Message from Vanessa Proctor – new AHS President

I am honoured to take up the role of President of the Australian Haiku Society. Firstly, I’d like to pay tribute to those who had the foresight to found HaikuOz in 2000. The original mission to promote haiku within Australia and to bring Australian writers to the world haiku community has been so successful that Australian haiku is flourishing as never before. This is largely due to the many people who have worked tirelessly to promote Australian haiku, both in Australia and overseas. I look forward to a very bright future for HaikuOz and for English-language haiku itself.

Vanessa Proctor
President
Australian Haiku Society

Patron of the Australian Haiku Society

I am delighted to announce that Dr Jacqui Murray: Founder, Paper Wasp and Founding Editor, paper wasp: a journal of haiku, has accepted the position of Patron of the Australian Haiku Society.

Given the leadership she has shown in supporting and championing haiku writing in Australia, not to mention the extraordinary work done in co-founding paper wasp – the longest running Australian haiku journal still in print – we believe that as Patron she will be able to keep alive the ideals in furthering the development of haiku in Australia.

Dr Jacqui Murray will be a wonderful asset to HaikuOz and we look forward to working with her.

Cynthia Rowe
President, Australian Haiku Society

SHORT HISTORY OF HAIKU IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

In the late 1980’s Martina Taeker began giving workshops and classes in writing haiku. Martina had lived in Japan and published her work in a number of Japanese haiku group journals and Yomiyuri, so she had a good understanding of the essence of haiku and the requirements for writing this genre. On her return to Australia, she published work in Australian specialist journals such as Yellow Moon.

Martina has continued to give such workshops, on request, to this date and to publish her haiku in Australia and internationally.
Martina’s workshops appear to have been the only haiku instruction or activity available in SA until 2008, although a few individuals, who had come to writing haiku by other pathways, such as information and forums on the Internet, were composing haiku and publishing in journals such as Yellow Moon, paper wasp and FreeXpression.
Such South Australian poets included, from at least 2002: Martina Taeker, Alma Thorsteinsen of Mt Gambier and Anne Drew of Whyalla, Lynette Arden, Bett Angel-Stawarz and Belinda Broughton.

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Bushfires in Victoria: February 2009

In 2009, members of the Australian Haiku Society were greatly moved by the suffering of those affected by the terrible bushfires in Victoria, Australia. Beverley George, then President of the Society, wrote at the time:

“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.”

While all Australians struggled for words to convey their dismay at the suffering caused by the devastating bushfires, many poets tried to share their feelings in haiku which were posted on the HaikuOz web site as a tribute to the victims of the bushfires. Those haiku are recorded below:

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Haiku in Australia 2010

Now seems like a good time to report briefly on the state of haiku in Australia. There is much to say that is positive.

The Australian Haiku Society (HaikuOz) is web-based and made up of many components. Its leadership comprises a patron, president, secretary, web manager and a small committee. Most input to the site comes from the leaders of the various small Australian haiku groups and from outside sources who send news of publication and competition opportunities.

Haiku groups
As in Japan, small groups are at the heart and soul of Australian haiku writing. These are poems of observation, so it is fitting the groups are regionally based, allowing members to share urban or rural landscape.

These groups include Cloudcatchers (Northern NSW, led by Quendryth Young); Bindii Haiku Group (Adelaide, led by Lynette Arden); Mari Warabiny (Perth, led by Maureeen Sexton) Red Dragonflies (Sydney, led by Vanessa Proctor); Watersmeet (Hobart, led by Lyn Reeves) and Ozku (Sydney, led by Dawn Bruce.) The ‘paper wasp’ group (Brisbane led by Katherine Samuelowicz) is currently not meeting regularly but it is hoped that this will resume soon. It is not unusual for groups to go a little quiet and then reinvent themselves.
In Melbourne, Myron Lysenko conducts haiku walks ‘Ginko with Lysenko’ four times a year.

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the 4th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference Terrigal, September 2009

A report of the 4th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference for Five Bells Vol 17 Nos 1&2, 2010 by convenor, Beverley George

together . . .
the way wind moves
over water
Vanessa Proctor

One of the features that distinguishes haiku from some other poetic genres is its sociable nature, which often includes the sharing of its creation, and interactive linking. Originally the starting verse (hokku) of renga, a writing game, established time, place and season. This opening poem was given individual status by Bashō in the 17th century and renamed haiku by Shiki and friends around 1900. Haiku are often written on a communal walk (ginko) and pasted up for anonymous peer-judging (kukai).

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Haiku in the Bulletin, 1899

Flannel-flow’rs dancing
To the dawn on the hill-tops…
The Vision of Spring!

Is this the first prize-winning haiku published in an Australian journal or newspaper? It appeared over the name ‘R. Crawford’ in the Bulletin’s famous Red Page on 12 August 1899 along with 13 other haiku and two haiku sequences. Crawford and his fellow poets were responding to an invitation, extended by A. G. Stephens (aka The Bookfellow), to submit ‘some haikais, which must have an Australasian reference’. Stephens offered 10s. 6d.—roughly the equivalent of a day’s wage—for the best entry received.
Stephens’ interest in the haiku form was piqued by a similar competition run in the British journal Academy and Literature. Both competitions probably stemmed from the publication in England of W. G. Aston’s History of Japanese Literature.

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