Haiku in the Garden

Honoured to have a haiku selected for Chicago Botanic Garden’s delightful year-long project, Words in Bloom. Nine poem signs were put in the Japanese Garden for winter and now the spring haiku have sprouted in the English Walled Garden and Rose Garden. Read all the spring haiku here.

Photo: Tia Haynes

Thanks to Julie Warther of the Midwest Region of the Haiku Society of America who facilitated this project and selected the poems from thousands of submissions.

One from the earlier crop for Southern Hemisphere readers. Photo: Chicago Botanic Garden

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

learning
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.

bluebells
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

Recent publications

It seems I’ve got a bit of catching up to do …

hot night –
the time it takes the rat
to stop screaming

Sandra Simpson, Fourth, NZPS International Haiku Contest 2019

Judge Greg Piko had this to say about the haiku …‘hot night’ asked: What is happening to this rat in the heat of the night? Perhaps this is a rat we wanted dead. Perhaps we feel sorrow for the rat. Either way, this is a strong haiku that highlights the impermanence of life and makes us think about how lives end. Indeed, it can make us think about how our own life might end.

Two other haiku were also selected for publication in the contest anthology, The Perfect Weight of Blankets at Night, edited by Raewyn Alexander.

Five haiku were selected for New Zealand’s haiku journal Kokako 31, which came out last September. Issue 32 has been delayed by Covid-19 restrictions.

blowing raspberries
on her tummy –
the moon’s curve

Sandra Simpson, Kokako 31

gap in the fence  
I poke my head into
a world of sheep

Sandra Simpson, NOON 16 (2020)

Two haiku were selected for March issue of The Heron’s Nest

spring winds –
the falcon’s eye
black to the core

Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 22.1

The following haiku was selected by the Golden Triangle Haiku Contest for a signboard that is being displayed in this business district of Washington DC. The theme was nature in the city.

road works –
the billow and sag
of a cobweb in the wind

Sandra Simpson

Martin Lucas Haiku Award judge Matthew Paul selected this haiku for a Highly Commended:

harvest moon –
the kitchen table laid
with pieces of gun

Sandra Simpson

The prizewinners, plus another two of my poems, will appear in Presence 66 which was posted from the UK in mid-March.

The final haiku appears in the online exhibition at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Masters of Japanese Prints: Haiku (it’s about two-thirds of the way through):

summer heat –
his shaved head glistens
in the lamplight

The UK museum put up a selection of its Japanese woodblock prints and asked for haiku written as a response to the art. This one is matched with Lantern Seller by Utagawa Kunisada I (1786-1864). Kudos to Alan Summers and Karen Hoy of Call of the Page for arranging this interesting project.

Putting together these posts, which someone has described as skiting, does let me see that I am achieving something with my chosen art form. It’s all too easy to not write, not publish and not enter contests. I’d rather keep trying even if it does seem like a bit of an effort sometimes!

And to end, a ripple from the past … an email arrived on December 12 from Richard Oswin, a teacher and composer in Christchurch. Richard was asking permission to use The Gift, one of my longer poems, from Poetry Pudding (Raupo, 2007), a collection of poems for children. I had to find my copy of the book to even recall what the poem was – it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything longer than a haiku!

Richard used the poem as lyrics for a piece of music he’d been commissioned to write as a test piece for the  Auckland leg of the national festival The Kids Sing and duly sent me an mp3 file of his composition which features two vocal parts. Although I haven’t heard voices with the music, it seems quite lovely. And the whole thing is quite extraordinary!

Haiku, a visitor & an explanation!

I am very excited to have my haiku featuring on the Mann Library Daily Haiku website, one a day for the month of August. Click on the link to read the current one, and then ‘previous’ or ‘next’.

For more than 10 years Tom Clausen, the instigator of the Mann Library Daily Haiku series, posted a daily haiku in the elevator of the old Mann building at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York state). Since his retirement, he posts them online. Featured poets are by invitation only, so it’s an honour to be included.

Tom’s essay, A Haiku Way on Life, featured on Haiku NewZ in 2007. Click on the title to read it.

Presence 64 has arrived from the other side of the world (UK) and includes three of my poems.

winter palace –
a light rain falls
on the bridal party

– Sandra Simpson

As you might guess this one was written after visiting St Petersburg last year and was pretty much a scene from Palace Square. The melancholy of Russian history – and what a history it is – seemed to filter quickly into my consciousness.

Canadian poet Michael Dudley is visiting New Zealand and was in Katikati last week where a few of us joined him for a walk round the Haiku Pathway. It was a delight to have him share his insights into the poems we met – his acuity and sensitivity to the words and surroundings enriched our outing considerably. Read about Michael and his extensive recent travels in this piece from an English-language Montenegro newspaper (February 12, 2019).

