February 23, 2009

Bower Birds

Bowerbird Tanka Workshop 22 February 2009
The third Bowerbird Tanka workshop was held on Sunday 22nd February, 2009 at Pearl Beach, NSW.
Workshop leaders Beverley George, Amelia Fielden and Kathy Kituai supported a full house of tanka enthusiasts in workshopping participant prepared poems. All present were encouraged and entertained by the wide range of poetry submissions, the expert feedback from the leaders and mutual appreciation of workshop members. What a joy to have so many creative minds together in one room at this tanka think-tank.
Kathy Kituai shared some of her writing secrets, then led the group in a creative session designed to court the muse. We were invited to engage with and reflect upon the creative process. I came away with a renewed sense of the pleasure of writing.
The lunchtime kukai on the theme paperbark was won by Carolyn Alfonzetti. The afternoon took the form of small group sessions to write renga on the theme 2008 was the year. During the day many books changed hands and many connections were made. Once again we owe Beverley George a sincere vote of thanks for organising and throwing open her home for this lively and congenial tanka workshop.
Julie Thorndyke

February 21, 2009

WHAT IS HAIKU? - Week 12

Carmel Summers (Pennant Hills, NSW)

“A concise poem, based on a sensual observation of the natural
world, that bridges the gap between nature and human understanding,
behaviour, feelings and thoughts.”
Karen Coller (Baronia, Vic)

“Haiku is wonder in a heartbeat; a moment to say 'yes' to life.
Haiku is brightness in a raindrop; a wing beat of thought
on the cheek and in the heart. Haiku pens a precious, funny
or insightful moment for us."
Mandy Langenhorst (Brisbane, Qld)

‘a connection with nature expressed as briefly as the synaptic
flash that registered it.’
Greg Piko (Yass, ACT)

(1) 'A haiku is a brief poem that evokes an insight into our
world and its peoples through the association of images.'
(2) ...the following comment, attributed to Marcel Duchamp, is
especially relevant to haiku:
'It is not what you see that is art, art is the gap.'

Alexander Ask (Beaumont, SA)

‘Haiku is a unique perception of nature captured in a simple

Kaji Aso Studio - 21st Annual Haiku Contest

Deadline: April 15, 2009

First Prize: $250 Second Prize: $150 Third Prize: $50
Best Senryu: $50 Elizabeth Searle Lamb Award: $50

The entry fee is $2 per haiku or senryu. There is no limit on the number of
haiku or senryu. Please pay by check payable to Kaji Aso Studio.

Please type, computer print, or neatly write your submissions and mail them to the address below. Don't forget to include your name, address, and if you have one, an email address. Be sure to mark any senryu submissions as such. We're looking into the possibilities of email submissions and paypal payments--more information if and when this becomes available.

Check out the winning entries and honorable mentions from previous years (along with pages of beautiful art and fascinating info about Kaji Aso Studio-- at
(go to "Events 2009" column and scroll down)

All rights will revert back to the authors after June, 2008 when winners are announced.

ALSO: Announcing a special HAIKU TOUR to Japan this summer. Click here for more details

Send submissions to:
Haiku Contest
Kaji Aso Studio
40 St Stephen St
Boston, MA 02115

Saša Važić reviews Jack Fruit Moon by Robert D. Wilson

Jack Fruit Moon by Robert D. Wilson; published by Modern English Tanka Press, Baltimore, Maryland 21236, USA;  pp. 204; ISBN 978-0-9817691-4-1; preface by Dr. Steven D. Carter; forward by Sanford Goldstein.

