Top of their game

Much excitement this week as two superb books by two superb poets arrived in my letterbox.

First to land was The Bone Carver by Ron Moss of Tasmania, published by Snapshot Press in the UK, and what a fine looking volume it is. Ron is also a talented photographer and painter, and the cover image is one of his own photos – I can’t believe this is his first collection as he seems to have been writing at the top of his game for ages.

ron

Ron C Moss. Photo: Sandra Simpson


 

valley mist …
running my finger over
the curve of a twig

– Ron Moss

It’s that “curve” that elevates this from a good haiku to an excellent haiku, isn’t it? I don’t often ponder word choice when I’m writing but this poem is a good kick on the shins to remind me to pay attention to all aspects of my work. It contains a vivid sensation (running my finger over) and the nice soft (misty) “v” and “f” sounds.

April 17 update: Ron has just emailed to advise The Bone Carver has today been named as the winner of a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award! Well done, that man.

The other book I was delighted to receive yesterday was the doors all unlocked by Carolyn Hall of California, published by Red Moon Press, another poet I admire greatly.

carolyn

Carolyn Hall. Photo: Sandra Simpson


 

unlabelled shapes
from the back of the freezer
winter stars

– Carolyn Hall

Anyone who has a freezer should recognise this poem, “unlabelled shapes” is a perfect description of … well, what? Pieces of meat, vegetables, fruit? Something which at the time we thought worthwhile to save and enjoy on another day but, being human, thought we would always recognise or didn’t have a marker pen to hand (or it’s been there so long the marker’s worn off). The “winter stars” leads me back to the package not being a neat rectangle. I like the humour of this.

I thought it might be fun to find haiku on similar themes in both books – for me it’s always interesting seeing what poets do with the same idea – but then I thought, what the heck, let’s just have another from each. Ladies first, this time.

colourless wind
the ashes
that don’t scatter

– Carolyn Hall

from someone’s baby a smile that knows me

– Ron Moss

Both are regularly published in The Heron’s Nest – Ron was voted Poet of the Year for 2014 by readers, with one of his haiku elected as Poem of the Year. Read those results here. Carolyn was Poet of the Year in 2011 and was first runner-up in 2008. In the current issue a haiku by Carolyn is the Editor’s Choice. the doors all unlocked received an honourable mention in the Touchstone Distinguished Book Awards in 2012.

I’ve recently been gifted a copy of fresh paint, the towpath haiku society anthology for 2015, edited by Roberta Beary and published by Red Moon Press. It’s a small book, pocket sized, that is lovingly produced and a nice thing to have, especially as I’m introduced to poets new to me.

merry-go-round all lit up      the galaxy

– Kirsten Deming

waiting room
how this blood test
is a poem

– Jimmy Aaron (Peach)

The towpath haiku society, founded in 1995, is based in the Washington DC area and named for the C & O Canal (Chesapeake & Ohio) that links Washington DC with Cumberland in Maryland – 184 miles (296km) – with the towpath these days a popular walking and cycling trail.

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Touchstone Awards

Ron Moss. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Congratulations to Harry Frentz, these days  domiciled more in Christchurch than he is in Tauranga, who is New Zealand’s only recipient of a Touchstone Award from the short-list (which included three others from NZ).

Harry Frentz. Photo: Sandra Simpson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also to Ron Moss who was born in Dunedin but is a long-time resident of Australia. Ron had two haiku on the short-list so it would have been hard lines if he’d missed out!

May 7: Ron has just updated me on the ins and outs of his mixed NZ-Oz allegiances, to wit: He was born in Australia to a mother who was Australian and a father who was a Kiwi. The family moved to his dad’s hometown of Dunedin when Ron was seven and he remained in the city until the age of 25 when he headed back across the ditch (Tasman Sea). “My father, brother and sister are all Kiwis, my mother and I were born in Oz but my mother has lived in Dunedin most of her life now.” He says he likes being claimed as a “cuzzie” (cousin) by Kiwis. We’re glad to have you, kia ora.

The Haiku Foundation sends out as prizes great lumps of stone by airmail around the world, the block engraved with the author’s poem. A real treasure, although less of a paper weight and more of a garden ornament!

sand dune    the width of the wind

– Harry Frentz (aged 17 when he wrote it)

prenuptial contract
fish bones neatly spaced
on white china

– Ron Moss

Friday haiku, autumn

A couple of weeks ago I went to a low-key poetry reading in a local bar – one eminent national poet and a local poet reading a few pieces each. Part-way through I realised how long the poems were, which made me smile and think, I love haiku.

Why?

  • It’s not a book but it’s a story worth hearing
  • There’s room for imagination
  • It knows when to be quiet
  • It understands the power of a single word
  • It doesn’t outstay its welcome.

There are more ideas that can be added to this list, but you get my drift.

Over on Haiku NewZ there is an occasional feature called My Favourite Haiku where various poets and editors choose (some of) their favourites and write a little about them. The following haiku was in the selection of Beverley George, an Australian writer and editor.

sowing seeds
I open my hand
to the autumn wind 

– Maria Steyn

If I was to make a selection today this would surely be in it

reminding me I am dust this shaft of sunlight

– Andre Surridge, Fear of Dancing (Red Moon anthology, 2014)

Good news! Melissa Allen is again blogging her haiku and haibun at Red Dragonfly. Melissa is one heck of a writer and I suggest you check her work out. Here’s her selection of favourites on Haiku NewZ.

the sound of geese through the crosshairs

– Melissa Allen, Fear of Dancing

I’ve been loaned the Japanese Haiku 2001 anthology, edited by the Modern Haiku Association. It’s hard to know how true these English haiku are to their originals but reading any contemporary haiku from Japan is a gift.

eating a persimmon
darkness builds inside me

– Rinka Ono (1904-1982)

In a brief bio note, Mr Ono is credited with mentoring many haiku poets who became major figures in Japan.

someone’s silhouette
on the bathroom door –
a cyclamen

– Hakko Yokoyama (1899-1983)

Mr Yokoyama was director of a hospital, owned a private clinic and was an elected city councillor, as well as being president of the Modern Haiku Association.

And, finally, an autumn haiga by Ron Moss of Tasmania. View it here. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a haiga is a combination of haiku (or tanka) with art – these days that can be anything from a traditional brush and ink painting to a computer-generated digital image. Ron also makes art to go with selected haiku in each edition of A Hundred Gourds.