Favourite Haiku by André Surridge

In choosing my favourite 10 haiku I realise all of these are poems I would love to have written. That realisation is for me the spark that ignites their continuing appeal together with the illusive “aha” moment captured in the haiku.

deep into autumn
and this caterpillar
still not a butterfly

– Matsuo Basho

I’m not exactly sure to whom this translation belongs and I could have chosen any number of haiku by Basho but this one stands out for me. It has a transcendent beauty, a sadness that is both powerful and illuminating. It is to Basho I return again and again as there is so much to learn from the great master.

the tiny bubble after a hummingbird’s long drink

– Alan S. Bridges

There are a lot of things to like about this haiku. It has a freshness that does not age no matter how many times you read it, a timeless quality. The poet has stepped aside to allow the reader to enjoy the experience as if he were truly there in the now of that moment. The single line suggests the hummingbird’s delicate beak.

at the end
of the coal train’s sound
winter dawn

– Anita Virgil

The interaction here of sound and light in a winter setting of a new day is perfectly captured. The movement and sound of the train as it passes through and then the backdrop of the dawn, which blossoms into our awareness.

One by one to the floor all of her shadows

– George Swede

Ah! the seduction, the almost teasing quality of “one by one” and then the weight of “all of her shadows” … It suggests the shedding of not only clothes but inhibitions as well. I also enjoy the space that George has created between these two phrases which adds to the drama.

beachside café
a bit of sand
in the waiter’s ear

Melissa Spurr’s haiku is exquisitely crafted and even though, after several readings, you know it’s coming that final line is still a surprise.

on a bare twig rain beads what light there is

– Lorin Ford

We’ve all seen this but how many of us have captured it like Lorin? There is a lovely delicate touch to this haiku which makes the word “beads” stand out.

Easter morning …
the sermon is taking the shape
of her neighbor’s hat

– Nicholas Virgilio

I’m taken with both the humour and surreal qualities of this haiku. A sermon taking the shape of a hat is a remarkable proposition and one here in which the reader is fully allowed to participate.

And now for some New Zealand haiku…

hose sprinkler –
watering my garden
with rainbows

– Jeanette Stace

I love this haiku of Jeanette’s; it is so deceptively simple and it has a lovely optimistic feel to it.

his bicycle
on hers – path
by the meadow

– John O’Connor

The image is beautifully realised in very few words. I love the subtle rhyme of “bicycle” and “by”. John is a brilliant poet and I hope that one day he will return to haiku.

the voice of the child –
grandmother’s blind eyes

– Cyril Childs

Cyril opened my “haiku eyes” at a haiku workshop in Lower Hutt in 2002 and this I think is a good example of his skill in letting the reader discover the moment for themselves. All is revealed in that telling final line.

Editor’s note: Born in Hull, England, André Surridge is a poet and playwright who lives in Hamilton, New Zealand. His haiku are widely published and he has won many awards. To see some of André’s own work, go to his Showcase page.