You've known me for years, better than anyone else. That's what Robert says. And I stop to think.... Never seen that man. Does he even exist? Could be as I used to get a coltrane's e-mails with a bulk of haiku, tanka, haibun... almost every day for some two or three years... I did not even have time to take a breath, to calm down my feelings. It was almost unbearable. The e-mail man never asked how I felt nor such a banal question as is: do you like my poems? I used to call him shadowman....a man from the shadow during those days. He had nothing against each other... So, we agreed. I know him.
almost 60
this gnarled tree reminds
me of an old
man riding a bicycle
in his underwear

I first encountered Robert Wilson at the door of Simply Haiku, he owns and edits (my thoughts about its uniqueness and quality are presented in an interview I did with him for Haiku Reality). And I thought: just the right thing... as simple as haiku... as simple as is Robert, though he may appear weird to many who are unable or unwilling or haven't had a chance to sense his inner being shaped by so many, to him mostly difficult, experiences -- inward and outward --, but also by fresh moments when he becomes one with everything and everyone -- within and without.

Most of us know the story: Robert used to live both in the USA and the Philippines (now only in the latter), Robert suffers from Vietnam War related post traumatic stress syndrome, Robert was first introduced to haiku by his late father, Robert fell in love with Japanese short form poetry at first glance (and it has never left him, contrary to... what/whoever may think), Robert does not attend conferences, Robert was a teacher for "thrown away kids" (as he puts it in his Introduction to the book)... This is the background... Experiences, impressions, images, hard and light moments, dreamlike or reality-like have been written themselves in the first palpable, paper world of a tanka/haiku book – Jack Fruit Moon.

When I read it, and I'm reading Wilson's book again, I've also been reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the same time, I am sure I can bring these two books into connection. Just as the story of the latter is light and "made possible" and real in the way it describes the destiny of our small planet and its inhabitants' behavior and speaking while a few of those chosen from human and "out-of-earth" species travel through the galaxies as if there is nothing strange in that, so are Wilson's dreams, shadows, nightmares, sufferings, pains, inexpressible joys, encounters with the living and the dead... Everything is possible; nothing is impossible; his endless search of his own self and safety in his unstable and ever-changing - for the worse or better - worlds.

i settle with
the dust, a pile
of leaves
swept away
into tall whispers

trees . . .
i reach past them
into heaven

is that you
sitting on the
star above
me crawling out
of a dream

In his poems he opted for what he is – a shadowman – a dreamman – a nightmareman – an emphaticman – a memoryman – all of us are or could or might be. The problem is, the difference is, the fact is -- he dares be what he is.

Memories and keen desires attack him from all sides, every single moment, in every situation. No matter where he really is – in time and/or place. Things slip from his hands, things slip from hands of others:

i step
into this tree
sprouting leaves,
knowing they
will fall and wither

ants carry
pieces of me
into a
story i'll write
later between moons

ebb tide . . .
half a world
away my
reflection sings
to you in mirrors

there you are
midway through a
dream, telling
me the moon
is made of paper

One may say, especially those who view themselves as authorities on Japanese short form poetry, that many of Robert's haiku and tanka are not in line with the prescribed policy. Too many metaphors, allusions, illusions, imaginaries, reminiscences? I'd say just the opposite. Art must develop or it dies.... Robert has created two original things: tanka/ haiku strings and the way of expressing past moments/memories/reminiscences/dreams/ the present moment. As for the first, it will be obvious to those who have read or who will read the book. When it comes to the second, nothing is past if it keeps hunting us day and night:

brown water . . .
watching death float
between my legs

summer heat . . .
an empty-eyed
woman plods
past me into the
gecko's mouth

Even when he writes about "normal" things we all normally write about, he does it in his own, "twisted", way, with unexpected turns. He asks the reader to stop and deeply think about what he/she reads, sees and feels:

at midnight,
a dead mouse lighting

the morning
sky hovers
over me, weighted
down with the gray
eyes of vendors

a small mound
of dirt, the stillness
of words
caught between a
siren's echo

Living in the Philippines, his everyday encounters with and empathy for, first of all, the poor who he has labeled "the invisible people," lead to many touching poems. He wants to warn the world, to call its attention:

he fishes
inside of a
still born moon
mumbling words he
can't remember

still water . . .
the stench of a
newborn moon

she sleeps through
noon on a cement
slab scented
with peanuts and
stale memories

I cannot recommend this book as the one you can learn from. We can only be grateful to Robert for letting us into his world. And his world is not limited to Earth only. The universe is boundless, we all know that. His poems flow, fly, collide with each other through space and time. If dare enter Robert's boundless world, be warned: it won't be easy. You will have to take a firm running start and fly off to capture them.

