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, June 29, 2011

The Start Of My Tanka Journey

These were my first two published tanka, appearing in Valley Micropress Vol.13 Iss.3 (April, 2010). They were written after Owen Bullock did a tanka talk at the Christmas do of the then Papamoa Poets group. The subject matter is very Kiwi summer.

after the gypsy fair
seeing summer
in a flowering pōhutukawa
the smell of snow
drifts into my mind

Pōhutukawa tree, affectionaly known as New Zealand's
Christmas tree. Photo by Kirsten Cliff, Papamoa Beach.

plaza Christmas tree
decorated with starfish
and jandals
I automatically look
for a pair my size

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm in the river, are you?

The July River of Stones challenge kicks off in just a few days and I want to know - will you join me?

We believe that it's better to be connected to the world, than not to be. We believe that it's better to notice the unnoticed, the weeds in the cracks in the pavement and the aphid on the bud of the rose, than to let them slip by. And we believe that writing can help us pay attention to, and become intimate with, the world. (Fiona and Kaspa, River of Stones organisers)

Writing a small stone a day for the month of January was so much fun - it reignited my passion for words, it rehoned my observation skills, and I reconnected with my online community of writers and poets. Come and join us in writing a small stone a day in July and see where the journey takes YOU!

All the info you need to get started is here, and if you're blogging, then get your badge here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Half-Way Through My 2011 Challenge

In the first week of January, buoyed by the excitement of writing a small stone a day during A River of Stones, I decided to set myself the challenge of submitting to a poetry publication or competition every week in 2011.

It was my way of getting back out into the world through poetry, after a year of writing taking a backseat to four cycles of chemotherapy and over four months of hospital stays. While I did resume writing regularly in the later part of 2010 (when I could finally say I was home! and felt the need to process the whirlwind of events that began with my diagnosis of leukaemia on March 2nd) I wasn't submitting my work, instead using it purely to process my journey.

It's now week 26 of 2011 and I've faithfully kept to my goal; sometimes submitting to more than one outlet a week. I've never before been waiting on so many editors' verdicts and competition results: currently awaiting replies from seven publications (on-line and in print), two anthologies and five competitions. Phew!

It's opened me up to submitting to several publications/competitions I had never submitted/entered before, and a few places that I'd been meaning to send haiku too for a couple of years, but had chickened out! So, lots of firsts coming out, including:
  • my first time submitting tanka to and appearing in Eucalypt
  • my first time submitting to, and first ever haiga submission, appearing in Notes from the Gean
  • my first time submitting senryu to and appearing in Prune Juice
Hopefully many more to come!

I've also really enjoyed sharing my poetry on Swimming in Lines of Haiku and through Facebook by participating in A River of Stones, NaHaiWriMo and NaPoWriMo. These month-long poetry challenges have lead to me connecting up with several writers/poets/haijins on Facebook, blogs and the Writing Our Way Home community. It's great to be introduced to new publications, be exposed to new ideas, and be encouraged by this thriving and supportive online community. I'm reading, writing and sharing more poetry than ever before and it feels good! Thanks for being part of it :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Drummers and Short Form Poetry

The latest issue of Four and Twenty (an online journal of short form poetry) is out now with my image featured as the cover art. You can download your pdf copy of the June 2011 issue from the 4and20 website or read it here. There are also lots of past issues to check out here (keep your eyes open for the January 2011 issue that also sports my work as cover art).

My photograph drummers is of the Wai Taiko Drummers performing at the Katikati Haiku Contest prize-giving back in 2008. The drummers performed again at the 2010 Katikati Haiku Contest prize-giving, which was also a big celebration for the 10th anniversary of the Katikati Haiku Pathway. You can read a write-up of the event by Sandra Simpson here.

