February 27, 2008

Members Publications - Katherine Samuelowicz

each in own future: 55 tanka & unrelated randomly placed photographs from many places
(DVD: tanka & photographs); 324/50 Macquarie St, Teneriffe Qld: Postpressed, 2007

sleeping suburbs apart: conversations with ex-husbands & lovers
(poems, tanka and haiku); Flaxton: PostPressed, 2005.

self portrait with sand: postcards from various places
Flaxton: PostPressed, 2002.

noticing the view: haiku & other poems.
Flaxton: PostPressed, 1999.

For price and availability, contact the author at:

February 25, 2008


“Moving Galleries” is an on-going project, initiated by a trio of haijin calling themselves Rooku Troupe. They have been instrumental in getting haiku published on decals in Melbourne’s suburban trains.

Here is an interview with a writer who has his haiku currently riding around the Melbourne tracks.

A writer of poetry, haiku, short stories and novels, Michael de Valle’s poetry has featured in both the Moving Galleries pilot and the Spring 2007 Exhibition. Moving Galleries editor, and poet, Leanne Hills, approached Michael to discuss his influences.

LH: What sort of experiences do you draw on in your writing?

MdV: As you probably already know, haiku/senryu/rooku are the main poetic forms that interest me. Sometimes I draw on my own experiences as a starting point, but more often my writing comes out of human observation and circumstance - being open to those moments and details that make us truly human:

she starts to rewrite
her diary

nativity play
an angel
picks her nose

I also draw on my observations of nature because I’m interested in how we interact as humans with our environment, in particular how we relate to animals, insects, birds and plants:

hospital courtyard
told he won’t go home
he watches a butterfly

our old dog
buried in the garden
with all her bones

LH: Being a stay-at-home dad, how does this influence your work?

MdV: I’ve always been interested in writing about the extraordinary moments to be found in ‘ordinary’ life. Being a stay-at-home dad is great because I’ve been able to develop a deeper relationship with my sons and a better understanding of what is really important in our lives together. It feeds my writing because I get to observe my children at close quarters, the way they interact with the world, their relationships, their dreams and aspirations.

LH: Thoughts on love?

MdV: To me, love is as much a choice as it is an emotion. And love is behind some of the hardest choices we make:

together again
under the bed
her shoes and mine

after she leaves
a hair on the pillow
curled into a question

LH: Have you any advice for aspiring poets?

MdV: I don’t know if I have any real advice for poets except that, like all artists and writers, right now we need them more than ever. In many respects they voice the conscience of the world. It’s no coincidence that when dictators come to power they go after the artists, writers, poets and intellectuals first.

Here is Michael’s haiku as it appears on the decal in Connex trains:

children’s playground
the bird’s song
climbs a tree

Michael de Valle, Selby, stay at home dad, 44


About this Rooku
While watching my children at a playground a bird retreated to a nearby tree and proceeded to sing. The moment said something to me of the relationship between nature and humans. Once the bird felt safe it was able to add its voice to the chorus of children playing.


About Michael de Valle
Michael de Valle writes haiku and short stories and lives in the Dandenong Ranges. His haiku have been published in journals such as The Famous Reporter, paper wasp, POAM.

February 08, 2008

Members News - Janet Howie

Janet Howie had two haiku published in KO - haiku magazine in English: SPRING-SUMMER edition, and four haiku in the AUTUMN-WINTER edition 2007. She also had one haiku in Famous Reporter 35.

The Kokako Tanka Competition

The Kokako Tanka Competition is open to all!
Closing date: December 31st, 2008

First Prize - NZ$250
2 Runners-up prizes of NZ$100 each

Tony Beyer

Send entries to:

The Kokako Tanka Competition,
Patricia Prime, co-editor
42 Flanshaw Road
Te Atatu South
Auckland 8
New Zealand

Please make cheques out to Kokako
Overseas entrants may send cash at their own risk

Conditions of entry

1.Tanka must be previously unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere.
2.Entry fee is NZ$2 per tanka or 3 for NZ$5; for overseas entries, US$1 per tanka, or 4 for US$3; AU$1 per tanka, or 4 for AU$3. Any number of entries.
3.Send two copies of each tanka, or group of tanka, with your name and address on one copy only.
4.Winning tanka and commended entries will be published in Kokako 10 (April, 2009).
5.Winners will be notified by mail.
6.Any theme is acceptable.

Any queries, email:

The Whole Body Singing: Review by Graham Nunn

The Whole Body Singing is Quendryth Young's first book of English-language haiku, containing more than one hundred haiku, six haiku sequences and one haibun. Since the publication of her first collection of free verse and traditional poems, Naked in Sepia (2004), Quendryth has devoted much of her life to the haiku way. She co-ordinates the haiku group cloudcatchers, edits the haiku section of the literary magazine, FreeXpresSion, and is a participant with John Bird and Nathalie Buckland in the Wollumbin Haiku Workshop.

Many of the haiku in The Whole Body Singing, capture the sub-tropical mix of rainforest, farmland and long sandy beaches of the Far North Coast of New South Wales. The collection is broken up into nine sections: Seascape, Landscape, Flora, Fauna, Insects and Other Creatures, Birds, People, Haiku Sequences and Haibun.

