Recent publications

I’ve received two Honourable Mentions in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational, a lovely surprise.

taking his nap outside
my father returns
with blossom in his hair

Te Apiti Wind Farm, Manawatu, New Zealand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Four haiku appear in Kokako 27 which came out last month.

scudding rain –
the wind turbines
harvest cloud

And one haiku has been published in Frogpond 40.2.

desert rain –
at first the rocks unsure
of the tune

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Catching up, mostly

I’ve been drowning in a sea of paper for the past few weeks – actual paper, emails, newspaper clippings, what-have-you – plus trying to replace photos on this site and my other blog, Sandra’s Garden. I’ve felt guilty, fed-up and anxious in about equal measure.

But here we are, it’s Friday afternoon, I’ve met a couple of deadlines and although the temperature is falling quickly, there has been some nice sunshine today.

To help things along this week I’ve received a copy of Presence 58 from the UK, a copy of the anthology Naad Anunaad from India, and a lovely (and very kind) submission prompt from the editor of a large-ish journal. Still to read the printed matter and enjoying the anticipation.

Also, some of my work has seen the light of day – the results of two competitions I judged in June, plus their associated commentary. The New Zealand Poetry Society International Haiku Contest, and the Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award were kind enough to invite me to judge their contests but maybe I won’t do two at once again!

I can finally share the news that I received an Honourable Mention in this year’s Robert Spiess Memorial Haiku Award:

summer solstice —
pulling the earth
back round a zinnia

– Sandra Simpson

Plus an Honourable Mention in the AHA Memorial Award:

garden argument —
a hummingbird pokes
its nose in

– Sandra Simpson

I’m not sure if the judge’s report will be published online, so append the comments of Bette Norcross Wappner here:

Typically a garden would be an unlikely place for an argument but this author portrays a real-life occurrence. Is this garden in their backyard or is it in a public garden? Is there just one person in this scene arguing with someone on their cell phone? Perhaps two people have decided to take their argument outdoors unknown to them what might be flying their way! Line two swiftly takes our attention by changing the rhythm from a noisy argument to the silence and stillness of a curious, hovering hummingbird. Is the hummingbird poking its nose into a blossom or a hummingbird feeder? In the last line we can assume the amazing miracle of a tiny bird has stopped the negative energy of an argument. I see two people standing there in a summer garden dumbfounded by the power of mother nature, like the power of our own mother, pointing her finger to stop her children arguing. You may be tempted to associate to that of a nosy neighbour poking their nose into someone’s business, but to the sweet and synchronistic timing of this small creature. Well done!

And I’ve at last caught up with the fact that my Haiku this Photo entry to the NHK Haiku Masters series (Japan) was one of two runners-up!

first date –
we agree to meet
in the open

– Sandra Simpson

This particular episode took place on July 17 at the Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum. For some reason I can’t fathom there is no video available, but the gallery is here.

Season of goodwill … & haiku

Merry Christmas to all those who read breath – it’s been a pleasure having you along  over the past year of haiku musings. And my very best wishes for a healthy and productive New Year.

Here are a few seasonal haiku to see us on our way to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and beyond!

Photo: Menchi, via Wikipedia.

christmas eve
in the taxi cab
a scent of pine

– Tom Painting
bottle rockets 12 (2006)

toll booth lit for Christmas —
from my hand to hers
warm change

– Michael Dylan Welch
Second place, Henderson Haiku Contest (HSA), 1995

birthcry!
          the stars
          are all in place

– Raymond Roseliep
from haiku mind by Patricia Donegan (Shambhala, 2008)

summer solstice –
the flock passes into darkness
one by one

– Sandra Simpson
A Hundred Gourds 3.4 (2014)

Christmas eve
in the courtyard below
a flutter of wings

– Pamela Miller Ness
The Heron’s Nest 3.5 (2001)

Christmas night
the lights on the house opposite
blink      blink blink         blink

– Sandra Simpson
Prune Juice 19, 2016

shaving foam
Santa in my mirror
waits for wishes

– Alexey Andreev
Presence 56 (2016)

Just published

Had Presence 55 (UK) waiting for me when I got home and the final edition of Paper Wasp (Australia) arrived soon after I got back.

Very pleased to have a haiku voted ‘best of issue’ for Number 54 by the readers of Presence, “a clear winner”, according to the editors!

stored in her phone the unborn child

– Sandra Simpson,  Presence 54

“The poem seems to play with ideas of electronic immortality but perhaps also offers satirical comment on the increasing involvement of phones in our lives.”

One of my three haiku in Presence 55 is:

summer rain the eel inside me stirs

I was pleased to be able to contribute to the final edition of Paper Wasp as many years ago – 1996 (2:4), the bookshelf reveals – Janice Bostok while guest editor encouraged me in my haiku ways. Other Kiwi names appearing in that 16-page edition included Catherine Mair, Patricia Prime, Ernest J Berry, the late Bernard Gadd and John Allison.

The final volume is only 20 pages but there are many more poems packed into it than the 1996 version. Paper Wasp founders were John Knight (1935-2012), Jacqui Murray and Ross Clark with Jan Bostok (1942-2011) and Katherine Samuelowicz joining the team later. “We kept each issue small, not only to be economical, but also because it embodied the pared down form within,” the editors write in their farewell.