Read more about the Wai Taiko Drummers on their website.
Find out more about the Katikati Haiku Pathway here.
Submission guidelines for Four and Twenty here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Browsing the Tanka in Eucalypt

the second-hand books
from my wheelchair
today I decide
not to feel ashamed

Copyright Kirsten Cliff 2011
Published in Eucalypt (Issue 10, 2011)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wedding Small Stone

A small stone from me on the wedding day of Fiona and Kaspa -

I study my palm:
soft, pink, warm,
every crease, this scar,
each line tells my story,
and I wonder
if in these hands
I can read the fortunes
of all my past lives too.

You can write one as a gift for the happy couple too and have it posted on-line with all the other well-wishers' small stones. See all the info here and send your small stone in here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Foundation for Water & Energy Education Haiku Contest

Cost: FREE to enter
Deadline: June 20, 2011
Theme: hydropower in 5-7-5 format; one haiku only.
Prizes: First Place - $US1000; 1 winner from each age section will be chosen and the cash prize decided on a draw. The 2 other winners to receive "Best of the Northwest" gift baskets. Winners announced on July 15. Full details here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Salt Beneath the Skin: A Haibun

Looking down on Papamoa Beach, kids in coloured towels run from ocean to shower, then into the arms of mum. Surf lifesaving flags flicker - bright yellow and red - stark against the backdrop. Waves thunder onto the foreshore creating white caps that match the cumulus cloud. Wind grabs at my coat, my hair, makes my nose run, and still I catch birdsong from all directions, every tree, pines to pohutukawa. Traffic noise, a constant at my back, the car fumes don't reach my nose, for this I am grateful. Wooden bench, of adequate comfort, scattered with graffiti. The plaque reads: “In loving memory of Murray Dingle 28.7.1954 - 7.12.2001 'Salt beneath the skin'". Scratched to the right of this: 'Salt beneath the foreskin', my laughter taken away by the gusts, my smile firmly fixed. Hands now heavy, cold has set in as the sun retreats, I reacquaint them with the deep lined pockets of my jacket.

suspended from
an evening cloud

Copyright © Kirsten Cliff
First published on the Tauranga City Libraries 'Memories a Plenty' Website here

Mauao is the Māori name for the mountain you see here. More commonly
called "The Mt" - short for Mount Maunganui - it is a New Zealand icon in
the Bay of Plenty region near where I live. Photo taken by Kirsten Cliff.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Submitting to The Heron's Nest

I did it! I finally submitted to The Heron's Nest, a quarterly online haiku journal. I'd been meaning to submit for a couple of years now but never went ahead with it - not surprising as it's seen in New Zealand as one of the top places to have work accepted. Now that I've challenged myself to submit to a poetry competition or publication every week this year it's making me broaden my horizons and I'm loving it.

You'll find the details of how you can submit your haiku here. Don't forget to read over a couple of past issues first to get a feel of the type and standard of haiku The Heron's Nest editors are looking for.

There are a few features I really like including The Heron's Nest Readers' Choice Awards, The Heron's Nest Illustration Contest, and The Heron’s Nest Award, which is given to one haiku in each issue. The winning haiku is posted on the home page, receives special commentary, and a certificate is sent to the poet.

Add to this the fact that The Heron’s Nest brings out a print edition in April each year, which includes the contents of all four quarterly issues, and yes! This is a publication I'd love to be involved with. I'll just have to wait and see...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Rainbow of Queer Ku

Last week, one of the NaHaiWriMo prompts was in honour of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month: Write about sexuality, gender identity or pride in general. I posted a few of my previously published haiku and senryu on the subject (all inspired by true events) and thought it would be good to gather them here in one post. I'd love to be part of a queer haiku (and related forms) anthology some day. For now: Enjoy!

through the smoke
dark red lips
of a drag queen

Published in Kokako 8 (April, 2008)

karaoke night
watching her adam's apple

Published in Kokako 12 (April, 2010)

Photo taken, and peace cranes folded, by Kirsten Cliff

marriage ceremony
both wear white
her dress   her dress

Commended, NZPS International Haiku Competition 2009
Published in moments in the whirlwind (NZPS Anthology, 2009)

sharing fries
they hold hands
under the table

Published on Haiku News online (Feb, 2011) in response to this article - McDonald's WiFi censors out glbt sites on GayNZ.com

Monday, June 13, 2011

Inside the Mind of a Haiku Competition Judge

Joanna Preston is the 2011 judge of the adult section of the New Zealand Poetry Society International Haiku Competition. Over at her blog, A Dark Feathered Art, she is posting about her experience and it all makes for very interesting reading.

