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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 31

Today I'm most thankful for words: the words that allow me to express my true self through poetry; the words that mix with my crafts and photography becoming a whole other art form; the words that find me during my greatest struggles; the printed words, the spoken words, the words that float in cyberspace; the words that comfort and encourage, the words that support and inspire, the words that let me know I'm loved.

Thank you for reading my words and sharing your words with me. Here's to many more words, however they may manifest!

Me in our home library having just got back
from my birthday dinner with family last night,
& here's the haiku I wrote on the drive home:

birthday dinner -
every star a dream
that might come true

I'm sharing my birthday with you, and my practise of gratitude and abundance, by having a book give-away. I'm definitely giving away two books and will make the draw on August 2nd. So if it's still July 31st where you are then you still have time to get in the draw. Find all the details here and come join me!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 30

Grateful that I can swap, share and talk books with my family: Mum said last week that she takes her library books back soon after finishing them (as opposed to waiting for their due date) because other people might be waiting to read them :)

(Last couple of days to get into the draw for my book give-away! Find all the details here.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 29

I give thanks today for the unexpected sight of a monarch butterfly flitting around the garden as I lay resting in my favourite lounge spot; the winter sun inching closer hour upon hour and the trees with their leaves and shadows swaying to the sound of the wind chimes.

(There's still time to get in the draw for the taste of nashi NZ Haiku. See here.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 28

Today I give thanks to the shadows in my world: the ones that dance behind these curtains pretending to be trees; the many that radiate stillness like the inanimate objects they haunt; and to my own shadow, which holds all I try to push away but doesn't ever let me forget its importance in the balance of my spirit.

Photo by Cameron Elliot.

Last few days to get into my book draw! Details here.

Creative Te Puke 2011 Photography Competition


Age group categories:
Primary Age 5-11, Secondary 12-18 & Adult 18+

Subject categories with the Special Challenge in brackets:
People at Work or Play (Rugby)
Natural Environment (Rainy Days)
Built Environment (Bridges)
Digitally Enhanced (Humour)

More details at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 26

Grateful for today's change in plans that meant laughter and coffee and hugs.

(Get in the draw for the taste of nashi New Zealand Haiku here.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 25

Grateful for the hope I find in his pine tree seedlings.

My partner's pine tree seedlings.
It's a joy for us both to watch them grow.

Last week to get in my book draw. Read all about it here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 24

Grateful to the thrush who caught my eye this morning and pulled me away from the computer screen, and all the sadness I was finding there.

(Want to win a book? Get in the draw here.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Photos from the Papamoa Poetry Walk for National Poetry Day

Me with my haiku at Fashion Island in Papamoa.
Photo taken by Cameron Elliot. 22/7/2011

My haiku won an Honourable Mention in the
Haiku International Association Haiku Contest (Japan) 2009

Cameron with his senryu at Fashion Island in Papamoa.
Photo taken by Kirsten Cliff. 22/7/2011

Cameron's senryu was first published in Kokako 12 (April, 2010)

Don't forget that I'm giving away the New Zealand Haiku Anthology the taste of nashi this month. Just become a follower to get in the draw. See the full details here and come join me!

small stones of gratitude - day 23

Grateful for the slow start to Saturday: the traffic takes its time to wind up to its full roar, the childcare centre next door lays dormant, and my diary is free of any medical appointments.

(I'm giving away a book next week. Get in the draw here.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 22

My thanks today goes to the joy I find in food: the sweetness of seasonal pumpkin in a roast vegetable salad; the inky blue inside a warm blueberry muffin; that first sip of coffee on a cold winter morning, and the bitter melt of dark chocolate on my tongue.

(Get in on the draw for the taste of nashi The NZ Haiku Anthology here.)

A Haiku Journey

I walked unannounced into the world of haiku. I’d never encountered it before, never been taught it at school. Even when living in Japan for six months I never crossed paths with haiku.

Haiku for me now is like an old friend: comfortable to be with, always there for me through the good times and the bad, with an honest heart which will still challenge me when I need it.

My haiku journey began when I moved to Bay of Plenty in 2005, joined Tauranga Writers' a year later and heard about the Katikati Haiku Pathway.

On New Year’s Day 2007, I was alone with a longing to begin my year with something new. I felt a need to discover the external world, yet at the same time explore the world deep within myself. So when everyone else was heading to the beach hungover, I drove forty-five minutes to the calmness of the Katikati Haiku Pathway.

I strolled, I sat, I listened, I looked, I touched, I smelled: I wrote my first haiku. I absorbed all that was on offer that day and found what I'd been searching for: a new way to express myself.

