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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Haiku + Art = When North Meets South

When North meets South is a Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) art project that I'm very excited to be a part of. In March organiser Ruth Arnison invited the most talented haiku writers from the North Island to each email Poems in the Waiting Room six unpublished haiku.

Then twenty artists in the South Island's Otago region responded to the invitation to take part in this project. They’ve each been given 3-4 haiku, asked to select one, and then create a work incorporating/ interpreting the haiku in their chosen medium.

Ruth emailed me over the weekend to say that three of my haiku had been chosen by three painters. Very cool! :) I'm so looking forward to seeing what becomes of my little gems - the little pieces of me and my world.

Ruth says, "The haiku poets will be told how many of their haiku have been chosen but not which ones or which artists are working with them. And the artists won’t know the identity of the poet they’ve selected. All will be revealed at the exhibition at the end of the year where all the art work will be offered for sale.

Watch the project unfold at http://whennorthmeetssouth.wordpress.com/ 

Friday, May 25, 2012

In Memoriam, Hortensia Anderson

I'm so grateful to have known Hortensia. Not just her poetry but her beautiful and courageous spirit. She reached out from her pain to mine with generosity and genuineness. In fact the first message she sent to me through Facebook was: "I think we have a lot in common!"

In further messages she told me that she was so excited for my accomplishments, that my work touched her and that I inspired her. Of course the feeling was mutual! I so enjoyed reading her poetry. She was posting tanka on her Facebook page as she said it helped ease her mind and that the feedback made her forget a little bit despite the bleak outlook of her current health.

just as I think
i can't stand the pain,
a blossom passes
and I cling to this life
while learning to let go...

hortensia anderson
April 26, 2012

(This is the last tanka she posted on Facebook.)

Back in February, Hortensia sent me an email with the subject line: "I thought of you today". She was about to have some further tests and said, "I want to be the piping plovers on my Facebook page. They don't seem to worry..."

in the wide sweep
of wind-sculpted dunes
i found undisturbed
the tiny trail
of a piping plover

hortensia anderson
(Modern English Tanka, Winter 2007)

click on image to enlarge

I look forward to recieving the copy of Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4, which I've ordered as Hortensia's work is within its pages, along with mine for the first time. You can read more of Hortensia's work on her haibun blog The Plentitude of Emptiness and more about her life, as well as the awards she received, poetry books she wrote and some of her haiku, on her Haiku Registry page at The Haiku Foundation here.

Haiku and Tanka for Hortensia 
from her friends and fellow poets around the world. 

(You are invited to post your haiku or tanka for Hortensia in the comments section and I will add it to this post.)

spring dawn
in the stillness
a mourning dove

                    vigil lamp
                    losing the flame
                    to the Light

~Alegria Imperial
Both posted at NaHaiWriMo (24/05) under the prompt, Hortensia Anderson, In Memoriam

indigo sky
the lingering chill
in Chelsea

                    dusk at Union Square
                    lone pigeon waddles
                    against pounding steps

Couldn't resist adding these two. I know the area where her body lay in state from the years I lived at the Lower East Side. My friend in NY says there’s thunderstorm today, her burial. ~Alegria

                    first butterfly
                    of the season
                    I name it Hortensia
                    then it flies away

~Stevie Strang
On Facebook, every comment or like from Hortensia was an inspiration. I am honoured to have known her, if only for a while.

spring woods . . .
a distant voice
falls silent

~Michael Dylan Welch

                    in the seconds
                    between then and now
                    the white on her wing

                    ~Kat Creighton

poet’s journey
filling your bowl
with stars

                    the milky way
                    unfurls at your feet
                    now galaxies hear you
                    sing the cosmic song

'as a wave'*
my finger sails round
the clay jar

~Stella Pierides
*'as a wave' refers to Hortensia’s haibun on her blog The Plenitude of Emptiness

                    as far as I can see...
                    this gentle night

                    ~Pris Campbell          RIP Hortensia

I would like to offer this interaction between Hortensia and Svetlana Marisova on 28 June 2011. Hortensia sent it to me earlier this year with these words "I don't want this one to get lost. She posted it on my page July 28 when we were both feeling insomnia" ~Hansha Teki