Beverley Interviewed on ABC 7ZR

Beverley George, President of Haiku Oz, was interviewed statewide on ABC Hobart 7ZR by Siobhan Maiden on February 13 2009 about the bushfire haiku on our web-site and invited to read several out, as well as discuss haiku more generally.

February 16, 2009

a wattle seedpod - review

Lorin Ford's haiku collection, a wattle seedpod, has been warmly reviewed by Matthew Paul in Presence #37 [UK] . The review quotes eight of Ford's haiku, carefully selected to showcase the range of her work. Mention is also made of the 'beautiful artwork' by Ron Moss. The book is available from

February 15, 2009

WHAT IS HAIKU? - Week 11

Helen Davison (Alstonville, NSW)

‘Haiku are concise poems, without poetic contrivances,
capturing a moment in the present. Set in nature, they
express a universal sensory fact.’
Bett Angel-Stawarz (Barmera, SA)

"A haiku is a short poem about the real world that prompts the
reader to make discoveries that enrich their lives".
Leigh Rees (Brunswick Heads, NSW)

'... implementing a fine-edged scalpel to shape poetic
responses into a simple sculpture that touches a universal
chord in the hearts of listeners/readers.'
Rupert Summerson (Canberra, ACT)

'Seventeen syllables / Japanese season poem / Captures the
David McMurray (Kagoshima City, Japan)

'An immensely powerful though intrinsically limited instrument,
like the Australian didgeridoo, haiku finds enormous beauty within
severe constraints. ‘


Writer, poet and Haiku Oz SA representative Martina Taeker, is running a seminar on Japanese Poetry.
She will be focussing on :


WHEN : Saturday 21st February
2 - 4.30pm

WHERE: SA Writers' Centre 2nd floor Boardroom
East Rundle Street
(old Malcolm Reid building, entry via Cafe Brunelli)

COST : $25 concession/ $30 which includes a delicious afternoon tea
Come along on the day & pay
or ring 08-8362 8704 and book your place

There will be a competition announced at the Seminar which will have both monetary prizes and publication oportunities

Friendly Street Poets Inc.
PO Box 3697
Norwood SA 5067

February 14, 2009

An interview with Lyn Reeves

Interview with Lyn Reeves on ABC 7ZR

In her afternoon program Siobhan Maiden interviewed Lyn Reeves who read some haiku and talked about how to write them. Siobhan wanted to encourage listeners to text a haiku to their lovers this Valentine’s day. She suggested that haiku would be a wonderful way for people to express their responses to the Victorian bushfires.

Read the full interview here:;=true

February 11, 2009

Tribute to the Bushfire Victims

While all Australians struggle for words to convey their dismay at the suffering caused by the devastating bushfires, some poets try to share their feelings in haiku.

Your haiku is welcome too. One per poet please to

relief centre
the new bed toy
smells different

Beverley George

out of black silence
the wobble
of a burnt lamb

Dawn Bruce

'bushfire country all the brick chimneys standing'

Janice Bostok

she wears soot
for makeup

Cynthia Rowe

black void
a stranger's hug
releases the tears

Quendryth Young

town in ashes
a firefighter
wipes his eyes

Lorin Ford

blackened rubble around
the chimney

Nathalie Buckland

fire storm
melted metal where the street
used to be

Kathy Earsman

gnawed white . . .
last season’s dog bones
in the ash pile

Ron Moss

smoke haze …
a koala drinks
from the fireman’s water bottle

Lynette Arden

crackly footsteps
in a blackened field
we all cry together

Greg Piko

after the wildfire...
a row of new green tents
becomes home

Beatrice Yell

blacker than its shadow
a gum tree
sheds ash

Alexander Ask

blackened trunks
in the morning light...
we count the dead

Jo McInerney

the word means
everything now

Max Ryan

standing in silence
around the charred remains:
their three chimneys

Scott Mason (USA)

