Top End Haiku - a report by Lyn Reeves

At the Word Storm Writers’ Festival in Darwin in 2004 I was privileged to run a workshop with eleven Northern Territory writers. The participants had varying backgrounds in haiku, from those who’d come across it at school to a couple of poets who had read much of the contemporary literature on the form. A few had strong background or interest in Zen Buddhism, which I believe is a valuable asset to accessing the haiku mind.

The landscapes and seasonal differences of the Northern Territory provide a rich resource of imagery that reflects a truly Australian-flavoured haiku expression. These writers have a lot to offer that can enhance and broaden the body of Australian haiku. Their word pictures capture not only the particularities of landscape but also the spirit that permeates this varied and stunning region.

Some of the poets have decided to meet regularly to share their work and I’m sure the result will be more haiku encapsulating and sharing the unique experience of Northern Territory moments. As an example of those insights I’ve collected some of the haiku written by workshop participants. Enjoy!

Stephen Lenghaus

day's end
a lone cricket chirps
by the campfire

dry season
silhouetted in the half moon
night's black wings

cool tropical night
the shine of palmfrond tips
in the moonlight

Fabrizio Calafuri

flat water
empty horizon
oyster-shell sky

stealing wind before
it goes north

David Chapman

distant church bells
at an open window
the scent of lilac

side by side
an inch between them
a thousand miles apart

Jodie Hawthorne

blond boy
chewing on green ants
pepper crunch

on a crowded bus
a laugh so familiar
yet not his

red earth
in an old shower cap
Uluru sunset

Rob Woods

passing the bottle
behind the supermarket
February rain

at the mouth of the river
so many stars

don’t say a word:
wet stones
soft rain

under old trees
deep pools of shadow –
a hard sky