Hortensia Anderson - I am the ultimate insomniac.
28 July 2011

Svetlana Marisova - I thought that I was.

waning moon
also awake
beyond dawn

28 July 2011 

howling wind —
an autumn note within
the bamboo flute

                    full moon
                    a glowing taj mahal
                    on river Yamuna

lotus leaf...
a water droplet rolls
the moon

~Kala Ramesh

I was overwhelmed by Hortensia's last post about her diagnosis a few weeks ago, overcome with grief and the realization that I'd never have the chance to meet the wonderful person whose work--and spirit--I'd come to admire. . . .

                    heat lightning
                    the sky heavy with
                    promises of release

selfish thoughts
at the news of her death . . .
if only we’d met
this friend I know only
through the shape of words

~Margaret Dornaus

I remember a draft of a haiku getting a lot of criticism, and I was about to ditch it when Hortensia stepped in, and said she liked it and it worked.

ill all day...
a crime novel
in both rooms

~Alan Summers

Publications credits: Blithe Spirit vol. 17 no.1 (2007); Haiku Friends Vol 2 (Japan 2007); Disclaimer, (Bath Spa University 2008); haijinx vol. III issue 1 (2010); Day’s End: Poetry and Photography about aging (2011)

Thank you Hortensia, for your faith in my work.

that star
to the left
so bright

i.m. Hortensia Anderson
June 24, 1959 – May 21, 2012

                    where she passed
                    a trail of poems
                    still glimmers 

                    ~Annette Makino

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Competition Results

At the beginning of this month I was busy judging my first haiku competition - The Haiku My Photo Challenge devised and run by Christine L. Villa over at her blog Blosson Rain. It wasn't an easy task! But a great learning experience for me and a joy to get intimate with some really good haiku. You can read my judge's comments and see the winning haiku as a haiga here.

Chrissi ran this contest to thank the on-line haiku community for giving her so much support and encouragement. While you're visiting Blosson Rain please send out a prayer for Chrissi. Her husband is currently battling a brain tumour and they both need our love and support. Kia kaha, Chrissi!

The other competition that closed at the beginning of this month was Kathy Uyen Nguyen's NaPoWriMo Book Giveaway over on her blog Origami Lotus Poetry. It was judged by Kathy and Peter Newton, who's book she was giving away. My rengay writing buddy Cara Holman was the runner-up, and you can see the winning poems and judge's comments here.

I'm hoping to run a tanka competition here at Swimming in Lines of Haiku in my birthday month of July. I have a great prize for the winner! I just hope my health lets me do it. Watch this space! :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

One Particularly Depressing Day...

I think this is the only longer poem I've written about my journey through leukaemia; the rest are haiku, tanka, senryu, and I now have some haibun coming through. This free-verse poem was written in early 2011 and edited for submission early this year. It was then accepted and published in Takahe 75 (Issue 1, 2012).

That day
By Kirsten Cliff

I stopped
lay still
& watched my world move
around me:

the hands of a clock
the branches of a tree
the mothers pushing prams
the kids riding bikes
the cars & birds
flying by

As I watched
my heart altered
for I saw no sign
of God.

I love this cover!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Haiku Help-Desk

The Haiku Help-Desk is part of my haikai column in a fine line, The Magazine of the New Zealand Poetry Society. It's a place where readers can learn by example: in each issue the editor gives feedback on a haiku in such a way that it shows the reader how they might improve their own haiku or otherwise learn about the art of writing haiku. The editor sometimes uses their own haiku as the example and other times another poet's work is used. These articles are now being archived on the Haiku NewZ website thanks to Sandra Simpson and Laurice Gilbert. So far you can read:

More will be added over the coming months. Check out other archived articles, as well as book reviews, competition and journal listings, the Showcase of NZ haiku poets and the My Favourite Haiku features while you're visiting. And don't forget about Haiku Festival Aotearoa 2012 - registrations in by June 1st! I'll see you there :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Longest Title I've Ever Used For A Poem

...Is on this found poem I wrote in 2008. It was the first found poem I'd ever written and I really enjoyed playing with the words from the book On Writing Hits Songs, which I never would have otherwise picked up. (The challenge set by my former poetry group was to choose a book on something you didn't know about to write your found poem). I'm very pleased to say that this piece of found poetry has finally found its home within the pages of Takahe 75 (Issue 1, 2012). 

