Still life in colour

They were sitting in La Barantine in Bruntsfield, at one of the two tables that gave a good view of the passers-by on the pavement directly outside. It was at such an hour of the morning that the sunlight, slicing over the high roof-tops, cast a square of buttery light on their table. Before them were two steaming cups of milky coffee, their foamy surfaces decorated with a delicate fern-leaf pattern. Vuillard or Bonnard might have painted this scene, thought Isabel: the tables, their covers, the display case of delicacies – it was all a tiny island of colour and comfort that would not have been out of place in an intimiste painting: Man and woman in a cafe, morning, perhaps, or Mme Dalhousie prend du cafe avec M. Stevenson. She liked the titles given to paintings; they could be so pithy and poetic, first lines of an incomplete haiku.

– from The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus, 2016)

Le journal illustre, now known as Woman Reading, was painted by Impressionist Edouard Manet in Paris in about 1880 and forms part of the Mr and Mrs Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection at the Art Institute Chicago. Image: Art Institute Chicago

winter evening
an unbought brioche
under glass

Jennifer Popolis, The Wonder Code (2017)

early evening rain –
the man at the bar
folds his paper into quarters

Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest 15.3 (2013)

tea ceremony —
it begins & ends
with an empty cup 

Stanford M Forrester, The Signature Haiku Anthology (2020)

Le Déjeuner des canotiers or Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-August Renoir dates from 1881. It is now owned by The Phillips Collection in Washington DC. Image: Wikipedia

midday
the coffee turns
to wine

Tom Clausen, The Wonder Code (2017)

river dripping
from both the oars
one last wish

Sharon Pretti, Another Trip Around the Sun (2019)

near evening …
willow shadows return
to the river

Mohsen Farsani, The Wonder Code (2017)

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!