Unless stated otherwise, all poetry on Swimming in Lines of Haiku is Copyright Kirsten Cliff and may not be reprinted in any form without written permission from the author. kirsten(DOT)cliff(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good Friday haiga

Copyright 2011 Kirsten Cliff
haiku and image

Good Friday:
even the lavender

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

sitting hunched haiga

Copyright 2011 Kirsten Cliff
haiku and image
sitting hunched
on the hospital steps
a pink camellia falls

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Submitting to Paper Wasp Magazine

I submitted ten poems to paper wasp, an Australian magazine, for the first time recently (it was my submission for week 9 of 2011).

paper wasp publishes haiku, senyru, renga, and tanka, and is edited by Katherine Samuelowicz. You will find the full submission guidelines here.

I admit to not knowing much about paper wasp or Katherine, only what I've read on the website. So all I can do is wait to hear if any of my work is accepted. Katherine did sent me an email back quickly though, to acknowledge receipt of my poems, and this is something I like.

Friday, March 25, 2011

At the Graveyard

Inspired by my angel photograph below, I wrote "At the Graveyard" in late 2009. The shot was taken at Te Awamutu Cemetery on a spring afternoon in 2008. I'm heading to Te Awamutu over the weekend to spend some time with family and wonder what new treasures I'll find while exploring the nooks and crannies of places I know less well than home. I hope you enjoy your weekend :) Happy writing! (You can see more of my images on my Photography page.)

By Kirsten Cliff © 2008

At the Graveyard

Sleeping angel,
white witch of the heavens,
are your wings heavy
here on earth?

Your radiance
has worn thin, grown pale,
have our sins weathered
His holy soul?

A cloud-soaked sky
draws each dream upwards.
I reach out to touch
what isn't there.

Copyright © Kirsten Cliff
First published in Valley Micropress, Vol.13, Is.1 (January, 2010)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Know You've Got A Love Poem Hiding Somewhere

Why not submit it to the Jacar Press 2011 ...AND LOVE... anthology? Publisher Richard Krawiec is calling for submissions until April 30, 2011.

I submitted one senryu and three free-verse poems last week, which was my submission for week 11 of 2011. The first poem entered is free, then you pay $1US per page for further poems.

See all the submission info here, and where to email your poems and to pay here (use the 'Donate' button).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Submitting to Haiku Presence

Presence is Britain's leading independent haiku journal, edited by Martin Lucas since 1996.

Presence is a haiku magazine, specialising in publishing high quality haiku, senryu, tanka, renku and related poetry. It appears 3 times per year. Each issue is typically 52–60 A5 pages, and contains original artwork, haibun (haiku prose), articles on haiku practice, news of haiku events and book reviews in addition to the poetry. We welcome submissions from experienced and novice haiku writers alike.

Martin holds a PhD from Cardiff University for his study of haiku as creative writing. I find this seriously inspiring as I look towards my dream of doing an MFA Creative Writing in the coming years.

Martin won first prize last year in the Katikati Haiku Contest, where I received third prize with:

he leaves in an ambulance -
the chrysanthemum buds
closed tight

I was honoured to be in the top three with him. Martin is a great editor to work with, always replying quickly to questions and submissions. Read the full submission guidelines here and subscription information here.

I had one haiku and four tanka accepted for the next issue #44, out May 2011. This was my submission for week 8 of 2011, towards my goal of submitting to at least one poetry competition or journal each week for 2011.

Presence #40 (January, 2010)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Location, Location, Location

My fiancé and I love our home, but the location... Not so much. Somehow, in our rush of excitement to move in together, we ended up living on a very busy road. As I said, we feel in love with the house.

Two years on the traffic has increased, soon the road will be turned into four lanes, and to top it all off, a childcare centre started up right next door!

We are looking forward to moving within the year to a much quieter place. In the meantime, we long for winter so we can cocoon ourselves into the double-glazed goodness that is Wordsmith House.

Here are two poems I wrote in the first few months of our life here together:

Domain Road

At night
when the traffic slows
I hear the conversations
of the people walking past.

A woman calling her cat
the laughter of young lovers
that distinct sound
of a skateboard
rolling over the joins
and imperfections in the pavement.

When he returns
                               I sleep.

Writer's reign

We sat on the couch sharing
lazy-sunday kisses
our move into love-making

blanketed by the traffic noise
and the banging of the
horizontal blinds.

He said we would be
'right as rain'
two poets drafting

out a life together
safe in each
other's embrace.