So far she has posted -
I look forward to reading more as the weeks progress; all judging must be done by June 30th. And no, it hasn't put me off wanting to take on the task myself someday! :)

Joanna is co-editor of Kokako - New Zealand's only specialist haiku and related forms journal. She has edited the NZPS annual anthology three times; this is her first time judging for the NZPS. You can check out her books here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Word On Kyoka

I had never heard of kyoka before stumbling across the term on the Prune Juice website, where it states:

Kyoka is often regarded as being to tanka what senryu is to haiku. They are usually five lines in length and read like tanka. (read here in full)

I decided to follow the blog link given and found the writings of M. Kei on kyoka, including his article Kyoka vs. Tanka - Examples (2006) which makes for very good reading. I highly recommend that you go and take a look yourself.

Kyoka don't have to be tasteless or funny. They don't have to be satire. The great virtue of kyoka is that they give voice to what cannot be voiced in tanka as it currently stands in the English language. I hope kyoka amuse you. I hope they shock you. I hope they hurt you. I hope they open your tanka so that you too will be able to express yourself with all the aching joy of being human.

So, I wonder if this is a kyoka?

he told me
a mouse was atop
the fridge
& I replied, well -
there's no food up there!

Probably yes: all be it a not very good one...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Photos Of The HSA Haiku Wall in Oregon

(Please click on photos to see a larger image.)

Photo by Ted van Zutphen on June 4, 2011.
Mine is the 2nd one down on the right-hand side:

these country roads
the curl of her hair

My haiku on the HSA Haiku Wall on exhibit in the historic Liberty
Theatre Gallery at the National Haiku Society of America
Meeting in Bend, Oregon on June 3-5, 2011 as part of the
downtown Bend Oregon First Friday June Art Walk.

Photo by Ted van Zutphen on June 4, 2011.
Pat Prime's haiku on the top right-hand corner, which had a typo.
The correct version reads:

tossed bouquet...
a shower of rose petals
on the chapel steps

Special thanks to Ted van Zutphen for taking the photos
and Svetlana Marisova for getting them to me. It was so cool
to see these, and other New Zealand haiku writers' poems
on the wall when I never thought I would!

Photo by Ted van Zutphen on June 4, 2011.
Svetlana Marisova's haiku:

crashing waves -
almost believing
it's forever

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vision Boards And Sticking Stuff To Other Stuff

I'm in the process of making my biggest ever vision board. Hubby-to-be and I are looking at buying our first home together later this year and this vision board is my contribution to the magic of making it happen.

Vision boards have worked for me in the past (it's how I found my wonderful man, after all!) and plus, I just love sticking stuff to other stuff! Most of my vision boards end up becoming a work of art, and although I use words, it's a good exercise is working/playing with images to a greater extend.

Vision board in progress - approx. 1m x 1.2m

I made my first vision board in 2008 with friend and fellow writer and artist Janet Keen. Janet has vision boards all around her home and studio, and has had great success from them. Check out her recent post on How to make a vision board. You can also read an article I wrote about Janet and her art, which she has archived on her blog here.

Check out an earlier post of mine, including two poems, about why we want to move from Wordsmith House - Location, Location, Location.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just Across The Ditch

Australian Brush-turkey or bush turkey
Photo taken by Kirsten Cliff in January 2009 in Brisbane, Australia

                                 summer heat
                                 the bush turkey pauses
                                 in my shadow

© Kirsten Cliff 2011
First published in the Haiku Dreaming Australia Collection (on-line)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational - Deadline Extended!

