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

Friday, February 24, 2012

Straight From the Haijin's Mouth #1

'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 September 2011 issue, and is reprinted with the kind permission of Laurice Gilbert, Joanna Preston and Owen Bullock. 

Straight From the Haijin's Mouth

I asked this year's NZPS International Haiku Competition Judges, Joanna Preston (Open) and Owen Bullock (Junior), 'What is it about haiku that keeps you coming back for more?'

Joanna Preston's answer: It's less a case of ‘what keeps me coming back’ than haiku refusing to let me go in the first place! Every few years I decide I want to leave the genre alone for a while, but something will happen that just can’t be expressed in any other form, or that announces itself to me that way. And then I'm astounded all over again at the depth and complexity of the genre. For me it's that shock of recognition, of purpose, of rightness, that’s crucial in all poetry, but most powerfully concentrated in haiku. And there’s no better training for a poet – to be precise, to be good at recognising exactly what elements of a scene or experience are the really important ones, and to be as supple in meaning and frugal in expression as possible. You feel the really good ones in your body, as a physical impact, as well as in your mind. So maybe my need for haiku is a form of addiction, the way runners can come to crave the endorphin high. Or maybe it's the nuclear physics of poetry – the power to blow the world apart packed into a tiny, seemingly innocuous package.

Read more from Joanna on her blog – A Dark Feathered Art

Owen Bullock's answer: I love the variety that is possible in haiku, and the depth that is sometimes held by such few words. That depth is like a lake, you can swim on the surface or dive deep, chase sticks or skim stones. But it is always about what is real, what is experienced, grounded in sensation. The technique is hidden; the approach of the best haiku so subtle that it is as if no effort goes into it, that it tumbles out of the sky fully formed. Haiku takes me by surprise more often than other forms of poetry.
My own search as a poet is for truth and simplicity. Truth, in this context, means a faithfulness to what actually occurred. The simplicity required to frame the experience is a great lesson and training ground for any and all writing.

waiting . . .
a leaf falls
into my lap

~from wild camomile

Read more from Owen on his website

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Published Haiku

I recently took Sandra Simpson's advice from her January 2012 Haiku NewZ article, Turning Over a New Leaf, and created a 'published' file on my computer for all my haiku and tanka. I thought I'd better get on to it before too many more years went by and the task became unmanageable and undesirable! Now it's all done, I'm enjoying the fast and easy access to my haiku, and where they've all been published. While undertaking this task, I was reacquainted with my first published haiku and thought, "Why not share!"

Papamoa Dwellings

motor camp
grass struggles
against sandy soil

                    cleansing the mind
                    glasses misty…
                    sea spray

following sandy footprints
too big to fill

                    frisky waves –
                    white foam
                    chasing my toes

in summer skies
green kites flutter –
corporate giveaway

                    with the rushing wind…
                    dune flowers

enveloped by sand –
my feet…

                    discarded nylon –
                    a fisherman was here

empty beach –
but for the waves…

                    suspended from
                    an evening cloud –
                    our mountain 

This Side of the World: Tauranga Writers Celebrating 40 Years (Tauranga Writers, 2007) Edited by Sue Emms and Jenny Argante

The last haiku is this sequence went on to be published (with a slight change, see below) in the taste of nashi: New Zealand Haiku (Windrift, 2008) Edited by Nola Borrell and Karen Peterson Butterworth

from an evening cloud –
the mountain 

It has also appeared in:
Bay News, Wednesday, May 21, 2008 
Waiariki Institute of Technology 2010 Calendar
and on my THF Haiku Registry page here

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 'River of Stones' Anthology: submissions wanted

Fiona and Kaspa will be putting together an anthology of small stones from this year's river. They'd love to have a submission from everyone who took part, so do send them your small stones whether or not you think they'll be included in the book. As last time this collection will be edited by the pair and they'll choose the small stones that resonate most with them.

Submission details: Email up to FIVE small stones and your name as you'd like to be included in the book to this address with the subject 'river book'. Submissions will close on Sunday the 19th of February. All contributors will receive a free PDF of the finished book as a thank you.

Fiona and Kaspa won't be acknowledging receipt, but they'll let you know whether your small stone will be included or not by the end of March. If you haven't heard from them either way by then do let them know and resend your submission.

2011 'River of Stones' Anthology

I didn't officially participate in the January River of Stones: I didn't blog about it or write one each day. But I did still spent time during the month, when I could, noticing moments and writing them down, usually in my preferred style of haiku. I asked Fiona if I should submit to the anthology or not and she said yes! So I'll be sending in a few of my observations from last month.

