‘Windfall’, Australian Haiku, Issue 4, 2016 – review by Elaine Riddell

Edited by Beverley George (Blue Giraffe Press, 2016).

ISSN 1839-5449.
In Australia: $A15 for one issue a year for 2 years, postage included; elsewhere: $A25, postage included.

Review by Elaine Riddell.

There will be many looking forward to this fourth annual issue of ‘Windfall’. The first time I was shown a copy of ‘Windfall’, my response was delight. Issue 4 is a worthy successor to the previous three issues. Like its predecessors, Issue 4 has the lovely, understated Ron C. Moss cover design and a simplicity of layout. Despite being small (A6), it uses a good sized font and gives each haiku breathing space on the page. The translucent papers, which separate the cover from the body of the work, seem to say, ‘This is a treasure. Hold it with care.’

Most haiku publications are international in nature, so it is refreshing to find a work that seeks to showcase Australian writers and their country. There is a danger in seeking haiku that are relevant to Australian life. The commercial world produces clichéd and superficial images that fill the stream of consciousness. The writer needs to escape these to find unique personal responses. The haiku collected in ‘Windfall’, Issue 4 avoid the trap of the stereotypical and the predictable. Not all are distinctively Australian, but when experienced as a whole, Beverley George’s selection gives a wonderful evocation of Australia: its environment, its language and its way of life.

Issue 4 begins with the mythical and the ancient. There is an unsettling sense of mystery in Lorin Ford’s opening haiku:

dusk on the river the bunyip’s cold breath

It is half light and getting darker. The reader can sense the palpable cold breath of the insubstantial bunyip. There is a sense of menace. Quendryth Young’s haiku which follows, also links back into ancient times, to the dreamtime when sacred places were established:

women’s business
gnarled roots around
the sacred lake

The image of ‘gnarled roots’ is particularly apt as a physical description and figuratively as a picture of women’s rites, shaped by time and deeply rooted in the past.

Haiku of rural Australia, the outback and the wilderness feature prominently in this selection with images such as the wide sky, mountain ranges, a tarn, a campfire, a dirt road, silver wattle, cockatoos, saltbush, a lagoon:

the one steep rise
on this same dirt road
that hawk once more

– Rodney Williams

rising
from the lake a jabiru
dripping light

– Lorraine Haig

Port Augusta
a freight train rattles
through saltbush

– Leanne Mumford

While there are haiku which feature everyday life without specifying location, there are not many that clearly show urban life. The Telstra Tower makes an appearance, as does the Harbour Bridge, a city footpath and long distance flight. This selection suggests that it is the vast spaces between the cities that are pervasive in the Australian psyche. There is a sense of vulnerability in this unforgiving terrain and climate. The weather finds its way into many haiku: the heat with its dust and haze, but even more the rain, which is either long awaited, or is worth mentioning because it is falling:

harbour bridge
rain drops drip from
the security guard’s hat

– Vanessa Proctor

days after
downstream in flood debris
the missing calf

– Mark Miller

Australian English adds colour and uniqueness to a work such as this. While one imagines that most of the readers will be Australian, any from further afield may have to resort to creative guesswork or a dictionary of Australian idioms to make sense of some of the haiku:

country sportsground
footy franks simmering
over the gas ring

– Gavin Austin

cut up newspaper
and a redback in the corner –
country dunny

– Myron Lysenko

‘Windfall’, Issue 4 comes highly recommended. The haiku cover a variety of moods. Some are more sombre, like the final group that reminds us of mortality. But there is also plenty of humour. Beverley George has again demonstrated her skill at taking a group of unrelated haiku and weaving them into a sequence that leaves the reader enriched.

For subscriptions and other enquiries, write to:

Publisher and Manager: Peter Macrow
Blue Giraffe Press
6/16 Osborne Street
Sandy Bay Tasmania 7005
Australia