, who has now edited many themed anthologies of haiku, does not include an index or list of poet names in the volume. Instead, he lets the poems speak for themselves. See what you think …

so much to do
my son points out
the lightning

Alice Frampton (US). She writes: I wrote this poem in a hurry, composing it actually as the events were happening. It always reminds me of how, in a crazy-busy life, we can miss, or almost miss, the most important moments.

our garden gate
once it gets cold

Igor Damnjanovic (Serbia)

Crescent Lake in Washington State. Photo: Sandra Simpson

the depth of the lake
still in question –
autumn chill

Angela Terry (US). She writes: When I was growing up we spent a few weeks every summer at a cabin on the shore of Lake Crescent in Washington’s Olympic National Park. The lake was icy cold even in midsummer and the rumour spread that the lake was bottomless. Fast forward 50 years, and I chanced to read a newspaper article stating that the lake’s depth was still not agreed upon. And with that, the haiku pretty much wrote itself.

snowy owl
I’ll leave this world

Gregory Piko (Australia)

gathering light
at the tip of an acorn
yesterday’s rain

Yu Chang (US). He writes: A poem of self examination and awakening, a delicate dance of light and shadow, ying and yang, for a better self in harmony with nature.

I turn my back
an instant –
blossom everywhere

Elise Mei (New Zealand)

I have a haiku included, although my country of residence is printed as ‘Australia’!, and am pleased to see a smattering of other New Zealand writers there, as well as Elise (who also suffers from a proofing error) – including Barbara Strang, Elaine Riddell, Patsy Turner, Keith Nunes and Ann Curran.

The book may be purchased via Amazon for $US20.

Butterflies, books & glitches

I wrote a post yesterday after I got home from a casual shift at my old work place – a stupendous piece of writing, insightful and witty (says she), but which has been lost to the world thanks to a piece of software. When I started to panic I checked WordPress forums and, sure enough, there were others who thought the automatic “draft saved” message that flashes up every so often would have, well, saved a version to the WordPress server.

Turns out not to be so if you’re using the new version (beep, beep, boop) in which to create your masterpiece – it saves it to your browser, except that for many people it doesn’t! So, here I am, back in the old version of editor because this “unimproved” version does actually save a draft to WordPress.

Right, where was I …

After thinking that we would not raise any monarch butterflies this year, the past 10 days or so have seen at least one hatch every day. Once the predatory wasps changed their diet, around the end of February, we suddenly had little gold-spotted green chrysalis hanging all over the place.

We had tried moving caterpillars to a covered swan plant but they just seemed to disappear, very few made it through to butterfly stage, so wasps must have been getting in and out without being noticed.

Freshly hatched monarchs are such a wonder with their vivid colours and markings – and quite scratchy feet too if you guide one on to your hand to release. Maybe these late-season hatchlings will be the butterflies that overwinter and start the life cycle process again in the spring.

sun-soaked chrysalis
no one sees
the effort

– Julie Warther, from The Heron’s Nest 2014 anthology, volume 16

a chrysalis unlocks
its code for wings

– Lorin Ford, from the big data anthology for 2014,
originally published in paper wasp

The latest Heron’s Nest anthology arrived in my letter box this week – 176 pages of great reading. As well as collecting all the haiku published throughout 2014, the volume includes the Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award winners and judge’s comments, and Readers’ Choice awards.

Here’s another haiku from it, one to mark Easter …

stained glass
the way christ responds
to march sunlight

– Robert Epstein

Kokako 22 also arrived by post recently and is another nicely produced edition. Co-editor Margaret Beverland surprised me at the beginning of the week by saying that New Zealand subscribers are in the minority! This is our only journal dedicated to haiku, tanka, etc – the only place where we don’t have to explain our haiku or add a link – so it’s worrying that Kokako isn’t more strongly supported in New Zealand. Or maybe the problem is that the haiku community in this country is dwindling. Are there new writers coming on? Make yourselves known! Read subscription and submission details for Kokako here.

                ironing after midnight the creases in her face

– Andre Surridge, Kokako 22

I also enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek haiku, boy, haven’t I been here more times than I care to remember!

contest results
golden flowers swirl
down the gutter

– Barbara Strang, Kokako 22

But the drought has broken! I was notified last week that I’ve won this year’s Free XpresSion Haiku Contest (Australia). Skippy jumps and hand claps!

planning her eulogy      jars of carefully labelled seeds

– Sandra Simpson

I’ve also had a few acceptances dating back to around the beginning of the year – A Hundred Gourds (March and the coming June issue), Speed Bump journal (January and the coming April issue), Wild Plum inaugural issue, is/let (March 9 posting) and a forthcoming edition of NOON, among them.

is/let and NOON both look for “progressive” or avant-garde work, which is not a style  that comes naturally, although does happen occasionally, so pleased to have work with both of them.

h  ill   stop
hear  tin  m  years
wind        swords

– Sandra Simpson, is/let

An email at the beginning of February advised that some of my work had been named as a Finalist in the RaedLeaf Haiku Contest in India and would be published in an anthology. Great, except the contest closed on August 6, 2014 so this was a long time to wait for notification – 6 months – and I then had to ask which poem/poems had been selected as they hadn’t said.

The February email says “You may share your works elsewhere a month from the publication date which will be duly notified to you”. And I haven’t heard a word since – and that’s now 9 months, plenty of time for gestation, so here’s one of the haiku.

my mother’s pallbearers
all tall men –
rain just when we need it

– Sandra Simpson, RaedLeaf anthology (forthcoming)