One place a good song doesn’t come from is the brain
By Kirsten Cliff

Your hit song needs a tune:
geek rock, pure pop, short-back-and-sides
teenage craze, cocaine cool, extra firepower
primitive blues, cultural cringe, glam-rock chic
scurried around the stage like nervous kittens

It needs a rhythm:
spiky, rock and roll, one-man jukebox
piss-take, half-baked, shoe-gazing outsider
irony, heavy-handed, half send-up, half celebration
echoing a police siren going past his house

It needs a verse:
moptops, British skiffle riff, too-clever-by-half songs
straightforward popsmith, stream-of-consciousness
tap into the hoon in us all

And a chorus:
repetition, repetition, repetition
short, hit-filled, sound from another planet
wordplays involving spooning under the moon

It needs a title:
shrewd musical operator
dislocate all the styles, bundle them together
big fat hit songs that the whole world wants to sing

And it needs to sound as if it’s about something:
whatever works, perfection isn’t the point

Notes: A found poem based on On Writing Hit Songs by Simon Morris (Wellington: Four Winds Press, 2003), from the Montana Estates Essay Series edited by Lloyd Jones. 

You can read another of my found poems here called "Receive Dreams as Messengers from Another Realm", which is the second longest title I've ever used for a poem! :)


Friday, May 11, 2012

Straight From the Haijin's Mouth #3

'Straight From the Haijin's Mouth' is one of the features that makes up my haikai column in a fine line, The Magazine of the New Zealand Poetry. This edition is from the January 2012 issue, and is reprinted with the kind permission of Laurice Gilbert, Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime. 

Straight From the Haijin's Mouth

I asked long time friends and poetry writing buddies Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime, 'Where has your reading and writing of haiku taken you over the years?'

Catherine Mair's answer:
It was the late 1980s and I had just started writing poetry. Because of the economical, rural/nature content it was suggested that I might find an affinity with haiku.

I'd never heard of haiku. Upon expressing my ignorance I was sent a few notes on the basics of this genre. In 1993 the first New Zealand Haiku Anthology included five of my haiku and the second Anthology (1998) included a number more. My interest in haiku lead me on a number of journeys the most far flung being a jaunt to Romania for a haiku conference hosted by Ion Codrescu. Picton was another very enjoyable destination.

The succinct way of haiku suits my natural brevity and because of a busy lifestyle the idea of so much in so little really appealed to me. Haiku satisfied several leanings. I'd been very interested in painting but farming in partnership with my husband and bringing up four children left little time. Over the years I've met some superb people. Haijin seem to share a relatively humble outlook and an acute sensitivity to nature, including human nature.

There is something about haiku which is spiritually satisfying. Something which seems akin to creation.

Patricia Prime's answer: 
As co-editor of the New Zealand haiku journal Kokako for the past 15 issues, I am privileged to have come to know and correspond with editors and writers throughout the world. I wrote my first haiku in the 80s and have submitted work to journals in the USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, India and Ireland. What better way is there to make friends than through poetry?

Martin Lucas says in the Introduction to his book Stepping Stones: a way into haiku that “Haiku is not a descriptive poetry, it is a reflective poetry, and we need to understand that distinction.” Haiku in its own way is self-counselling; it is a pleasure to read other people’s work and to study their methods and it is beneficial to write about one’s own feelings. Haiku is a form that blends sensitivity with realism, using simple language and clear images and I hope my poems are accessible to most readers and that they can identify with them in some way.

I’ve spent half a lifetime in Auckland, where I’ve lived, worked, brought up my family and found poetic inspiration and motivation. I’ve also made trips to China, Tibet, Macau, Australia and the South Island. These were enchanting journeys and have since lent themselves to my poetry. Writing haiku has been a long journey: some haiku had their beginnings long ago, others are very recent. Old memories supply material for my haiku, as do places I’ve visited, nature, friendships I’ve made and my family.

