Sunday, March 29, 2015

Book Review – Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems by Stephen Addiss with Akira & Fumiko Yamamoto

haikucovThis anthology collects together a number of well known Haiku from the acknowledged masters Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki as well as lesser known poets, many of whom were students of the aforementioned and later became masters in their own right. There’s also a number of well known Haiku by anonymous poets.

The span of history covered by the collection runs from about the 1640’s until the present day, with the volume weighted towards the earlier periods.  The collection includes a lengthy intro that covers a brief history of the form (there’s not much new here if you have been seriously writing haiku or reading them for some time) and a good concise bit of information on the difficulty with translation and maintaining the historical form.

The collection is organised thematically into three categories: The Pulse of Nature, Human Voices, and Resonance and Reverberation. From there they are presented in cyclical/seasonal order. This ordering, especially the seasonal arrangement can lead to repetitiveness ie, repeated uses of Spring rain.   The trick of course is to spend time examining each poem rather than scanning them ( a habit that’s easy to fall into when you read a lot of prose, or indeed longer poetry) for the two seconds required to read most Haiku.

For someone new to reading Haiku I’d recommend Jane Reichhold’s Writing and Enjoying Haiku - A Hands on Guide. paired with this.  Haiku can seem underwhelming when you are used to a poet spending an entire page getting their point across and I think a lot of emphasis is lost in translation. The lack of most readers (me included) knowledge of Japanese Literature can also make it difficult to gain full appreciation of some of the allusions made in individual Haiku.

There’s a biography section on the poet’s included after the three categories, which will be handy reference for some of the less well known Haiku poets and notes on the artists and time of painting for the illustrations included.

Overall I am a fan works is similar to Basho - The Complete Haiku, where the translator appends notes for each Haiku, explains plays on words that don’t come across in the translation. 

Still I did find works that I hadn't come across before and that worked well in English.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Submissions to Poetry and Place Anthology Open

close-up-books-logoClose-Up books is a new Australian small press publisher of fiction, run by Ashley Capes and Brooke Linford. There first fiction title was The Fairy Wren and they are now inviting submissions for their first poetry anthology The 2015 Poetry and Place Anthology.

Submission details are as follows:


Submissions are now open!

We’re looking for poetry (all forms will be considered) and expository writing that explores ‘Place’. Whether it deals with place on a micro or macro scale, one place or many, the tension between digital and natural places, inspired by travel or memories, send us your work!

We’ll be producing both a digital and print version of the anthology for a December release.

General Guidelines

•    Send 3-5 Poems in a single document
•    Query expository pieces
•    Unpublished or previously published work
•    Submissions open March 26th
•    Submissions Close July 31st
•    Responses by the end of August
•    E-mail submissions only – poetryandplace@gmail[dot]com
•    December 2015 release
•    Include a 50- word biographical note with submission
•    Format as RTF/.doc

Ashley Capes and Brooke Linford
Poetry & Place Anthology


The Close-Up Books Website can be found here and the Poetry and Place website here. Note payment will be in contributor copies.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Australian Poetry Podcast Launches

shot_1424143479167 Since the sad demise of Poetica there’s been a bit of a gaping hole in the Australian Poetry scene for audio content.  For sure there’s probably individual poets out there performing on YouTube or Soundcloud but gone was the analysis and discussion.  While the scope might fall short of Poetica, due to the lack of funding and reach that comes with a national broadcaster, I’m keen to see  what Nathan Hondros and  Robbie Coburn do.

The episode 1 download link is here for mp3 files.

If you own an apple device you can find it on itunes .

The shownotes can be found at the link below.

Show Notes, Episode 1 — Interview with Andrew Burke

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review – The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

the-beesPoetry can be a risk, hence my suggestion that if you are dipping your toes in for the first time, libraries (if the Neo-conservatives in you country haven’t closed them) are an excellent place to begin.

Poet Laureates of the American or English variety are also good places to start. The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy’s first book as England’s Poet Laureate and demonstrates her amazing and varied facility with form and sound.

The theme of Bees ties this collection together, but you don’t have to be a budding apiarist to get full enjoyment.  It’s not all about Bees.  Most poetry collections I have read before present a poet with a very distinct style or tone.  Reading Duffy’s The Bees I am truly in awe of her facility with sound, particularly internal rhyme and how she manipulates the speed of the poem.

If you think that rhyme or playfulness with sound is dead in contemporary poetry than I think you should check Duffy out.  That’s not to say its all sunshine and roses.  Duffy brings uses her considerable skill to tackle the serious themes in poetry.  Take The Last Post as an example:



Note the skilful internal rhyme?

I think poetry is at its best when its accessible (generally plain speaking) and when it starts to use the tools that are particular to it (rhyme) for greatest advantage.  I enjoyed this collection enough to purchase it and I am confident enough that I’d pick up anything of Duffy’s and find it entertaining.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Video – Billy Collins Ted Talk

An interesting Ted talk from Billy Collins, former American Poet Laureate. Only 15minutes long.



Poetry Book Review – Weather Central by Ted Kooser


Ted Kooser like Billy Collins, another American poet laureate, strikes me as a keen observer of the everyday. Reading Weather Central I am drawn into the culture and rhythm of the American Midwest.  Hardships (past and present) faced by rural communities, the rhythm of life. He’s one of those poets who can draw our mind to an everyday event and make it seem momentous or profound.

His conversational tone, his uncomplicated diction and syntax, make him accessible to a broad audience and I’d especially recommend him to starting readers of poetry or those with an interest in extending their experience of free verse that isn’t too confronting in format. 



A fenced-in square of sand and yellow grass,

five miles or more from the nearest town

is the site where the County Poor Farm stood

for seventy years, and here the County

permitted the poor to garden, permitted them

use of the County water from a hand-pump,

lent them buckets to carry it spilling

over the grass to the sandy, burning furrows

that drank it away—a kind of Workfare

from 1900. At night, each family slept

The American Midwest has some cultural similarities with the rural communities I live in, both in terms of relation to the land and the effect of economic decline.  Kooser’s focus on this subject matter strikes a chord with me and I think if you're a fan of someone like Phillip Hodgins (though he was much more of a rhymer) you’ll enjoy Kooser’s work.

Overall I found the tone of the work to be reflective.  If you like being drawn into a brief poetic tale you won’t be disappointed.

Did you enjoy this review? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Hundred Gourds 4.2 is Out

cherry No pieces from me this time but if you want to read some quality Japanese form poetry check them out.  There’s submissions from all over the world, some 90 Tanka alone.

A Hundred Gourds 4:2 March 2015

This quarter’s feature article is an interview with Michael Dylan Welch.

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