without birdsong
in this wasteland

M L Grace

hugs all round
finding neighbours

Barbara A. Taylor

on burned farrmlands
a weeping child clinging to
his koala's fur

Claire Gardien (France)

morning after the fire
the cactus growing
from ashes

Stefan Sencerz

too far and too old
to really help, I just send money,
weep and pray

Marian Morgan

silhouette -
helicopter blades
chop the blood-red sun

Jo Tregellis

tent-city ...
a girl's smile from inside
the fireman's jacket

Leonie Bingham

bushfire report
crackling on the radio -

Judith E P Johnson

newspaper photo
a fireman shares water
with a koala

Angelika Wienert (Germany)

black veil
hides a face
in mourning

Mike Burdett

limp afternoon...
acrid smoke seeps through
the wire screen

Dorothy Keyworth

red sky
the photo of a young girl
smiling from the ashes

Graham Nunn

sprig of red gum tips
in a black coral forest
a raven's low cry

Jacqui Murray

green shoots
on blackened trunks
ashen summer

John Bird

distant fires
famlies search under a blue moon

Martin Cohen

extended family . . .
touched by smoke
half a world away

Catherine J.S. Lee, USA

people and birds sharing
the same fate

Vasile Moldovan

wake to maggies ...
worlds north of us drown
whilst south they burn

Kevin Sharpe

a splash of yellow
against the storm

Ashley Capes

smoke haze
the city smells
of bush fires

Janet Howie

days later --
still the smell
of burnt things

Matt Hetherington

only the road's white middle line
as guide

Katherine Gallagher

deep ash
memories laid down for
generations to come

Steve South

Aussie koala
bush rescue by David Tree
fire ravaged earth

Yvonne Pick

dawn drags yellow-grey
blustery winds still hot --
fire-fighters yawn

Thomas Thorpe

if fire is a
crucible, may the change lift
you towards Heaven

Ryk McIntyre, USA

driving home
through country towns
newspaper stands cry

Sarah Muller

day has become night,
flames and smoke unite as one -
wildlife sacrificed.

Ann Jamieson

February 09, 2009

Bushfires in Victoria February 2009

I feel certain I speak on behalf of everyone who comes to this web-site, when I send our deepest regrets to those who have suffered most in these tragic fires in Victoria: the people who have lost the people they love, their homes, their neighbourhood, their way of life, their landscape and livestock, and their pets.

May each of you, victim or helper, who has witnessed the loss of human and animal life, and of habitat, under merciless and unexpected circumstance, be granted healing in due course.

Special thoughts to those people, rendered powerless, who still wait to hear the fate of loved ones. Our hearts are with you.

On behalf of the committee and members of the Australian Haiku Society
Beverley George
President HaikuOz

WHAT IS HAIKU? - Week 10

peterb (Moonset publisher) opines

“Haiku are sensual awarenesses of man, his natural perceptions; Simply recorded (hopefully denouncing influences of the contemporary worlds' surround) and offered up for others to review, enjoy, and ponder. Thus, challenging each, to create their “own” awareness … their “own” haiku.


Nathalie Buckland (Nimbin, NSW)

‘Haiku is a moment in time, sketched in a few words, shaped by the sensory experiences and emotions of the writer.’


Agnieszka Niemira (Toowong, Qld) endorses John Bird’s: 'A haiku is a brief poem, built on sensory images from the environment. It evokes an insight into our world and its peoples.' and Agnieszka adds:
‘Haiku is an epiphany put into (very few) words.’


Gavin Austin ( Elizabeth Bay, NSW)

‘... the snapshot of a moment from life.’


Carol Negiar (Chajin -The House of Japanese Green Tea, Paris, France)

"A short poem with 3 lines, which in Japanese corresponds to 5, 7 and 5
syllables, but can stray from that in languages other than Japanese.
Description of a unique moment.a surprise ending. no rhymes. an evoked