A Hundred Gourds 5:3 June 2016

current issue : haiku : tanka : haiga : haibun : renku : expositions : feature : submissions : editors : search : archives

page 6    

Windfall, Australian Haiku, Issue 4, 2016 – Beverley George, editor

reviewed by Jo McInerney

book cover Windfall: Australian Haiku, issue 4
Edited by Beverley George
Blue Giraffe Press, 2016
Print book. 25 pages.
10cm x 15cm,perfect bound
ISSN: 1839-5449
Price: for 2 annual issues inc. postage:
Australia- $AUD15.00 / Overseas- $AUD$25.00
Orders via:
Peter Macrow, Manager
Blue Giraffe Press
6/16 Osborne Street,
Sandy Bay, TAS, Australia, 7005

The fourth annual issue of Windfall , edited by Beverley George, was released in January, 2016. Presenting 63 haiku, from 56 poets, it is an attractive sampler of current Australian work in the form. It is a lovely experience to hold one of the issues of Windfall in your hand. Only ten by fifteen centimetres, it fits in the curve of your palm. It also fits comfortably in a pocket. On the front cover, the gentle sweep of Ron Moss’s windblown leaves seems to invite the reader in.

The publication aims to present haiku taken from Australian urban and rural life, drawing on Australian landforms, seasons, flora and fauna. Its range is geographical and temporal. Two of the haiku from the first page reach back into the continent’s deep past, drawing on aspects of Indigenous culture. Lorin Ford’s

dusk on the river the bunyip’s cold breath
takes a traditional spirit, popularly conceived of as a bogeyman, and animates it unsettlingly in the present. It feels chillingly appropriate that the bunyip’s presence is sensed just as daylight fades. The creature seems emblematic of much that is denied. There is also a sense of the past persisting into the present in Quendryth Young’s

women’s business
gnarled roots around
the sacred lake

The ‘gnarled roots’ suggest protruding knuckles, carrying connotations not only of the women’s hard lives but also of their tenacity, their embattled cultural heritage holding on. Line three implies both the place of the lake in the women’s belief system and the enduring value of water on a dry continent.

A longing for rain and an appreciation of the need to conserve water is felt in a number of the haiku published here, including Keitha Keyes’s

still no rain …
I empty the teapot
on the geraniums

where the mundane action and the homely plant take on a much larger environmental significance, speaking of an engrained awareness of the scarcity of this resource and of another sort of tenacity. This haiku has echoes of Henry Lawson’s ‘Water Them Geraniums’, a classic nineteenth century Australian short story, in which the flower is referred to as the only decorative plant that bush settlers could make “grow in the drought”.1

The three haiku mentioned thus far all exhibit Haruo Shirane’s ‘vertical axis’2, reaching back to connect Australia’s present with its past. Windfall , Issue 4, includes a number of other poems that achieve this effect. Other haiku refer to quintessentially Australian fauna and flora in poignant encounters, as seen in Robyn Cairns’s

winter yard –
a magpie carols
on an empty clothesline

Cairns’s magpie is placed in an urban location where there is temporarily no human presence, an absence which may enable the bird’s song. Rachel Colombo, however, presents the natural world and urban Australia in frankly uncomfortable juxtaposition:

logging trucks …
a possum family flees
into my backyard

Colombo’s haiku overtly shows human activity displacing native fauna. Line three is slightly ambiguous; the echo of NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) is there, yet there is a much stronger sense of sympathy for the wild creatures. The speaker recognises the possums as a ‘family’ and appears to be offering short-term sanctuary. Precipitating the encounter are line one’s ‘logging trucks’, suggesting the permanent loss of habitat caused by the spread of human settlement.

There are many deft evocations of the fleeting nature of transactions between animal and human, as in Cynthia Rowe’s

sunlit courtyard
the baby skink’s tail
left in the shade

and Pamela Smith’s spangled

take off!
a trail of light splashes
across the lake

with ‘light’ functioning beautifully as adjective and noun, turning the unnamed bird species into something almost beyond the animal kingdom.

There is transience again in Kent Robinson’s

mopoke’s call
blown in on wood smoke
fading Autumn

with its echoing sounds across lines one and two seeming to slip away with the approach of winter in line three.

There are also simple moments of domestic tranquillity, such as Dawn Bruce’s

bush lemons
in a yellow bowl…
sunlit kitchen

Here the fruit is given an additional dimension by the lemons having grown wild. Again we have the interpenetration of peoples, cultures and landscape.

Windfall # 4 does offer some haiku that speak of significant moments that do not seem dependent on a particular geographical and cultural setting, but for the most part this publication succeeds in showcasing not only the work of Australian haiku writers but a distinctly Australian subject matter. It makes for thought-provoking reading.


1. Henry Lawson, ‘Water Them Geraniums’

2. Haruo Shirane , ‘Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku Myths’, Modern Haiku, XXXI:1 (winter-spring 2000)


previous exposition : expositions contents : next exposition