Members’ News, January 2019

Dear Australian Haiku Society Members,

Welcome back to our website for 2019. We trust that you have had a restful holiday season. Many areas in Australia have just experienced the hottest December and January on record and the bushfire season is continuing to be especially fierce. Some parts of the country are still afflicted with drought while others are suffering due to flooding. We hope that all our members, both in Australia and around the world, are safe. During these increasingly uncertain times poetry, and haiku in particular, can help us interpret and express our experiences and share them with others. We have an exciting year ahead of us at the AHS so please take part in our online and local events. This year, more than ever, we look forward to furthering our mission of promoting the enjoyment of haiku within Australia and beyond its shores.

Vanessa Proctor
President, Australian Haiku Society


The Haiku Dreaming

The Haiku Foundation have recently added John Bird’s Dreaming Collection to their digital library. “This book represents the final version of John Bird’s Haiku Dreaming Australia, his attempt at a collection of distinctively Australian haiku, begun in 2006 and suspended in 2011. It also contains the archive of all the poems accepted for publication and then replaced by others during that five year period. Worried by the trend toward a homogeneous, global haiku, Bird hoped to foster a greater feeling among Australian haiku poets of the importance of preserving a sense of their distinctive environment and culture in their haiku. The collection also contains several essays by Bird on various related haiku subjects.” (THF Digital Library) You can download this historically significant resource here.

Thanks to Lorin Ford for bringing this to our attention, and adding to the comments post for the recent THF Book of the Week featuring John Bird’s work – “How lovely it is to see John Bird’s Haiku Dreaming Australia collection, along with his frank and witty essays, archived at The Haiku Foundation. No-one has been more deeply and genuinely engaged with the various issues arising from Australian haiku or more active in reaching out to and encouraging as many Australian haiku writers as he could find than John has been.
Many thanks to The Haiku Foundation and especially to Garry Eaton for his hard work in converting the original web pages into a readable resource.”

And in an email from Leanne Mumford she writes; “John Bird’s collection is a fantastic resource and it would be great for more people to know about it. The Haiku Foundation have done Australian haiku poets a great service by preserving the collection in an accessible format. John Bird’s essays in “Haiku Dreaming Australia” encouraged me to write distinctly Australian-flavoured haiku, and to set about referencing places that might eventually become our own utamakura equivalents”

The Other Flesh: A Forthcoming Publication by Robbie Coburn

 UWA Publishing is proud to announce the October 2019 release of Victorian poet Robbie Coburn’s first collection The Other Flesh.
Widely published in journals and magazines including Poetry, Meanjin, Island and Westerly and often anthologised, this book is a significant publication.
Coburn’s haiku appears in the book beside free verse.

From the blurb Robert Adamson writes;

“Robbie Coburn grew up in Woodstock, Victoria on his family’s farm. The Other Flesh contains many poems whose texture sings of being alone under the stars. It begins in stark paddocks with bleak greyhound runs, where his father has ‘blood dripping from his fingers from feeding the dogs’ and the poet responds with ‘I love all the things I hate about being here’, a line that brought Jack Spicer to mind. This poetry comes from tough experiences; yet Coburn’s ‘raw mind’ creates an inner life that draws in the reader. We pass through a post-pastoral world and are pulled into a place where ‘the self is only one version of hell’. We discover ‘There is no fixed life form’ on pages of empty skies and empty roads, empty fields of memory, with a throat full of toxin, eyes being bottled by ‘sobered hands’ and where road signs tell the poet what to do. Out of this abyss Coburn creates some beautiful lines, ‘wind cutting through the tin’ where ‘dogs of sand’ run beside him. When his grandfather dies of Parkinson’s we come across this liberating image in the final line of the elegy: ‘grasses that flow gently when all breath expires’. Coburn’s world shimmers with light as much as it burns with ferocity but these finely written poems are free from bitterness or anger. Here are two lines that sit on the lyrical scales, being weighed for balance: ‘the night sky is a blank, unbrushed canvas’ and then ‘a muteness that lies down in darkness’. When we open up Coburn’s paddocks ‘made up by the mind’, they are transparent, and yet they are created with a muscular craft that glows with alert intelligence. These poems contain deep loss and wonder, informed by the anxieties involved with a longing to unite with the soul of the beloved. Coburn writes ‘my flesh starved of paradise’ —this book is a record of his successful call to regain it.”

what remains of my childhood
the dam eroded
at its deepest point

(Echidna Tracks, issue 2, 2018)

night darkening —
the old tin silo
only a shadow


first day of Summer
the weatherboard house
without him

(Wales Haiku Journal, Winter 2018)

swaying moth orchids…
the dead singer’s voice
from the speakers

You might recall Robbie had his haiku – starless sky – (first published in Windfall, issue 6, 2018) featured on The Australian Haiku Society website along with a commentary and more recently on The Haiku Foundation’s January Per Diem.

We will bring you more on what promises to be an exciting collection closer to the time of publication along with ordering details.

Recent Haiga on YouTube

We are pleased to include these links to two recent haiga creations Wave After Wave with haiku and sumi-e painting by Ron C. Moss & music by Rick Wilson and Heavy With Crows haiku and art by Ron C. Moss with music played by Steve Hodge. Do enjoy.

lightning tree
all the shadows
in a raven’s call

Ron C. Moss

The Haiku Foundation Per Diem

A number of Australian haiku were featured among a diverse group of international poets in January’s Per Diem on The Haiku Foundation on the theme of Darkness. A link to January’s selection can be found here.

The archive of all monthly Per Diem collections going back several years is well worth visiting.

UHTS Samurai Haibun Contest.

Congratulations to Marietta McGregor for her haibun, Burn-off which was awarded First Place in the UHTS Samurai Haibun Contest for 2018. Congratulations also to Marilyn Humbert for Third Place with her haibun Trailblazing. You can read these and other awarded haibun here.

Basho-an International Haiku Competition 2018

Simon Hanson was given an honourable mention for his haiku

cavern pool
darkness dripping
into darkness

All selections from the contest can be found in PDF format here:

Windfall: Australian Haiku

Windfall 7, 2019 has been mailed out to subscribers. It features work from 58 Australian haiku poets.
Within Australia, $15 provides one issue per year for 2 years, postage included. To subscribe mail payment and your order to:

Peter Macrow
6/16 Osborne Street
Sandy Bay TAS 7005

(Cheques made payable to Peter Macrow. Stamps and cash also accepted).

Groups and Gatherings

To catch up on the latest report from The White Pebbles Haiku Group click here.


Members’ News compiled by Simon Hanson

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