Haiku just seemed to ‘fit’ me. It was concise, to the point, I felt I knew where I stood with it. There were no long descriptions, no flowery language to get lost in. Just good honest observations, where every word and line break was important, and carried a depth that would reward the present reader.

Most of my poetry at that time stemmed from observations: moments in time that stayed with me and begged to be created into something. Sights, sounds, and sensations that enticed my body to grasp pen and paper, and then record the occasion in its rawest and truest form. Haiku allowed me the opportunity, gave me the tools to do justice to my experiences.

I read all I could about haiku in print and on-line. It wasn’t long before my first haiku were published. Then six months after my visit to the Katikati Haiku Pathway, I set myself a challenge: from my 30th birthday on 31 July I would write one haiku, every day, for a year. It was this huge task that really taught me the craft of haiku, and elevated all my writing to the next level.

It did this in two main ways: honing my observation skills, and refining my ability to clearly convey what I wanted to say.

Writing haiku means living life using all your senses. Not just listening to what a person says, for example, but looking at the way their eyes light up over certain topics, the way the sunlight picks up different colours in their hair, the smell of their perfume, the temperature of the room, the background noises. Taking in all these aspects when interviewing someone for an article (which is what makes up half of my prose writing work) brings to life your experience of your time with that person. The reader gets a more rounded view of the interviewee, and your article is more enjoyable to read as it is richer, deeper. Working and playing with haiku has made me become more observant to the world around me, and this can’t help but enrich all of my writing.

Writing haiku involves capturing the beauty and fullness of a moment, in about 10 words or less. Working with haiku has improved my ability to convey what I want via the written word. I enjoy wordplay more since reading and writing haiku: it's taught me the value of each word and it has expanded my vocabulary as I’ve searched for the right words, in sound and in meaning, to form those few short lines. The challenge of writing haiku has lead me to an uncluttered writing style, in both my poetry and prose.

I've only been writing creatively for six years but much of that time has been spent on the art of haiku. I see so many possibilities with this form and I’m experimenting with it and extending my knowledge all the time. My latest project is developing a collection of collage-style haiga (haiku with images) about my experiences of going through treatment for leukaemia. Yes, my old friend haiku was there for me then, too.

This piece appeared as the feature article in a fine line, The Magazine of the New Zealand Poetry Society (July, 2011).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 21

grateful today
for this winter wind
the only force
that can take away
my deepest sorrow

(Become a follower in July and go in the draw for my book give-away here.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 20

I give thanks for the light that is poetry, which penetrates my darkness of ill health.

(It's my birthday & I'm sharing it with readers by giving away a book. Go here.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 19

Grateful for the energy I was given to create today, which will nourish my body and soul: baking a wheat-free, dairy-free banana loaf with some walnuts and pumpkin seeds thrown in, and sticking the last few words and pictures to my vision board, making it my largest work of art and a powerful tool for change.

Banana loaf Kirsten style!
Check out this post to find out how to get in the draw for my book give-away this month.

Monday, July 18, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 18

a rainbow kite
above this winter sea
I give thanks
for another day
with his hand in mine

Photo taken by Kirsten Cliff at Papamoa Beach, 18 July, 2011.
Check out the kite in top right corner; click on image to enlarge.

Book give-away here on Swimming in Lines of Haiku this month: it's my birthday and I'm practising gratitude and abundance. Get in on the draw! Details here.

National Poetry Day in and around Tauranga this Friday

Calling all Poets. Prepare to Pave the Way.
Come celebrate and share the beauty of poetry.
Friday 22nd July: ‘National Poetry Day 2011’.

Take part in one or both of these organised events

  • Friday daytime: ‘Paved with Poetry’
Selected poems from local poets and one poet per school, will be presented on the footpaths in Tauranga, Mt Maunganui, Fashion Island Papamoa and Greerton Village.

They will be secured safely in positions allowing the general public a moment to stop and read. Make a trail of it.

  • Friday evening: ‘Poetry from the Atrium’
WHERE: 'The Atrium' at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Windermere Campus.
WHEN: 6.30pm until 10.30pm
WHAT: This is an opportunity for poets to read their works to an audience. Our feature poet is local, Owen Bullock.
WHO: Each 15-minute bracket will begin by recognising one of our published local poets. The rest of the bracket is 3-minute opportunities for any poet to give it their best shot.

Open invitation to the public to come and hear the next big thing to come out of the Bay. Entry by gold coin donation. Organise a group to make an evening of it. There is a cash bar (coins and notes only.) BYO nibbles!

Please register interest for one or both events to
Organiser: Joanne Rye-McGregor
on 5757341 or email

Sunday, July 17, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 17

Grateful today that I was only given as much pain as I could handle.

