On Friday, February 20th, Hobartians welcomed the long-awaited arrival of Ron C. Moss’s prize-winning haiku collection, “The Bone Carver” (Snapshot Press, 2014), at the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts.
In her launch speech, Beverley George – past president of the Australian Haiku Society – began by giving an overview of the nature of haiku and of its current practice, citing John Bird’s description of the form:
“A haiku is a brief poem, built on sensory images from the environment. It invokes an insight into our world and its peoples.”
Beverley George then gave the audience insight into the qualities of Ron’s work, not just his haiku, but also his much-admired illustrations that have enhanced other poets’ haiku and book covers around the world.
The following text is extracted from Beverley George’s speech
“These are haiku gathered over a long period and carefully assembled. Although haiku are brief, their resonance is long and the white space about each poem in “The Bone Carver” is designed to give the reader, or listener, time in which to bring their own experiences into response…
Ron Moss’ poems are soundly based on a respect and love for nature; for our world:
the wind between
a hawk dragonfly
beads with dew
But they are also imbued with sensitivity and practical caring for Ron’s fellow man:
cancer ward . . .
only his impression
left on the pillow
Sometimes they are engagingly funny:
a toddler steers a doughnut
with both hands
and at others… simply … tender:
a tiny hand opens
to the rain
Several elements come together harmoniously in Ron’s haiku. Ron describes himself often as a student of Zen, but I believe that, just as in Japan, the ancient animistic practice of Shinto harmonises readily with the more recent 8th century introduction of Zen Buddhism from China.
Ron’s long experiences in end of life care and fire fighting add a subtle layering to his haiku. Poems of careful observation of natural elements are deepened by human compassion and empathy.
Ron’s visual art has not only added dimensions to his own work but it has augmented the work of many other poets around the world. Most people who write haiku for a while experience the pleasure and the honour of having their work translated into other languages, usually by invitation of the translator, but it is a similar honour when our work is enriched with a complementary accompanying illustration, especially when the illustration is in traditional black ink (sumi-e) and sensitive to tradition.
If I may now move briefly back in time and indulge in personal memory.
“Yellow Moon” magazine, which I produced and edited for twelve issues, was competition-based and the haiku were often judged by the highly regarded haiku poet, Janice M Bostok.
Early on, a name bobbed in and out of notice – a bloke from Tassie. A couple of first prizes, as included in this anthology, but others too: Highly Commended and included.
At the same time I became increasingly aware of other haiku activity in Tasmania through the many fine writers in Lyn Reeve’s Watersmeet group and the wonderful publication work of Pardalote Press and the haiku section of “Famous Reporter”. And of course the contribution of Peter Macrow to the haiku scene continues to this day. Good on you, Tasmania.
It was in “Yellow Moon”’s haibun section that I first became aware of Ron’s role as a firefighter, and later enjoyed the initial glimpse of his art when he quietly sent me a watercolour depicting a Yellow Moon.
Respect for his artistic talent grew when I convened the international conference, the 4th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference, in Terrigal in 2010.
How to decorate the walls in the conference room for the presentation of haiku papers to eighty international delegates? Well, haiga, of course!
Ron offered to add his artwork to five haiku I had written about Australian landscape, which had been translated and beautifully calligraphied by Tokyo poet, Mariko Kitakubo, supplying substantially sized prints for me to have framed. Perfect for haiku and for our overseas delegates.
These five haiga which graced the walls at the conference have hung in my home hallway ever since. I walk past and enjoy them every day, as do the many poets who come to my home for workshops.
A more recent collaboration of ten haiga, again with calligraphy by Mariko Kitakubo and with sumi-e by Ron Moss, was published on “Haiga Online”, 2014. A harmonious collaboration between Aussies from Pearl Beach and Hobart and a poet and translator from Tokyo: I love each one of them.
More recently still, Ron has supplied artwork for two major collections, “Earthlings” and “Muttering Thunder”, and he is the resident artist for the on-line journal “One Hundred Gourds”.
A few days ago, Ron received the gratifying news that he had won “The Heron’s Nest” Awards Readers’ Choice Award, 2014.
Ron’s haiku is respected throughout the international haiku community and news of this award has been warmly and widely celebrated.
What shines through in all of this is that Ron’s love of haiku is genuine, deeply felt and a key component of his daily life, his core.
His success flows from genuine commitment to this diminutive genre.
“The Bone Carver” is a testament to this commitment and it is one that enforces not only Ron C Moss’s personal achievement, but is a landmark for Australian haiku in an international forum.
This book was published in the UK by the prestigious Snapshot Press and the introduction by US editor, Ferris Gilli, is a mini master class for writing haiku.
It is with respect and delight, and no regard for syllable count, that I pronounce “The Bone Carver” by Ron C. Moss well and truly, irrevocably and triumphantly, and most emphatically, LAUNCHED.”
After Beverley’s speech Ron treated us to more samples of his work from “The Bone Carver”, accompanied by his good friend and fellow-haiku-poet, Ross Coward, as they each read a haiku in turn.
The pile of books on the sales table quickly diminished in size. Guests were eager to purchase a copy of this beautiful book for themselves and an extra as a gift for a lucky friend.