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)

National Poetry Day

August 26 is National Poetry Day in New Zealand – I’m not attending anything today or tonight so was excited to have a Poems in your Pocket booklet given to me by Linda at Books A Plenty when I popped in at lunchtime. It’s a photocopied page of 4 poems folded into a booklet (instructions in the middle) but I’ve had it in my pocket until a moment ago. This is the second stanza of the first poem I read when I opened it:

Jun

one of the most linguistically difficult things i did in japan
was to memorise how to say in japanese i am so sorry
to hear about your son jun dying and here is 3000 yen
for flowers for his grave

– Johanna Aitchison, from her book Miss Dust (Seraph Press, 2015)

Here are some haiku by New Zealanders you may not have met before, some poems for your pocket.

winter morning
the lame goose lagging a little
behind its gaggle

– Cyril Childs (1941-2012)

morning chill –
the dog curls
into a perfect circle

– Aalix Roake

summer heat
overripe plums
spill into a bowl

– Anne Curran

magnolia shade
cicadas
in both ears

– Tony Beyer