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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The SILOH Tanka Contest: RESULTS

Firstly, my thanks to all who participated in The SILOH Tanka Contest. What an honour to have read and collected these tanka from across the world to celebrate my birthday and the Winter Dream theme. The process of running this contest throughout July has definitely been an enjoyable one as I've connected and reconnected with poets near and far, some new to me, as well as those I call friends. I always feel there is a generosity of spirit in sharing poetry in this manner. We put our hearts into these pieces and then give them away, let them out into the world without us. It has lifted my spirits to have so many of you choose to share your tanka on Swimming in Lines of Haiku. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to each and every one of you.

There were so many good, healthy tanka submitted that it was very hard to choose a winner. I received many more submissions than I could have imagined. A total of more than the age I'll be turning this birthday! Entries came from the USA (18), UK (6), New Zealand (3), Canada (2), Philippines (2), Australia (2), Singapore, Serbia, France and Japan, totalling 37. After finally making a short list, and then over repeated readings, there was one that kept springing from the page, one that pulled an emotional and musical chord within me that wouldn't quit. But before I reveal the winning tanka, I want to share some of my favourite lines from the poems entered, in no particular order:

I grasp the edge of my dream Chen-ou Liu (Canada)

the choices I didn’t make Asni Amin (Singapore)

to the last beat of my heart Claire Everett (UK)

the full thunder moon Andrea Grillo (US)

Cicadas scream love songs Charles T. Whipple (Japan)

Thank you for sharing these wonderful words with me, dear poets. Of course, you can read each of these tanka in full on the entries page

In the winning tanka, I was looking to be deeply moved. Tanka is a very emotional experience for me: the reading and the writing of it. So much so that I find I can't read too many in one sitting, and that I most often write them myself when I'm feeling low physically, emotionally and/or spiritually. The power of the poem has a strength that I know can carry me away, beyond my immediate surroundings and current mood, into a place that's often easier to keep hidden. Tanka perhaps stay with me longer than haiku as more of my self is needed to fully be present with the poem. The shift I feel with a stunning tanka is immense, and the winner here had to take me on a journey.

But I'm greedy: I also wanted lyricism. Tanka is, after all, poetry. I wanted words and phrases that flowed, that fitted to perfection, no flaws or missteps present. No punctuation or line breaks that stuck out as not sitting right with me. I wanted words that sat together comfortably and exquisitely as a whole, as well as individual lines and images. And I found it...

my dream is one
of winter long ago...
my cold father
whom first I met late in life
helps me build a snowman

André Surridge (New Zealand)

Author's statement: I love the versatility of tanka. It allows you to write about anything, real or imagined. As with haiku, every word counts but tanka allows a little more breathing space. I always feel that writing tanka is an opportunity to get closer to the essence.

André's tanka has me right from its beginning two lines “my dream is one/ of winter long ago...”. I love how it is phrased and sets the mood so well, as if in a child's storybook, “Once upon a time, long, long ago...”. Dreams are by nature elusive, but to believe that their symbolism (and the symbolism of fairy tales, for that matter) has no meaning for our everyday lives is to dismiss the cries of the soul. This tanka says, 'come here, sit and listen, I welcome you to my world, see what you make of it'. The phrase “cold father” is again perfectly worded, succinct and strong. The economy of language throughout this tanka is superb, so much has been said in so little, without any loss of flow or musicality. Then with the last two lines – the twist – I'm left wondering, is this a dream during sleep? Or is this a daydream, an imagining, a wish? Is this true, and if so, what are the implications to him emotionally, mentally, spiritually? What are the implications of it as a dream image? The symbolism of the “cold father” and the “snowman”? To end on such a simple, childlike image, “helps me build a snowman”, is part of this tanka's magic. I'm completely moved, taken over by the words, and sent on a journey to any number of places depending on where I begin personally with each rereading. It has such depth without losing its lightness of touch. A stunning tanka and I'm so pleased to award it as the winner. Richard von Sturmer's DVD 26 Tanka Films will be coming to you soon!