Visiting the Haiku Pathway in Katikati are, from left, Bob Edwards, Margaret Beverland and Michael Dudley. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Michael asked me why my boulder poem

wading birds
mark low tide with
chinese characters

used lower case for the word ‘chinese’ (and it’s not unknown for editors to inquire as to why I use lower case on proper nouns). So … I believe we humans and our activities should be viewed on a par with ants and trees and birds. We should not think we stand any higher and, in fact, our propensity to see ourselves as ‘rulers’ of the Earth has caused, is causing and will cause immeasurable damage and problems for all the inhabitants of this beautiful blue planet.

US poet Scott Mason this week sent a link to this great interview (43 minutes) he did for public television in America and, I was delighted to hear, he thinks much the same way about our place in the world (though I don’t know where stands on capital letters!). If you don’t yet have a copy of Scott’s great book on haiku, The Wonder Code, immediately purchase one!

Happy Birthday Kokako!

Kokako 30 landed just before I headed off to Japan, a good read as always. If you’re reading this in New Zealand and don’t subscribe to Kokako, what are you waiting for? Find details here.

The first issue of Kokako appeared in 2003, under the helm of (the late) Bernard Gadd and Patricia Prime, who is still co-editor, now with Margaret Beverland. Kokako grew out of winterSPIN, an annual publication of SPIN poetry journal and focusing on the Japanese genres and short poetry. SPIN editor pnw donnelly encouraged Catherine Mair to edit winterSPIN from 1995-2001 with Bernie helping out from 1998. From 2003-2006 Kokako appeared once a year, then moving (by popular demand) to twice a year.

In her editorial to mark the thirtieth edition, Margaret notes that in the beginning most of the submissions to Kokako came from within New Zealand, but now most come from overseas.

If you’re interested in reading more on the history of haiku in New Zealand, click on the link to read an essay, prepared by me for The Haiku Foundation and published in 2016.

Here is a selection of haiku by New Zealand authors from Kokako 30.

flight of a fantail …
we each scatter his ashes
between spells of rain

Kirsten Cliff Elliot (Hamilton)

kowhai2 - Copy

Photo: Sandra Simpson

family sorrow
the yellow kowhai
pays no attention

Tony Beyer (New Plymouth)

not speaking
the cherry on the fence line
in full bloom

Barbara Strang (Christchurch)

marae concert
a small hole in
the cellist’s sock

Sandra Simpson (Tauranga)

sunrise

6am flight!
watching the sun take off
on its own journey

Keith Nunes (Pahiatua)

how to smile
at people you don’t like
buttercup

Jenny Fraser (Mt Maunganui)

number eight wire

The fourth New Zealand haiku anthology is finally here! The delivery of books took place this week so my co-editor Margaret Beverland and I are very pleased to announce that copies are now on sale.

anthology cover - Copy

Many thanks to Michelle Reynolds at Kale Print, Tauranga for her fantastic cover design.

A 150-page perfect-bound volume, number eight wire is a survey of New Zealand haiku from 2008 to 2018 – 330 poems by 70 authors, published at home and around the world with many honoured in international contests.

The book’s title is taken from this haiku

beaded with songbirds number eight wire

Karen Peterson Butterworth

Number eight wire has been used in New Zealand since the 19th century for farm fences and has also come to mean a way of thinking that creates brilliance from the most basic of materials, and far-sighted problem-solving and innovation. The book includes a glossary of New Zealand words and phrases.

Within NZ: 

Single copy:         $20 +$4 post/packing

Two copies postage: +$5.50. Three or more copies: +$7.

Please inquire for details for direct credit payments. Make cheques to: ‘Haiku Festival Aotearoa 2012’ and post to PO Box 183, Katikati 3166.

Overseas (in $NZ):

Australia:             $25 + $10 postage (single copy)

UK/Europe/US:    $25 + $18 postage (single copy)

Please inquire for postage for multiple copies and/or to use PayPal.

Testimonials

Aside from the wonderful poetry in the book, the hard copy itself is very nicely done and has a real ‘quality’ feel to it – Sian Williams

Number Eight Wire is a splendid effort … Very thorough in coverage of the last decade and all my favourites are there – Tony Beyer

The book of around 150 pages is beautifully presented with an Introduction, Poet Profiles and reproductions of New Zealand stamps adorning each section break. In addition, the editors have thoughtfully provided a glossary of New Zealand terms and names enabling the reader to put each poem in context without resorting to an internet search – Greg Piko (read his full review).

