Unless stated otherwise, all poetry on Swimming in Lines of Haiku is Copyright Kirsten Cliff and may not be reprinted in any form without written permission from the author. kirsten(DOT)cliff(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Processing the Journey through Poetry

I am thoroughly enjoying the creative work that I'm doing these days. Long may this deep slow flow of self expression continue. The haiku, tanka and haiga that I'm writing and collaging is the type that sits with me for days: themes, words and images, marinating in my mind and mind's eye, being sketched in my journal, sparked off by photos and found objects, and the raw emotion still within me from my recent journey through leukaemia.

I never thought that I'd write about my cancer/chemo/hospital plight. I felt that poetry and memoirs about cancer had been done so many times already, and anyway, I wasn't inspired to write about what I was going through at the time. During my many weeks in hospital, over a 4-5 month period, it was also very difficult for me to write: I couldn't concentrate, or was too exhausted, or in too much pain... You get the idea. As a result, only one small journal entry and less than a handful of haiku and tanka were written.

Now, in the 10 weeks since I've been home (in remission, but still in active treatment), I've finally found the space to process my intense experience, and what other way would I do that than through poetry and hands-on art. Somehow, I've begun working towards a collection of haiku and tanka, which will all become haiga. And I'm doing it for me.

This is not about which publication I can get my work accepted into, or what my peers will make of my efforts. It's all about me. I feel this creative work is what I need to do to heal my heart and soul. I've even come up with the saying, "My art is my heart", because that's what producing this type of medium means to me.

I don't know what will become of this collection: maybe it will be published, in whole or in part, some day, maybe it will be exhibited some where. I don't know. And if ever I feel anxiety brewing I remind myself that I'm doing this creative work because it's what I need right now, not about what may become of it in the years ahead.

I've written five haiku and five tanka that I'm really happy with (and a few others that aren't so strong) and have so far made four from this into haiga. It's such an exciting process! It's something that I'd love to bring to my teaching some day: running day-long workshops where students (of any age) learn about haiku or tanka in the morning, and write some of their own, then make one poem into a haiga in the afternoon. What the hell - let's just make it a whole weekend workshop! I love being immersed in haiku and it's related forms, and am so happy that my faithful old haiku is there for me once again.

Friday, September 17, 2010

FREE online haiku self study course

When I was first teaching myself about haiku in 2007, I started with two things. One was The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share and Teach Haiku by William J. Higginson with Penny Harter, which I still highly recommend today. It's a book that I dip into a few times a year, and I've even used the lesson plans in it for teaching children haiku. If you're in New Zealand, you can buy it from Fishpond (my favourite online bookstore).

My other main learning tool was a FREE online haiku self study course, which I still recommend to beginners: In The Moonlight a Worm...  

You will see on the left hand side under 'The Lessons' section, 'Basho's Spirit', the third one down says 'self study' - just click on that and follow the instructions. There is also a 'Show Don't Tell' lesson with a self study module, which is great learning for any genre of writing.

This self study course is a great introduction to haiku. The website also has information for teachers with lesson plans that you can download, photocopiable poem sheets and a reference section.

I hadn't looked at this website for a while so had forgotten that they had resources for those teaching haiku. I'm going to check out the lesson plans myself now!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The FREE e-newsletters about writing that I read


FundsforWriters -
FFW Small Markets -

Both edited by C. Hope Clark, founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, a website, family of newsletters and ebooks about incomes streams for writers.


New Zealand Book Council E-newsletter - http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/Readers/Newsletters/Information.htm 
Newsletters from the Victoria University centre of the International Institute of Modern Letters (not strictly monthly)
Helen Heath's Monthly Newsletter (recently signed up so haven't received first issue yet)

What writing related e-newsletters do you read and recommend? Please share via the comments section.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kokako Tanka Competition

The 3rd Kokako Tanka Competition

Closing Date: 31st October 2010

First Prize: NZ$200

Second and Third Place prizes of NZ $50 each.

Judge: Richard von Sturmer

Send entries to:
The Kokako Tanka Competition,
Patricia Prime, co-editor
42 Flanshaw Road
Te Atatu South
Auckland 8
New Zealand

Please make cheques out to Kokako
Overseas entrants may send cash at their own risk

               Conditions of entry
  1. Tanka must be previously unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere.
  2. Entry fee is NZ$2 per tanka or 3 for NZ$5; for overseas entries, US$1 per tanka, or 4 for US$3. Any number of entries.
  3. Send two copies of each tanka, or group of tanka, with your name and address on one copy only.
  4. Winning tanka, highly commended and commended entries will be published in Kokako 14 (April 2011).
  5. Winners will be notified by mail.
  6. Any theme is acceptable.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Learning about haiga, and loving it!

Over the past year or so I've been branching out from haiku into writing tanka and haibun as well. I've really enjoyed experimenting with these forms, and have found I've grown as a writer through extending myself in this way. I've had a few tanka and haibun published now (see one of my haibun under 'Links to My Writing') and feel reasonably comfortable writing them. I've only scratched the surface of how I can use these forms to express and record my journey through this life. I'm sure I'll continue writing them, along with haiku, for many years to come.

In recent weeks, I've found myself drawn to haiga. It feels like a natural progression for me as someone who delights in playing with words and crafts, and likes to explore the relationship of how one can inspire the other. I actually made my first haiga before I really knew I had. But when I realised what I'd come up with, and how fun the creative process had been, I was eager to learn more about the connection between words and images that is the basis of haiga.

What I discovered was http://www.haigaonline.com/
Haigaonline is an online journal of haiga. From the traditional to the experimental, you can emerge yourself in this form through these pages. Each issue has a haiga workshop and I'm steadily making my way through them. If you Google "haiga" you will find lots of examples, but the articles on Haigaonline are a great place to start.

Go here for a definition of haiga: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiga

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First day of sping and it's all about poetry

Happy first day of spring! And the good news keeps coming for me and my poetry leanings...

My page on the Haiku NewZ Showcase is now live. You can see it here: http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/kirstencliff and also check out another newcomer to the showcase, Margaret Beverland: http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/margaretbeverland

A big thank you to Sandra Simpson for inviting me to be part of the Showcase and for expertly putting together all the Haiku NewZ pages. I have added the link under 'Links to My Writing', which are on the right hand side of this blog under the photo of me.

I love it when things come together. I haven't submitted anything for months and then the good news flows forth in a rush! I've had a haiku accepted for the 2010 New Zealand Poetry Society anthology, which will come out in November with a launch in Wellington. And a poem accepted for publication in Takahe sometime in 2011. This came about after Stylus was unable to publish the feature '12 New Zealand Poets' that Pat Prime had put together, so Pat contacted Siobhan Harvey, poetry editor at Takahe, and she agreed to publish the poems throughout 2011. Superb news for me having never had a poem in Takahe before. Thank you, Pat and Siobhan!

My final piece of good news isn't directly poetry related, but haiku could well end up involved! I volunteered to be one of 10 people to represent leukaemia survivorship in an ad campaign for Leukaemia Appeal Week (Nov 1-7). I did a photo shoot last week at Browsers Quality Secondhand Bookshop in Hamilton with photographer TJ Alderson. It was a great experience and I'm proud to be able to help the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation in this way. My image will end up in various places, which could include posters, pamphlets, books and websites.

TJ enjoys incorporating words into his images and, knowing I was a haiku writer, asked me to send him any that spoke of my leukaemia journey. Watch this space - haiku could be flooding the media come November!