Runner up:

winter dreams
how they always show me
the same thing...
you waking from your sleep
in the graveyard

Tracy Davidson (UK)

A close second. I love the melody of the first three lines, which really draws me in. And the imagery of the final two lines had me captured – so simple and yet so powerful. Great work, Tracy! A copy of the latest Eucalypt: a tanka journal will be heading your way.

Special mentions:

the transparent weave
of this vintage tea-cloth
my fragile dreams
still hand-dried and polished
by the faded green linen

Julie Thorndyke (Australia)

This one took longer to fall for, but once I realised its beauty, I couldn't let it go. Fine tuned lines, attention to detail and strong images. Thank you, Julie!

by the fireplace
the crackle of our laughter
melting into a dream
only the winter moon knows
how long is forever

Christine L. Villa (USA)

This reminds me so much of hubby and I these winter evenings sitting by the fire that I loved it from its first reading. “only the winter moon knows/ how long is forever” - extremely poignant, and excellent imagery. You have a great tanka future, Chrissi!

‘brass monkeys’
don’t care about origins—
the wind
coming off the North Sea
pulls tight on my scrotum

Colin Stewart Jones (Scotland)

I really enjoyed Colin's take on my theme. There were a few tanka that made me smile and this is the one that stood up to repeated readings. A strong voice along with the strong winds. Keep it up, Colin!

Congratulations to you all! I'll probably do this again come July 2013, maybe a haiku contest next time. For anyone that wants to purchase 26 Tanka Films please get in touch with Richard von Sturmer, who can be contacted through his Haiku NZ Showcase page or you can look him up on Facebook. To find out more about the beautiful tanka journal Eucalypt (AUS) edited by Beverley George head to the website. And lastly, a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped promote this contest, either through your blog, Facebook, Twitter, website, or just letting your friends know about it!

I am also gearing up to run a poem(haiku)-a-day (PAD) challenge here at Swimming in Lines of Haiku, which I hope you'll all get involved in. I'm looking towards September 2012, so stay tuned for updates about this fun project, which I think will be the first of its kind! :)

Kirsten Cliff
31 July 2012 

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Zealand's National Poetry Day & a question for YOU!

Well, today's the day! Events are happening all around the country. For a list take a look here. But what I want to know is:   

How do you get your daily dose of haiku?

I read from Martin Lucas' Stepping Stones: a way into haiku daily, and have been doing so for maybe a year now. (I must have missed a few daily readings because there's only a years worth in there!). I also check in to the on-line haiku journal DailyHaiku each day and most days also now see what the Per Diem: Daily Haiku is on The Haiku Foundation home page (mid way down the page on the right hand side.)

My haiku reading also comes from Facebook posts and blogs I'm subscribed to. And then when new journals arrive in my letterbox I'll read them on a daily basis until I'm sated. Lastly, as I've been involved in writing quite a few rengay and renku this year, I'm almost daily reading haiku related to my latest linking verse. So much fun! :)

Enjoy National Poetry Day New Zealand! And enjoy your daily dose of haiku, where ever you are! :)


Sunday, July 22, 2012

31 Different NaHaiWriMo Prompters in August 2012

An announcement from Michael Dylan Welch - creator and organiser of National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo):

Dear NaHaiWriMos,

I’m pleased to let you know that, for the month of August, 2012, I’ve asked 31 different people to provide a single writing prompt for reach day of the month. I’ll be announcing the prompts each day, so you’ll discover not only a new writing prompt, but also learn who the day’s prompter is for each day. These 31 prompters include many of our past monthly prompters, plus a number of new folks. The prompters and prompts have all been selected, and the prompts are varied and fun, so August should be a particularly enjoyable month -- and hopefully a little different, to shake things up a bit.

Now, to make this idea even more fun, I’ve asked each of the 31 daily prompters to monitor all poems posted and to select at least five favourite poems written in response to their prompt. I’ve asked them to select haiku and senryu only (no haiga, but poems used in haiga can be considered). To be selected, poems should be previously unpublished (we'll assume so). So please post your best haiku and senryu, because the daily prompt providers will be on the lookout for their favourite poems from what you post (prompters, please also include one of your own poems if you write about your own prompt). If all goes well, I’d like to turn this into a PDF-format book that everyone can download for free. How does that sound?

