An Australian Voice?

Recent discussions with some of HaikuOz’s ‘greats’ – notably patron Janice M Bostok and co-founder John Bird – have revealed a common thread of concern. Namely, that some writing of haiku in Australia has, unfortunately, slipped away into the phenomenon of the pretty postcard. In other words, that the spirit and subtlety, that once placed Australian haiku apart from that so frequently written elsewhere, has been submerged to a more mundane, more prosaic form of writing which, in one of my darker moods, I see as:

three ducks
in perfect formation
across a cloud wall

(or to be more strictly ‘correct’: three autumnal ducks/in quite perfect formation/ across a cloud wall)

This opinion is bound to be greeted by indignation, offence and, perhaps, horror. That I accept. I also apologize. I beg, however, that my discussion be accepted in that spirit. As a starting point for further discussion. What I am advocating, is a rethink, a re-examination, of how we are writing haiku in Australia. A move away from the formulae that accept phrasing such as ‘autumn evening’, ‘winter day’, ‘summer afternoon’. In other words, that we look again at the craft of our writing and the spirit of haiku – particularly as it applies to Australia.

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Members News – Jeff Harpeng

In 2007, Jeff Harpeng released a collection of haibun: Quarter Past Sometime, published by Post Pressed.

Re: the opening piece in Quarter Past Sometime, Jeffrey Woodward (Haibun Today), said, “Birdlings Flats” by Jeff Harpeng probably illustrates the expressionist method at its best. From the opening sentence, the reader discovers himself in the presence of a poet who is master of the rhythms of his language and of the possibilities of his material…

Jeff was a featured reader with Janice Bostok at the second Words and Water Dragons haiku outreach event of the 2007 Queensland Poetry Festival and read from Quarter Past Sometime as a Post Pressed reader at the Maleny Writers Festival.

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MEMBERS PUBLICATION – Quendryth Young

(quendrythyoung@bigpond.com)

The Whole Body Singing – Produced by Dragonwick. 90 pages.
Available from the author: 5 Cedar Court, Alstonville, NSW, 2477. $15 plus $2 P&P.

These are haiku of celebration and honest recording in which elements of the diverse environment of coastal, northern New South Wales are given their full due. Respect for the genre’s tradition is evident in these honed observations but their ambience is local and their time is now. The Whole Body Singing makes a valid contribution to the development of English-language haiku written in the southern hemisphere.

Beverley George
President: Australian Haiku Society

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Haiku report:Julie Simpson.

Julie Simpson reports that The Pencil Orchids Creative Writing Group at Wollombi in the Lower Hunter Valley celebrated National Poetry Week 2007 with a display at Cessnock Library. Their (70-piece grape vine shaped collaborative haiku, (pictures of which Beverley George took to the 3rd Pacific Rim Haiku Conference, Matsuyama, as part of her presentation), together with an illustrated History of the Haiku Masters — from Basho to Koi Nagata — attracted favourable attention and warm comments. An A3 sized Haiku a Day poster was eye-catching in the library’s front window and there was a colourful display of bird and insect kites, carp, bonsai, a paper umbrella and haiga (haiku paintings) in showcases and on the foyer walls.