Both poems: Copyright © Kirsten Cliff
First published in Valley Micropress 12:6 (August, 2009)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tears For Japan

With the rest of the world, I was shocked to hear of the massive earthquake in Japan, and the resulting and devastating tsunami. The scenes I watched that night were surreal. I felt a great sadness (and even writing this now brings tears to my eyes) as yet again a huge tragedy has rocked the people and the places I know, and this seems to have a direct line to the grief I still experience re my leukaemia. Once this connection is locked in, it's hard to move away from.

Once again, I scored a small victory for myself in recent days when a letter from my haematologist said that my blood counts were stable for the time being and I could take leave of my weekly blood tests for a month. At the same time as celebrating this, I was thinking of all those in Japan (and in Christchurch), who are beginning their own journeys of loss and recovery, and my heart goes out to them.

That night was also a scary one for me as news reports came through of a possible tsunami hitting New Zealand shores: I live about a 10 minute walk from Papamoa Beach. I'm extremely grateful that we were spared any further devastation in the form of Mother Nature; thankful that the only mess to clean up the next morning was from the usual Friday night party-goers:

last night's destruction
not a tsunami
but from the waves
of drunken teenagers

Sending out much love to Japan: a place where I lived and worked for six months, a place that has captured my love of words in it's many forms of poetry. These tears are for you. Kia kaha. Xx

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Interested in the Paranormal?

Then click on over to Kathryn Brown's blog Marvellous Mable where I share my experience of a spiritual visitation that I had while in hospital a year ago.

I've enjoyed reading the Marvellous Mable blog and think it's a great gift that Kathryn is giving in letting people share their paranormal experiences, creating a vibrant community space for people to comment and learn.

I had been looking for the right place to get feedback on my paranormal encounter for some time. I almost sent it in to the Good Morning show for medium Sue Nicholson to look at but in the end it didn't feel right.

I'm happy that my story has found it's home at Marvellous Mable and look forward to seeing what people think the visitation was all about.

Having previously written a tanka about my experience, it definitely felt good to write it down in it's entirety. My fiancé said he understands it much better now, and it's clearer to me, too.

What do you think: To Help Or To Haunt?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Found Poem Friday

I haven't written any poems this week, nor done any craft work: my concentration has been on dream work. I am using the four-step approach found in Robert A. Johnson's book Inner Work: Using Dreams & Active Imagination for Personal Growth.
  • Step One: Associations
  • Step Two: Dynamics
  • Step Three: Interpretations
  • Step Four: Rituals
I have previously done dream work with a Jungian analyst, but this will be the first time I've taken a dream through these four steps at home. It is focused work, demanding of the mind, which wants to wander terribly and do anything but explore the truths that lie in the unconscious.

Jung observed that dreams perform restorative, corrective, compensatory, prophetic, and developmental roles in our psyche; that to attend to our dreams is to attend to the cry of the soul.

The above is from the other book I use in my dream work, The Art of Dreaming: A Creativity Toolbox for Dreamwork by Jill Mellick. And this brings me to Found Poem Friday...

Four and Twenty post a daily prompt on their facebook page and Friday is always found poem day. So, today I wanted to share this found poem I wrote from The Art of Dreaming as it perfectly sums up my week.

Receive Dreams as Messengers from Another Realm

Dreams haunt us.

Their images, words, sounds, feelings.
They disturb, amuse,
intrigue, inspire.
They are messengers
from another realm
with their own logic.

The narrative structure of the soul –
a logic that dispenses
with cause and effect,
exists in a timeless
spatially unbounded universe
where we are allowed
to do the impossible:

occupy two time frames or places at once.

What if we pay attention to our dreams...
Let their images feed our imaginations...

The heart of the dream will beat
in our actions, and lead us onward.

Copyright © Kirsten Cliff
First published in the Bay of Plenty Times 'Poets Corner', Saturday 19 September, 2009

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Guest Blogger Spot at Mslexia

From the team at Mslexia:

We’re looking for guest bloggers for the Mslexia blog. Are you working on an interesting writing project or in a key role in publishing? Perhaps you’re researching your novel or finalising your first poetry collection; freelancing as a journalist or reading submissions at a literary agency?
We're opening out our blog to a limited number of women writers with something interesting to say about the writing process, the publishing industry, or their journey on the rocky road to publication.
If you'd like to apply for a three-month guest appearance on the Mslexia blog, send us a pitch of up to 100 words telling us what you'd write about, plus a link to your own blog (and/or a link to blogs you've appeared on) and your full contact details.
You’ll need a working knowledge of Wordpress and we’ll expect you to blog at least twice a month throughout your ‘residency’. It’s a great opportunity to raise your profile and have your say to an audience of likeminded writers. Email submissions@mslexia.co.uk with your pitch, putting 'Guest Blog' in the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you.