In case you were wondering, I’m still working on the February book, which will be a grander and much larger print production. I plan to get that wrapped up by the end of August, but there are still a lot of variables. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for your patience on that project -- I’m making progress.

Meanwhile, regarding the August project, I’m mentioning it now in case any of you have questions. Ask away! And maybe mentioning it now will also build anticipation. Shucks, you might even want to encourage friends to join us. Please do!

Thanks to all of you for your enthusiastic ongoing participation in NaHaiWriMo! Isn't this place a hoot?

Michael Dylan Welch

The NaHaiWriMo community Facebook page

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Birthday Renku

My rengay writing buddy Cara Holman, is hosting a renku on her blog Prose Posies to celebrate her July birthday. Come over and join us here. I've just added my ku:

early birdsong
facing the same direction
all four horses

© Kirsten Cliff 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Moon Tanka...

Don't forget to share your moon-themed tanka with Maragret Dornaus for her birthday bash giveaway. You have until July 20, and go into the draw to win a copy of Modern Japanese Tanka. Here's mine:

          Why did my DNA
          pacing this shoreline
          my answers come bathed
          in healing moonlight

© Kirsten Cliff 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Turning A Corner

in the pocket
with my silenced worries
this found feather

From "Turning a Corner" A Hundred Gourds 1:3 (June 2012)
A rengay by Kirsten Cliff and Cara Holman
Haiku & photograph © Kirsten Cliff

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Scent of Pine

fallen fence post
counting out pills
for the day

From "The Scent of Pine" A Hundred Gourds 1:3 (June 2012)
A rengay by Kirsten Cliff and Cara Holman
Haiku & photograph © Kirsten Cliff

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Great Giveaways...

...From Kathy Nguyen this Northern Summer Holidays over at her blog Origami Lotus Poetry. There is a haibun contest, a haiga contest, and there's still time to be part of the big blog bash for artists of all kinds! Check out all the details at the links. And have fun :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Call For Submissions to MOONBATHING 7 and the Moonbathing Annual Contest

From editor Pamela A. Babusci:

Please note a change in Issue 7's deadline & my change of address
Pamela A. Babusci  
Moonbathing Issue 7 is now accepting submissions. I have additional copies of Moonbathing issue 5 & issue 6 
If you wish to purchase a copy(ies) please e-mail me.

Moonbathing Issue 7 has the Annual Moonbathing Contest
Please send one tanka on the theme of: "moonbathing" however you interpret it with your regular submission. Please label the contest tanka. The winner will receive a year's subscription to Moonbathing.

Please note the change in deadline for Issue 7  from Dec. 15th to Nov. 15th
Moonbathing will publish two issues a year: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer.

Moonbathing will feature only women poets. Send a maximum of 10 tanka per submission period. Submission deadlines:  

Spring/Summer: In-hand Deadline:  May 15th spring/summer themes or non-seasonal only

THIS ISSUE: Fall/Winter: In-hand deadline:  Nov. 15th
fall/winter theme or non-seasonal only

No previously published tanka or simultaneous submissions; no tanka that has been posted on-line, on Facebook/Twitter or on a personal website/blog. 

Send your tanka IN THE BODY OF AN E-MAIL to: Pamela A. Babusci:  moongate44(at)gmail(dot)com PLEASE NO ATTACHMENTS. E-mail submissions ONLY.

I hope that all tanka poets who have their work accepted will support Moonbathing by purchasing a copy or a subscription. If Moonbathing is to survive it will need your support and I will be most grateful for it.

Moonbathing does not assume liability for copyright infringement or failure to acknowledge previously published tanka.
Subscriptions: $12 for one year (two issues) U.S. and Canada; $6 for single issue. International: $16 (two issues) $8 single issue U.S. dollars; send US cash or international M.O.—payable to Pamela A. Babusci
Pamela A. Babusci, Editor of Moonbathing
244 Susan Lane Apt. B    Rochester, NY  14616  USA 
The Editor of Moonbathing is looking forward to receiving your best tanka. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail Pamela A. Babusci moongate44(at)gmail(dot)com

Please feel free to forward this e-mail to any of your female tanka poets that might be interested in submitting-many thanks!
Respectfully submitted,
Pamela A. Babusci, Editor of Moonbathing

Friday, July 6, 2012

Keeping My Spirits High This July

Almost a week into July already and I haven't yet shown you my calendar page for the month! Below is the July page of the haiku and photography calendar that I made for my family as Christmas presents. (If you search under "calendar" on my blog you will find the other months so far.) Click on the image to enlarge.