The Whole Body Singing is a book of universal beauty. I sat down immediately when my copy arrived and read it through and have continued to revist the work consistently. Familiarity with many of the poems has only added to the pleasure.

There is a spiritual nature to her work, that touches the deepest chords of humanity. Her images are never heavy-handed or forced. In fact, they have a surprising lightness.

crab holes
pop open

Young's work captures the beauty in the everyday moments that pass many of us by:

wash day
raindrops hanging
on the line

day moon
a dandelion sheds
its seedhead

She listens.

new year fireworks
lorikeets burst
from the pine

She sees.

sick neighbour
the bare branches
of her magnolia

She feels.

long after
the sandfly
its bite

The poems in The Whole Body Singing speak to me and allow me to see life through another human's eyes. Eyes that examine the depth of life and our surroundings. Young's haiku are multi-layered and have something to say. A book to be enjoyed repeatedly.

February 04, 2008

An Australian Voice?

Recent discussions with some of HaikuOz’s ‘greats’ – notably patron Janice M Bostok and co-founder John Bird – have revealed a common thread of concern. Namely, that some writing of haiku in Australia has, unfortunately, slipped away into the phenomenon of the pretty postcard. In other words, that the spirit and subtlety, that once placed Australian haiku apart from that so frequently written elsewhere, has been submerged to a more mundane, more prosaic form of writing which, in one of my darker moods, I see as:

three ducks
in perfect formation
across a cloud wall

(or to be more strictly ‘correct’: three autumnal ducks/in quite perfect formation/ across a cloud wall)

This opinion is bound to be greeted by indignation, offence and, perhaps, horror. That I accept. I also apologize. I beg, however, that my discussion be accepted in that spirit. As a starting point for further discussion. What I am advocating, is a rethink, a re-examination, of how we are writing haiku in Australia. A move away from the formulae that accept phrasing such as ‘autumn evening’, ‘winter day’, ‘summer afternoon’. In other words, that we look again at the craft of our writing and the spirit of haiku – particularly as it applies to Australia.

Australia is the world’s largest island. Much of the continent is not subject to four distinct seasons. Thus writing haiku in Australia should, at least sometimes, be expansive and always different. It is a fact that most Australians are city dwellers. It is also a fact that this can, in the words of a Russian artist I was once blessed to know, inhibit our horizons. Australian eyes are more accustomed to adjusting to our vast expanses than they are to simply accepting them. But this should not inhibit our haiku adventures. Given our unique sense of place in the world we have every right to be expansive if the mood so takes us.

Learning from Japan is right and proper for those starting out on haiku journeys. Looking to America can be instructive. The worldwide web has brought everyone else into our field of vision. But, it should not trap us in the derivative. As Basho found, eventually one has to strike out on a journey of one’s own. On a journey of discovery. That this journey will sometimes be difficult and subject to great hardship is a given. Most learning - that is the learning that metamorphoses into one’s own art - does not come easily. But when ‘it’ does come it carries its own immortality. Thus from Basho we also receive this gift:

Think not
of yourself as nothing
The Festival of Souls*

(*O-bon, summer festival of prayer for departed relatives.)

Yes, it requires explanation. Thus, some may argue, this haiku only works within the context of its own culture, that of Japan, or for those familiar with the purpose and significance of the festival. Were that true no haiku could ever draw on cultural context. There is nothing wrong with providing explanations. More fully, in a dictionary of definitions, it might be explained as O-bon, the summer festival for the souls of the dead when those still alive remember those who are gone with prayer enuring no one is ever truly forgotten. Like the Japanese master, Kazuo Sato, who pleaded 20 years ago for more Australian haiku.

Is the quest for international publication inhibiting our usage of Australian context? Are we frightened that the Australian voice will not be understood? Children have no such inhibitions and still manage to achieve international publication. In the 1997 edition of Haiku by Children, Jessica McLaren, then aged 11, wrote of a …

Stampede of black bikes
Roaring toward the pub for
A yarn and a beer

While Jessica Zabawa, also then 11, spelt her vision out.

Aussie barbeque
A big keg and all the drunks
Shouting crazy things

Christina Mann, at age 12, was more subtle.

Noisy lorikeets
Gobbling berries from the trees
A fiery sunset

All three have also managed to convey both freshness and surprise through their observation. Their haiku come as a delight. There is a lightness of touch, a lack of artifice and an embrace of the haiku form without the obvious baggage of precedence. It is also obvious that each of these children was not on a mission to write ‘great’ haiku. They were simply embracing the moment of creation with real enthusiasm, an obvious lack of artifice, and - dare I say it - some measure of joy.

Haiku should not plod. It should not always have one eye fixed on what came before. In a country such as Australia it should have plenty of scope to strike out in fresh directions and continue to surprise.

Jacqui Murray

Historian, broadcaster and haiku poet Jacqui Murray holds a doctorate in Asian Cultural Studies, is a founder of the PaperWasp group, a founding editor of PaperWasp journal, an international haiku judge and has been published throughout the world.