Read the Mslexia blog here.

There are lots of other opportunities to submit your writing to Mslexia, which include tweets, feature articles, and book reviews. Check out the full list and info here.

What is Mslexia? Read my earlier post on the magazine here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Haibun: Blackbird's pick 'n' mix

My insomnia has me awake early, and I'm exhausted. The low rumble of traffic has already begun, and as my feet hit the carpet I feel the vibrations through the floor. I head out to the lounge, and open the curtains on the dawn of another spring day.

bowing to the gods
the curve
of a lavender stalk

That scruffy blackbird is back. I watch him pluck worms from the wet grass, his jaunty pecks disturbing the disarray of dead leaves. With ruffed-up tail feathers, he finds one worm, then another, and hops to the concrete path in front of the dog-pawed ranch slider. He drops both worms in favour of the cockroach my fiancé stomped on and tossed out last night at my haughty insistence. The worms wriggle apart, and scoot in opposite directions. Which route is safer – heading back to the grass, or towards the house?

The blackbird turns away from me to crunch on the roach - dropping it, prodding it, clasping it once again in his beak. Does he sense my disgust? Or maybe he is too shy to receive my gratitude at having the signs of death cleared away.

all the street lights
flicker off
the sound of wind-chimes

He turns back to pick up the worms, then flies off with his breakfast bounty into the morning sky. I turn and walk to the kitchen to see what the fridge has to offer.

Copyright © Kirsten Cliff
First published in Kokako 12 (April, 2010)
A different version of the first haiku appeared in Valley Micropress (Vol.12, Is.08, Oct 2009)

Photo by Cameron Elliot

Friday, March 4, 2011

February Round-Up - A Month of Ups and Downs

Ah, February - the month of NaHaiWriMo (National Haiku Writing Month).

My enthusiasm waxed and waned throughout the month on this project. I did write a haiku-a-day for the whole 28 days, but it wasn't always satisfying, and sometimes done begrudgingly, or in desperation just before midnight!

However, I did write some haiku that I'm really proud of and will happily send in to haiku journals near and far. Some can be edited to rise up to a higher standard and some have already turned into tanka.

Challenges like this make you extend yourself as you have to find creative ways to respond to a prompt, or just to the daily practise when many other things may be going on in your life. This is why I will continue to participate in such projects, the next being the July river of stones challenge.

See my half-way through post for some more thoughts on the process. You can also read about when I set myself the challenge of writing a haiku-a-day for a whole year in 2007-2008 here.

Now that it's over I shall return to going with the flow and writing when the muse strikes. What I will continue is my daily reading from Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan. Read my post about that here.

Funnily enough, I have easily written a haiku, or more, each day since NaHaiWriMo finished: must be the release of the pressure! But of course it was the challenge that helped hone my awareness of the haiku moment back to what it was before my writing stalled last year through cancer treatment.

February was also the month of a devastating earthquake in Christchurch, a large South Island city. Please see my blog post about it and read the haiku shared in the comments section, especially several by Michael Dylan Welch of his experiences in the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco.

Please feel free to share you own poems, haiku or other. I know poetry has been a great healer to me over the past year with my illness and I hope this opportunity to share will go a small way to helping others affected by the past two week's events.

Here's how I'm doing on my 2011 goal of submitting poetry to a publication or competition every week:
  • week five - submitted a free verse poem into the Spirit First Meditation Poetry Contest (first time submitting here) results out by March 31st
  • AND submitted a haiku to Poem Cellars (first time submitting here) closed Feb 5th
  • week six - submitted ten small stones to Fiona and Kaspa for the river of stones book and had one accepted
  • AND submitted a previously published haiku to the HSA Haiku Wall (you can read about that here)
  • week seven - submitted 10 haiku to Frogpond (first time submitting here) won't know outcome until after submission deadline April 15
  • week eight - submitted a tanka to Haiku News and awaiting outcome
  • AND submitted six tanka and six haiku to Presence (second time submitting here) and had four tanka and a haiku accepted for Issue #44 (May 2011). The haiku was written during NaHaiWriMo :)
I have written three further haiku for my collection (exploring my leukaemia journey) and created two more collage-style haiga, to make a total of 25 pieces. I also made two multi-media canvases this month using acrylic paint, origami, stickers, transfers and brads, which was something new for me and a most enjoyable process. See photos of my artwork below.