July 2012 - Kirsten's Calendar of Haiku & Photography 

The haiku received an Honorable Mention in the Haiku International Association Haiku Contest (Japan) 2009. And the photo was taken at Te Puke Cemetery in 2010 (I think! - have visited a lot of them over the past few years, all for the purposes of photography. I'm an angle hunter:).

I have a few haiku and tanka activities going on this month, all of which are helping keep my spirits up as I progress through my last two months of maintenance treatment for leukaemia.

The first is my tanka competition, The SILOH Tanka Contest, which I'm running to celebrate my birthday (July 31st). The theme is 'Winter Dream' and you'll find all the details for entering at the link above. You can also read and comment on the entries that have already come in here.

The prize, which I'm very excited to be give away, is Richard von Sturmer's unique and amazing DVD 26 Tanka Films. I look forward to awarding the winner with this excellent prize, and then hearing how much they enjoyed it! I have 18 entries already so it's going to be a hard one to judge. I might end up awarding a runner-up prize, of which I have just the thing, so watch this space :)

A few of my friends in the on-line haiku/tanka community are July babies as well so keep an eye out for other contests and giveaways about the blogs. Margaret Dornaus is inviting you to share one of your "moon" tanka on her blog here and she'll be giving away a copy of Makoto Ueda‘s Modern Japanese Tanka.

I'm also finding inspiration in collaboration this month. I'm part of two renku currently being written through cyber-space. The first is a junicho being lead by Sandra Simpson. We began this during the renku workshop at Haiku Festival Aotearoa and have continued on afterwards via the Issa's Snail site. You can pop in and see what we're up to here. I've also started a new rengay (or two, or three...) with Cara Holman, after a short break. If you search "rengay with Cara Holman" on my blog you will find a few that we've written. Enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tanka Entries for The SILOH Tanka Contest!

Many thanks to all here for their entries into The SILOH Tanka Contest. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below about which tanka you enjoy, and say hello to your fellow poets. Good luck to everyone who has entered! :)

winter greys
if tomorrow never comes
will she know?
just how much
I loved her

Mike Keville
England UK.

end of summer
these cherries smell
of snow
suddenly I realize
we have the same skin

angie werren

the shiver
of a long-forgotten wish
winter dream
our days slowly become
longer and longer

Christina Nguyen

winter parting…
I’m leaving on the night plane
won’t be back…
on his pillow her last note
in her bold perfect writing

John Daleiden
Phoenix, Arizona USA in the Sonoran Desert

mulling over
the difference between
haiku and senryu
I buy courgettes
out of season

Dick Whyte

snow falls
into the darkness
beyond our back door
a thousand dreams

Aubrie Cox

suddenly awake
to see a sharp sickle
hanging low
in the winter sky...
I grasp the edge of my dream

Chen-ou Liu

waking up
this winter morning
I remember
how to fold paper
into a heart

Angelo B. Ancheta

first winter dream
i float inside the heart
of my mother's womb
evening snow blankets
my innocent body

Pamela A. Babusci

crescent moon
its winter companions
crisp clear stars
inside we dream
the milky way

Jeff Hanson

winter evening
the choices I didn’t make
the path I have taken …
it is never too late
to dream another dream

Asni Amin

wrapped up
in my favorite book
I resist
the temptation to skip
to the last page

Cara Holman

even as I sketch
you're softly erasing
the dream...
to the last beat of my heart
deer tracks in the snow

Claire Everett

waking to fireworks
the midwinter's dream
has long vanished
I no longer can remember
the sound of his voice

Merrill Ann Gonzales
Dayville, CT USA 

snow caps
lost in our view
through smoke
the full thunder moon
refocuses our dreams

Andrea Grillo

spectacular sea
of clouds, I hope no one
an alibi as I drift
lazily to age(s)