(I'm definitely giving away a book of haiku poetry this month; maybe even two! Get in the draw here.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 16

My thanks today to the thrush who put on a show while bathing: the rippling water reflected on his proud spotted breast by the high noon sun.

(I'm giving away a book this month and it could be to YOU! How to get in the draw here.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 15

Grateful for the love note he left me on the bench top last night, which I found on waking this morning: just on a small Post-it this time but the 'so' in - "I love you my darling Kirsten so much!!" - underlined twice :)

(Sign up as a follower this month and go into the draw for a book of haiku. All you need to know here.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 14

Looking out on this dark July day, I'm delighted to see through the many shades of grey the bright white, pink and red of fallen camellia flowers, and I give thanks.

(Are you in the draw for my book give-away yet? Check it out here.)

Haiku Workshop In Tauranga

Sandra Simpson, editor of Haiku NewZ and an award-winning poet, is presenting a winter workshop for those who wish to learn more about the beautiful art form of haiku.

The workshop will give participants a sound introduction to writing haiku, and will include an exploration of some of the Japanese traditions behind the form, while also examining contemporary developments.

The workshop will take place at Waikato University's Bongard Centre in central Tauranga on Saturday, July 30 (9am-3pm) and Sunday, July 31 (10am-1pm) and include a Sunday ginko (walk to collect material for haiku). 

The cost is $75. Enrol online here, or for further information contact Nyree Sherlock, phone 07-577-5376 or email.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 13

Grateful today for the snippets of sounds still enjoyable above the din of traffic: bouts of squally rain showers beating the window, birdsong from a gathering of wild finches, and wind chimes that seem to be playing "The X Files" theme song.

(I only need nine more new followers to give away a second book here this month! Find out what's going on here and come join us!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 12

After my hours of illness through the night, where he held my hand & helped me sip water & told me I would get through it: I'm grateful in the daylight hours to still find that shine in his eyes when he looks at me; the words "I love you" not far behind.

(Book lover? You could win one here.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 11

Thankful to be outside and stirred by the strong winds, catching all my bad days and throwing them behind me, out of reach.

(Get in the draw for my book give-away this month here.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 10

Today I'm thankful for my Granny's blanket: the vibrancy of the colours on a bleak winter morning; the way curls of mohair twist out into the world; featherlight yet it knows the language of warmth.

(Have you heard that I'm giving away a book this month for my birthday? Get in the draw! Find out how here.)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 9

Ahh, freshly heated wheat-bag: thank you for conforming to the shape of my shoulders and soothing all those spots that insist on my full attention.

(Want to relax with a book of poetry? Become a follower of Swimming in Lines of Haiku and I'll put you in the draw. Read the full details here.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 8

Through pale curtains, tree leaves throw patterns to me by the light of the low winter sun - as I close my eyes to rest, I'm grateful that I see the shapes now imprinted on my lids & smile.

(One week of July gone already - have you entered my birthday book-giveaway yet? Details here.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 7

I'm grateful I could laugh at myself today when I said in my head, "I feel like a haiku" - when I meant I felt like a cup of coffee :)

(Do you love haiku too? Get in the darw to win NZ's haiku anthology here.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 6

thank you
for crying today
*Ranginui -
it meant that
I didn't have to

*Ranginui = Father sky in Māori mythology; in honour of Māori Language Week here in Aotearoa New Zealand, 4 July - 10 July.

(Want to win the latest NZ haiku anthology, the taste of nashi? Details here.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 5

Today my appreciation goes out to all the trees in my garden: the trees that bring birds, seeking shelter from the winter winds, or those that come to feast on swaying seed pods; the trees that loll in the late afternoon sun creating patterns on the walls, the carpet, my face; the tree that hangs heavy with luminous yellow lemons, I pick the plumpest one for my fried fish.

Lemon tree in the Wordsmith House garden. Photo by Kirsten Cliff.

I'm giving away a book as part of my practise of gratitude and abundance this month; plus it's my birthday! Check out the details of how to get in the draw here and more about why I'm writing "small stones of gratitude" here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

small stones of gratitude - day 4

I give thanks today for the brief bursts of no-sound found in the gaps between morning traffic.

(Fancy winning a book of haiku? I'm giving one away this month! Details here.)

June Round-Up - Visual Arts In Abundance

June has been a big and busy month. At week 26 of 2011, I'm half-way through my goal of submitting poetry to a publication or competition every week. You can read my post about that here. And thanks to fellow Facebookers, I got to see my haiku on the HSA Haiku Wall in Bend, Oregon. You can see some pics of mine and New Zealander's Pat Prime and Svetlana Marisova here.