New deadline: June 7, 2011

Judge: US poet an'ya

FREE entry of up to two haiku via an online form.

Theme: haiku should inspire a feeling of community
interpretively reflect the timeless nature of the cherry blossoms.

Winners announced in the northern autumn
& winning poems featured during the 2012 festival.

I've just entered for the first time! You can find all the details here

Thursday, June 2, 2011

May Round-Up - Dreamy, Crafty, But Always Poetry

It's hard to believe I'm writing a round-up for May already: the month has seemed to fly by! (Time to find some savings, like Orbitz and plan a winter holiday!) I should have received two journals during the month with my work in them, Haiku Presence and Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal, but they are still yet to arrive.

I did, however, receive the copy of Stepping Stones: a way into haiku by Martin Lucas, which I ordered from Snapshot Press. I look forward to digging into that in a week or two, once I finish Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan, which I've been reading a haiku and commentary a day from since February.

Here's how I'm doing on my 2011 goal of submitting poetry to a publication or competition every week:

  • week eighteen - submitted eight senryu and five kyoku to Prune Juice (first time submitting here) two senryu accepted for Issue 6 (July, 2011)
  • week nineteen - submitted two haiku, seven tanka and a haibun to Kokako 15, awaiting outcome
  • week twenty - submitted ten haiku to haijinx (first time submitting here), awaiting outcome
  • AND submitted three haiku to the Sketchbook May/June Haiku Thread (first time submitting here)
  • week twenty-one - submitted two haiku to the International "Kusamakura" Haiku Competition
May saw me return to my dream work after the busyness of NaPoWriMo in April, and saw my poem "A Journey in Three Masks" (written during NaPoWriMo using the personal mythology prompts on InkSeeds) published in the May issue of Excellent Writing.

During the month I posted quite a few haiku on the NaiHaiWriMo Facebook page in response to prompts by Cara Holman. It was great to connect up with so many people writing haiku. I'll definitely be dropping in there most days to read and enjoy all the poems people are sharing.

I created two collage haiga for my collection exploring my leukaemia journey, for a new total of 28 pieces. I have another one half completed but am lacking the ingredients to finish it just now: some IV tubing. Hopefully I can ask the nurses at the Cancer Centre for some when I'm there later this month.

To catch the last of the autumn foliage, hubby-to-be took me to Mclaren Falls Park for the first time, and what a gem I'd been missing out on! Beautiful trees, lakes, gardens, grounds, walking tracks, sitting spots and look outs. Will definitely go back there again.

So now it's June and the beginning of winter in New Zealand. I look forward to the June issue of Excellent Writing where I have a quick tip for freelance writers appearing, and the June issue of Four and Twenty, which will be sporting one of my images on the cover. I wonder what else the month will bring...

Mclaren Falls Park, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, NZ
by Kirsten Cliff 23/5/2011

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Small Stone Blogsplash – we need your help…

    Kaspa & Fiona have taken over my blog for today, because they need our help.

    They are both on a mission to help the world connect with the world through writing. They are also getting married on Saturday the 18th of June.
    For their fantasy wedding present, they are asking people across the world to write them a ‘small stone’ and post it on their blogs or on Facebook or Twitter.
    A small stone is a short piece of observational writing – simply pay attention to something properly and then write it down. Find out more about small stones here.
    If you’re willing to help, we’d love you to do things:
    1) Re-post this blog on your own blog any time before June the 18th and give your readers a chance to hear about what we’re doing. You can simply copy and paste the text, or you can find the html here.
    2) Write us a small stone on our wedding day whilst we’re saying our vows and eating cake, post it on your blog, and send it to us.
    You can find out more about our project at our website, Wedding Small Stones, and you can also read our blog at A River of Stones.
    We also have a July challenge coming soon, when we’ll be challenging you to notice one thing every day during July and write it down.
    Thank you for listening, and we hope we’ll be returning from our honeymoon to an inbox crammed with small stones, including yours.

    Kaspa & Fiona