I look forward to reading all of the stones in the book when it comes out in a few months time, and hope I'll see some of my favourites from the regular bloggers I read who took part.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DailyHaiku call for submissions for Cycle 13

I've had an amazing time being a contributor for DailyHaiku Cycle 12: it was one of my 2011 haiku highlights, for sure. I encourage my readers to make a submission to this excellent journal as there is nothing to lose and much to gain from the experience! My time is almost at an end: I have one more week-long set to appear, and then I hope to see your work there.

the last rose stem...

By Kirsten Cliff
DailyHaiku, November, 2011

Dear Readers, Friends, and Past Contributors,

We are thrilled to announce that submissions are open for DailyHaiku's thirteenth publishing cycle! This represents the start of our seventh year of publishing as an online daily periodical.

We now invite you to submit some of your best work for consideration. Your submission, if selected, will grant you one of six spots on our roster of Cycle 13 contributors. It will also become your first set of haiku that will appear on the site. At the end of the 6 month publishing period, each contributor will have four weeks of published haiku, and will receive a copy of our yearly print addition that features their work.

If you are interested in becoming a contributor, please read our submission criteria detailed on this webpage: http://www.dailyhaiku.org/info/#contribute 

Feel free to forward this call to any other haiku enthusiasts that may be interested in participating.

Thank you for helping to make DailyHaiku a lively and dynamic environment to showcase contemporary short form poetry!

All the best, 
Patrick and Nicole 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Goals Or Poetic Leanings?

I'm loathe to make any solid goals poetry-wise this year. I wore myself out in 2011 with my personal challenge "to submit poetry to a publication or competition every week for the whole year". I'm going to write an article about it for the New Zealand Poetry Society magazine, a fine line, so that others might learn from my madness. I think I'll call it: My Year of Submission :)

This year I'm more about leaning in certain directions with my poetry. I want to experiment more, play more with the writing, with the poetry and it's different and wonderful forms. Not that 2011 didn't see me do the most amount of poetry writing I'd ever done in one year. Just the four PAD (poetry-a-day) challenges I participated in alone (all for the first time) produced many haiku, tanka, small stones and longer poems, many of which have since found homes outside of my computer, and my head!

But I definitely need to deal less with submitting in 2012, and so far I've done just one submission a month, letting several "deadlines" pass me by. I'm just not that into it this year. Call it submitter's burn out. And a "so-slow-that-it-might-as-well-be-going-backwards" Internet connection :(

So here's my poetic leanings (not goals!) for 2012, and beyond:
  • To make haiku and tanka more a part of my everyday life by putting poems in cards, for example: I've done this in hubby's Christmas and birthday cards, and my parents wedding anniversary card, so far. As I enjoy making my own cards, this practice just adds to the uniqueness of the gift and is always appreciated by those who receive them.
  • To write more linked haiku and tanka verses: I did my first solo linked haiku verse as part of hubby's Christmas present, which I framed for the wall. I've also written three tanka sonnets this year, which I really enjoyed and will send off for hopeful publication at some stage. The tanka sonnets in particular really sparked my imagination, and I know I will write more soon.
  • To write more haibun and tanka prose: I've written a few of these over the past few years but really want to write more seriously in this area (as I keep promising myself I will!). You see, I have an idea for a poetic memior, which I would write as my thesis for a Master's in Creative Writing. I figure I have a few years to get really good at haibun, or kiss that little "goal" goodbye. I'll be taking two haibun workshops at the Haiku Festival Aotearoa in June, which will give me the inspirational boost that I'm bound to need mid-year.
That's all I've got for now. Feel free to lean along with me...

Saturday, February 4, 2012



          my old doctor
          at the Cancer Centre
          afraid to meet her
          as a person not a patient

Presence #45 (January, 2012)
Tanka & photograph © Kirsten Cliff

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Saying Hello, Saying Goodbye

Today marks the beginning of NaHaiWriMo which will see poets all over the globe writing a haiku a day for the month of February. You can find all the information here. I've written two today while out (using the pen and post-it notes I keep in my handbag) and think I might have gotten hubby on board, too :)

To welcome in the new month, here is the February page from my haiga calendar. The haiku placed Highly Commended in the 2008 NZPS International Haiku Contest and was published in the NZPS anthology, Before the Sirocco. The photograph was taken near my parents house in Kihikihi, Te Awamutu, and is very similar to the view I now get to see every day from my hill in Hobbiton, Matamata. (You can click on the photo to see a larger version.)

February 2012 - Kirsten's Calendar of Haiku & Photography

February 1st was also a day to say goodbye: The Grandfather of haiku in New Zealand, Cyril Childs, passed away on 27 January and his funeral was today in Dunedin.

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Cyril at my first Haiku Conference in Christchurch in 2008. I remember his kind eyes and warm smile, the encouragement he gave me, and his passion for haiku. My condolences to his family and friends, and his haiku family and friends in New Zealand and around the world.

You can read some of Cyril's haiku on his Haiku NewZ Showcase page here and read the tributes to this wonderful haijin here. May he rest in peace.