Recent success

It felt like I was starting 2019 on the right foot when an email arrived advising I had won the Iris magazine Little Haiku Contest!

twilight —
humming as i weed
around the hive

Organised by the Three Rivers Haiku Association in Croatia, the contest was judged by haiku maestro Jim Kacian. Among his comments, which I’m guessing will be published in the next issue of Iris, Jim says:

What raises this poem above the other haiku here, however, is something more. I think it important to recognize that the poet is not humming to the bees, or imitating the bees. The poet is humming because she is employed in a fruitful and welcome occupation. Bees, after all, do not hum, but we can hear their wingbeats when they fly, or when they vibrate their wing muscles to shake pollen from a flower. While we interpret it as a kind of music, what we actually hear is exertion.

Our poet is wholly engaged in her task, and her humming, too, is the by-product of her effort. And if again we hear this effort as music, then our lives are that much richer for it.

It’s always fascinating to see what other people mine from your work. Yesterday I sent my judge’s comments to the organisers of the Martin Lucas Haiku Award so hope contestants and readers of issue 63 of Presence haiku journal will find them interesting.

beehive

My haiku is based on experiences around the two beehives we have in our suburban garden. This summer has been exceptionally hot and dry and the bees have been making the most of it. The other evening I could feel the vibration coming from the boxes even standing a few metres away! We harvested from one hive this past week – and the honey is sensational, very sweet and caramel this year.

And I have a haiku in the latest (rolling) edition of Wales Haiku Journal.

too fast
to read the station’s name –
buddleia

NZPS Contest Update

tango

The 2018 NZPS anthology is not only out – it has sold out! But there may be a reprint of The Unnecessary Invention of Punctuationread more here. So I can now share the haiku that was placed First and won the Jeanette Stace Memorial Award:

cloud lichen …
too late now
to learn the tango

Sandra Simpson

This was written well before I began a six-week course of ballroom dance lessons … turns out it might also be too late to learn how to foxtrot!

roadside blackberries –
the book I wore out reading
to my brother

Sandra Simpson, Commended

kingfisher

by the time he says kingfisher –

Sandra Simpson, Highly Commended

A mosaic haiku

Received the lovely news last night that mosaic artist Greta Doo has been inspired by one of my haiku to create a piece of new work which will be shown at the second A Palette of Poetry exhibition in Dunedin, October 14-28, at the Resene Colour Shop in Crawford St. (Click on this link to see what Greta did last year.)

Funds raised from the exhibition will go towards the Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) project which every quarter creates trifold poetry pamphlets – about 7000 of them – and distributes them to medical centres, hospitals, rest-homes, hospices and prisons. People can read them while they wait or or take them away. Ruth Arnison, the moving force behing PitWR and the exhibition, received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to poetry and literature in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The haiku which inspired Greta to create Autumn Table is

end of harvest
we pull out the leaves
on the dining table

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 13.2 (2011)

Greta says about the choice of this haiku: “It all started when I grew my first cucumber last year in the new glasshouse. I was so proud of it I put it on the kitchen table with a tomato to show off the size, plus some other produce that made a good arrangement for a photo shoot. I revisited the photo after reading Sandra’s haiku and they resonated together to form the artwork.”

greta doo

Autumn Table by Greta Doo. Image: Greta Doo

Autumn Table is 1.1m long and 0.5m high. It comprises 3 panels glued and screwed together to emulate the leaves of a dining table, thus the middle panel is slightly raised. The work should be hung flat upon a wall.

The exhibition opens at 2pm on Saturday, October 14.

Recent success

News of my First place in the New Zealand Poetry Society International Haiku Contest came while I was away, so exciting. Unfortunately, I can’t share the haiku with you just yet as NZPS has first publication rights and the anthology won’t be out until November. I also received one Highly Commended and one Commended. Big thanks to judge Katherine Raine and contest organiser Laurice Gilbert.

Katherine has written a Haiku Checklist for those new to haiku or teaching themselves. It’s well worth a read.

Waiting for me at home was Presence 61, another fine edition out of the UK.

coming to rest
on a nameless headstone
a slice of sun

– Patricia Prime

summer heat
the snap and crackle
of broom seeds

– Owen Bullock

genocide museum –
a pair of swallows
hunt for a way out

– Sandra Simpson

And Kokako 29 arrived in the letterbox yesterday – Pat Prime is co-editor of the journal, along with Margaret Beverland. The cover photo of two laughing kimono-clad Japanese women was taken by me at the teahouse in Hama Rikyu gardens, Tokyo (the back cover information is correct, that on P2 not so much!).

kokako Hamarikyu teahouse - Copy

It was one of those moments when our eyes connected and it all fell into place. Photo: Sandra Simpson

a photo reveals
what they didn’t notice then
ash on his face

– Celia Hope

speedwell by the path losing herself in blueness

– Barbara Strang

deepening cyclone –
the beekeeper’s
flowery language

– Sandra Simpson

Yes, these are all New Zealand poets. Not bad, eh?