With my photography this month, I've been trying to get some good shots to submit as cover art for Four and Twenty. I've also been working on getting my cover art image ready for Kokako 15 (due out September 2011). I'm very excited about having my artwork feature on a haiku journal and hope to do more of this type of work in the future (not that it can really be called 'work'!)

No major plans for March except to continue with submitting to a poetry journal or competition at least once a week. So far so good on this resolve. Also, meeting with my local poetry group, Pacific Poets, Sunday 6 March, where we will be sharing poems we have written in response to the recent Christchurch earthquake.

Kia kaha to the people of Christchurch: my thoughts and prayers are with you daily.

My Art is My Heart

Peace is the way of my Heart

Thursday, March 3, 2011

BrainStorm: The Writers Workshop

Information on a writing workshop in Tauranga from Nyree Sherlock, Adult & Community Education Advisor, University of Waikato in Tauranga:

BrainStorm is a highly invigorating one-day workshop specifically for writers looking for fresh ideas, or a creative boost. This stimulating workshop is designed by screen and media writer/tutor Kathryn Burnett, who uses a series of writing and brainstorming exercises to take participants from the blank page, through to a basic plan for their new writing project- no matter which medium they work in.  Burnett also insists that this is not a theoretical “how to write” workshop, but rather one that activates participants to “start writing right now.”

Tutor: Kathryn Burnett
Date: Saturday 26th March
Time: 9am-5pm
Venue: Lecture theatre 106, Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Road.
Cost: $65.00
For further information contact Nyree: (07) 5775376 or nyree@waikato.ac.nz

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Time To Say Thank You

Taken at Papamoa Hills 1.1.11
It's March 2nd and the one-year anniversary of my leukaemia diagnosis.

Here I am today, still alive and creating, and growing a fine crop of curls, too! :)

Thank you to all who have supported me through my journey, especially my fiance, who I couldn't imagine doing this without, and my family, near and far, young and old.

Thank you to those who visited and telephoned; sent emails, texts and letters; gifted cards, books and magazines; left messages of support on facebook and here at Swimming in Lines of Haiku.

Thank you to the absolutely fabulous can't-say-enough-good-things-about-you staff of Ward 25 at Waikato Hospital who cared for me for about 14 weeks with not only competence and kindness but with so many smiles and so much laughter too. May I never have to come back again! :)

As part of Leukaemia Appeal Week 2010 I shared my story on the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation website, along with this haiku:

last day in hospital
my cheeks sore
from smiling

If you haven't already read it then please do go and take a look here.

One of my favourite photos of me with my fiance taken during
my time in hospital, cicra May 2010, third cycle of chemo.

I continue to work on my collection of haiku, tanka and haiga exploring my experience of this journey. It's been a highly therapeutic way for me to process the events, some of which remain a part of my life with a further 18 months of maintenance therapy ahead of me. Some haiga will be up soon on my website.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Breaking News of the Haiku Variety

Finally some good news!

I found out on Friday (while visiting Haiku NewZ) that one of my haiku was selected for evolution: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2010, edited by Jim Kacian and the Red Moon Editorial Staff (Red Moon Press, 2011).

The exciting thing about appearing in the annual Red Moon Anthology is that you don't submit your haiku: it is chosen from the pool of haiku that is published internationally each year.

This from Johnye Strickland in her review of the 2008 anthology:

The key to the selection process for all works nominated by the editorial staff was that they should be considered to be "of exceptional skill." Those making the final cut had to receive approval of the editor-in-chief, as well as votes from five of the ten staff editors (50%). My PhD dissertation didn't receive this much scrutiny.

And these thoughts from Michael Dylan Welch in his 2000 essay A Survey of Today’s English-Language Haiku Activity:

Also of note in the last four years are annual anthologies published by Red Moon Press, primarily edited by Jim Kacian, that aim to collect the very best haiku poems published each year. Though the selection process remains flawed and the editor includes too much of his own work, this annual publication is beginning to serve a very useful purpose in attempting to collect the best haiku in English each year.

I am pleased as punch that I made the grade and promptly bought two copies of evolution from the Red Moon Press website.

My haiku sits alongside other New Zealand haiku poets: Ernest J Berry, Owen Bullock and Andre Surridge. And here it is: 

coming home
to an empty house
so many stars

Copyright © Kirsten Cliff
First published in Kokako 12 (April, 2010)