Here's how I'm doing on my 2011 goal of submitting poetry to a publication or competition every week:
June was absolutely a month of visual art making and creating. I began putting together a vision board early in the month, which you can read about and see photos of here, with an update here. I did no other collage making this month; one collage haiga is still on hold waiting for some IV tubing that I hope to get next week.

Photography - I went autumn leaf spotting with a side of graveyard visiting several times in June and got some wonderful shots. One quickly became the image to sit alongside my two senryu accepted for the June issue Excellent Writing: my first time putting a border around an image and changing it to sepia. Love the look! Will put it up on my Photography page once it's published.

I created some more photo haiga this month and submitted them to a publication for the first time (and had one accepted! Notes from the Gean). Then I embarked on a haiga calendar for my family for Christmas. This was great fun to do and a lot easier than I expected (using Vistaprint). It was fun choosing images from my own well-stocked (though terribly catalogued) photo library and thinking about what my family would enjoying seeing, and how that could fit with my haiku, instead of having literary merit in mind. A very freeing experience.

And addictive for some time as well! I would get up each day and work on it a little more; even found myself thinking about it at night before sleep: composing new haiku to fit seasonal images or fiddling with placement of words. I soon realised that I had little in the way of spring images so will have to wait until I can get a few early spring shots before I can finish this project off. I know my family will love it, and I look forward to holding a copy in my hands very soon :)

July sees me once again taking part in the River of Stones challenge, plus completing my vision board and that poor little collage haiga that's been waiting all month to be finished. Otherwise, I'm concentrating on my treatment: many blood tests, a haematology appointment and a bone marrow biopsy to get through in July. I'll see you in the river! (And don't forget that I'm giving away a book here during July: details here.)

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    small stones of gratitude - day 3

    Today I'm grateful for hot showers on cool winter mornings: the warmth of the water as it wanders down my weary body seems to whisper "relax"... and I relent.

    (I'm giving away a book this month: find out how to enter here.)

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    small stones of gratitude - day 2

    I'm thankful today for the warmth I've found in the winter sun; for it drying my laundry, infusing it with a sunny scent; for the way this light brought shine to water droplets hanging from a sparrows beak; for the rainbow it created when a thrush tussled, spraying and splashing water, while preening in the bird bath.

    Photo by Kirsten Cliff, Wordsmith House garden

    I'm giving away a book on my blog this month: how to enter here and more about why here.

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    small stones of gratitude - day 1

    It's day one of the July River of Stones challenge that will see hundreds of people across the world noticing something with their full attention and writing it down, then maybe sharing it by posting on their blog, Facebook or Twitter (#aros).

    I've decided to practise gratitude and abundance this month in connection with my vision board so am calling my stones "small stones of gratitude" - to notice something, write it down, and be thankful for it each day in July.

    I've almost finished my vision board re my fiance &
    I living in our ideal home together. Part of vision board
    work is keeping a gratitude journal so I'm using my
    small stones this month to help me with this practise.

    As July is also my birthday month and the anniversary of my engagement, I'm giving away two books here at Swimming in Lines of Haiku. Read the info about that here. It's all part of my commitment to the practise of gratitude and abundance and I hope you'll join me. It's going to be a joy-filled July :)

    small stones of gratitude - day 1

    Today I'm thankful that I turned my head at just the right moment, which meant I saw three goldfinches gathered on the unkempt lawn in a patch of winter sunlight, their red heads so vibrant against the lush green grass, before they flew away, out of the garden and out of my view.

    Cutting out pictures for my vision board - it's good to
    look up now & then to appreciate what I already have.
    (And check out my hair growing back!)

    It's My Birthday This Month & I'm Giving YOU Gifts!

    Yes, July 31st is my birthday and I'm celebrating with you by having a book give-away!

    Become a 'follower' of Swimming in Lines of Haiku this month and I'll put you in the draw to win a copy of the taste of nashi - New Zealand Haiku (Windrift, 2008).

    standing naked
    in moonlight -
    the taste of nashi
               ~Sandra Simpson

    It's easy!
    • Sign up to be a 'follower' via Blogger or Networked Blogs.
    • Once you're a follower, please leave a comment on one of my posts and I will put your name in the hat for the draw.
    • One entry per person during the month of July, 2011.
    • Winner drawn at random on 2nd August, 2011.

    As July 31st 2011 is also the 2nd anniversary of my engagment - if I have more than twenty new followers during the month, I'll also draw a winner for a 2nd book, Before the Sirocco - The New Zealand Poetry Society Anthology (NZPS, 2008).

    autumn wind
    following her footsteps
    through the leaves
                       ~Sophia Frentz

    Do come and join me at Swimming in Lines of Haiku where I explore my poetry journey and help you with yours by offering discussion and information on competitions/workshops/calls for submissions and websites/books/people of interest.