In a spiritual sense haiku can be a release for emotion, can range from the lyrical to the haunting, or be touched with humour or sadness. A lightness of tone, memory and imagination, are all part of the spiritual reality of haiku.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dream Catcher: A Rengay With Cara Holman

Dream Catcher
Kirsten Cliff & Cara Holman

struggling not to recall
last night's dream

the morning sky
filled with rain

drifting fog
where does the dream end
and I begin

dream catcher
I tell myself what
I want to believe

across dandelioned fields
a hawk's shadow

river reeds
weaving daydreams
into stories

Published in 'fox dreams' - a Yay Words! project by Aubrie Cox

Monday, May 7, 2012

KOKAKO 17 Now Open For Submissions

Kokako is New Zealand's only dedicated magazine of haiku, tanka, haibun and related forms showcasing poetry from Aotearoa (NZ) and around the world. It's edited by Patricia Prime and Margaret Beverland, and is published twice annually, in April and September.

Submissions for the September issue close July 1st, 2012.
All work should be previously unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere. The editors ask you to please make just one submission of up to 10 pieces during each submission period to kokakonz[at]gmail[dot]com. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be made after the closing date of each submission period.

And don't forget about The 4th Kokako Tanka Competition closing October 31st, 2012. First Prize $NZ200!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dream Fragments

          dream fragments
          in my mind's eye...
          a sheet of white paper
          with many coloured pens

Tanka and photograph © Kirsten Cliff

This tanka appeared in Aubrie Cox's latest Yay Words! project 'fox dreams'. Take a look for yourself here at all the amazing haiku, tanka, haiga, doodleku, rengay and other short form poetry. It's a beautiful and inspiring collection, and I'm sure I'll be asking a few of the contributors for their permission to reprint their haiku for my Dream Speak themed stint as the Per Diem editor at The Haiku Foundation. Enjoy! :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Two NZ Haiku Contests Closing In May

Katikati Haiku Contest

Cash prizes totalling $NZ175 in the senior section. All proceeds to the Haiku Pathway project. Judges are Owen Bullock (senior) and Catherine Mair (junior).
Closes: In hand May 16.
Cost: Within NZ: 18 & over - $5 for 3 haiku or $2 for 1 haiku. 17 & under - $1 for up to 2 haiku. For overseas entrants: $US5/3 haiku or $US2/haiku.
For full details see the website.

NZPS International Haiku Contest

Top five haiku/senryu will be awarded $NZ100 each; first place will also receive the Jeanette Stace Memorial Prize of $NZ150. Winners will be published in the NZPS annual anthology. Judge is Barbara Strang.
Closes: May 31.
Cost: $1.50/haiku, for NZPS members every 5th haiku is free.
Full details from the website.

NZPS Haiku Junior Contest

Cash prizes, plus one winner will also receive the Jeanette Stace Memorial Prize of $NZ100 open only to entrants who are 17 years of age or younger on May 31, 2012. Schools may send bulk entries, but poems must be clearly attributed to authors. Winners will be published in the NZPS annual anthology.
Closes: May 31.
Cost: $1/haiku.
Full details from the website. For information on group school entries, go here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Frost

I woke up early to a very chilly Wednesday morning. It's the last month of New Zealand's autumn and the first frost, looking out across the farm paddocks from the hill of our new home, was a truly beautiful sight.

Here is the May page of my calendar, which is looking much better than I thought up on the wall. The haiku was first published in Presence #40 (January 2010). The photo was taken at an open garden in Paengaroa, a small settlement in the Bay of Plenty. There is a great country cafe there called The Trading Post where hubby and I enjoyed going for their fresh pizza. I just loved the idea of 'The Kissing Gate' (click on image to enlarge).

May 2012 - Kirsten's Calendar of Haiku & Photography

As I did this calendar for my family, I wasn't thinking about literary merit: just what images my family might enjoy and what haiku I thought they might 'get'. That's also why I haven't called them haiga. You can see in this earlier post of when I was putting together the calendar, an alternate version of this May page. Which one do you like better?