Ernesto P. Santiago

your grandmother's pearls
pure and white
worn on our wedding day

and now at divorce court

Patricia Sullivan

sand peppered on rocks
wind-powered balls of froth
beach observations
salted tears sting my face
anger seasons memories

Kylie Dinning

an old love
beneath the snow
does the meadow dream
of spring

Paul Smith

like that wooden bench
on which we first kissed
in your garden
you and I both have seen
much better days

johnny baranski

my dream is one
of winter long ago...
my cold father
whom first I met late in life
helps me build a snowman

André Surridge
New Zealand 

left hemisphere or right
north or south
shadows cast on both sides
of the gnomon in a
winter solstice dream

Terri L. French

A winter's journey
Glow of candles light the way -
Another year
A handful of dreams
For me and you

Kris Kennedy

winter dreams
how they always show me
the same thing...
you waking from your sleep
in the graveyard

Tracy Davidson

crystal droplets
and leafless branches
of dark bronze. . .
my chandelier becomes
a winter garden

Janet Lynn Davis

summer heat
inching closer on
the subway to read
her tattoo
Winter Dream

Alan S. Bridges
Littleton, MA USA

winter dream
some clouds a bouquet
of roses
in sleep even emptiness
is an embrace

Alegria Imperial

putting aside
a book, I meet your face
a cloud of smoke
rushing in haste out of
the terrace glass door

Sasa Vazic

‘brass monkeys’
don’t care about origins—
the wind
coming off the North Sea
pulls tight on my scrotum

Colin Stewart Jones

the transparent weave
of this vintage tea-cloth
my fragile dreams
still hand-dried and polished
by the faded green linen

Julie Thorndyke

a frosty start
and fog that hangs around
all day
I dream of coconut palms
and a warm lagoon

Elaine Riddell
New Zealand

winter darkness—
holding on to a light
summer vision
        that field full of fireflies . . .
        each slight luminescence

Margaret Dornaus

A lacklustre moon
upon snow-capped mountain peaks
amidst dwindling stars
I walk a desolate road
to exit my winter dream


winter dream...
waiting for the not waiting
in thrall to the sun
and a place to spread our wings
before the earth has woken

Helen Buckingham

by the fireplace
the crackle of our laughter
melting into a dream
only the winter moon knows
how long is forever

Christine L. Villa

the tremble of pine
in cardinal song
from Vivaldi's dreams
I measure my breath
by candles not yet blown

Kathy Uyen Nguyen

Summer solstice
Sweat wet days
Cicadas scream love songs
Bringing dreams
Of winter

Charles T. Whipple


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The SILOH Tanka Contest Is Open!

It's July 1st and for my birthday month this year I'm running a tanka competition here on Swimming in Lines of HaikuThe SILOH Tanka Contest. I hope you'll come and join me in celebrating my birthday and our vibrant haiku and tanka community! :)

Entry Details:

  • One entry per person, to be posted in the comments section of this post.
  • Please also put your name, country and email address underneath your tanka - you can use the (at) and (dot) format to avoid spam.
  • Previously unpublished tanka only please; although it's okay to submit a tanka that has appeared on Facebook or your personal blog.
  • All tanka will then be transferred to this post where entrants can share positive feedback on each others poems. (Please note this is not a place for critiquing work.)
  • Please don't be concerned if you don't see your tanka on the page of entries - it may take me a day or two to do them as they come in, health permitting.
  • The theme is 'Winter Dream' – however you wish to interpret it. My birthday is in the winter months here in New Zealand so I always associate winter with my birthday, and dreams are a very important part of my life. The words do not need to appear in the tanka. Have fun with it!
  • Contest opens: Sunday, July 1, 2012 and closing deadline is Monday, July 23, 2012
  • Judge is myself – Kirsten Cliff
  • Winner will be announced on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 – My birthday :)
  • Prize for the winner is 26 Tanka Films (DVD) by Richard von Sturmer
  • Please note you will need to provide your postage address should you be awarded the prize.

If you have any problems posting your entry into the comments section below, you can email it to me here. Please feel free to ask any questions below, or email me if you are having problems.