“Our stable of haijin will find publication elsewhere. Other Australian journals of haiku will begin, and (sort of) thrive. As well as this handful of breath we call haiku.”

crabapple harvest –
the best neighbour tells me
he’s moving

– Sandra Simpson, Paper Wasp 20.2

And I’ve work in a new (for me) publication, the online senryu journal, Prune Juice (just be warned that it’s a massive file if you choose to download it).

dictator’s tomb –
rose petals stick
to the bottom of our feet

– Sandra Simpson

Peace

Photo: Sandra Simpson

underneath the hammer
of the peace bell –
rutherford’s atom

– Sandra Simpson, Kokako 24 (April 2016)

We were in the Peace Park in Hiroshima when our guide Nobu asked if anyone would like to ring the Peace Bell. About six of us went up, various ages and from various backgrounds (including first-generation migrants). We made the bell ring and I daresay we all sent thoughts about peace out into the world with the sound.

Ernest Rutherford. Photo: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress), via Wikipedia

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) was born in New Zealand but did most of his great scientific work in Britain. He is best remembered for “splitting the atom” in 1917, although had already won a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1908. His face appears on our $100 note.

Hiroshima –
the museum
full of shadows

– Sandra Simpson, Honourable Mention,
Jane Reichhold International Haiku Prize, 2016

Someone was waiting for the bank to open, sitting or standing on the steps. At 8.15am on August 6, 1945 an atomic bomb was detonated 600m above the ground in Hiroshima and the person simply vanished, leaving only a ‘shadow’ on the stone steps – the steps are now on display in the Peace Memorial Museum.

We don’t know if that person was a man or a woman, we don’t know their age and we don’t know their name.

Recent publications

The quarterly issues of A Hundred Gourds and The Heron’s Nest are out, with the news that AHG is to cease publication after its June issue which will mark 5 years. Sad news as from its inception A Hundred Gourds has been a benchmark publication, not an easy thing to achieve. But editors have lives too and running a large publication, whether online or in print, demands a time commitment that not everyone is willing to give. In other words, they’ve earned a lie down and a cuppa!

deep in the fjord I no longer

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 5.2

Managing editor Lorin Ford assures readers and contributors that the AHG archives will remain available once publication ends, which is excellent.

half my life gone the violence of mating butterflies 

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 18.1

I don’t think I’m writing more one-liners than usual so the appearance of two at the same time is just a coincidence. But to keep the vibe going …

Leaving the Red Zone is an anthology of poetry written after and about the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and was launched on February 29, a week after the fifth anniversary of the deadly quake that shattered lives and the city of Christchurch. The cover image is of one of the footbridges across the Avon river, buckled by the second quake.

Edited by James Norcliffe and Joanna Preston, the book has been published by Clerestory Press. The book is large format (172mm x 245 mm) softcover, 180 pages, with the work of 87 contributors from across New Zealand, with a few offshore as well. You can read some snippets of poems on Helen Lowe’s blog. Or you can hear the editors talking to Radio NZ’s Wallace Chapman (14:52).

getting in everywhere the dust of everything

– Sandra Simpson, Leaving the Red Zone (2016)

I was so pleased the editors accepted this one, which was first published in a fine line, the magazine of the NZ Poetry Society in March 2012. The late John O’Connor reckoned it was one of the best poems about the earthquakes that he’d read!

In the broadcast linked to above Joanna says that she and James were searching for ‘poetic truth’ and that some quite good poets with poems that were ‘perfectly okay’ had been left out because there was no ‘little electrical spark to make you sit up’.

To purchase a copy, go here to find an order form, bank transfer details and the publisher’s contact details. The book costs $39.95 with free delivery within New Zealand. All profits go to the Mayor’s Earthquake Relief Fund.

Happy Haiku Christmas

Merry Christmas – or happy holidays – to my readers near and far. I hope you find some happiness in this season of goodwill and festive cheer. A stranger gave me a ‘Merry Christmas’ this morning as we passed one another crossing the road. Easy to do but worth a lot.

A summer-theme Christmas star. Photo: Sandra Simpson

We attended a family funeral this week and arrived early enough that we had to wait at for a group of children to finish practising their Christmas songs ready for a performance. It was an odd juxtaposition.

Sonia’s loss is felt keenly by all her extended family, she was a very warm and loving person, but in reality we had started grieving her some time ago as continuing strokes steadily eroded her physical capabilities until she was unable to speak, write or move.

terminally ill –
and her nails beautiful
by the wooden heater

– Sanro (Dokotsu Iida, 1885-1962), from haiku mind

When I was cleaning out a room at my mother’s I found a dance card from a debutant’s ball of about 1955. My father, who was Sonia’s cousin, had accompanied her and his best friend was there too with his name also on the card. I brought it back and gave it to Sonia who was thrilled to see it after all this time. (My mother was apparently a natural archivist as she’d stored away all sorts of interesting bits of paper.)

heat lightning –
Christmas beetles
spangle the fly screen

– Lorin Ford, The Heron’s Nest 13.1 (2014)

There are about 35 species of glossy Christmas beetles (Anoplognathus genus) in Australia, so named because the adults emerge close to Christmas period. They are attracted to bright lights. Read more here.

afternoon heat
there is nothing to do
and I’m doing it

– Michael Ketchek, from a vast sky anthology (2015)

Christmas week weather has been hot, hot, hot with Victoria’s heatwave blowing over to New Zealand, although that is starting to ease back a little. No rain in sight though and with the strong winds that have come with the heat the ground is drying out fast.

December already –
        the clock
has scissors for hands

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds 2.1 (2012)

This time last year I spent an early morning at A&E (hospital emergency department) in great pain wondering what on earth was wrong with me. My GP had been unable, at that stage, to pinpoint what was causing the repeated stomach pain I’d been having since about August … turned out to be a kidney stone … and my early morning dash to the hospital was when I passed it. Still had to have a couple more tests to rule out things as we had no proof it was a kidney stone. But all has been quiet on the western front since.

Enjoy your season of giving, stay safe and see you back here next year!